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Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado

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Green Hotel in Ouray CO Hopes to Influence Both Employees and Guests


bag it movieSo, recently, we added the documentary “Bag It” to our video library at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs.  Because of our own green initiatives, and also because the story begins with two of our neighbors, I decided to check it out.

The story begins with a little competition between two Colorado towns to see which one can reduce their use of plastic bags more in a specific time period.  I don’t believe that the names of either town are actually mentioned, but I do know a couple of people who participated in the competition a few years ago. Now, perhaps just because of the natural development of the documentary, or other reasons not specified, we find out the authors wife is expecting, which causes a more in depth investigation on his part into plastic, and the effects it has on our environment. 

I assure you, even if you aren’t concerned right now, and don’t particularly like documentaries, you will start to think twice every time someone asks “Paper or plastic?” or “Would you like a bag for that?” once you sit through even a portion of this film. I know I do. 

Honestly, I have always understood the concept of recycling, and had great respect for people who adamantly do so, but never was very good about it myself. More and more though, perhaps as I realize how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful town as Ouray, recycling seems to be the only proper way to dispose of at least some of our waste. 

Of course, here at the hotel, and other public areas, it is easy to recycle; the bins are clearly marked, and emptied for us, basically all we have to do is….well, nothing. At home, on the other hand, it actually takes a little bit of work. We have to separate our own recyclables, and arrange for proper pick up. Some places actually charge us for the service!  Now, I have a friend who told me the other day that the price of aluminum has recently gone up, and he is madly collecting as many cans as he can to turn in for a little bit of cash. There has also been some talk about adding a $.05 tax to glass containers, and increasing the turn in value for them.  Plastic, on the other hand does sometimes seem to be the redheaded step child in the recycling world. Not bottles, most of which are clearly marked, but all of the other little items we consider to be disposable that just aren’t. 

Now granted, I am not suddenly become a fanatic about recycling, and I certainly don’t obsess too much, but suddenly, as I investigate more and more the value of going green, and the dedication it takes for any business to follow a green path, I must admit, I did leave my groceries at the store and walk home to get my bags the other day. 

About the author:  Maria Ziemba works at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs and raises her daughter in Ouray.  She strives to be environmentally conscious but realizes there are ways to always improve.

About the movie: :  Bag It -- on Public Television  Find a Broadcast Screening Near You!  

About the lodge:  We strive to be a green hotel and realize there are many areas where we can work to improve but we continuously look for ways to save green by being green.

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)

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 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 


Winter in Ouray: Ice Climbing


The ice is starting to form.  Several good nights in the teens and so they have cranked up the ice making!  It is just a month away before the world famous Ouray Ice Park opens.  Yippee!

Ouray is ranked as one of the most popular locations in the world for ice climbing. Not only do the surrounding mountains provide numerous spectacular ice-climbing routes, Ouray has the first ice-climbing park in the U.S. where a mile of farmed ice is available only a two-block walk from the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs and free to all who enjoy this unique sport.

From "ice cold" to "hot springs hot" it is the order of the day when you return to the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs to take a soak in the 108-degree hot springs hot tubs terraced on the mountainside.

You are not up to the challenge but you think the kids might be? Then, bring the young-ins to one of the Kids Climbing College sessions that happen this winter. The cost is free but people are encouraged to register. Equipment is provided, just make sure they are wearing their best winter gear. Dates of program: 12/26 from 12n – 4p, 1/8 and 1/9 from 10a-3p (Ice Fest) and 2/12/11 from 12n – 4p. Pre registration is encouraged.  We are happy to help you get registered if you let us know. 

If you still think Ice Climbing is a little too daring for you, there are two bridges over the gorge and several viewing stands built specifically for those interested in watching this interesting sport.

Learn more about the Official Site of Ouray Ice Park and this new and exciting sport by visiting their website. Enjoy the annual Ouray Ice Festival and witness some of the world’s best athletes compete for titles and prizes.  The 16th annual Ouray Ice Festival will be held Januyary 6 – 9th, 2011. For more information on this world renowned competition see the Official Ouray Ice Park Festival site.

If you are interested in  ice climbing instruction or guiding for this activity, contact the San Juan Mountain Guides (970-325-4925).

Hot Deal: 

Winter visitors to Ouray can enjoy the unique sport of ice climbing (if they are so inclined). An extraordinary group of locals have developed the FIRST ice park in the world, attracting sports enthusiasts from as far away as Europe, England and Japan to enjoy this exciting sport. It’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to climb. BUT, you don’t have to be an ice climber to enjoy this "Support the Ouray Ice Park" membership special during our off-season. The cost of membership is only $40.

Membership entitles you to 20% off of our regular rate here at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs all winter long. We sell the memberships at the lodge and all proceeds go directly to supporting the programs and the offerings of this great place.


Join the Ouray Ice Park

Thanksgiving is relaxing in Ouray!


Bountiful HarvestIf you spend Thanksgiving in Ouray, you can be assured of a very peaceful and relaxing day.  No need to fuss and cook that turkey yourself.  Let one of Ouray's local restaurants do that for you.  You can also avoid dishes too.  With this kind of special treatment, you can reflect on the bounties of life and give thanks with those closest to you.  The Bon Ton, the Beaumont, and the Outlaw will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast on Thursday but you will be best served to have reservations.

Don't enjoy the hectic shopping routine on the Friday afterwards?  Then, slowly walk the streets of Ouray without the crowds and hectic pace.  Ouray has many shops that will be open and they provide one of a kind gifts that can't always be found in shopping malls.  Each store in Ouray is owned and operated by a person who cares passionately about their store, who hand picks all of the merchandise they sell themself, who calls Ouray home and who thinks of their customers first.  (Ouray is infact the most beautiful shopping mall in the world!)

Not up for shopping?  Soak in the surroundings in our natural hot springs that are terraced on the mountainside and/or watch a movie with your kids. Need more space?  Soak at the Wiesbaden or the one million gallon Ouray Hot Springs pool.  It will be open on Thanksgiving too.  Let us help you design the Thanksgiving Day of your choosing.  Call us for your reservations!

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

Colorado Hot Springs Lodge - Saving Some Green by Being Green!


Every month, we track our natural gas usage in our facility. Rich does a meticulous job of highlighting our natural gas usage every month. Let me share some examples of the impact we have seen since taking over our little hot springs property in Ouray, Colorado. We used a total of 355 Therms (a Therm is 100 Cubic Feet) of natural gas in July 2010. In July 2007, our third month of hotel ownership, we used 1062 Therms, nearly a 70% reduction in natural gas usage during our tenure here. How did our little Southwest Colorado hotel make such a substantial difference in gas usage? We began heating all of the water used in guest rooms with our geothermal resources. We even added a guest laundry during this time period with two gas dryers and that additional usage was not factored out when computing our savings. If you take a month like January where the tempertures can hover near zero degrees even on very sunny days and where we must heat our facilities, we can see great savings as well. In January 2007, the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs consumed 2259 therms while in January 2010, our motel used 1059 therms. Other factors influence gas consumption in winter months including overall temperatures as well as occupancy but we see this reduction of 53% as a substantial reduction. Some additional steps we took that we attribute to saving this much gas include new attic insulation, measurements and gauges that monitor performance (we notice inconsistencies much faster), and more energy efficient doors. Currently, we want to find a way to reduce gas usage even more but we are currently short on ideas. In July, the only culprit for gas usage are the dryers in the laundry. We have already purchased and installed two Continental Girbau extractors that leave laundry less wet than conventional machines. We have asked our guests to participate in a towel and linen program to help with volume where possible. What other conservation methods can we implement to save more natural gas? We would love to hear from you!

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