A Winter Wonderland of Adventure awaits in beautiful Ouray, Colorado!
Centuries before the white man arrived, the Tabeguache Ute, a nomadic band, traveled to this idyllic setting in the summer months to hunt the abundant forest game and to soak in what they called “sacred miracle waters”. Even then, they knew the springs that simmer beneath much of Ouray were therapeutic. In fact, the town’s original name was “Uncompahgre”, the Ute word for “hot water springs”. Today, the natural hot springs in Ouray still draw visitors for their reputed healing abilities. Here at the Box Canyon Lodge, our natural hot springs come out of the ground at 140°. We then feed it into our redwood hot tubs at a more comfortable temperature, between 103°-109°, depending on the time of year.
The local children’s sledding hill, known as Vinegar Hill, has been Ouray’s sledding hill for over 100 years. It is located on the east side of town between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. The top and bottom of Fifth Street, between these two avenues, is blocked off with hay bales to driving traffic. In addition to this in-town sledding hill, a short drive from Ouray in either direction offers unlimited sledding in some of the most spectacular mountains you’ll ever see. If you didn’t bring a sled you can purchase an inexpensive plastic one from several of Ouray’s shops. For the more serious thrill seeker, check out Ouray Mountain Sports for handmade wooden sleds from Silverton. A large piece of cardboard works well too!
Ouray is ranked as one of the most popular locations for ice climbing in the world. Not only do the surrounding mountains provide numerous spectacular ice-climbing routes, Ouray has the only ice park where a mile of farmed ice is available to climbers right in the city limits, easily accessible and free to all who enjoy this exciting sport. With the accessibility of the Ouray Ice Park, more Ouray visitors are walking to the park and watching the climbers from the bridges and also from the stands built for this purpose along the top of the Uncompahgre Gorge. Climbers are usually in the park throughout the day but typically start early. CAUTION: Be sure to dress warmly and stay away from both the climbing area and edge of the gorge. There are a number of world-class outfitters who live in the Ouray area. If you are interested in learning how to ice climb, San Juan Mountain Guides offers guided instruction for individuals or groups. If this sport is new to you consider staying in Ouray for several days and including ice climbing lessons with your other outdoor activities. For more information on the Ouray Ice Park consider buying “The Ouray Ice Park Guide" by local mountaineers Vince Anderson and Cindy Williams. It is available at local stores in Ouray.
The Ouray ice skating rink is located at Rotary Park, approximately one mile north of the Hot Springs Pool, and offers some amazing mountain views during the day, as well as the opportunity for some serious star gazing at night! The rink is typically open from late December throughout the winter as long as winter temperatures remain cold enough to maintain ice. So bring your skates and enjoy the fun atmosphere of an outdoor ice rink. Or, pick up a game of “broom ball” with some of the locals. The rink is maintained by the City of Ouray and a cadre of volunteers. There is a small warming hut located at the rink. Lights at the rink allow for skating in the cold and silent hours of a winter evening with stars shining above.
Cross Country Skiing and Snow Shoeing:
Opportunities for winter sports activities abound in and around Ouray. Within walking distance of town, numerous trails provide cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing access, or just hiking, to take in the special charm of our beautiful valley blanketed in snow. A short drive in either direction will open up more challenging winter backcountry terrain along with miles of groomed Nordic track, or, slip on a pair of snowshoes and explore miles of untouched powder in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains. When winter comes to stay, many of our summer hiking trails are transformed into magnificent trails through spruce forests. You can really work up an appetite on some of the longer trails so pack a picnic and a thermos of hot cocoa to rejuvenate. Snowshoe and Cross Country Ski rentals are available in Ouray at Ouray Mountain Sports on Main Street.
Experience the splendor of the Uncompahgre Mountains in the winter with us. We guarantee you will never want to leave this Christmas Card perfect town!