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Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado

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Snow Conditions around Ouray Colorado


We received an update from the USFS in Montrose today and the conditions are not surprising if you live in Ouray Colorado but might shock those that have heard of epic snowstorms in the Colorado high country.  Ouray CO has had plenty of moisture but unfortunately, it has been too warm so it comes to us in the form of rain.  But, on a positive note, today's weather is mostly a frozen margarita or a slushy as the rain is beginning to turn to snow.  We still may have a white Christmas at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs after all!

The following information is from the USFS Ouray Ranger District:

For holiday recreation, here is the snow report...  In a nutshell, conditions are generally very poor.

  • Dave Wood XC Ski Area: Not enough snow to ski.
  • Ironton Park XC Ski Area: Enough snow for skiing designated trails, and good quality.  Not yet being groomed.  Off-trail skiing not recommended.
  • Miller Mesa: Not enough snow to ski.  You would have to walk a couple of miles up CR 5 to reach good snow.  Do not attempt to drive it beyond the winter parking area -- the road is very, very icy (I learned this first hand).
  • Red Mountain Pass: Enough snow for backcountry skiing, but rock skis are recommended as there is no base yet.  Check avalanche and weather reports before visiting this area -- avalanche danger has been very high!!!
  • Uncompahgre Plateau Snowmobile Routes: Enough snow for snowmobiling on unplowed roads, but not enough for cross-country travel (where permitted).  Leaving the road is inadvisable, as there is not enough snow to allow passage over surface obstacles.  As of Tuesday, snowmobile trails were not yet being groomed.  Dave Wood access is good.  Other access points are unknown.
  • Owl Creek Pass Snowmobile Route:  Not yet being groomed and not recommended.  Access is very poor due to warm, wet conditions.  You must travel a long way on muddy, icy roads on either side of the pass to reach adequate snow.

Try these websites for more information:
Colorado Avalance Information Center:
National Weather Service:

The good news is that the natural hot springs in Ouray are warm as ever and we welcome everyone to come down for a great soak. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone from all of us at the hotel.

Ouray & Ridgway Colorado were home to the first "True Grit"


A list of things to do in Ouray Colorado is not complete without finding a few movie locations.  Many westerns were filmed in and around Ouray County including the original production of "True Grit" staring John Wayne, Kim Darby and Glen Campbell.   John Wayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, the crotchety marshall helping Matti Ross track down her father's killer. 

A great YouTube video showcases the locations from Ouray and Ridgway, then and now style.

A package that includes lodging, jeep rental and dinner is available through several Ouray businesses to enable you to track down these spots.  This package is available from mid-June through September.  Snow makes some travel difficult at other times of the year but both Ridgway and Ouray scenes are accessible year round.

You can book the True Grit Package through our hotel in Ouray.

Other movies filmed in the area include:

1950 A Ticket to Tomahawk - With Dan Dailey, Anne Baxter, Rory Calhoun, Marilyn Monroe

1951 Across the Wide Missouri - Clark Gable

1956 Tribute to a Bad Man - James Cagney
1962 How the West Was Won - Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne et al.
1964 Unsinkable Molly Brown - Debbie Reynolds
1965 Sons of Katie Elder - John Wayne and Dean Martin (based on a real Ridgway family)
1968 True Grit - John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Paul Newman
1978 Avalanche - Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow (final scene shows a clip of Farrow hanging off the Camp Bird Mine Bridge
1987 - Over the Top, Sylvester Stallone. Opening has 18-wheeler driving through mountains. Red Mountain.

Alferd Packer: The Musical (1996)
...aka Cannibal! The Musical (1996)
Durango Kids (1999)
Sunchaser, The (1996)

Box Canyon Lodge Earns Green America’s Business Seal of Approval

green-america-seal-of-approvalBox Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is thrilled to announce it has been awarded the Green  America Business Seal of Approval. The seal is presented to businesses that go beyond product and service quality to set the highest standards in environmental sustainability and social justice, and work to solve, rather than create, environmental and social problems.

To be considered for the Seal of Approval and earn a listing in the annual National Green Pages™, businesses complete a rigorous screening process to ensure they meet Green America’s standards for the environment, community and labor.

Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is known for its unique natural hot springs hot tubs which are terraced on the mountainside, and guests love these natural hot springs.  But, this Ouray Colorado hotel also uses their geothermal resources to heat their domestic water supply and to heat the entire property.  The Box Canyon Lodge shows exemplary concern and corporate practices for people and planet; they recycle, work with environmentally conscious suppliers, and listen to their workers.

“We are over the top excited to earn this coveted Seal of Approval,” said Karen Avery, owner of the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. “It’s one of the most respected and recognized symbols in the green marketplace and a powerful way to set our Ouray CO hotel apart as a leading green hotel.”

Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is now an Approved member of the Green Business Network, a distinguished and celebrated group of companies that use their products and services as a vehicle for social and environmental change.

More on the Green Business Network:

The Green Business Network (GBN) offers a vibrant community of over 4,000 environmentally and socially responsible businesses, the oldest and largest of its kind in the US. GBN is powered by Green America, a non-profit whose mission is to harness the economic power of consumers and businesses to create a more just and sustainable economy. More information on GBN can be found at and for more on the Seal of Approval, click on “Get the Seal.”

