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Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado

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Ouray Oktoberfest: A Fall Celebration


Food Fun and Music with the Box Canyon Lodge at Oktoberfest in Ouray, Colorado this Fall

october colorsOctober in the San Juans is a spectacular time of year. As the last of the aspen leaves fall, the folk in town begin to prepare for winter and the first snows. To celebrate another succesful season, and usher in the restful winter months, Oktoberfest, with music, dancing, fabulous food and beverages, is a long tradition bringing together old friends, and creating new ones every year.

This year is going to be even more exciting with a fireworks display at the end of the evening!

ouray fireworks 2The city of Ouray still has some left over fireworks from the Fourth of July, which, as you may remember, had been cancelled due to the dry weather. Well, thankfully, we have had some much needed moisture, and now we get to enjoy another spectacular light show. Nothing really compares to fireworks in Ouray. Personally, I am hoping for at least a bit of snow on the peaks, because the reflection on snowy mountain peaks, followed by the booming echo as each firework explodes as absolutely amazing!

austrian connectionBack by popular demand, Austrian Connection, from Westminster Colorado, headlines and their classic German folk songs entertain party goers. Wear your lederhosen or dirndl to participate in a costume contest, as you polka the night away and enjoy a wide variety of traditional German dishes, while sampling microbrews from one of our local breweries.

oktoberfest jeepDoor prizes from many shops and restaurants in the area are given away throughout the evening, with the drawing for a brand new Jeep Wrangler as the grand finale of the celebration. Every year for the past 48 years, the Ouray Chamber and Resort Association raffles off a brand new jeep, selling tickets all season long, then presenting the keys to the winner on the eve of Oktoberfest. This year, you can see the orange Jeep Wrangler parked in different places on Main Street. Raffle tickets are only $5.00 for one, three for $10.00, or seven for $20.00. The proceeds of the raffle are used toward the beautification and maintenance of the City of Ouray, as well as the purchase of next years jeep.

outlaw restaurant ourayLocal shops will be participating in a sidewalk sale during the day. What better time to investigate all of the treasures these shops have to offer, and pick up some early Christmas presents for those hard to shop for people on your list.

Combine your trip to enjoy the Oktoberfest with other activities that let you explore the San Juan Mountains in October! Drive the Million Dollar Highway for an easy beautiful scenic drive through a photographers paradise of fall foliage. Or, hike one of the many trails accessible in town for a more close up experience. Cascade waterfall is a spectacular sight surrounded by a rainbow of leaves, and the Box Canyon Waterfall is a sight to behold.

box canyon tubs

After a day spent experiencing the variety of colors of fall in Southwest Colorado, and exploring the shops and sidewalk sales on Main Street in Ouray, celebrate Oktoberfest in the Switzerland of America. At the end of a day full of adventure, beauty, good food, music and spirits, its time to relax with a long soak in the natural mineral hot springs at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs to complete the best Oktoberfest celebration around!




October Events in Ouray and Ridgway


October is a "Scary" good time in Southwest Colorado!

million dollar highway fall colorsFrom scenic drives accross the Million Dollar Highway, to shopping to investigating one of the many ghost towns just miles from our front door, The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs offers a lodging experience second to none in Ouray! Let us help you to create an adventure specifically suited to your personal wants and needs this October!

Friday, August 17, 2012 through November 17, 2012 - OCHS Otto Mears Exhibit

Visit the Ouray History Museum any time between 10:00 am to 4:30 pm to learn about the builder of the Million Dollar Highway, to name just one of the accomplishments of thiss historical figure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - Movies at The Wright: The Well-Digger's Daughter

Join us at the Wright Opera house at 7:00pm for a viewing of The Well-Diggers Daughter, a French film based in World War I, about love, family and the seductive beauty of the Provençal countryside.

