By June, Ouray and Ridgway are humming along, all the shops and restaurants are open for business, hotels and motels greet travelers everyday, the jeep tour outfitters load vehicles of visitors into their vehicles and head to the high country. Even the hummingbirds have returned from their winter respite. Ouray County Colorado is alive and well come June. Here are events to enjoy during your stay to this beautiful section in southwest Colorado.
April 14 - July 5th: Special Exhibit at Ouray Museum: "A Century of Ouray County Farming and Ranching History 1875-1975" - The Ouray County Historical Society presents it first special exhibit of the 2011 season. Learn about the various types of ranching and farming that took place in Ouray County during the counties first 100 years.
June 3: Community Block Party in Ridgway: The Community Block Party will be on Friday June 3rd 6:00 to 9:00 – live music by Howard Berkman and The Big Bottom Blues Band
June 6-June 9: Ridgway Railroad Work Week: This annual event is patterned after the Friends of The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad work sessions. Come to Ridgway and spend some time in the beautiful San Juan Mountains and work on the Museum's historic narrow gauge rolling stock as well as participating in the rebuilding of Goose #4. We need people of all skills such as mechanics, painters, woodworkers, computer experts, skilled laborers, etc. Lunch is provided each day. Detailed work with instructions are provided by the various team leaders.
June 8, 15, 22, 29: Bingo at the Ouray Elks Lodge: Wednesday Night Bingo at the Elk's Lodge is open to the public and for all ages. It begins at 7:00pm throughout the summer.
June 8: Taste of Ouray: Enjoy tastings created by local chef’s while they feature the restaurants the cook for. 10+ food vendors, local brews and a cash bar. People's Choice Vote for the Best of Taste of Ouray! Ouray Community Center; 5pm - 9pm
June 11: Ouray Art Walk - Second Saturdays - 5pm - 8pm. Shops and Galleries that are participating include Window to Yesterday, Skol Gallery, Ivory's Trading Company and Gallery, San Juan Art Galleries, Dreamtime Gallery and Studio, Ouray Silversmiths, Ouray Glassworks and Pottery Company, Painting Marmot Art Supply, and Silver Linings. Many of the shops and galleries are offering refreshments, demonstrations and/or music at this time.
June 11: Trailbuilding School: The International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Trail Care Crew (TCC) will visit Ridgway, Colorado and provide the training. The all-day session trains participants in the techniques of building a sustainable trail. This course or similar training session is required for individuals seeking to be trail crew leaders for COPMOBA trail projects. It will also train a cadre of Ridgway residents to serve as trail stewards for the budding Ridgway trail system. The class will be held at the Ridgway Community Center on Railroad St.
east of the Town Park. The class is free, but a $10 donation is requested to defray the cost of lunch and t-shirts. The class begins at 8 AM, and ends at 4 PM. The class is limited to 25 participants, so sign up soon. Peak to Peak Bike Shop will sponsor the class. Reserve your space by contacting Bill Harris at 907-249-8055 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please give your t-shirt size when signing up.
June 11: Mining Artifact Show: The Mining Artifact Show comes to Ouray on June 11, 2011. All dealers and collectors of mining artifacts are welcome and it takes place at the Ouray Community Center. The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is offering a group rate for show vendors and collectors. Please mention the show to obtain your special rate.
June 11: Silverton Railroad Grade and Corkscrew Turntable Hike: --rescheduled for June 25.
June 11: Concert - Rocky Mountain High: Summer Kick Off for music entertainment of the John Adams and his band which is a glorious tribute to John Denver. Show starts at 7:30 at the Wright Opera House in Ouray. We can get your tickets for you in advance of your stay. Just let us know.
June 14, 21, and 28: Evenings in History Lectures: The popular lecture series kicks off in June and there will be a different topic each Tuesday night.
June 17: Concert: Trace Bundy: Described in some reviews as the "Ninja Guitarist," Trace Bundy returns to the Wright Opera House. His music is poetry in motion, using harmonics, looping, multiple capos, and his unique banter and stage presence to deliver an unforgettable live concert experience. Listening to his intricate arrangements is one thing, but seeing him play live confounds even the most accomplished music lovers as to how one person can do all that with just two hands and ten fingers. Show starts at 7:30. We can get your tickets for you in advance of your visit. Just let us know. Tickets are $15.
June 18: Centennial Ranch Festival: Centennial Ranch Festival will include talks, music, tours, family activities, more details to be announced. 11-4, Centennial Ranch on US 550, just south of Colona. This event is put on by the Ouray County Historical Society.
June 24: Concert - Trio Solisti: A world-renowned chamber music trio from New York, now considered to be the "Number One Chamber Music Trio" in America. Program includes Bernstein Trio, Chaussson Trio in G minor, and Dworak "Dumky" Trio. Tickets are $20 for adults (students FREE) are available at Buckskin Booksellers and Mouse's Chocolates Ouray, and Cimarron Books and Coffee in Ridgway and Coffee Trader in Montrose or on-line. General admission at the door.
June 25: Silverton Railroad Grade and Corkscrew Turntable Hike: Hikers will meet at the Ouray County Museum, 420 Sixth Avenue, Ouray at 9 am. Guided hike by Don Paulson, OCHS Curator. Sponsored by OCHS and The Ridgway Railroad Museum. In case of inclement weather call Don Paulson @ 325-0931 before 8 am to ascertain the hike status. We will car pool to the hike start. The hike is downhill on a railroad grade but the elevation is over 10,000 feet. Wear hiking shoes and bring appropriate clothing for June weather. $10 per person Fee.
