Sometimes called the Switzerland of America, Ouray (pronounced, your-ay) is one of the prettiest mountain towns in Colorado, and that’s saying something because there are a lot of them! Located on US Highway 550, aka The San Juan Skyway, which runs from Montrose, Colorado, via Silverton and Durango, Colorado, then 550 continues down to Bernalillo, New Mexico. The portion of the road from Ouray to Silverton is called the Million Dollar Highway, and is one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
The closest major airport city to Ouray is Grand Junction, Colorado, so that is where our trip will begin.
*Recommended hotel in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn.
⇒From Grand Junction, take US Highway 50 south toward Delta, then to Montrose. Continue south through Montrose on US Highway 550 to Ouray. This route follows the Uncompahgre River to Ouray. Drive time between Grand Junction and Ouray: 1.75 hours.
Bonus stop: Ridgway State Park. Located just north of Ouray, this park offers numerous camping options, including yurts. Boating, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, and birding are some of the activities found at this park. Plus the scenery here is spectacular! Here’s a link: Ridgway State Park.
Destination: Ouray, Colorado
Here is a website link for information about lodging, food, and things to do: Ouray, Colorado
Our first stop in Ouray is Box Cañon Falls Park. Admission: $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child. Take a nice, easy trail from the entrance to the falls. You will hear the falls before you see them – they roar! Most of the water cascades behind the walls of this slot canyon, but you will catch glimpses of the falls through gaps in the rock and at the bottom. At times, the rushing water seems to appear out of nowhere. This stop is well worth the admission price. We will let the pictures below speak for themselves.
In addition to the easy trail to the falls, there is another trail to the top of the falls that is a little more strenuous (quite a few stairs), but the views are worth the hike.
Upon entering the park, you may notice pipes and sprayers arranged on the rocks along the side of the road. These are used to make ice in the winter. Ouray has become an acclaimed ice climbing destination, and the town hosts the Ouray Ice Festival every January.
Our next stop is for a short hike at Cascade Falls. Although it is only about a quarter mile to the falls, this is a moderately strenuous, steep, uphill hike. However, the waterfall is worth a little panting, and there is a nice covered area with benches at a viewpoint.
While visiting Ouray, take a few minutes to learn about the town’s namesake: the great Ute Chief Ouray, and his wife, Chipeta. Their former farm, located on the Uncompahgre River south of Montrose, is now the site of the Ute Indian Museum. Another home, a cabin, stood near where the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is today in Ouray. By the way, the pool, which has recently been renovated, will delight the entire family! Here’s a link: Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
Eight square blocks of the original town of Ouray are a National Historic District. We would encourage anyone visiting the town to take a walking tour along Main Street. Stop in at the Ouray County Museum for a history lesson and pick up a walking tour map, then take in the many historic sites, as well as the shops and restaurants along the way.
The scenery is breathtaking, and just getting to spend a few hours or days in the peaceful solitude of this town makes it well worth the trip. Unfortunately, our visit was cut short by a large screw embedded in our tire.
We hope our overview of Ouray, Colorado was informative and that we’ve inspired your wanderlust. As we always say, “Just get in the car!” With a little planning, there’s nothing more fun than a road trip, especially when you get to see scenery like this! Until next time…
Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.
7 thoughts on “Ouray, Colorado”
Great trip, Thanks for sharing
Thank you for reading and for the comment!
Hi Kellye, I am Tom Rutledge’s sister, Suzy Robinson. I have been following you and Mike since Tom told us about your blog. Your posts have been a delight to read and make such a handy reference to places that we hope to visit. We have recently bought a 5th wheel and are returning from our maiden voyage of WA/OR and on our way back to Denver. We are now planning a visit to Lubbock for my 50th high school reunion in October. We are considering seeing the Cowboy Hall of Fame in CO Sprgs and the Quarter Horse Museum in Amarillo as well as Palo Duro Canyon. Tom encouraged me to write to you about some other places/parks/sites we could visit on our way down I-25 and on to Lubbock. Do you have any insights to RV parks in town? We want to spend a couple of days at each stop instead of a mad dash to Lubbock. We don’t plan to go much farther than that but my husband’s birthday comes in our return trip and I would like for this ol’ cowboy to enjoy a special day. I thank you in advance for any suggestions you can make time to offer. I will continue searching in your Archives for other ideas I may have missed. Enjoy your weekend traveling! Suzy and Wayne Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hi Suzy! I feel like I know you!! When Tom told me about your 5th Wheel, I immediately looked it up. WOW! It’s a beautiful home on wheels. So now for the I-25 corridor. Pecos National Monument just a short drive from Santa Fe is one of our favorite sites, but unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the campgrounds near there. If you’re going to be near Albuquerque during the first two weeks of October, the balloon fiesta is fabulous, but at this late date, campsites may be hard to come by.
Oh Kellye, it’s Suzy again. I just found your post on Caprock Canyons and called right away. Have reservations there on our return and at Palo Duro on our way down How exciting! Still would like input on Lubbock RV parks if you have any. Suzy
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I’m sorry that I accidentally posted my previous comment before I finished. You’re going to love Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro. We went to Caprock Canyons last October and the wildflowers were still in bloom. The scenery is gorgeous. If you’re into hiking, Palo Duro has everything from easy to strenuous trails. I have to say that Palo Duro is our #1 favorite place to camp. You will have to try Riverview RV park in Loveland, Colorado sometime on your way home. The (very nice) campground sits near the entrance of the Big Thompson Canyon and the road through the canyon to Estes Park is absolutely gorgeous. As I find other ones, I will try to let you know. Happy camping and safe travels!
I forgot to say that I don’t know much about Lubbock camp grounds, but I have heard that the KOA is nice. Unfortunately, during football season, they book quickly, or so I have heard. There is a Facebook group called “Travel Trailer Life”, and the members offer some great information on various topics. I would encourage you to join the group. We will have to “talk” again soon. Thanks so much for reading our blog posts!!