Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, Ouray County is a Natural Treasure.
Once central to a booming mining industry, Ouray County now relies mainly on tourism, recreation, ranching, construction and still some mining. Its two towns, Ouray and Ridgway, remain true to the best of the Western Colorado tradition – a relaxed, meaningful quality of life that many only dream about.
Ouray County is noted for some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Often refferred to as “Switzerland of America” and the “Gem of the Rockies”, Ouray County offers amateur and proffessional photographers the magnificence of the San juan Mountains, waterfalls and sparkling riversd, alpine wildflowers and endlessly changing seasonal colors.
In addition, Ouray County offers a number of delightful visitor attractions:
Railroad buffs will enjoy a walk or ride along the old Denver and Rio Grande train bed, which runs paralell to the Uncompahgre River north of Ouray. Avid rock hounds can easily find specimens of pyrite, crystal and even silver and gold for those willing to try their hand at panning. the Bachelor Syracuse mine offers panning lessons and offers the equipment needed at their gift shop.
2.) Bird Watching
Bird watchers will delight in the unique varieties of birds in Ouray County. Species ranging from tiny hummingbirds to golden and bald eagles may be viewed from the town or in the mountains and meadows of the surrounding area. The Box Canyon Waterfall Park is one of just a few known nesting sites for the rare Black Swift, and the entire area has been listed by the National Audobon Society as a rare bird sanctuary.
Hikers and backpackers will find terrain and trails in the county perfect for beginners and experienced hikers alike. From an easy stroll to the base of Cascade Falls, or Portland Trail, a good first time intro to area hiking, to the challenge of the Horsethief-Bear Creek Loop Trail, Ouray County has something for all interests and abilities.
Often refferred to as the “Jeeping Capitol of the World”, four-wheeling is an unqualified means of experiencing the magnificence of Ouray County. Bring along a four-wheel drive vehicle or trail bike, rent a jeep locally or enjoy the convenience of a jeep tour, with knowledgeable, experienced drivers. With access to over 500 miles of trails to explore, a four wheel drive adventure is an item easily marked off of your bucket list!
5.) Rock Climbing and Ice Climbing
Mountain climbing in the summer, and ice climbing in the winter are popular activities in Ouray County. Some of the most popular “fourteeners” are located in the area as well as other challenging peaks to conquer. Canyoneering is a sport quickly gaining popularity in Ouray County as well, combining hiking, climbing and rpelling through spectacular waterfalls. Adventure is easy to find here in Ouray County!
6.) Wildlife Viewing
Ouray County Sparkles during its long season of winter sunshine and moderate temperaturres. Ouray winters offer a quiet serene contrast to Colorado’s more bustling ski areas. Deer, Elk and bighorn sheep are often seen grazing in the City Park during the winter months. One doesn’t even have to travel that far from the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, as a variety of wildlife enjoy the warmth of the hot springs, and can often be spotted just a few feet away while guests enjoy a warm soothing soak.
7.) Winter Exploring
The ultimate in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can be enjoyed against a backdrop of 14,000 foot peaks, wooded trails and alpine meadows. For those less athletically inclined, a snowmobile tour can be an exciting winter adventure which can be enjoyed by the entire family.