From soaking in the sulfer free hot springs to adrenaline pumping adventures, Ouray invites you to share the magic!
The area surrounding Ouray is a haven for the adventurer. The mountains seem to call out, begging to be explored. Every season holds a lifetime of experiences, the biggest question is where to begin?
Faith Parry and I decided to put our heads together, and came up with just a few adventures that everyone should try at least once:
The town itself is worthy of any Bucket List. When approached from the South on Highway 550 (the Million Dollar Highway), the initial view of this tiny mountain town is amazing. Walking along Main Street, it is impossible not to pause occasionally just to gaze at the splendor on every side. To one side of the canyon, Cascade Falls dominated the view, while a short walk in the other direction takes you to the base of Box Canyon Falls as it booms through the canyon walls.
1.) Ice Climbing
The idea of climbing a frozen waterfall is an interesting one to say the least. Home to the largest farmed ice park in the country, Ouray boasts a group of volunteers whose passion for climbing is surpassed only by their desire to share the experience. For two decades, our ice farmers have sculpted the ice in the Uncompahgre Gorge into a playground for the sound of heart.
The silence in the park is punctuated by the sound of axes striking ice, and softly spoken warnings to those still below, as athletes ascend to the top of the canyon. The drama of the climb verges on surreal, as if you have transformed into a world in which there is only you, and the ice. Rainbows of light are captured in frozen water, begging a moment of speculation as your body is tested to its limits. Reaching the top of the climb, an impression of fulfillment pervades every fiber, and the mind explodes with ideas for the next challenge.
Climbers almost dance past the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs in the early morning, eager to explore the limits of the ice and themselves. as the day warms and the ice becomes less stable, these same climbers tiredly make their way to the all natural mineral hot springs, exchanging stories of the climb as tired muscles relax in the healing waters.
2.) Drive the Four Wheel Drive Trails
Ouray is one of the jeeping capitals in the world. We have some of the greatest off road terrain the go over spectacular mountain passes and to old mining towns and beautiful high alpine basins.
The most extreme off road route is Black Bear Pass. The pass is one way from Ouray to Telluride and traverses mountain tundra and lush valleys with waterfalls and wildflowers. The pass summits at 12,840 feet above sea level.
Another awesome pass from Ouray is Engineer Pass which is part of the Alpine Loop and connects to many other wonderful passes such as Corkscrew and Cinnamon Passes.
Animas Forks is a wonderful ghost town on Engineer Pass near Silverton. If renting a jeep you will not be able to do Black Bear or Poughkeepsie Gulch. If you want to do any of these passes please be sure you have the right vehicle and equipment. Because of the narrow roads and tight turns a short wheel base and high clearance is a necessity as well as a low range gear.
3.) Sulfur Free Hot Springs
O.K., I know we talk about them all the time, but Ouray has some amazing hot springs.
Southwest Colorado boasts many towns and spas with natural mineral hot springs, but Ouray has the added good fortune to possess hot springs with very low sulfur content; soakers can enjoy the soothing heat of water full of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, without the distinctive odor of sulfur. Common to almost every mineral hot spring is a high content of sodium, which may explain the lightness so many bathers comment on when enjoying this natural wonder.
Bubbling to the surface at temperatures from 140 to 180 degrees, Ouray does have to cool its water to make it safe for bathing. Once part of the first Sanitarium in Ouray, The Box Canyon Lodge provides four redwood tubs tiered on the hillside in our courtyard for guests to enjoy the peace and beauty of the San Juans while soaking in a more private, natural setting. The temperature of our mineral hot spring water is maintained between 101 to 108 degrees varying by a couple of degrees from tub to tub.
The source of the hot water at the Box Canyon Lodge can be seen steaming above the tubs, and as with anywhere the water flows so close to the surface, the area surrounding the spring houses a variety of wildlife taking advantage of the warmer ground, and ever present foliage.
4.) Hike a Fourteener
Anywhere you look in the town of Ouray are peaks and trails beckoning to be traversed. Deep into the canyon and high above timberline, access to miles and miles of back country heaven are literally on your doorstep.
Is climbing a 14er on your bucket list? If so, come to Ouray this summer for some great mountain climbing. Ouray is surrounded by spectacular towering peaks. Our most popular is Mt Sneffels which is 14,150 feet high. Access the trail head by driving up the famous Camp Bird Rd to Yankee Boy Basin. The climb to the peak is a giant rock field and there is usually snow in spots year round. The view from the top is spectacular! Below you to the north are Blue Lakes, which is also an amazing hike.
When climbing 14ers be prepared for any weather and take plenty of food and water. Some people like to start very early in the morning to avoid afternoon storms, but I have done it in the afternoon on a spectacular Colorado blue sky day.
If you just want a serious challenge for a hike and don’t care that it is a 14er there are several 13ers that are more difficult climbs. My absolute favorite is Mount Emma, which is around 13,500. It is a 5,000 vertical foot climb as opposed to Sneffels which is only about a 2,000 foot climb. Uncompahgre Peak is another good 14er nearby.