More on Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs:

The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is located in southwestern Colorado along the San Juan Skyway scenic and historic byway.  Situated on a side street in the picturesque village of Ouray, this green hotel strives to provide a wonderful experience for Ouray's visitors as well as provide an environmentally friendly  lodging experience.  Read more about their green commitment at their website:

Ouray Ice Park Update


The Ouray Ice Park continues to make ice but Mother Nature doesn't want to cooperate as much now that the season is upon us.  Making ice is a delicate process. 

They Ouray Ice Park employs folks to farm ice. The ice men need the temperatures in the Uncompaghre Gorge to be cold enough to freeze the water and yet warm enough to keep it moving in the pipes.  The ice park has the water under high pressure in the pipes and that helps keep it running.  This is nothing but a science experiment on a large scale and water pressure in the irrigation system and temps of the water and outside air are variables to ice making in this grand scale.  If the water pressure is too low, the water can freeze in the pipes, for example. 

The water used to make ice comes from the City of Ouray's water supply and that is usually at 37 degrees Farenheit.  Tempertures outside typically need to be 26 degrees Farenheit at night to be able to properly cool the water in time for it to freeze.  Think Arctic Cold Blast!  Optimum nighttime temps for making ice are in the mid teens.

Initially in 2010, the opening of the Ice Park was announced for this upcoming weekend (Dec 11) but the opening has been delayed since warm air temperatures have dashed that hope.  It will be cold enough for the next couple of evenings to work on those fat pillars of ice but daytime temps for the weekend are a bit high.  The Ouray Ice Park conditions are posted regularly on its website to keep climbers abreast of ice park conditions.

Here are a two pictures from earlier today from the road between Box Canyon Falls and the lower bridge and the kids wall. 


IMG 20101208 095434 resized 600

Support for the Ouray Ice Park comes in the form of memberships and sponsorships and their major fund raiser, the Ouray Ice Festival.

The Box Canyon Lodge is the closest hotel to the Ouray Ice Park.  We are also a major local sponsor of the Ouray Ice Park and sell memberships for them.  It is a fast and painless process and we can do it for you at check-in.  We can also help you if you don't stay with us.  Just stop by the lobby between 8:00am and 10:00pm and we can hook you up!  If you already have a membership, we give 20% off of lodging to encourage climbers to support the great effort at the park.


Ouray CO Events : December 2010 for the Holidays


The little village of Ouray boasts many activities early in December this year to bring out your Christmas Spirit.  Here is a short list of things to do this Holiday Season in Ouray.

Nutcracker Sweets are back this year sponsored by Weehawken Creative Arts.  This show is an artistic dance performance loosly based on the Nutcracker ballet.  Kids make up the majority of the cast.  The show takes place on December 3, 4, & 5th at the Wright Opera House.  Tickets are available online if you are interested.

Saturday, December 11, 2010, is filled with family fun.  The Yule Night celebration officially begins with a movie at the Main Street Theater, 1 p.m. The featured movie is "A Christmas Story".  At 5:00pm, a small parade welcomes Santa to Ouray with a bonfire and caroling.  Enjoy a live nativity scene on Main Street too Watch Santa arrive at 5:15 to the Ouray Elks Lodge.  Children can meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and have their pictures taken.  At 5:30, there is a chili supper that includes hot dogs, chips and lemonade for a small fee.  Information concerning these events can be directed to the Ouray Chamber at (800) 228-1876.

The 2nd Annual Wine and Chocolate Festival takes place in Ouray CO at the Wright Opera House on December 11th too.  The attraction at the "Wine and Chocolate Festival" is of course, chocolate. Imagine sampling decadent tasty chocolate treats along with a glass of wine. Who wouldn't enjoy this type of festival?  Local Colorado wineries will be on hand to fill your glass and there will also be some local restaurants on hand to share their wines and wine list with patrons.  Information concerning these events can be directed to the Ouray Chamber at (800) 228-1876.  It's a fun filled evening in Ouray filled with sweetness and good tidings, so come on out and spread some holiday cheer!  Admission is free if you can show $200 worth of receipts from Ouray Stores on that day.  Come down for some shopping and good cheer.  Our hotel will also give you a 50% discount on a stay if you show $200 in receipts at local stores.  You must mention promo code SHOP to receive this benefit and you must show receipts from Dec. 10th or Dec. 11th to qualify.

The Ouray County Players will perform another old fashioned live radio show.  This year, the show is "The Bishop's Wife" based on the 1947 movie of the same name.  During the show, the audience listens and watches as the show is broadcast live on KURA.  It is a unique experience that brings you back in time.  The performances are on Dec 10th at 7:30 and Dec 12th 2pm.  Tickets are available at the following locations: Buckskin Booksellers, Mouse's Chocolates, and Khristophers Culinaire in Ouray; Cimarron Coffee & Books, Ridgway; Ouray Silversmith's in Montrose or at the door.  This hotel would also be happy to get you tickets in advance.

hotel in ouray discount

Things to do in Ouray during the winter


winter lodgeOf course, soaking in natural hot springs is a must if you stay at our Ouray Colorado hotel, but, there are many other things to do in Ouray in the winter.  Here is our list of Four things to do while in Ouray that do not involve ice climbing in the Ouray Ice Park.

