Summer in the Mountains: Ouray Awaits You
If you like mountains and swimming, Ouray is the perfect place for your holidays. Scenic mountains are waiting for you to climb, walk, hike, or bike. Spectacular hot springs give you plenty of opportunities to swim and soak up the wellness of the springs. If you want a day to simply laze around, you will find shops, cafés, and restaurants where you can sit outside and take in the beautiful views.
Ouray is the perfect place to do just about any summer activity, from 4×4 drives to fishing, canoeing, and hiking. Nature is at its most spectacular in summer when the days are long and the opportunities seem endless.
Summer doesn’t get any better than this!
San Juan Scenic Skyway
The San Juan Scenic Skyway is a 236 miles long paved route that meanders around the San Juan Mountains. It will take you to spectacular passes and scenery, passing Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and Cortez.
If you want to drive the whole Skyway, you will need approximately seven hours. Summer conditions are the best for this type of route as the snow has melted and there won’t be any mud to gum up your wheels.
Million Dollar Highway
The Million Dollar Highway is only 25 miles long but the views are spectacular. It is the section of the paved San Juan Scenic Skyway that passes between Silverton and Ouray. If you don’t want to drive the whole 236 miles, the Million Dollar Highway will provide you with ample views, breathtaking photo opportunities, and plenty of Instagrammable vistas.
The Alpine Loop stretches for 63 miles and is a great way to spend the day outdoors. Partly located in the Uncompahgre National Forest, it goes from Ouray to Silverton and Lake City. This is a 4-wheel drive so you’ll need an OHV.
If you take the Alpine Loop, you will visit ghost towns, most of them mining ones, like Animas Fork. As you walk through the ruins of the buildings that once made up these mining towns, it’s not hard to imagine how people lived there back in the days of the Wild West.
Yankee Boy Basin
Located in the San Juan Mountains, Yankee Boy Basin is also part of the Uncompahgre National Forest.
The spectacular views along this 4-wheel drive include a lake, mountain tops, and colorful wildflowers that bloom in summer. It’s almost 10 miles long and should take you about 2 hours to complete by 4×4. Just don’t drive too fast; hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will probably keep you company on the path!
Ouray is blessed with some of the most amazing hot springs in Colorado, whose temperatures always hover around 104°F.
Right in town, you will find the Ouray Hot Springs. There are five pools there, some with water slides for the kids and some with adult-only soaking sections.
Whether you want to spend a whole day soaking up the wellness of the mineral springs or to relax in the afternoon after a long day of exploration, the Ouray Hot Springs will revive both your body and your spirit.
Ridgway Area Trail System
If you love to bike, then the Ridgway Area Trail System, affectionately known as RAT, is your number one stop. 25 miles of trail where no cars are allowed will give bikers plenty of opportunities to explore. Ridgway is very close to Ouray, so you will also find people hiking and horseback riding these beautiful trails.
As with all trails around Ouray, the views are breathtaking, letting you admire the mountain tops, valleys, and flora of the area.
Ice climbing is only available during winter, but climbing aficionados will love the Ouray Via Ferrata climbing route in the summertime.
A rock climber’s dream, the Ouray Via Ferrata has all sorts of climbing challenges for you, including horizontal and vertical routes with safety cables. You will be climbing above the Uncompahgre River, offering you plenty of stunning views. It’s certainly a novel way to enjoy the summer views of the area!
Open since 2020, the Ouray Via Ferrata is a fun activity for families and individuals who love to climb. It’s free but you’ll still need specific climbing gear.
Hiking and Walking
Box Canyon Falls
The Box Canyon Falls have a cascade, picnic area, a park, and trails. There is something to do for everyone. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can simply relax in the park and listen to the soothing sound of the waterfall. Please note that there is an entrance fee to Box Canyon.
If you enjoy cascades and the sound of water, visit Cascade Falls. Situated in Ouray, the park has several waterfalls, the main one easily accessible after a quarter-mile hike. You can also hike to the Upper Cascade Falls and the Lower Cascade Falls.
Ouray Perimeter Trail
The Cascade Falls hike intersects with the Ouray Perimeter Trail. As its name suggests, this is a 6-mile hike that circles the town of Ouray from above. You will see waterfalls, mountains, forests, and bridges, all within breathing distance of the town itself.
If you take a leisurely hike and stop to enjoy the sights, the Ouray Perimeter Trail should take about 4 to 5 hours to complete.
Eating and Relaxing
There are some days when all you want to do is relax and take it slow. Ouray has plenty to offer you on a day like that!
Visit the local Ouray breweries, such as Red Mountain Brewing, KJ Wood Distillers, and O’Brien’s Pub, for a taste of local craft beer. Accompany your beer with a snack, soup, or burger from the menu and enjoy the locale.
For another great beer-focused experience, visit the Ouray Brewery. Family-owned Ouray Brewery has a tasty menu to combine with your beer.
You will find plenty of dining choices in Ouray. Local cuisine, Italian, steakhouses, Thai, pubs, and street food will cover all preferences. Cafés and pastry shops will provide you with snacks and picnic treats to take with you during your hikes.
If you want to learn more about Ouray and the history of the area, there are several fascinating places to visit while you’re in town.
Discover the world of pharmacy and how medical ingredients were made at the Alchemist Museum. Revisit how people used to treat conditions and illnesses and visit the gift shop for a unique souvenir to take back home.
Ouray County Museum
Located on 420 6th Avenue, the Ouray County Museum is run by the Ouray County Historical Society (OCHS). The Museum is housed in the original St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital that was built in 1886. Initially operated by the Sisters of Mercy, it was a hospital until 1964.
In 1976, the Ouray County Historical Society purchased the building for a museum. The Museum features mining, ranching, and railroading; the three main means of employment in Ouray’s early history. It houses many artifacts dating back to Ouray’s earliest days including large displays of minerals and Indian artifacts in the building.
OCHS also features an appointment-only Research Center containing over 25,000 documents, over 5,000 photographs, and a 9,000 book library titled “The W. Ross Moore Mining History Library of the American West.” To schedule an appointment, please call 970-325-4576.
Wright Opera House
The Wright Opera House will add a sophisticated touch to your stay in Ouray. Music, theater, movies, lectures, and classes are organized throughout the summer. Book your tickets and experience Ouray in a novel way.
Summer in Ouray
Summer in Ouray is extraordinary. When you’re done taking in the breathtaking scenery, you will find plenty of places to relax, doze in the sun, sample the local cuisine, and simply enjoy life. No matter what you are looking for this summer, Ouray will have it!