June 26: Ridgway Community Garden Tour: The first garden tour sponsored by the Ridgway Community Garden will include an opportunity to tour some of the most exciting and beautiful gardens within the area of Ridgway. The unguided tour will terminate at the Ridgway Community Garden for lunch and a time to talk with other gardeners as well as those who offered their gardens for the tour. Tickets will be $15 and go on sale in May. Tickets will be able to be purchased at the Colorado Boy Brewery on Clinton & N. Cora Streets in Ridgway.
Getting to Ouray by AIR:
- Ouray is located in Southwest Colorado and is a 300 mile journey from Denver and its largest airport, Denver International Airport (DIA). You can rent cars at that airport and drive or you can choose to fly into one of the airports that are located in the western part of the state.
- The closest airport to Ouray is in Montrose Colorado (MTJ) and is a mere 40 miles north (45 minute car ride). Airlines that frequent this airport vary but service through Denver is available 365 days per year via United. In the summertime (June 9, 2011 - September 6, 2011), American Airlines will provide daily service (two direct flights per day from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW)). Of course, Montrose has car rental agencies available at the airport including Hertz, Budget, National, and Avis. Telluride Express and Tellurides provide ground transportation to Ouray but advance reservations are highly recommended.
- Grand Junction's Walker Field (GJT) serves Ouray too. It is 100 miles north of Ouray but only a 2 hour drive. Five airlines provide non-stop service to Grand Junction daily from Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. In May 2011, Continental begins a seasonal service between Grand Junction and Houston. Full car rental services are available.
- Durango Colorado has an airport and it is located about 90 miles (2.5 hours) south of Ouray. Durango-LaPlata County Airport (DRO) has daily service year round on United, Frontier, and US Air. On June 9, daily non-stop flight from Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) begins. You can rent cars from Hertz, Budget, National, and Avis on-site.
- Colorado Springs Airport is a 5 hour drive to Ouray and can make for a great drive across the state past areas like the Royal Gorge and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. They are served by six different airlines with daily nonstop service to 13 cities nationwide.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico's Sunport International Airport (ABQ) is about a six hour drive to Ouray too but makes for a great drive as well. There are currently nine airlines that provide service and Southwest is by far their largest provider. Flying through Albuquerque makes great sense if you also plan to include visits to Mesa Verde National Park and Durango as those areas are "on the way".
Getting to Ouray by Train:
Amtrak stops in Grand Junction; you will be on the California Zephyr and you can either take a bus to Ouray or rent a car. There are no rental cars at the train depot but you can take a cab to the airport and rent a vehicle there.
Getting to Ouray by Bus:
The Greyhound Bus service between Durango and Grand Junction passes through Ouray. There is no official station or bus stop in Ouray, but, I have heard that you can get off and get on in Ouray with advanced planning. It would be worth a phone call to Greyhound to determine the possibilities.
Getting Around Once in Ouray:
Ouray is 8 blocks long and 8 blocks wide so once you are in Ouray, you don't really need a car. Most facilities are within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Our facility is a mere five minute walk to the Ouray Ice Park and Box Canyon Falls. In the summertime, jeep rentals are available but advanced reservations are recommended.
As you travel highway 550 between Ironton and the summit of Red Mountain Pass along the Million Dollar Highway, you encounter three famous mining tunnels. Two of these, the Meldrum Tunnel and the Joker Tunnel, will be discussed in future articles. However, the most famous of the three tunnels was the Treasury Tunnel. It is located near the top of Red Mountain Pass and today it is part of the Idarado Mine complex of more than 100 miles of tunnels between Red Mountain Pass and Telluride. The entrance to the Treasury Tunnel is behind the large metal door against the hillside across the highway from the Mining Overlook near the summit of Red Mountain Pass.
W. J. Hammond, Jr. founded the Treasury Tunnel Mining and Reduction Company in 1896. To create the Treasury Tunnel Mine, Hammond consolidated a number of his mining claims, including the Stumper and Old Ozzie. The tunnel was originally called the Hammond Tunnel and is located on the Stumper claim. Soon after the tunnel was started, the Silverton Railroad built a 2000-foot spur track from the Yankee Girl sidings to the Treasury Tunnel. The Treasury Tunnel branch had an unusual switchback at the bottom of the canyon that was built over a branch of Red Mountain Creek followed by a second crossing of the creek before ending at the Treasury Tunnel Mill.
Hammond hoped the treasury Tunnel would allow him to tap the gold deposits that were known to exist between Red Mountain and Telluride. By 1900 it had been driven over 2000 feet toward Telluride. In 1901 the prominent mining engineer Frederick Ransome said the following of the Treasury Tunnel project: “Without expressing an opinion on this particular enterprise, it may be pointed out that, in so far as the projectors of long tunnels count upon finding richer or more abundant ore than is indicated near the surface, they are playing a game of chance in which the probabilities are decidedly against them.” However, the mine operated with some profits for about ten years and then shut down when Mr. Hammond left the area to return to Pittsburg. The photo shows the mine soon in 1905. (Photo courtesy of Ouray County Historical Society)
In the mid 1920’s the Million Dollar Highway was upgraded for automobile traffic and moved to the west side of Red Mountain Creek. This put the Treasury Tunnel on the main road for the first time. In 1930 Ralph Kullerstrand and Joe Condotti bought the old Treasury Tunnel. They reconditioned the mill with some machinery obtained from the Mountain Top Mill in Governor Basin and built a tramway from the YankeeGirl dump uphill to the Treasury Tunnel Mill. However, wood and metal in the dump required digging by hand, and this doomed the project from the beginning. Once again the Treasury Tunnel and its mill stood silent.