Regardless of the season, be sure to bring your camera! Standing at the summit of Imogene Pass, or in the middle of Main Street, there is a never ending array of sights to behold. Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help design a getaway that will last forever in your heart, an adventure in every memory.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, before the invention of the mechanical refrigerator, food was kept cool with blocks of ice, which was delivered in the summer months by wagon to the housewives of Ouray County. The Ouray Museum has a 12” x 12” x 2” cast iron horse tie used by a Ouray ice deliveryman. He would throw the horse tie on the ground and tie his horse to it while delivering ice. Often the home icebox would have a door on the outside of the house for the iceman to place a block of ice without entering the home. Ouray children would be sure and be home when the ice was delivered so that they might get a small piece of ice from the deliveryman.
In order to supply ice in the warm months, large icehouses were constructed and straw or sawdust was used to insulate the blocks so that they would be available all summer long. Sawdust was also placed between the blocks so they would not stick together.
Ice was harvested in January and February from Lake Lenore and from a pond near Piedmont, which was flooded with clear water from Coal Creek. The Lake Lenore ice was hauled to Ouray by wagons. A January 23, 1896 article in the Ouray Herald states “all of the teams were pressed into service hauling ice from Lake Lenore. The ice is of fine quality this year.”
The attached photo shows ice cutting on the Haskin Ranch at Piedmont. When the ice was about 30 inches thick it was strong enough to bear the weight of the horses and people and thick enough for ice blocks. Each block weighed 300 to 400 pounds. The ice from Piedmont was loaded onto a Denver and Rio Grande train for the trip to the icehouses in Ouray.
A number of Ouray businesses, often beer or coal distributors, sold 50 to 100 pound blocks of ice all summer long. C. W. Andrew had the exclusive contract for Lake Lenore ice. During the 1890s and early years of the 20th century W. R. Kramer was the manager of the Ouray Ice and Coal Company. S. E. DuPuy was the distributor of Zangs’s Beer and he also sold ice out of his icehouse near the railroad tracks along the Uncompahgre River. The river was the undoing of Mr. DuPuy’s business when on June 15, 1906 the river rose so high that it took out his ice house and sent it several blocks down river. N. P. Sorensen had an icehouse just southwest the Ouray Depot and just northwest of the depot was the Zadra and Zanella San Juan Bottling Works, which also sold ice. Charlie Zadra was the last businessman in Ouray to sell ice blocks.
Ridgway also had an ice business. The Ridgway Creamery, managed by George W. Braman from its opening in 1905 until 1912, began to sell ice during the summer of 1909. The Ouray Herald issue of November 27, 1908 states, “A new icehouse is being erected at the Ridgway Creamery. The creamery company proposes to store ice for its own use and will be able to supply the ice trade in Ridgway during the summer months next season.” The January 9, 1909 issue of the Ouray Herald indicated that the icehouse was completed and being stocked with blocks of ice. On January 14, 1910 the Ouray Herald reported that over 90 tons of ice was put up at the Ridgway Creamery and on January 27, 1911 the Ouray Herald reported that the Ridgway Creamery was obtaining its ice from Piedmont.
About the Author: Don Paulson is the curator at the Ouray County Historical Society and Ouray County Museum. He is also a retired Professor of Chemistry where he specialized in organic chemistry. Don is an active member of the Ridgway Railroad Museum, and an avid hiker, 4WD (jeep) enthusiast, and photographer in addition to his duties as curator for the museum.
Driving the Scenic Highways of Southwest Colorado is not as scary as you think.
The 76 miles of US Highway 550 between Durango and Ouray, Colorado, often referred to as the Million Dollar Highway, is a combination of three (3) mountain passes accross some of the most breathtaking scenery the country has to offer. One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our guests is whether the road will be open when they are planning to visit.
Our answer, regardless of the time of year is almost always YES. Because it is a State highway, and the only means of accessing the town of Silverton, nestled between Molas and Red Mountain Passes, the highway is maintained as a priority by CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation).
Of course, given where we live, and the fact that the summit of Red Mountain Pass is at over 11,000 feet, there are obviously times the road may have to be closed due to Mother Nature, who often likes to throw little "road blocks" at us. Of course, she doesn't take into consideration the tenacity of our amazing road crews. Typically, if the road has to be closed, it is only for a couple of hours while snow is cleared, or maintenance is performed. Whenever possible, maintenance is done during the wee hours of night so as to disrupt the least amount of travelers.
Frankly, who would want to drive this road at night anyway? With its dramatic drops and breathtaking views, this is a drive to be experienced in the full light of day! Regardless of the season, driving in Colorado is an adventure and a feast for the senses. All you need are a few things to make the drive safe and fun no matter what Mother Nature throws at you:
Believe me when I say, your camera will be your best friend on Highway 550! Whether you live here, or this is your first visit, there are so many sights to see and capture. Around each bend, your breath will catch at an entirely new view. Every season is rife with opportunities to exercise your photographic abilities, and you don't have to be a professional because it is close to impossible to take a bad picture here! Driving along the Million Dollar Highway, panoramic views are all there are. From following the curves of the road behind you, to wildlife who seem to be waiting for you to get their best angle, your camera is your best friend as you traverse every curve.