ridgway farmers marketFriday, October 5, 2012 - Ridgway Farmers Market

From 11:00am to 4:00pm, Discover Fresh, Local, Naturally Grown Produce - Ridgway Farmer's Market is a small, sustainable operation which supplies high-quality, specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers and eggs from local farms, as well as a diverse assortment of arts and crafts, baked goods and other prepared foods.
Contact: Marietta Johnson, Market Manager
Phone: 970-765-6760

Friday, October 5, 2012 - Wrighteous Jazz/ Oktoberfest Celebration Michele Wilkinson Trio at the Wright Opera House in Ouray

Friday night, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm, celebrate Fall with this dynamic trio for a night of musical fun.

oktoberfest ouray coloradoSaturday, October 6, 2012 - Oktoberfest & 48th Annual Jeep Raffle Drawing

Head on down to the Ouray Community center from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and enjoy an evening of great food, beer and music as you wait with everyone for the Grand Finale: the drawing for a brand new Jeep!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Movies at The Wright: Sleepwalk With Me

Head to the Wright Opera House at 7:00 pm, and enjoy this Indy comedy as you follow a comedian struggling through all th usual life issues, and is a sleepwalker to add to the fun.

Friday, October 12, 2012 - Ridgway Farmers Market

From 11:00am to 4:00pm, Discover Fresh, Local, Naturally Grown Produce - Ridgway Farmer's Market is a small, sustainable operation which supplies high-quality, specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers and eggs from local farms, as well as a diverse assortment of arts and crafts, baked goods and other prepared foods.
Contact: Marietta Johnson, Market Manager
Phone: 970-765-6760

fall foliage 2012 3Saturday, October 13, 2012 - David Baker and friends at the Wright Opera House

From 7:00pm to 9:30pm, tap your feet to the sounds of this musical great in one of the most beautiful historic venues in Southwest Colorado.

Monday October 15 through Saturday, October 20, 2012 - Ouray Hot Springs Pool Closed

Every few months, the City of Ouray closes the city pool for a few days in order to provide maintenance they are unable to perform when the facility is in use. But don't let this dishearten you from a visit! There are still plenty of things to do in Ouray, and the tubs at the Box Canyon are still open for our guests.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - ROCC Talk: History of the Utes

Ever wonder about the Native Americans who once lauded the Ouray Hot Springs as sacred ground? Head down to Ridgway from 7:00pm to 8:00pm for an in depth talk by Roland McCook on the history of the first people to live in this valley.

Friday, October 19, 2012 - Ridgway Farmers Market

From 11:00am to 4:00pm, discover Fresh, Local, Naturally Grown Produce - Ridgway Farmer's Market is a small, sustainable operation which supplies high-quality, specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers and eggs from local farms, as well as a diverse assortment of arts and crafts, baked goods and other prepared foods.
Contact: Marietta Johnson, Market Manager
Phone: 970-765-6760

The Rocky Horror Picture Show 02Friday, October 19, 2012 - Movies at the Wright: Rocky Horror Picture Show

Join your fellow classic movie fans for a showing of this cult classic. Follow Brad and Janet on screen and on stage as they brave the ridiculous in this musical extravaganza.

Saturday, October 20, 2012 - Movies at the Wright: Rocky Horror Picture Show

Join your fellow classic movie fans for a showing of this cult classic. Follow Brad and Janet on screen and on stage as they brave the ridiculous in this musical extravaganza.

Sunday, October 21, 2012 - Rhythm Run 10K/5K

Starting at 12:00pm to 2:00pm, head to Fellin Park to join in or root for your favorite atheletes in the final marathon of the season.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - Movies at the Wright: TBD

At 7:00pm, the Wright Opera House will again be presenting a fabulous independent film for movie enthusiasts.

beaumontSaturday, October 27, 2012 - 125th Anniversary Halloween Ball at the Beaumont Hotel

Pull out that favorite costume and head to the Grand Ballroom in the Beaumont for a hauntingly fabulous evening from 8:00pm to 12:00am. Sure to become a tradition, a Halloween ball in this beautiful setting is sure to get your blood flowing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - HALLOWEEN!