In the mid 1930’s the San Juan Metals Company bought the Treasury Tunnel from Kullerstrand and Condotti who used the proceeds from the sale to build a ski lodge in Ironton Park. In 1937 a new modern mill was built and in 1939 Newmont Mining took over the Treasury Tunnel and formed the Idarado Mining Company to operate the mine. They consolidated many of the old mines including the Barstow, Black Bear, Virginius and the Tom Boy.
During World War II the tunnel was extended to over 8000 feet and large quantities of lead and zinc were mined for the war effort. The old Meldrum Tunnel was extended on the Telluride side of the mountain and, until recently, it was possible to enter the Treasury Tunnel and come out in Pandora near Telluride. The two tunnels were more than 500 feet different in elevation so a shaft connected the two tunnels. As the mine expanded so did the tailings ponds to the north. The Idarado Mine purchased part of the Ironton Town site, and the large tailings pile along the start of the Corkscrew Pass road began to grow with 800 tons of ore processed per day. The slurry pipe bridge across Corkscrew Gulch, still intact today, was once the longest suspension bridge in Colorado.
In 1956 the Treasury Tunnel Mill was shut down and all milling operations moved to the Telluride side of the mountain at Pandora. The so-called “graymill” at Pandora still stands today. For many years the Idarado Mine led Colorado in the production of lead, zinc, copper, gold and silver. The Idarado Mine ceased operations in 1978 and in the 1990’s a massive reclamation project routed water drainage around the mine dumps and covered the tailings piles with rock and dirt followed by revegetation. Between 2001 and 2005 more than 3000 acres of Idarado property on Red Mountain Pass was purchased by the Red Mountain Project and returned to Forest Service control.
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.
Craft Beer Drinkers Unite in Ouray County for a wonderful outdoor festival in Southwest Colorado. Welcome Summer!
The 16th Annual Love Your Valley Festival will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2011 in Ridgway's Town Park, from 1:00 to 6:00 pm.
This is a free event, and for a $20 fee participants will receive a commemorative glass and have the ability to sample micro-brewed beers from 13 regional breweries.
Live music will be provided by James and the Devil, out of Denver. Second Chance Humane Society will host dog contests and activities, local organizations will display information, and there will be concert series t-shirts and food for sale.
Love Your Valley Festival is a fund raising event for the Ridgway Concert series, this summer on Thursday nights in July.
The Ouray Museum is a glorious treasure filled to the brim with artifacts from earlier times. All three floors of the former St. Joseph's Miner's Hospital are filled with artifacts, clothing, domestic appliances, books, newspaper articles, medical equipment, pictures, displays, and small diaramas seeking to explain the history of Southwest Colorado and specifically of Ouray and Ridgway. Currently, they have a temporary exhibit entitled "Ouray Ranch History" that is on display until July 5th.
However, one of the most treasured aspects of the Ouray County Historical Society's collection are the 5000 archival prints that are available for sale. I spent some time at the Ouray Museum this week and found two images that are gems from the winter of 1929. I had always heard that the City of Ouray maintained a few alligators in the hot springs but wasn't sure it was true. Well, look below at the bathing beauties on a sunny, snow covered day in 1929, pointing and gazing at the alligator in the hot springs water.
(Picture Courtesy of Ouray County Historical Society)
What looks to be the same day, the ladies dive into a warm pool as men stand on the right in their heavy coats. Notice the tents in the background that served as the "Mens" changing area.
(Picture Courtesy of Ouray County Historical Society)
If you are interested in archival or historical photos from Ouray and Southwest Colorado, contact the Ouray Museum during normal business hours. They will be happy to assist you and ensure you find the perfect keepsake from the past. The schedule for the Ouray Museum for 2011 is as follows:
- April 14 - May 14, 2011: Thursday through Saturday from 10:00am - 4:00pm
- May 15 to September 30 - Museum open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday from 12-4:30 pm
- October 1 to November 30 - Museum open Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm
As you may already be aware, April 22 is Earth Day. Unlike many of the new Hallmark holidays we have each year, this one seems a bit appropriate. April signifies the changing of the seasons, from winter to spring; new life abounds everywhere you look; from the splashes of green as the grass begins to grow, to the new born calves and other livestock you can see in the fields on highway 550 between Ouray and Ridgway Colorado. Therefore, what better time to celebrate the planet we live on and its "Ouray" of wonderful gifts?
Here at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, we try to think of creative ways to reward our guests for being green in their daily lives. This year, we are offering a free night stay on Earth Day, to guests who drive a hybrid vehicle. We are also very proud of all of our work this past year to reduce our carbon footprint. Granted, we aren’t perfect yet, but every little bit is a step in the right direction. Not to mention, a lot of the things we are working on to make the property more green just make sense.
Over the last year, we replaced all of our windows and most of our guest room doors. Now in winter and summer, our guest rooms are more insulated, providing a more constant temperature for our guests, reducing the amount of adjustment necessary on the thermostats to be comfortable, which in turn, reduces consumption and cost. As always, we used a local company to install the doors and windows for us. Consequently, we received exemplary service, and should say, should a window get broken, we can have it replaced quickly, without having to wait for the glass to be shipped from far off lands. Again, this saves time and money in addition to creating a positive professional relationship, and reducing the amount of fuel used to provide these services to us.
