Ouray Colorado, the "Switzerland of America", is a quaint Victorian town in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. It is located on the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, an incredibly scenic area. In winter, it is quiet and serene on most any day and it is an excellent location for some wildlife viewing.
Today, the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep were hanging out on a hillside about 1.5 miles north of Ouray.
The Bighorn Sheep are the Colorado State animal and are amazing to watch. These animals are known for their large horns that develop on the older males. Sure-footed and agile, they move through the rocky cliffs like ballet dancers, each foot placed in the perfect location. Viewers are left wondering, "How can they do that?".
It is common to see the Bald Eagles near the town of Ridgway along the river. In fact, there is a little riverwalk (paved cement and wood mostly) that is an ideal location to see them. Typically, they perch in the cottonwood trees along that stretch of river waiting for the right fish to swim by.
The deer are at the park adjacent to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool at dusk just about every night and typically, there are at least a dozen. Of course, year round, you can catch those animals roaming but there are more in winter. My belief is that the Hot Springs actually warms the ground a bit and the grass stays pretty green year round so it is a most delightful place to bed down at night.
When staying at our Ouray hotel, the deer have been spotted near the natural hot springs too. They enjoy the land behind the motel as it is warm too. There are also many birds that enjoy that hillside including several stellar jays, magpies and other smaller species.
Elk typically frequent the meadows along the highway that connect Ridgway and Ouray yet I have not seen them there this winter. Sometimes I see Elk in the Dexter Creek drainage area too.
In all cases, these are wild animals so do not feed them and do not get too close so bring binoculars or special camera lenses instead.
For more ideas on things to do in Ouray during the winter, download our Winter Fun in Ouray brochure.