Take the little ones out onto Main Street for Trick or Treating fun, then back to the Box canyon for a relaxing soak in the warm waters before digging into the goody bag!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - Halloween Bash with DJ Sunday Smith at O'Briens Pub

Once the little ones have had their fill of candy, and are safely sleeping, get your costumes back on and wander over to O'Briens Pub for a night of costume contests and dancing from 10:00pm to 1:00am.

October is prime time for visiting Ouray and the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. Let us help you create the most memorable vacation in one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado.





Museums of Ouray County


Experience the Vibrant Past of the San Juans!

ouray blacknwhiteThe history of Ouray County is resonant with all of the elements of a good western novel. Settled in the 1800's, Ouray is one of very few towns boasting such spectacular original Victorian Architecture undamaged by natural disaster, and maintained with so much love. Until the early 1960's, Ouray was the booming center of a huge mining community, filled with miners, saloons, churches, hotels, entertainment of many sorts, and its own hospital.

The town is named for Chief Ouray, of the Ute Indian Tribe, and also has the prestige of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Native Americans in the area. With such a rich and engaging history, it is no wonder there are such wonderful museums, celebrating Ouray County with contagious passion.

Ouray County Museum

ouray museumWith the decline of the mining industry and the railroad closing, the population of Ouray County could no longer support a hospital, which depended primarily on the donations of the miners it worked to care for. The building remained empty for some years, until it was purchased by the Ouray County Historical Society and recreated into a 27 room museum filled with the early art, gems, photographs and memorabilia of Ouray and its vibrant history.

In addition to the exhibits within the museum, walking tours of the town and the Evenings in History lectures, take guests on colorful journeys into the past; mining, ranching, and so much more! Every month or so, a special exhibit featuring everything from the development of the Million Dollar Highway to the evolution of fashion serve to entrance visitors with the victories and defeats of the early settlers of Ouray.

Ouray County Historical Society
420 6th Avenue
P. O. Box 151, Ouray, CO 81427
Phone: 970-325-4576

Ridgway Railroad Museum

d&rgDid you know that once the Denver Rio Grande Railroad travelled all the way to Ouray at least a couple of times a day? Transporting passengers and precious metals to and from the Rocky Mountains, the railroad was a large contribution to the revenue coming into and out of the San Juans.

For over fifty years, the Denver Rio Grande Railroad travelled the high country to Ouray, servicing travellers and transporting silver, gold and equipment to and from Ouray County. The town of Ridgway was actually created to accommodate the rail system, and has blossomed into a thriving community even after the derailment of the D&RGR.

Ridgway Railroad Museum transports each traveller back as The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad journeyed across the western states, changing the concept of transportation until it eventually was replaced in this area by highways and the automobile.

Explore the rise and fall of the rails in Southwest Colorado, through photographs, models, and historical documents as you are transported to the early days of mass transit and the trials and achievments of the Denver Rio Grande Railway.

This September, come on out to celebrate the railroad and its origins at the Ouray County Railroad Days Celebration. For thee days, enjoy guided hikes along several of the railroad routes through the San Juan Mountains, and explore the museum and all of the old rail cars and pictures of Ouray County's world-famous railroad heritage. From September 20 through the 23rd, immerse yourself in the colorful history of the rails!

The Ridgway Railroad Museum is located at the Junction of US Highway 550 and Colorado State Highway 62 in Ridgway, Colorado.
Mail: Ridgway Railroad Museum, PO Box 588, Ridgway, CO 81432

Ouray County Ranch History Museum

blacksmith shop ouray colorado bwImages of the Old West are filled with movie images of John Wayne type ranchers and cowboys bustin broncos and battling with the railroads over land rights; stagecoaches travelling across plains, and homesteaders working the fields. Often, the image of Ouray County is one of mining towns and all of the adventure of toiling deep in the mountains to strike it rich. There was however a large number of families coming to the Rocky Mountains to create a more permanent living off of the land, providing crops and livestock to maintain the mining community.