We just finished recarpeting all of our guest rooms. Now, this may not seem like a green initiative, however, in addition to removing a buildup of allergens in the floors, we are also providing another form of insulation to each guest room, again reducing the need to adjust thermostats as frequently. We chose a carpet that was rated as "Green Label Plus" by the Carpet and Rug Institute too. Of course, it looks really nice too.
We replaced all of our light fixtures this winter as well. By replacing the older models with more energy efficient fixtures and bulbs, we reduce the electricity consumed daily to light walkways and the rest of the property. The old fixtures were recycled, as was the old carpet (what was salvageable), and windows; all of which were sent to Habitat for Humanity to be re-used.
Long story short, it pays in more ways than one to do what you can to protect the environment. Sometimes, it may seem like a little bit more work, but once it becomes a habit, recycling and conserving energy quickly becomes second nature.
Happy Earth Day Everyone!
Just because school is out does not mean one has to stop learning. The Ouray County Historical Society is helping local residents and visitors alike keep their minds sharp during summer vacation by offering its Evenings of History program. The lecture series, which kicks off on June 14, has been in existence for more than 20 years. The first six talks take place at the Ouray Community Center, while the final discussion will be held at the Ridgway Town Hall. The lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free to attend.
June 14 – “Old Hundred Mine” by Scott Fetchenheir, (Community Center in Ouray) – Learn about the history of this fascinating mine hung on the cliffside 700 feet above Cunningham Gulch east of Silverton. Scott will also autograph copies of his book on the Old Hundred Mine entitled "Ghosts and Gold."
June 21 – “On the Backs of Burros: Bringing Civilization to Colorado” by P. David Smith (Community Center in Ouray)
June 28 – “Ouray and Its Railroad” by Tom Hillhouse (Community Center in Ouray) – Learn how the railroad impacted the history of Ouray and what facilities were located in Ouray.
July 5 – “The Mines of Marshall Basin” by Rudy Davison (Community Center in Ouray) – Learn about the Mines in Marshall Basin. These mines are above Imogene Pass road north of Telluride. This event is coupled with a guided tour of Marshall Basin on July 9th.
July 12 – “Images of America, Ouray” by Maria Jones and Gail Saunders (Community Center in Ouray) – Ouray County Museum Director Maria Jones and OCHS Board Member Gail Saunders will present the history of Ouray through photos. They will autograph their new book by the same title.
July 19 – “Una Wheeler Whinnerah: Pioneering Ouray Photographer” by Don Paulson (Community Center in Ouray) –Beginning in the 1890s and continuing for more than 30 years Una Whinnerah photographed the scenery, mines and commercial buildings of Ouray County. She also made numerous photographs of her family and their elegant house on Main Street in Ouray. Most of her photos were taken using glass 8" x 10" glass plate negatives. The talk will begin with a brief discussion of 19th century photography and then focus on Una's life and photography career. Also, many of here original photographs will be shown.
July 27 – “History of Log Hill” by Barbara and Jack Rairden (Ridgway Town Hall) – An Evening of History with Barbara and Jack Rairden on the "History of Log Hill." Barbara and Jack will also sign copies of their book by the same title.
Historic Walking Tours – When in Ouray or Ridgway, be sure to leave time for the historic walking tour through Ouray or Ridgway.
About the Ouray County Historical Society Museum: The Ouray County Historical Society Museum is housed in the original St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital that was built in 1886 and functioned as a hospital until 1964. The museum consists of three floors containing 38 exhibits in 27 rooms. The museum features mining, ranching and railroading, the three main means of employment in Ouray’s early history. It houses many artifacts dating back to Ouray’s earliest days, as well as large displays of minerals and Native American artifacts. The Museum also features a research center containing much written information, thousands of photographs, and a large library titled “The W. Ross Moore Mining History Library of the American West.”
So, 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 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 is the first choice of many families because it holds a special place in so many hearts. I have the opportunity to speak with many people who call to arrange lodging for their family reunions and group vacations. One of the most common things I hear is how so many of them remember spending time in Ouray and Southwest Colorado as children or young adults. They are now looking forward to sharing some fond memories with a new generation of family members on a vacation / family reunion in Colorado.
For me, growing up in Ouray meant many friends and family came to visit us during the summer. The allure of getting to play around in Southwest Colorado and take in the sights was too much to turndown! Like most folks in Ouray, Colorado, my family had a Jeep. Our friends and family, most of whom hail from Texas, were astounded and amazed by the sheer grandeur of the San Juan Mountains we traversed. My dad would point out interesting buildings in various ghost towns that dot the area and state little known facts about the terrain. We would have a picnic near a rushing waterfall and occasionally find some edible wild mushrooms. For the guests on these excursions who had no fear of heights, the day was unforgettable and won my dad praise! For those who did have some issue with the vertical drops, it was definitely unforgettable, and dad is still apologizing!
The mine tour at the Bachelor-Syracuse was another fun time to be had. Trust me when I tell you though that you have never experienced a dark place until you are three miles into a mountain! The tour guides make a point to switch off the little bit of light that does run through the mine just to show you the conditions miners had to work in. It will give you a new found appreciation of the brave souls who not only carved their way into the mountains in Ouray, but also made it possible for us to have our beautiful little town today. Another little known fact about the Bachelor-Syracuse is their fantastic breakfast! It’s not to be missed (open seasonally, outdoors). Like I mentioned before, we all hail from Texas, there is something to be said for excellent biscuits and gravy!