2. Good Tires
It doesn't matter where you are traveling, good tires should always be foremost in your mind. First of all, a good all season tire gives traction and control to the driver that may contribute significantly to the amount of enjoyment you get from the drive. Winter travelers might consider more specialized tires, designed for snow travel, but this is often an unnecessary expense if you are visiting for just a couple of days, then heading back to Phoenix. Surprisingly, snow chains are moderately affordable, and will provide any additional traction and security for traversing the high mountain passes in wintry weather. Another thing to remember is that good tires actually help increase gas mileage and decrease wear and tear on your engine.
3. Front Wheel Drive
Believe it or not, everyone in Colorado does not own a four wheel drive vehicle. Front wheel drive cars are usually more than adequate for travel any time of year along scenic highways. Granted, four wheel drive or even all wheel drive vehicles are great to have, and will add to your confidence in extreme weather conditions, but honestly, adverse weather in Colorado doesn't actually last all that long. There is a saying in Southwest Colorado, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes, or drive ten miles." It couldn't be more true! Highway 550 is also an extremely popular scenic byway for motorcycle enthusiasts in the summer months. With its twisting, well graded meandering, it is an ideal adventure for any driver!
4. Windshield Washer Fluid
Sounds silly, but trust me. There is nothing worse than running out of windshield washer fluid as you are following along a string of cars on a rainy day. Almost instantly, the back splash from the car in front of you has mixed with highway dust, and created close to no visibility. Make is a point to top off before getting on the road, and always have an extra gallon in the trunk.
5. Common Sense
This is not meant to be insulting, nor to discount that sometimes accidents just happen. But, you wouldn't put your head in a tigers mouth(unless you are Siegfried or Roy), so consequently, when the sign says 15 miles an hour with a drawing of what looks like a pretzel, go ahead and slow down. I once asked a police officer, and he told me the largest number of accidents that occur on the Million Dollar Highway involved locals who have taken the road for granted, and forgotten how deceivingly beautiful it is. The fact is, just around any blind corner, there is always the possibility of some surprise waiting for you. Now, when approached at the specified speed limit, you will have more time to react to the Bambi convention at the summit by slowing down without a screeching of locked brakes and smoking tires.
The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, nestled in the southwest corner of Ouray, is the perfect resting place after a day of exploring the outstanding beauty of the San Juan Mountains! Let us be your home away from home, as you soak away the open road in our all natural mineral hot spring tubs, then stuggle up in your room to enjoy a movie or two chosen from our video library. Let our helpful front desk staff assist you in planning the perfect escape in this remarkable mountain town!
Welcome Climbers! Ouray Celebrates 20 Years of World Class Competition.
For two decades now, Ouray has proudly nurtured the largest farmed Ice Park in the country, welcoming climbers from accross the globe as they explore and enjoy the ice so lovingly created by a small group of volunteers. Every year around Thanksgiving, the ice farmers begin to prep the Uncompaghre Gorge for the upcoming ice season.
Hoping for an early season, opening is usually forecasted for around mid December, but is ralrely later than the first week in January. Which is a good thing, because Ice Fest usually falls on the second weekend of the New Year.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Ouray Ice Fest, once a small gathering of ice climing enthusiasts, this festival is now one of the largest of its kind. Renowned athletes from accross the globe travel to Ouray to test their skills on the ice.
San Juan Mountain Guides will again be offering climbing clinics for all levels of experience, in addition to a Kids Climbing College, at which children ages 5 to 16 can be introduced to the wonder of ice climbing free of charge!
Booths offering everything from a sampling of the newest gear to the warmest lightest jackets line the walkway, providing shelter from the cold to onlookers and participants alike.
There are seminars offered throughout the festival, offering a variety of information and traininig from top athletes. From classes for beginners to backcountry tips for the seasoned climber, there are sure to be several that will peak your interest!
Evenings during the festival will be filled with dinners, live music and silent auctions. On Thursday, January 8, 2015, the Wright Opera House will be hosting a kick off party, with great food, fantastic prizes, live music from the group One Roof Blues, and a special screening of the North Face film “Always Above Us” with special guest Conrad Anker. The party goes from 7pm to 10pm, and it is only a $10.00 cover charge.
On Friday, January 9
After a day of interactive clinics and gear demos at the park, head on over to the Ouray Community Center for a dinner, fashion show and silent auction! The Ouray Volunteer Fire Department will be cooking up a delicious meal, and beer will be provided by the Uncompahgre Brewers Association.
Saturday, January 10th
It's a full day and evening of fun and excitement. From gear expos, interactive clinics and the free Climbing College for the kids, to the highly anticipated Elite Mixed Climbing Competition, the day ends with another gathering at the Wright Opera Housewith presentations by Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf and Will Gadd. Ther will be a live auction offering a wide variety of awesome gear, and the presentation of the Jeff Lowe award. Beer provided by the Uncompahgre Brewers Association. Of course, tha's not the end of the celebration by any means!