North of Ouray, the land evens out into fields and meadows which have long held a reputation of rich, fertile soil, capable of producing some of the best crops of alfalfa in the state. As Ouray County became famous for its rich mineral deposits high in the mountains and began to grow, ranchers took over the low lands, raising cattle and sheep to sustain the many towns and communities working deep in the earth. Fields were alternated between grazing and raising crops to feed the herds through the long winter months.

The Ouray County Ranch Museum encompasses the image of life as a settler with a variety of exhibits from a sampling of furniture and tools, to photographs of some of the first rodeos that bring to life the trials and triumphs of the early ranchers in Southwest Colorado.

At the edge of Ouray County, in Colona, Colorado, this original museum in the old Colona School and Grange, The Ouray County Ranch History Museum is sure to transport you into another time for a little while to complete the picture of life at the turn of the century.

Ouray County Ranch History Museum
206 County Road 1, Colona, Colorado



Top Three Scenic Drives in Ouray, Colorado for Passenger Vehicles


Take the back roads in Ouray County and see more in just a short drive!

Often referred to as the Jeeping Capital of the World, Ouray and the surrounding area boast over 500 miles of four wheel drive roads. Each trail is filled with spectacular scenery; a journey into the colorful past that is the Western Slope of Colorado. Abandoned mines, wildflowers, mountain lakes and waterfalls are just a few of the sights awaiting you on any given trail.

scenic drives in a sedan campbird mine road
Although many of these roads require the higher clearance of a four wheel drive, and are more fun if you take a jeep or a tour, there are several county roads off the beaten track that can be travelled in a regular passenger car. These are three of my favorite short drives which are easily accessed and won't damage your vehicle:

River Road (County Road 17) from Ouray to Ridgway

oak street county road 17Drive time: ½ hour to an hour

Ever wonder how people get to the houses you see on the west side of Highway 550 north of Ouray? This road starts in Ouray as Oak Street, and is best to begin at the southwest corner of town near the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. Travel up over Oak Street and the view of the town below is a spectacular way to begin the journey to Ridgway. Travel along the river for a short distance, the
road curves toward highway 550. At this junction, take the left curve which will take you back and up past the Black Lakes Subdivision, look down on Idlewild and finally into the open ranchland surrounding Ridgway. When you get to the base of the hill, you can either turn right, back to highway 550, or continue the back road all the way into Ridgway, exiting onto Highway 62. The majority of this drive is past private property, but the views are amazing and well worth the drive.

county road 1 ourayCounty Road 1 from Ridgway to Colona

Drive Time: 1 to 2 hours

County Road 1 is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Ouray County. Accessible by several routes in and around Ridgway Colorado, this road takes you up past the Divide Golf Course, meadows and ranchland, displaying the true diversity of landscape Colorado is famous for. 

Perfect for viewing Fall Foliage, try driving County Road 24 first, then just follow the signs to Divide Golf Course. Instead of turning in at the clubhouse, just continue on the main road which will eventually exit onto Highway 550 at Colona. Turn right to head back to Ouray.

chimney rock county road 10Owl Creek Pass to Silver Jack Reservoir (County Road 10) 

Drive time: non-stop, about 2 hours, but easily a half day drive

Definitely a favorite for all of the history connected to this road, not to mention the fantastic scenery, County Road 10 can be accessed either off of Highway 550 about 2 miles north of Ridgway, or for the more adventurous, take County road 12 just south of the town of Ridgway's only traffic light, and circle up 12A which exits out onto county road 10. Take a right, and continue your adventure.

Beyond ranches as the road begins to climb, the entire valley is spread before you, it just gets better and better on this drive with the first glimpse of Chimney Rock. Entering the more forested portion of this drive, you can't miss Deb's Meadow, the scene of the famous shootout in the original "True Grit" movie. The road continues on to picnic spots by the river, and Silver Jack reservoir, a beautiful mountain lake. This road actually continues beyond this point, but gets a little rougher, and may not be as much fun in a passenger car.



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