After a day of playing in the Jeep on the 4WD roads in the area, it was time to take in an evening in Ouray. The beaches may have their ocean sunsets, but here, we have the Amphitheater and the indescribable beauty of the alpenglow at dusk. You will know this special time of day has arrived when you do visit. It’s the time when the town becomes a little quieter and people’s heads are turned up and pointed east (yes, east- since that is where the alpenglow appears) to take in the beauty of a sunset in Ouray, Colorado. After the sun had set we would pop into one of the local ice cream shops for a sweet treat and then spend leisurely time wandering into the stores to help our guests select the perfect souvenirs to take back home.
These are just a few of the sweet summer memories from my childhood in Southwest Colorado. Memories that I can still share with my children and that they in turn will share with theirs. That is the real beauty of Ouray. No matter how the world seems to change around us, here in our little valley in the majestic San Juan Mountains, the look and feel will always say, “welcome”.
About the Author: Nikki Komar works at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. She works with many of our groups including family reunions and destination wedding couples. She lives with her husband and four children in Ouray.
Ridgway Colorado Free Summer Concert Series in July
Ouray County, Colorado: Ridgway: The fourth annual free summer concert series will be held this year, on all four Thursdays in July. Music will begin at 6:00 pm in Ridgway Town Park. A children’s play area will be provided, along with micro-brewed beer, food and merchandise.
The July 2011 line up includes:
- July 7: Big Sam's Funky Nation - high voltage horn driven rock & funk direct from New Orleans
- July 14: Great American Taxi - Leftover Salmon's front man leads Colorado's favorite Americana Band
- July 21: Lake Street Dive - a New York City based quartet, soul and rock propulsive grooves with a Motown influence
- July 28: Euforquestra - Afro-Caribbean-Funk from Iowa City
The concert series is funded entirely from local donations, fund raisers and the sale of t-shirts and micro-brewed beer sold at the concerts. The series is currently seeking financial sponsors. Major sponsors at the $1000 level currently include: Mountain Market, Orvis Hot Springs, Alpine Bank, The Colorado Yurt Company and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.
In-kind sponsors contributing goods and services over $1000 currently include: Black Canyon Equipment Rentals, Chipeta Sun Lodge, The Watch Newspaper, Rich Durnan Photography and Fishbone Graphics.
The series has obtained state approval and can offer cash donors (of $100 or more) state income tax credit on the contribution of 25% of the donated amount. In-kind sponsors a state tax credit of 12.5% of the value of the contribution.
Each show will feature a different brewery which will donate micro-brewed beer which will be sold during the event, again to raise funds to pay for the series. The first concert will be sponsored by Ouray Brewery, the second by Colorado Boy Brewery, third SKA Brewing and the fourth, New Belgium Brewing.
Fund raisers to support the series include the 16th annual Love Your Valley Festival, which will be held on Saturday, May 14th in Town Park, from 1:00 to 6:00 pm. This is a free event, and for a $20 fee participants will receive a commemorative glass and have the ability to sample micro-brewed beers from 13 regional breweries. Live music will be provided by James and the Devil, out of Denver. Second Chance Humane Society will host dog contests and activities, local organizations will display information, and there will be concert series t-shirts and food for sale.
Another free fund raiser will be the second annual Community Block Party which will be held on Friday, June 3rd at the corner of N. Cora and Clinton Streets. Festivities begin at 6:00 with locals, The Brothers Fugazi on the stage, followed by Howard Berkman and the Big Bottom Blues Band from Paonia. Concert series t-shirts will be on sale, along with raffle tickets for a bicycle donated by Peak to Peak Bicycles. Food, drinks and libations will be sold by established businesses in the area.
Concert series t-shirts, proceeds of which fund the concert series, can also be purchased at Ridgway Town Hall. Any questions regarding the series, fund raisers, or persons interested in becoming vendors at the concerts should contact Pam Kraft at Ridgway Town Hall, 626-5308x11.
Ouray CO is a fabulous destination for a multi-generational family vacation. Three reasons to choose Ouray for your next Colorado Vacation and family reunion are:
- There are activities for all ages and all levels of fitness in and around Ouray.
- There are great outdoor spaces for picnics and fun in Ouray County.
- Ouray Colorado is very affordable with numerous options for lodging and accommodations that can suit any budget and Ouray is exceptionally family friendly.
Activities for All Ages: Ouray is home to the Ouray Hot Springs pool. Soaking sections are great for those who desire a relaxing or less physically demanding activity. Younger kids are easily amused in the shallow sections and can play with toys and floats. Teens and tweens love the water slides that are included in admission; adults take time to talk and connect while soaking in the natural beauty of the area.
Other activities that appeal to all ages and fitness levels include historic carriage rides, a gentle walking tour through the National Historic District, a trip to one of the museums in Ouray County, or an excursion to the high alpine basins on a scenic jeep tour.
For those that are more active, a Family Adventure Day might be in order. San Juan Mountain Guides take groups rock climbing and set up a zip line across the Uncompaghre Gorge. For more serious hiking, numerous trails originate in town and can be as long and demanding as your heart desires. Close in hikes like Sutton Mine Trail or the Portland Trail make for great afternoon hikes. Short, little jaunts for youngsters include the Baby Bath Tubs Trail where you can soak your feet in the creek on most any day while marveling at the smooth rocks. For those a bit more ambitious, you can try the Twin Peaks Trail or the Oak Creek Trail. For those who want to horseback ride, Bach'ler Stables dishes up one or two hour loops just outside of town near the Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour.