From 9:30 pm to 1:30 am, relive the magical moments of Prom Night (but this time you know better) at this years themed Petzl Party and dance.
Sunday, January 11
This is the last day of the festival, beginning with the Hari Berger Speed Climbing Comp, sponsored by Lowa. More interactive clinics, Kids climbing College, Gear Expos and Free Walk-up Climbing at the La Sportiva Zone fill the morning and afternoon, culminating in the ASOLO Awards Ceremony at the Outdoor Gear Expo at 1pm.
As the festival begins to wind down, there is no better way to end your time in Ouray than a warm soothing soak in the all natural mineral hot springs. Regardless of whether you have been climbing all day, or watching the competitions from the side of the Gorge, a long soak in water ranging from 103 to 108 degrees is sure to take the chill from your bones and put you in a relaxed state of mind, ready for a quiet dinner and restful evening before heading home in the morning.
Once the festival is over, and the town has quieted down somewhat, it is the ideal time to come back to Ouray, and try your hand at climbing. Take a class or go with a guide to explore the many awesome climbs in the park, as well as some in the back country!
Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help to plan your ice climbing adventure in Ouray!
When is the Best Time for Taking Pictures in the San Juan Mountains? You Decide!
Southwest Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Of course, I may be a little bit biased, but there are thousands of people who agree with me. Regardless of the time of year, there is something spectacular to be seen wherever you look. From abundant wildlife to breathtaking views, it is difficult to say what might be the best.
Winter in Ouray boasts a peaceful serenity. Snow falls for perhaps a day or so, then the sun returns, shining brightly on the snow blanketed mountains and town. A sense of timelessness prevails, and the opportunities to capture this feeling abound. Walk to the Box Canyon Falls, or the Ouray Ice Park to capture images of the Uncompahgre Gorge; ice lines the sides of the canyon, and prisms of color glint in the crisp winter air. Ice climbers traverse the terrain in a spectacle of silent activity. From images of deer and elk grazing at the park, to the rainbow of colors in a frozen waterfall, there may not be enough memory in your camera!
Springtime in the Uncompahgres is a season of renewal and beauty. As the snow begins to thaw in the high country, seasonal waterfalls can be found virtually everywhere. The weather begins to warm and the world turns green and fresh. Wildflowers begin to blossom, and soon will envelope entire valleys in a spectrum of colors that must be seen to be believed. Yankee Boy Basin is one of the most popular areas for wildflower viewing and photography. Just a short drive from Ouray, yet worlds away, this valley has a little of everything. The Twin Falls are surrounded by shades of green with interspersing yellows, purples and reds from the flowers dotting the rivers edge. Between hills overflowing with color to the waterfall, this place is truly a photographers dream.
Summertime brings opportunities for exploration! As the four-wheel drive trails open, photographers are able to venture deep into the high country. The panoramic views above timberline give the impression of eternity. Explore old mines and ghost towns, capturing a taste of life in the early years in Southwest Colorado, as hardy settlers tamed the mountain. Marvel at the dramatic scenery as you travel over Imogene Pass, open only a few months out of the year, as the trail takes you from Ouray at 7500 feet to a peak of 13,000 feet before dropping back to 8,000 feet in Telluride. The variety of scenery, wildlife and history are sure to please any photographer.
Fall begins usually in mid to late September, and as the leaves change color, the entire landscape becomes a pallette of red and gold many a painter has tried to recreate. Drive The Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Durango, hardly need to get out of the car to fill a memory card with images leaving you hungry for more. The Last Dollar Road travels from Dallas Divide, just outside of Ridgway to Telluride, and is one of the most beautiful drives at the peak of Fall Colors. Parts of the road travel through a grove of aspen; at certain times of the day, as the sunlight filters through the trees, with random leaves floating down from the heights, words cannot describe the surreal beauty.
It is difficult to settle on one specific time of year for capturing the beauty and majesty of the San Juans. Each season holds her own appeal, and it is up to you, the individual, to decide what you most desire. Once that decision has been made, book your next visit with us at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, and Ouray will take care of the rest!
Ouray and Ridgway Welcome You to Celebrate the Holiday!
If you are planning to spend Christmas with us and would like a church to
celebrate here is a list of some options, and a bit about what each has to offer:
Ouray’s Baptist Church just a block from the hotel at 100 4th St, Ouray, Co. (970) 325-4448
will have their Christmas Eve Candlelight service @ 6:30 pm, on Wednesday, December 24th. All are welcome to come. They begin by lighting the Christ candle then different people read Scripture from the Old and New Testaments. In between the readings, they will sing Christmas carols and hymns. All of this together, tells the Christmas story. Toward the end of the service, they light a candle from the Christ candle, and then each person lights their candle from one another. The service ends with singing "Silent Night" in the glow of the candles.
