From hot springs to rock climbs to breathtaking views, Ouray Colorado is an epic mountain destination that you won’t soon forget. So whether it’s a girls trip with friends or a weekend getaway with that special someone, this quaint town is a “must see” on your bucket list.
I had never heard of Ouray Colorado until a few years ago. Little did I realize what I had been missing out on my entire life. This breathtaking town is only six hours from my house and I wish that I had visited this place sooner. It’s the perfect getaway for an occasion. Here’s eight things you’ve gotta do while you’re visiting the “Switzerland of America”.
#1: Ouray Via Feratta
“What is a Via Ferrata” you might ask? A Via Ferrata is a climbing route on the side of a mountain that is equipped with rebar hand and foot holds, ladders and steel cables. It allows even the most inexperienced climber to try their hand at rock climbing. Ouray’s Via Ferrata–located in the Uncompahgre Gorge of the San Juan Mountains–has only been open since the spring of 2020 and is completely free to the public.
Although free, you do still have to rent your required safety equipment which cost us about $45 per person. However, if you think you might want to climb one of the 3,000 other Via Ferratas in the world, you can buy your own Via Ferrata equipment kit online. We climbed the easier downstream route the first day and loved it so much that we did the more challenging upstream route the next day. It was super hard but amazing and was definitely the highlight of the trip. I would highly recommend doing the Ouray Via Ferrata. Here’s a video I made that gives you all the details you’ll need to know.
#2: Million Dollar Highway to Silverton
This 25-mile stretch of highway between Ouray and Silverton Colorado is considered one of the most scenic drives in the country. It provides some of the best views of the San Juan mountains all while driving on narrow lanes next to steep cliffs without guardrails.
Once your arrive in Silverton, Colorado–which rests at 9,318 feet–you can enjoy some shopping along Main Street. You feel like you’ve stepped onto a set of a country western movie. And don’t miss out on eating at Handlebar’s Restaurant and Saloon. The ambiance is just as amazing as the food.
#3: Ouray Hot Springs
Ouray is located along a large geological lift and produces some of the most clean odorless hot springs in North America. You can soak in the public hot springs for $21 per person or stay at a hotel such as the Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs and admission to their onsite hot springs is included in the price of your room. We stayed at the lodge and it was the most relaxing and enjoyable part of our trip. I would highly recommend it.
#4: Box Cañon Falls and the Perimeter Trail
Within walking distance of the Ouray Via Ferrata is Box Cañon Falls. This 285-foot waterfall dumps thousands of gallons of water into a narrow quartzite canyon. You can experience this waterfall from top to bottom and every where in between for just $5 per person. The foot bridge allows safe access to get up close and person with the waterfall. It’s spectacular. After taking in the views from the top of the falls, you can enter the tunnel and start the 6-mile Perimeter Trail and wraps around the entire city of Ouray from above.
#5: Yankee Boy Basin
As one of the many four-wheeling trails available in the surrounding area, Yankee Boy Basin is a short drive up the mountain from Ouray and ends at 12,526 feet. You definitely need four-wheel drive to get to the top but it’s worth it for the view. Along the way you pass the Ouray Silver Mine and the remains of the Atlas Mill. At the top you reach some beautiful waterfalls including the waterfall that is the same waterfall on the Coors can.
Bonus: Shopping and eating along Main Street
No road trip would be complete without a little splurging on the local cuisine and shopping. Main street in Ouray Colorado is the perfect place to buy a souvenir or t-shirt and then relax to a delicious meal. I’d recommend stopping at Mouse’s for some chocolate and grabbing a greasy burger at Maggie’s or some delicous tacos at Mi Mexico.
I hope these tips will help you on your next trip to Ouray Colorado. This was definitely one of the most beautiful and memorable places I’ve even been to. It’s literally one of the best kept secrets in the Western United States. Let me know how your trip goes in the comments below.
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