Great outdoor meeting spaces: Ouray and Ridgway have some delightful outdoor meeting spaces; each town has a park filled with playground equipment and picnic tables, outdoor grills and grassy areas ripe for games of frisbee, tag, and catch. In addition to these typical parks and playgrounds, Ouray also has the Box Canyon Falls whereby you can picnic near the 285 foot waterfall that runs year round. There is also a great suspension bridge at that park over the gorge that provides incredible views of the surrounding mountains and a short hike to tire some too. Chipmunks and small songbirds greet visitors and provide much needed entertainment.
Further afield, picnic spots in the high alpine mountains (primarily accessible with a 4WD vehicle) make for exciting areas to spend a morning or afternoon bonding with family and friends.
Affordable Lodging & Accommodations: Of course, there are numerous hotels/motels in the Ouray area. The Box Canyon Lodge stands out since we have our own natural hot springs terraced on the mountainside for our guest use. We also have a nice area behind the motel with picnic tables and bench swings for our guests. In addition to our accommodations, you can always opt for a B&B like the China Clipper Inn or A Secret Garden. These establishments are very large houses and perfect for entertaining large groups (if you can rent the whole place). Talk to the proprietor to get an idea of what is allowed and what is not allowed. B&Bs that typically don't allow children make exceptions when the entire facility is rented.
There are numerous vacation home rentals available in Ouray and Ridgway too. These homes can help drive down costs since some/all meals can be eaten at the vacation rental. Splitting the bill between families also helps to keep the lodging affordable.
There are also two private campgrounds within the City of Ouray's limits as well as the Amphitheater Campground, a USFS facility that overlooks the area.
Create a precious family heirloom this summer; vacation in Ouray Colorado as a big family group. The memories of the time spent together running, jumping, talking, hanging, soaking, and bonding last for eons as new friendships form between family members. Spend some time in the San Juan Mountains and Ouray and you will fall in love with this part of Southwest Colorado!
Five free things to do with kids in summer in Ouray and Ridgway:
- Take a hike
- Visit a waterfall
- Explore a ghost town or some mining ruins
- Take digital pictures and practice your photography
- Walk the Ridgway River Walk
Take a Hike: A great hike close to Ouray is the Baby Bath Tubs. It is easy and there is a gentle stream where you can soak your feet in the creek. With proper supervision, little kids will enjoy walking on the smooth rock by the creek. For more adventurous kids, the Sutton Mine Trail provides a great overlook of town and views of the Bear Creek Falls and the Million Dollar Highway across the gorge. The first 1/2 mile of this trail is a series of switchbacks but after that, you are rewarded with fun and great spots for a picnic.
Visit a Waterfall: Cascade Falls runs year round and is visible from most parts of Ouray. This waterfall is accessible from town as a short but steep walk. There are picnic tables at the entrance to this park. You can walk much further up on the Lower Cascade Falls trail if you choose. The pink cliffs are composed of loose rock so be careful. The mist from the falls is very rewarding on warm summer days.
Explore a Ghost Town or Old Mining Ruins: Drive the Million Dollar Highway and you can visit the old ghost town of Ironton, Red Mountain Town and old mines like the Guston, the Yankee Girl, the Genesee/Vanderbuilt and the National Belle. You will also find the Mining Overlook near the summit of Red Mountain Pass to be informative.
Take Pictures of the Dramatic Mountain Scenery: Picture taking/photography is a pleasure in all seasons but the summer season in the San Juans yields all kinds of fun. Use a tripod and adjust your shutter speeds to take pictures of waterfalls and let the water appear soft and silky, like a bridal veil. Macro photography of wildflowers and pollinating insects provide hours of fun as do the majestic landscapes at sunrise and sunset. Take the kids outside and see what they photograph; enjoy life from their eye while teaching them about nature.
Walk the Ridgway River Walk: Walk along the Uncompaghre River from Ridgway to the Ridgway State Park. Meander through some riparian areas and watch for birds and water fowl. There is a delightful picnic area before the park that has tables and restrooms. The path is mostly paved; parking is available next to San Miguel Power.
- Ride your mountain bike on the the Ridgway Trail System. It is single track, multi-use and located off of Ouray County Rd. 10. The system is comprised of trails through BLM land and the Ridgway State Park.
- Marvel at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on one of the 2011 Free Days for the National Parks:
- April 16-24 (National Park Week)
- June 21 (First day of summer)
- September 24 (Public Lands Day)
- November 11-13 (Veterans Day weekend)
Of course, staying at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs in not free but once you are a registered guest at our Ouray hotel
, soaking in our four natural hot springs
hot tubs terraced on the mountainside is included in your stay.
Ouray's Best Gardens
Destination weddings in Colorado are gaining in popularity, especially in Ouray. Ouray is the quintessential mountain town, a National Historic District in fact, that maintains its aire of sophistication yet offers a very authentic, hometown experience in the mountains of Colorado at an affordable price.
The San Juan Mountains of southwest CO stand majestically over Ouray and provide that sense of grandeur that makes our town a real stand out for an elegant affair in the mountains. With incredible views of mountains standing over thirteen thousand feet from every vantage point, Ouray's scenic beauty awes most everyone. Only 8 blocks long and 8 blocks wide, Ouray is tiny but mighty and entertains wedding parties of all sizes and it caters to many different types of weddings. In this article, we showcase the classic outdoor garden wedding venues that Ouray has to offer.
