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 Portland Trail. 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)