Ouray is the Colorado town for the outdoor enthusiast, no matter what your level of physical activity is. High in the rugged Rocky Mountains, the tiny town of 800 offers hospitality to the visitors who have been lucky enough to discover the secrets the tiny town and surrounding area protect.
Box Canyon Waterfall
With thousands of gallons of water a minute spilling down into a narrow quartzite canyon, Box Canyon Falls is a sight not to be missed. In addition to the 285 foot waterfall, Box Canyon is a birding hot-spot that makes it a favorite destination of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. The falls and visitor center are located off highway 550 on CR 361, just to the south of the city of Ouray. For more information call 970-325-7080.
Hot Springs Pool
The nomadic Tabequache Indians stopped in the area of Ouray to soak in what they referred to as “sacred miracle waters” until The Ute Chief signed a treaty with the government that released the San Juan Mountains to the arriving settlers. The town in the beautiful setting of the Rockies was named in Chief Ouray’s honor.
You can see areas of steam rising from the ground in many areas surrounding Ouray. When the water comes out of the ground, temperatures hover at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Several pools have been built that add cold municipal water to the natural mineral laden hot spring waters to bring them down to a temperature that is safe for bathing.
The springs are high in manganese, iron, sodium and sulfates, but have no sulfur. That’s why you can’t detect the unpleasant odor that most people associate with hot springs in other areas of the country.
The Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Fitness Center is open year round. The public pool has three different areas for soaking with temperatures ranging from 88 to 105 degrees, so that there is a comfortable area for each soaker. The pool also offers lap swimming lanes in the hot mineral water.
The pool is located at 1220 Main, Ouray CO, 81427. The phone number is 970-325-7073. Information about the pool can be found online at http://www.cityofouray.com.
As the early settlers moved into the Ouray mining regions, they built homes in the styles that they were familiar with. Many of these homes are still standing. Some of the homes have been restored and some of the buildings are in their natural state. The City of Ouray has been honored by the Colorado and National Historic Authorities as a National Historic District.
If You Go
If you decide to visit Ouray, plan enough time so that you can leisurely explore the activities in Ouray that nature has so generously provided. You won’t want to miss the displays of wildflowers or mountain basins.
Enjoy the drive through the panoramic vistas, and get out and stretch your legs on the walking trails. There are plenty of trails to choose from for all types of hikers. Explore the short trails, the ambitious trails for the serious hiker, or the trails that will prove a challenge even for the serious hiker.
Explore the mountains on foot or in a four-wheel drive. The Ouray area has so much to offer that it goes by many nicknames, including the “Jeep Capital of the World,”“Gem of the Rockies,” and “Switzerland of America.”
Photo of the Box Canyon Waterfall by Nick Komar.
Special thanks to the Ouray Chamber Resort Association for providing the photo of the hot springs pool!
Photo by Kane Scheidegger.
Victorian house photo courtesy of OurayNews.tumblr.com.