There is something so timeless about an outdoor wedding in a classic English garden. The air is sweetened with fresh cut grass and the myriad of fresh flowers that encompass the spot where you will say, “I Do”. The mood has been perfectly set with butterflies flitting from flower to flower and your guests arranged beneath a canopy of large pines and delicate aspens that are abundant in Southwest Colorado. The lush green lawn is contrasted beautifully with the length of white runway on which you make your grand entrance.
Ouray has two beautiful locations for a garden wedding. Both of these locations can do most of your wedding needs in-house and offer competitive prices whether you are looking for small and intimate or grand and elegant. That can mean big savings for couples!
A Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast:
The owner of A Secret Garden, Sara Sharpe, offers brides and grooms the opportunity to say their vows in the beautiful garden setting of her lovely Bed and Breakfast. Not only does Sara go out of her way to be a most hospitable hostess, she is also a world-class chef with over 30 years of catering experience. Her menus are designed with the bride and the groom; each event is a custom experience so you can get the desired outcome. The entire event can be handled in house with the use of the grounds, lodging in her three distinct guestrooms, and catering that can be as casual or as formal as you like! Her years of experience in hospitality make any wedding and reception event a remarkable experience.
The Coachlight Restaurant:
Family owned and operated since 1968, the Coachlight is a charming restaurant off the beaten path in the heart of Ouray, CO. The property features patio and upper deck seating with 360° views of the San Juan Mountains. Not only does the restaurant offer fine catering, the upstairs features a Tavern with a full bar for the guests of your event. Darcy Sella, the owner of the Coachlight, is not only a wonderful caterer, she can make the wedding cake of your dreams as well.
Ouray Event Planning can assist you with planning your destination wedding in Ouray County. They work with these vendors to ensure your destination wedding is within your budget but also includes everything you want to make it yours!
Contact us at Ouray's most popular lodging and we will ensure that your guests enjoy their stay in Ouray as much as you will.
Consider Ouray, Colorado for your destination wedding! Treat your family and friends to the warmth and hospitality of small town America and the unbelievable views that can only be found in Southwest Colorado.
About the Author: Nikki Komar works at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. She works with many of our groups including family reunions and destination wedding couples. She lives with her husband and four children in Ouray.
Ouray starts to come to life in late April and early May as the foliage on the trees starts to bloom, the meadows between Ridgway and Ouray turn green, the museums of Ouray County open for the summer season, and the employees of Ouray County Road and Bridge Department begin clearing the 4x4 roads. There is still a strong possiblity of a frost but the daffodils and tulips appear undaunted, the Ouray Hot Springs pool allows kayakers to practice in the deep section on Tuesday evenings, and the first of the summer visitors arrive. There is so much excitement and anticipation in the air and there are numerous events in Ouray County.
Things to Do in Ouray Colo and Ridgway CO in April 2011
April 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30: Free Fly Tying seminar Saturdays from 10:00am - 12:00pm at RIGS in Ridgway: In addition to Free Fly Tying Seminars, the Fly Section at the Shop has also expanded its new tying materials section to be the most comprehensive in the region. Every thing from new hook styles to the latest and greatest in dubbing, beads, tools and tackle.
April 14: Ouray Museum Opens for the Summer. April Hours: 10:00am - 4:30pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
April 14 - July 5th: Special Exhibit at Ouray Museum: "A Century of Ouray County Farming and Ranching History 1875-1975" - The Ouray County Historical Society presents it first special exhibit of the 2011 season. Learn about the various types of ranching and farming that took place in Ouray County during its' first 100 years.
April 24: Ouray Elks Easter Egg Hunt: Ouray County's annual free Easter Egg Hunt for kids. This year's hunt is at Ouray's Fellin Park, and starts promptly at 2:00 PM. More than 1000 candy-filled eggs & some with stuffed bunnies for kids who find lucky prize eggs.
April 27: San Juan Mountain Mining Conference: The conference is organized to provide a full-day enrichment for the people to learn about watershed restoration as it relates to non-point source pollution from historic mining in the Uncompahgre Watershed. It is at the Ouray Community Center.
April 29: Casino Night (Fundraiser for Ridgway River Festival): Players will have the opportunity to partake in blackjack, Texas hold'em and roulette on authentic tables complete with experienced dealers. The evening is a fundraiser to raise money for the Fourth Annual Ridgway River Festival. A cash prize will be awarded to the player with highest chips, and second and third place winners will also receive prizes.
Things to Do in May 2011
May 1: Vintage High Tea: The Ouray County Ranch History Museum will host a traditional high tea from 2pm - 4:30 at their museum located in the historic Colona School a quarter mile west of Hwy. 550 on Ouray County Rd 1.
May 6, 7 & 8: Balloons and Vrooms: The Annual festival with hot air balloons and classic cars, with balloon rides, balloon glow and music in Ridgway Town Park and Ridgway Athletic Park.
May 7: Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: The summer DSNGR begins summer service. The season ends on October 29, 2011.
May 8: Mother's Day Salon in Ouray: Celebrate Mother's Day in style at a classical music luncheon salon. This year the Ouray Performing Arts Guild presents celebrated acoustic guitar players Alex Komodore and Jeff LaQuatra for an afternoon of music and fantastic food. For reservations for the Mother's Day Salon, please call 970-626-2970. Cost is $50 per person or two for $95.
