Welcome to Ouray Colorado!
Interactive Map of the San Juan Skyway.
Click a ‘Star’ on the map below or a ‘Colored Line Segment’ to learn more about that region of the skyway.
The Place to Stay In Ouray Colorado
Your ‘Classic’ accommodation in Ouray
Beaumont Hotel & Spa
Video Highlights Relating to Ouray
Often referred to as the ‘Gem of the Rockies’ the town and surroundings of Ouray are certainly considered to be among the most beautiful regions in all of Colorado. As is typical of many mountain towns found along the ‘San Juan Skyway’, the town of Ouray is wedged into a valley between two enormous mountainsides.
The town of Ouray on the San Juan Skyway is notable for a number of things. It’s incredible beauty is on the top of the list followed by great shops and restaurants and bars, the restored 1880’s Beaumont Hotel, ice skating and ice climbing in the winter months and music festivals at certain times of the year.
In the early 1880s The Beaumont Hotel was conceived by five Ouray residents (D. C. Hartwell, William Weston, John M. Jardine, Hubbard Reed, and Thomas Gibson) who formed the Ouray Real Estate and Building Association.
Places To Stay In Ouray Colorado
Your ‘Classic’ accommodation in Durango
Beaumont Hotel & Spa
Here is a small Hotel that has been visited by Presidents, dignitaries, and many other notables for over a century.
Things To Do Near Ouray Colorado
Ouray is a small town surrounded by miles of natural beauty. There are so many different types of tours and activities in the Ouray area that it is truly astounding. Here is a sampling of what you can expect: hiking, Jeep rental, 4×4 guided tours, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, boating, SUP, tubing, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, backcountry skiing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, hot air ballooning, hot springs, ice skating, ice climbing, sledding, snowmobiling and more.
Ouray – The Switzerland of America
From some of the best ice climbing in the world in its own Ice Park to groomed stretches of the Uncompahgre in winter and hikes at other times, the town is filled with and encircled by outdoor activity and tour choices. Located on the edge of town, the famous Ouray Hot Springs Pool includes a hot pool for therapeutic adult soaking, a lap pool for fitness seekers, and a shallow pool for kids, maybe after their ice climbing lessons at Ouray Ice Park. With so much family-friendly fun to enjoy and natural beauty to explore, when it’s time to hang up hiking shoes and boots, the town offers visitors a wonderful mix of food, beverage and brewery options along with no shortage of unique shopping experiences on the town’s Main Street, registered as a National Historic District. Two-thirds of Ouray’s original Victorian structures are still occupied and have been restored to retain the town’s original charm. Visitors can learn all about the town’s history at the Ouray County Museum.
When centuries before the white man nomadic Utes discovered the area known today as Ouray, little wonder that, in summer, spring and fall, they were deeply attracted to the beautiful amphitheater, its three waterfalls, and creeks flowing into what we know as the Uncompahgre River. Moving their camps to different elevations in the seasons, the Utes took full advantage of geologic activity that created the multi-colored cliffs around today’s Ouray. Ouray’s setting is a product of tremendous geologic activity in the San Juans. Ouray’s great bowl itself was carved out of volcanic strata by glaciers. In the midst of the results of these geologic forces, the Utes found an abundance of deer, elk and sheep scrambling on mountainsides. The Utes also found, and no doubt used, hot springs that surfaced within the city limits of today’s Ouray. Like current visitors to Ouray, the Utes appreciated the curative and relaxing powers of the hot springs. So much so, in fact, that when the Utes ceded the San Juans to the U.S. government in 1873, the northern two-thirds of the valley between present-day Ouray and Ridgway that contained springs had to be given back to the Utes.
Over the next few years trails and roads to Ouray would be built including the toll road built by Otto Mears that eventually became part of the “Million Dollar Highway.” Mears famous toll road from Silverton to Ouray was completed in 1883. Growth in Ouray quickened with the coming of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (D&RGR) from the north in 1887. Mears toll road later connected a terminus of D&RGR in Ouray to one in Silverton for transporting ore between the two towns. When the Silver Purchasing act of 1893 obliterated silver mining in Ouray and elsewhere in the USA, miners quickly turned to gold. The Camp Bird Mine located on Canyon Creek above Ouray became one of the most famous gold mines in Colorado.
But Ouray-the-mining-town became Ouray-the-tourist destination from its inception. Besides its spectacular location and surroundings, hot springs turned the town into a mecca for visitors eager for that very special kind of relaxation and recreation. Trails in the vicinity of Ouray also became the perfect routes for backcountry adventures in the mountains for jeeps, 4X4s, and bikes. With Ouray as a base, adventurers for example can follow the Alpine Loop on some of its 75 miles of dirt roads and trails that follow historic pathways of Native Americans and miners traversing the area that today encompasses Ouray, Silverton, Lake City and Telluride. Some of these travelers head over Cinnamon Pass to the Victorian mining town of Lake City, perhaps returning via Engineer Pass. Both passes are above 12,000 feet.
The start of the Loop could be Corkscrew Gulch, only 8 miles from Ouray, especially beautiful in the fall with its stands of aspen. Less challenging but so very beautiful in spring and early summer, Yankee Boy Basinjust below Mt. Sneffels adds wildflowers in season to its waterfalls. Framed by the 14,000-ft. peaks of the Sneffels Range, alpine Yankee Boy Basin also is well known for its beautiful Twin Falls on Sneffels Creek. The access road to Yankee Boy Basin that twists and turns through stunning country as it climbs upward is a dream trip for four-wheelers. Starting on these off-road adventures from Ouray’s beautiful valley location makes it very clear to visitors why the town and its environs often are called a “Gem of the Rockies”. Beauty and an abundance of marvelous outdoor activities are never far away from Ouray’s historic center. The uniquely “Ouray Experience” also is amplified by annual events like the Ouray Ice Festival, the Jeepers Jamboree and, of course, a Fourth of July Celebration.
The road did not cost more than a million dollars to build, but it did cost a huge sum for its time. It may contain some waste from early gold mills and silver mines, but nowhere near a million dollars worth. There’s also some mystery and dispute about the length of the Million Dollar Highway.
Less than 10 years after the town of Ouray was founded in the heart of the rugged San Juan Mountains, it was being acclaimed as “the prettiest town in Colorado.”
Heading south on Hwy 550 from Ridgway to Ouray, the panorama is full of summits and jagged ridges of the Uncompahgre Wilderness. The very pretty Victorian mountain town of Ouray, tucked beneath a dramatic granite amphitheater…