Ouray Christian Fellowship at 336 4th Ave, Ouray, CO. (970) 325-4253
will have a Lessons and Carols service at 7 pm *based* on (but different than) the traditional Anglican service performed each year. It features roughly 7 “lessons” (readings from Scripture) which point us to Christ or to a theme of Christmas and 7 “carols” which are congregational and choral responses to those lessons. The service is entirely “scripture” and “song” - no preaching; we let the Bible and the Hymns preach to us on the Eve of Christmas. Everyone is welcome to attend and to listen to the themes of Scripture unfolded for us in Christ. There is no childcare provided because the service is designed with many interactive elements - mostly singing - to engage the family. The service should last about one hour, concluding with a candlelight singing of “Silent Night”.
Calvary Community Church at 380 2nd St, Ouray, Co (970) 325-4049 is having a Christmas Day Celebration at the church at 10:00 AM. The service will consist of singing Christmas Carols and special readings of the Christmas Story. They will also have stocking for children ages 2-10 during the service. The service will conclude with a brunch welcome to all.
St John’s Episcopal Church, (970) 325-4655
will have a Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols service at 5 pm and a Christmas Day service at 10:30 am. St John’s is located at 329 5th Ave. Ridgway Community Church is having a Christmas Eve candlelight service at 5pm. The service will be a remembrance of Luke, Matthew and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Community Church is located on the north side of Hwy 62 also known as Sherman in town.
St Daniel’s Catholic Church at 614 5th St, Ouray, Co (970) 325-4373
will have a Christmas Eve Mass at 8pm on December 24, 2014, and a Christmas celebration at 9am on Christmas Day.
Ridgway Community Church (970) 626-5692
Ouray and Ridgway are a magical place to celebrate the holidays. From a variety of ourdoor activities, to the thriving community togetherness, there are few more enticing places to enjoy a winter getaway.
The staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs
works to provide the ideal escape for everyone, and are more than happy to provide information to make your escape perfect!
About the Author: Ever the wine enthusiast and farm to table promoter, Faith Parry is the brains and brawn of the Ouray Wine, Chocolate and Cheese festival. She tirelessly explores hidden gems, and shares with us experiences and adventures that otherwise we wouldn't know were so fabulous! Southwest Colorado is a treasure trove of talented people all eager to share their passion for a variety of creativity from wine and cheese, to the Ridgway MoonWalk.
Southwest Colorado is a Winter Wonderland!
The end of the year is fast approaching. We will soon bid 2014 goodbye, and journey into a New Year of adventures.
From visits with Santa himself, thanks to the Ouray Elks Lodge, to cross country skiing across pristine fields in Ironton Park, the holiday season promises something for everyone in the Uncompahgres.
The recent snow has blanketed the town with soft piles of wintery perfection. The landscape stands pristine as a Christmas Card, snow draping rooftops and tree branches as if posing for a photo shoot.
The Ouray Ice Park is looking forward to opening all of the climbs soon, waiting for Mother Nature to accomodate the ice farmers with ideal climbing conditions, and the snow is perfect for snow shoeing, alpine skiing, and sledding.
As the Holidays approach, planning for those special evenings can be difficult - even with limited options, there are almost too many to choose from.
Both Ouray and Ridgway boast some amazing dining options. The following restaurants will be open with special holiday hours:
Artisan Bakery - 460 Main Street Ouray, CO (970) 325-4677
Located at the South side of town, right on main street, in the old Wright Opera house. With friendly staff, Great food, and a nice atmosphere, you can't go wrong stoping in here! And now, With Doughnuts, made right on the premisis, on Saturday mornings! YUMMMM!
Christmas Eve: 7am - Noon
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 7am - Noon
New Years Day: CLOSED
Backstreet Bistro - 636 Main Street Ouray (970) 325-0550 Warm, fresh coffee, homemade bagels and pastries, and sandwiches as well as a full breakfast menu with pancakes, bacon, sausages, eggs, omelets, and skillets. A very yummy way to treat yourself!
Christmas Eve: 7am - 3pm
Christmas Day: 7am - Noon
New Years Eve: 7am - 3pm
New Years Day: 7am - Noon
The Buen Tiempo - 515 Main Ouray (970) 325-4544
Serving great Mexican food and the best margaritas this side of Santa Fe, The staff at the Buen Tiempo are sure to bring a smile to your face as well as your stomach! Entrees include such items as Carne Adovada, Camarones (spicy grilled shrimp), Carne Asada, Chile Rellenos, Spinach Enchiladas with Blue Corn Tortillas, Vegetarian Quesadilla and Huevos Rancheros.
Christmas Eve: 5:30 - close
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 5:30 - close
New Years Day: 5:30 - close
Beaumont Grille - 505 Main Street Ouray (970) 325-7000 Located in the Beaumont Hotel, the Beaumont Grille offers a casual menu in a warm and inviting Bistro. The European setting offers a secluded cozy feel and is easily accessed right off of Main Street or through the hotel lobby.
Christmas Eve: Open from 5-9pm with regular dinner menu
Christmas Day: Closed
New Years Eve: 7pm only Surf-n-Turf 4 course meal $59.99, reservations requested. Lounge opens at 5pm for pre dinner drinks.