  1. Relax : Rejuvenating your spirit is important in all seasons but especially during the busy holiday season.  Enjoy Ouray's slower paced, less crazy pace.  Read a good book, stroll Ouray's historic Main Street, sip lattes and eat truffles at Mouse's Chocolates and enjoy the scenic mountains surrounding Ouray.  Once you have done all of that, why not get a massage from one of Ouray's great massage therapists?
  2. Ski : What is your pleasure?  Do you prefer cross country skiing on a groomed track?  or do you prefer more trail breaking yourself?  How about an earn your turn back country adventure?  If you like all the fun of skiing without as much work, enjoy the pleasures of Telluride or Durango Mountain Resort.  Ouray is close to all the varied types of skiing.  Now go make some turns!
  3. Wildlife Viewing : When the winter arrives in Ouray, so do some more animals.  Visit the bald eagles along the river in Ridgway, only 10 minutes north of Ouray.  Eagles are fairly common along the Uncompahgre River and they winter along the river in the high cottonwood trees and feast on fish.  Look for rocky mountain bighorn sheep on the Million Dollar Highway or just north of Ouray, and watch for small birds that winter at home feeders.  Of course, deer are viewable in town all year long.  This list is just a sample, why not try to find other animals during your winter safari?
  4. Photography :  Winter is an especially great time for photography.  Wildlife provides subjects and the scenery is magnificent.  Rich Durnan, a local photographer with an incredible eye has a few workshops through Weehawken Creative Arts this winter including a wildlife session as well as a winter scenery workshop.  Why not expand your horizons and take a class to enhance your skills?

If you would like even more ideas, we have a 2 page list with ideas and suggestions for even more fun in Ouray.  Download Winter Activies in Ouray now!

ouray winter things to do 


How Can you Avoid Hotel No Show Charges

If you have a reservation at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs but you do not show up that day and the hotel cannot resell your reserved room, you can be charged a one night fee that is equivalent to the amount of the room plus tax. To avoid being charged a No-Show fee, you need to follow proper cancellation procedures. Procedures may vary slightly by property, but, in general, if you follow these simple rules, you will not be charged:

1. Ask for a confirmation number when making your reservation. Retain this number in case you need to refer to this reservation again in the future.

2. Ask about the deadline for cancellation without penalty. You must cancel by this deadline to avoid any cancellation fees.

3. Ask for the phone number of the hotel, since it's best to call the hotel directly to make sure you are not charged. When you cancel your reservation, be sure to get the cancellation number. This number is your proof that you called and you did cancel should there be a discrepancy.

4. If you follow proper procedures and you are still charged a No-Show fee, call the hotel directly and give them your cancellation number and request that you receive a credit on your credit card on record. If you do not get the credit, protest the charge with your credit card company and typically, these charges will be reversed in your favor.

5. At the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, you can read our cancellation policy on the FAQ page.

Receive 10 percent off

Ouray Colorado: Tuesdays with Morrie at Wright Opera House


The Timshel Theater group out of Montrose Colorado is going to be performing Tuesdays with Morrie at the Wright Opera House in Ouray on October 1st (Friday, 7:00 pm) and a Sunday matinee at 2pm October 3rd.

Based on the best-selling book Tuesdays With Morrie, newspaper columnist Mitch Albom recounts his time spent with his 78-year-old  sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, as Morrie was dying from Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS).

Mitch shares what he learned from this wise and joyful man as Morrie's health failed.  Their weekly visits in the twilight of Morrie's life became a master's course in the lessons of life for Mitch. 

 “Am I going to withdraw from the world, as so many people do, or am I going to live?" Morrie asked himself.  "I decided I'm going to live, for as long as I have left."

The tale is a triumph of the human spirit that is humorous, inspiring and deeply moving, but never depressing.

For tickets, please contact us and we will have them for you at the Will Call window on the day of the show.  You may also contact Joyce Linn at for more information.

Stay at Box Canyon Lodge for Less

Geothermal Heat Exchanger - Part I


 We received a USDA renewable energy grant in 2009 so that we could exploit our geothermal resources even more fully. Here is a description of the project that we completed. The project involved modifications for five different areas, the first step being the most critical to the success of the project.

First, we had an existing concrete tank at the manganese mine spring location that had been abandoned many years ago.

  • The tank was originally used to store hot water before it was pumped back to the Box Canyon Lodge.
  • This system was abandoned because the hot water was nearly impossible to pump without significant maintenance. Pumps would quit and pipes would clog because of the corrosion caused by the geo-water.
  • Without significant maintenance the system would not work. The maintenance required made this system cost-prohibitive.
  • Because this system was just abandoned in place we had to clean out the tank before we could install our new copper coils and plumbing interfaces back to our building.
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