has been called the Switzerland of America. It is nestled in the
San Juan Mountains at 7760 ft. but is surrounded by scores of peaks
rising above 13,000 ft. Ouray is an old silver mining town and old
mining roads wander through the mountains, dotted with abandoned
mining operations and ghost towns.
Many of the buildings in downtown Ouray were built between 1880
and 1900 and the entire town is designated a national historic district.
We visited Ouray in mid July, 2005 during an RV rally in nearby
Montrose. There we were fortunate to meet a couple, Charlotte and
Roger Duckett, who live in Ouray and who offered to take us four-wheeling
on some of the very scenic jeep roads that are found around Ouray.
Roger was born and raised in Ouray and served as a wonderful guide,
pointing out scenic landmarks and giving us an appreciation for
the mining history of the area. The
scenery on our day-long jeep ride was spectacular - I think we hit
the wildflower blooms at their peak. And Charlotte had brought along
a guide to wildflowers book so we were able to identify the great
variety of species in the area.
. This was our first adventure off-roading and I think we have
been spoiled, having the best one as our first. We
wound our way up the mountains on narrow dirt roads, even fording
some streams. At one point we were unable to proceed as there was
still snow blocking the trail. But it made for some magnificent
filled two photo cards with pictures! You can see more of these
by clicking on the Photos
button. If you are ever near Ouray, we highly recommend renting
a jeep or taking one of the many jeep tours that are available in
town. There are over 500 miles of jeep trails in the area. Is it
any wonder Ouray is called the jeep capital of Colorado?
addition to jeep touring, Ouray is famous for its hot springs pool
and park. The hot springs pool offers 3 soaking sections with temperatures
ranging from 96 to 106 degrees. And the water is free from the strong
smell of sulfur, typical of many hot springs.
took the short hike out to Box Canon Falls where Canyon Creek narrows
and drops thousands of gallons of water a minute into a boxed canyon.
The very dramatic site can be seen from above and below the falls
by following iron-railed walkways that have been built into the
While visiting Ouray, we stayed in Ridgway State Park, the largest
state park in Colorado. There are three campground sections.The
RV sites in the Elk Ridge section are all pull thrus with electric
hookups in a beautiful pinyon-juniper forest up on the ridge.
There is a large 1000 acre reservoir for boating, fishing and swimming.
Fred had great luck fishing from the shore, catching his limit in
trout in about 15 minutes. He said it was almost too easy!
23 miles south of Ouray is another mining town, Silverton. To drive
there you must go over Red Mountain Pass. This incredible road has
been called the Million Dollar Highway. Some
say it's because it cost a million dollars to build, others because
of the million dollar views. It was built in the 1880's as a toll
road. I'm glad we didn't drive our motorhome over it - though it
can be done. The road is narrow and winding, with sheer drop offs
(and no railings) on one side and rocky mountain craigs on the other.
To see our visit to Silverton, go to Silverton
Description or Silverton
From Ouray, we also drove over the San Juan Skyway to the town
of Telluride (also an old mining town and now famous ski area).
and then down to Durango. This road has been designated one of the
most scenic drives in America (and not as scary as the Million Dollar
Highway.) We have separate descriptions and photo galleries of Telluride
To view more photos from this area click here: Ouray
Newsletters Photos Map