New Years Day: Open from 5-9pm with regular dinner menu
Bon-Ton Restaurant - 426 Main Street 970-325-4419 Located downstairs in the St. Elmo Hotel in Ouray, CO; the restaurant is warmly decorated with rock walls, hardwood floors and a beautiful bar. The Bon Ton has been one of western Colorado’s favorites for more than 20 years.
Christmas Eve: 5pm - close. Will be offering a variety of chef specialities in addition to select items off of the regular menu
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 5pm - 10pm - Accepting reservations up to 9:45pm! Will be offering a variety of chef specialities in addition to select items off of the regular menu
New Years Day: CLOSED
Cimarron Cafe - 153 Hwy 550 970-626-4426 Featuring only the freshest ingredients, hand-made sauces and hand– crafted ingredients, this comfortable and casual family restaurant has a large, varied menu, a well stocked bar and a great wine list.
Christmas Eve: CLOSED
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 7:30am - 10pm - offering dinner off menu and some New Years Eve Special as well!
New Years Day: CLOSED
Cavallo's - 630 Mian Street, Ouray 970-325-2042 Focusing on only the freshest ingredients and beautiful presentations, combined with original recipes with a Louisiana flair. Excellent breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with a creole twist.
Christmas Eve: 7am - 2pm, and 5pm - 9pm
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 7am - 2pm and 5pm - 9pm
New Years Day: 7am - 2pm and 5pm to 9pm
Four Corners Cafe - 304 South Lena Street Ridgway 970-626-3737 Delicious, Southwestern inspired healthy fare in a fine dining experience. Fresh, local, and organic is the theme for a Christmas breakfast to remember.
Christmas Eve: 5pm - 9pm
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 5pm - 9pm
New Years Day: CLOSED
Goldbelt Bar & Grill - 800 Main Street, Ouray (970) 325-7323 A family-friendly affordable restaurant in Ouray reopened this year by the former owners of the famous Cafe Ouray. The Goldbelt is known for homemade pizza and fantastic sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Everything is homemade, from the crusts, to the salad dressings, warming soups and some fabulous desserts.
Christmas Eve: 11am - 9pm
Christmas Day: 11am - 9pm
New Years Eve: 11am - 9pm
New Years Day: 11am - 9pm
Mouse's Chocolates - 520 Main Street Ouray (970) 325-7285 We are a small family of chocolatiers and coffee roasters living in a small town nestled in the San Juan Mountains in the southwest corner of Colorado. We use only the finest Belgian chocolate and make everything by hand.
Christmas Eve: 9am - 6pm
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 9am - 10pm
New Years Day: 9am - 10pm
O’Brien’s Pub - 726 Main Street Ouray, CO 81427 (970) 325-4386 Offering homemade Irish-American cuisine and a full bar, including Guinness on tap. The menu includes Irish Eggrolls, Scottish Eggs, Guinness Stew, Fish & Chips and other Irish specialties.
Christmas Eve: CLOSED
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 11am - close. Local Band Astral Knots will be playing from 9pm til one am
New Years Day: 11am - close
Ouray Brewery - 607 Main Street Ouray (970) 325-7388
This brewery features an interesting menu -- a combination of bar food and gluten and vegetarian options as well as a few specialties of the chef. They carry 3-5 different brews at any one time and serve tasting flights.
Christmas Eve: 11am - 6pm
Christmas Day: 5pm - 9pm
New Years Eve: 11am - 9pm
New Years Day: 11am - 9pm
The Outlaw Restaurant - 520 Main Street Ouray (970) 325-4366 Known as The Outlaw since late 1968. We welcome you to it's western charm & friendly atmosphere, adorned with old family photos, the Duke's Hat & other memorabilia. Come in where past and present merge.
Christmas Eve: 5pm - close
Christmas Day: 5pm - close
New Years Eve: 5pm to close
New Years Day: 5pm to close
True Grit Cafe - 123 North Lena Street Ridgway 970-626-5739 Established in 1985, the "Grit" as it is known has been serving hungry tourists and locals for over 25 years. We offer excellent and tasty 'Cowboy Cuisine' in a comfortable western environment with a friendly staff that will make you feel like you're part of the Grit Family.
Christmas Eve: 11am - 7pm
Christmas Day: CLOSED
New Years Eve: 11am - 10pm
New Years Day: 11am - 10pm
New Year's Eve promises yet again to be explosively fun, with parties at the Ouray Elks Lodge, O'Brien's Pub, and all up and down Main Street, drink specials, and special dining options will keep you entertained all through the last night of the year, finishing off with a spectacular fireworks display at the stroke of midnight!
Don't miss the holidays in Ouray!
We would love to make your reservations and ensure a delightful stay in Ouray Colorado. Add Ouray CO to your holiday Wish List!
Ouray Hotel Honors the Tradition of Mistletoe at Christmas and where it came from.
We have all heard of or experienced the sweetly entertaining tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe at Christmas time, but does anyone really know the origin of this charming tradition?