May 14: Ridgway Love Your Valley Festival and Brewfest: Thirteen brewers come to town to show off their best craft beers. Enjoy live music by the James and the Devil from Denver, Colorado while tasting the best beers the region has to offer. Cost is $20. This festival is from 1:00pm to 6:00pm in the Ridgway Town Park.
May 14: OCHS Fundraiser in Ridgway: Miner's Heritage Dinner at Colby's Corner Bar and Grill in Ridgway. Cash Bar Happy Hour 5-6 pm. Prime Rib Dinner at 6 pm. Cost $25 per person. All proceeds go the OCHS Mining History Fund.
May 30: Compassion Run/Walk in Ouray: There will be the First Annual Compassion 5K. This run will begin and end at Fellin Park and will be used to raise money for Compassion Weekend (June 18th & 19th, 2011) to fulfill work requests for those residents that are in need of help. Online registration is not yet available but we can help get you registered if you let us know.
For any activity, the staff at our Ouray CO hotel will happily arrange for your tickets or provide any additional information that you require. Please let us know what makes your Colorado vacation in the southwest part of the state the best it can be!
Ridgway, known as the Gateway to the San Juan Mountains, located in Southwest Colorado, welcomes the 8th Annual Balloons and Vrooms Festival at the Ridgway Town Park and to the field at the stop light along US 550. This is such a dramatic event with numerous balloons taking off in the early morning sunshine. This event takes place May 6, May 7, and May 8, 2011.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Friday, May 6
- “Lift-Off” Cocktail Party (pilots & sponsors) - 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
- Live Music in the Park - 6:00 - 9:00
- Hot-Air Balloon Glow at dusk
Saturday, May 7
- Mass Balloon Lift (pilots & sponsors): HWY 550 behind Remax - approx. 7:00 a.m.
- Tethered Balloon Rides (weather permitting) - 7:00 - 10:00 a.m.
- “Pajamas-N-Pancakes” Breakfast - 8:00 - 10.00
- Arts & Crafts Vendors, Food & Beer stands - 9:00 - 7:00
- Classic Car Show - 10:00 - 4:00
- Live Bands all day!
Sunday, May 8 (Mother's Day)
- Mass Balloon Lift (pilots & sponsors): HWY 550 behind Remax - approx. 7:00 a.m
The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs makes a great place to stay while attending the event. Soaking in our all natural hot springs after the morning ascension warms cold toes so you can enjoy the remaining festivities in the afternoon.
Other events in the area can be found on the calendar.
Thanks to visiting the Ouray area as frequently as possible on my Colorado vacations, I’ve stumbled upon my fair share of perfect picnic spots. Some are easy to reach; some not so much. I’d like to focus on the hidden, not-so-easy-to-find picnic spots of Ouray County. Some of these beautiful hideaways may take an hour or more to reach, but that’s the beauty of being in Ouray… you’re not in any hurry, are you?
East Dallas Creek
Head toward Ridgway and then travel west toward Telluride on Highway 62. Look for County Road 7 as it exits the highway on your left. There should also be a sign that says East Dallas Creek. Follow the signs for CR7 and stay to the right when the road forks. The road begins winding up and you’ll enjoy in-your-face views of Mount Sneffels. Continue past the National Forest boundary sign and you’ll see signs for Blue Lakes Trailhead. Once you get near the top, you’ll notice a lesser road that turns to the right and heads away from the mountain range. Turn on this road and follow it into a huge clearing along a rustic fence. It turns into a two-track lane and dead ends in a field. Pop out of your car, and unload, because this is your destination. The mountains are close -- really close. And they create the perfect backdrop for a picnic. A trailhead is behind you…just walk through the opening in the fence and take a short hike to a stream. There’s even a porta-potty in a grove of aspen trees if you drink too much soda with your picnic. The views are sweeping and your picnic is pretty private; most cars continue traveling down the road to the Blue Lakes Trailhead.
Yankee Boy Basin
Four-wheel drive is not needed to reach the picnic spot, but recommended (because everything is more fun in a Jeep). The turnoff for Camp Bird Road is just outside of Ouray. Get on the Million Dollar Highway like you’re headed for Silverton and then turn immediately right, at the Box Canyon Falls. Follow Camp Bird Road as is takes you past Drinking Cup, under the famous Hanging Rock and leads you higher into the Basin. Once you pass the crumbled remains of the Camp Bird Mine on your left, you are getting close to the Twin Falls. These are the waterfalls featured on the old Coors beer cans. You can’t miss them; they will be on your left. If you are picnicking in July, you are in for a treat: the Colorado wildflowers that blanket the Basin will stun you into silence. Bluebells, Columbines, Asters, Indian Paint Brushes and approximately 875 other varieties will encourage you to spend the afternoon getting in touch with your inner photographer. Plop down with your lunch in a clearing and bask in the sounds of the waterfalls and the splashes of color. Mount Sneffels and a cirque of mountains surround you. If you have four-wheel drive, continue up Camp Bird Road to explore the rest of the amazing Yankee Boy Basin.
Part 1: Best Off the Beaten Path Picnic Spots in Ouray County identifies three other great choices for a summertime picnic adventure in the San Juan Mountains.
About the author: Marion Zachary is a website designer, photographer, videographer and four-wheel drive enthusiast who attempts to spend every spare moment in the San Juan Mountains. Her website featuring her Colorado adventures with her Australian Shepherd, Rio, is filled with incredible information on jeeping roads and 4WD trails near Ouray.