If we travel back in time to ancient Scandinavia we may discover how it all came to be. Mistletoe was long believed to be a symbol of peace and joy. There was an ancient custom that if; while out in the woods you happened to find yourself standing under a mistletoe plant, upon encountering an enemy, you both must lay down your weapons and observe a truce until the next day. This custom eventually led to hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.
The ancient Druids took mistletoe very seriously; they had a very elaborate ritual for gathering the mistletoe that sometimes could include human sacrifice. When harvesting the mistletoe the branches had to be caught before they touched the ground otherwise the plant would have lost its healing powers. The plant was then distributed amongst the people to be hung over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils. They would also place a sprig in a babies cradle to protect the child from Goblins. The Druids considered it to have magical properties so it was worn as a good luck charm and also placed over doorways to ward off evil spirits. And so any who entered through the doorway received a kiss as a seal of friendship.
One of the oldest myths about mistletoe was in regards to Baldur a Norse God. The story goes that Baldur, the god of sunshine and light, was the son of Odin and Frigga, goddess of love.
Baldur had a premonition of his own death; this greatly alarmed his mother for if he should die then all life on earth would end. In an attempt to prevent Baldur’s death, Frigga asked every element of nature to promise not to harm him. In her haste she forgot the lowly mistletoe, the evil God Loki knew of her mistake and so he made an arrow tip of mistletoe and gave it to the blind God of Winter, Hodar, who then accidentally shot and killed Baldur. Instantly the sun ceased to shine the sky paled and all things on Earth and in the Heavens wept for the fallen Sun God. For three days each element and all of the Gods and Goddess tried to revive him, and he was finally restored to life.
It is said that the tears of joy that Frigga shed then turned into the pearly white berries on the mistletoe plant, and in her joy she kissed everyone who passed under the tree on which it grew. It was then decreed that the mistletoe would never again cause harm and that anyone who walked under it should receive a kiss, a token of love.
The earliest document case of kissing under the mistletoe was back in the 16th century in England, it was a very popular custom at that time. The original custom in England was that the gentleman would pick a berry from the sprig of mistletoe before he could kiss the lady standing under it. Once all the berries had gone there could be no more kissing. In the 18th Century the exchanging of kisses between and man and woman was adopted as a promise to marry. At Christmas time a lady standing under a ball of mistletoe could not refuse to be kissed. It was believed that if the girl remained unkissed she could not expect to marry in the following year.
In the modern day although greenery is still widely used as a Christmas decoration, the practice of hanging mistletoe is rarely done. Even though almost everyone has heard of the custom of kissing under the mistletoe, it is a sweet and simple ancient tradition that many have forsaken. So this holiday season we here at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs would wish upon everyone all the peace, joy and friendship that mistletoe was long believed to help bring.
About the Author: Morgan McDaniel is a Ouray County native. After graduating high school, Morgan continued through college, and spent some time out of Colorado. Recently, she returned to Ouray, and can be found pursuing a number of activities, as well as the occasional cameo appearance at the Silver Eagle.
Santa Delivers in Southwest Colorado!
The Ouray Elks Lodge works all year, holding special events, BBQ's and meetings in order to raise money for the community. The funds these hardy volunteers raise are used to help pay medical expenses for some, scholarships to deserving students, and FUN! Perhaps one of the most touching events is when Santa comes to town. Elk members hold a special potluck dinner a week or so before Christmas, to help out Santa and his elves by stuffing dozens upon dozens of stockings. On Christmas Eve, several members of the club offer their services even further to St. Nick by becoming honorary elves for the evening, driving him to and fro, across Ouray County in whatever weather, to help him deliver gifts and good cheer.
Parents who live in the Community, and families who are visiting, are invited to call these honorary elves with the names and locations of their kids, so Santa can be sure to give them extra special attention.
With the help of a dedicated staff of volunteers, Santa is able to make his rounds all through Ouray County, visiting children far and wide. Every Christmas Eve, the Ouray Elks Lodge brings smiles and gifts to the children of Ouray County, delivering a stocking filled with treats, and a special gift just for them.
It is always such a pleasure to see the faces of children light up when they discover Santa at their door, especially when they are far from home! During your visit over Christmas to the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs we invite you to take part in this Ouray Christmas tradition. Please give us a call at 800-327-5080, or send us an email, letting us know the names, ages, and gender of the children staying with you over Christmas Eve. We will contact the Ouray Elks Lodge with your information and arrange for Santa to drop by your room and hand out gifts and treats for the children. You can even arrange to leave gifts here in the lobby that you would like Santa to deliver for you.
There are few better ways to celebrate the holiday than to spend Christmas Eve in Ouray! Enjoy a devine meal in one of our amazing restaurants on Main Street, then return for a soothing soak in our all natural mineral hot spring tubs before settling down with the little ones to enjoy a movie from our extensive video library while you wait for Santa to arrive with a jolly laugh and a memory your child will cherish forever.
Snowshoeing in the San Juan Mountains - An Adventure Not to be Missed!
So often when one thinks on winter activities, the mind travels to downhill skiing, ice climbing and snow mobiling. Speed and adrenaline rule the day! Snow shoeing and cross country skiing are often overlooked by many a winter enthusiast.
Whether you have never tried snow shoeing, or are a seasoned hiker, nothing can compare to traveling across fields of untouched snow; a sense of oneness with the forest around you. Granted the sport is a work out, but the beauty is that you can set your own pace, taking time to breathe in the phenomenal sights and awe inspiring silences of winter in the San Juans.
Possibly the best thing about snow shoeing is that you can go virtually anywhere (within reason) that you might hike to in the summer months. As with hiking the back country in the summer though, it is very important to never snow shoe alone, have the proper equipment, be aware of the weather conditions and plan accordingly. If you did not bring all of the gear necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, you can always rent or purchase needed supplies here in Ouray at Ouray Mountain Sports on Main Street.
Once you and your friends have all of your gear, it is time to pick a trail. Ouray County boasts a large number of spectacular trails, however, it is important to base your final decision on your level of experience, snow and weather conditions, and the length of time you would like to spend on your adventure. Always remember that when you travel into the back country, you are entering possible avalanche areas. Be sure to check the snow and weather status before heading out, and remember it is always safer to go earlier in the day before the sun has had a chance to soften the snow too much.
It is hard to list just a few trails to explore, however after trying a few and speaking to some real snow shoeing enthusiasts, here are the top five trails ranging in difficulty that are highly reccommended:
1.) Uncompahgre River Trail - Easy
Approximately two miles round trip, this easy, extremely level trail is located right in Ouray and travels along the river. You will be sure to encounter fellow hikers and cross country skiers (proper snow pack provided), as this trail is great for beginners or for a quick stretch for the more seasoned snowshoer. This trail can be accessed either at the Ouray City Park or off of Oak Street on the other side of the river.
2.) Ice Park Trail - Easy to Moderate
Still in town, but a bit more challenging, the Ice Park Trail is accessed off of Campbird Mine Road and offers breathtaking views of the Uncompahgre Gorge. You may be able to get a true bird's eye view of ice climbers below as you traverse the canyon above. The climb is not too extreme, but steep enough in spots to take your breath away. Offering a little of everything, the Ice Park Trail is a great adventure right out your front door.
3.) Ironton Park - Easy to Moderate
Ironton Park is located about nine miles north of Ouray off of Highway 550 or the Million Dollar Highway. Known more for its beautifully groomed cross country ski trails, this is also an amazing spot for snow shoeing as well. Just remember the best way to give yourself a bad name as a snow shoer is to trample or otherwise alter the groomed tracks on a ski trail. Offering a variety of trail options, the easiest being the Townsite Loop. About 2 miles long, this trail takes you to some of the old buildings of the town of Ironton, where you can explore this old ghost town and imagine the lives of those who once called this area home.
Accessed off of the Townsite Loop are the Saratoga and Brooklyn Bash trail heads.
A short ways on the main loop will bring you to the trail head for Saratoga and Iron Fen. Although the mine is no longer visible, this trail takes you through a flat valley with views of the surrounding forest before taking you into the woods in a path leading back to the beginning junction. Along the way, the trail head to the Brooklyn Bash takes adventurers through a grove of aspens as you climb to the mine through thick bushes and a small creek, which may vary in difficulty depending on snow depth. Once past the mine and creek, the trail takes you back down to the Saratoga intersection.
4.) Yankee Girl - Moderate
Accessed off of County Road 31, a couple of miles north of Ironton Park off of the Million Dollar Highway, parking is a bit off the road, and may need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the trail head, but, believe me, its worth it! Climb up County Road 31 past the head structure of the once booming Yankee Girl Mine to the former site of Red Mountain Town, once home to over 1000 year round residents before looping back around for an easier descent. This 4 mile trail is a true adventure in history and scenic photo ops.
5.) Amphitheater Basin/Portland Mine - Moderate to Difficult
Just above Ouray to the south, the Amphitheater Basin offers some of the most talked about snow shoeing trails in the San Juans. At the entrance to the Amphitheater Campground, just before the bridge you will find the Portland Trail. Travel south up the road (it is steep) for about ten or fifteen minutes to the Portland Trailhead. Follow this trail past a serene meadow and unparalelled views of the Ampitheater until you eventually find yourself on a back jeep road leading to the Ouray Mine. this is an incredibly rewarding trail offering scenery well worth the climb.
This is just a small taste of the many opportunities to explore Ouray County in the winter. Literature abounds on snow shoeing and cross country ski trails, and please take advantage of the knowledge of the Ouray County Nordic Council, whose collective knowledge is responsible for the mapping and grooming of so many fantastic trails. The staff at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs are happy to connect you with the best possible guidance to ensure the safest and most pleasant adventure on your next snow shoeing expedition, and of course, what better way to finish off a day in the back country than to come home to the Box Canyon and enjoy a long soothing soak in our natural mineral hot spring tubs?
See you soon!