Ouray, Colorado and the surrounding area is filled with amazing scenery and a variety of adventures. Regardless of the season, there are always a number of ways to enjoy a visit to the area, the hardest thing might be choosing which activities most appeal.
Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado
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.
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Mining, Ranching and Railroads! Ouray County is filled with stories!
Although the images of miners are prevalent, the history of Ouray County extends far beyond. Originally develpoed as a junction for the Denver Rio Grande Railroad, Ridgway soon turned to ranching and farming to become a prosperous community despite the closure of the rails.
Movies like True Grit were filmed in Ouray County, highlighting the splendor and beauty of the San Juan Mountains. Many a famous traveller has passed through our little county, leaving their mark in our history books.
Did you know that Ouray was one of the first cities to boast electricity in our homes and businesses? Or that Ouray is home to the largest collection of Mesker Brothers facades?
Learn more about this amazing area in our variety of Museums!
Festivals, Hiking, Biking, Historic Mining Highlight ‘Switzerland of America’
Winter won’t last forever (really). Despite the low temps, short days and seemingly endless snow shoveling ahead for much of the country, it is never too early to start dreaming about your summer vacation plans. Here are five reasons to put Ouray, Colo., the top of your to-do list this summer.
120 years ago the population of Ouray was at its peak and silver mining supported the town.
Getting the ore down from the mines and supplies back up to the mines was carried out by freighting outfits who employed dozens of men and kept hundreds of horses, mules, burros (donkeys) and wagons. The standard ore wagon had a five-ton capacity and was pulled by six horses or mules (see attached photo).
July in the San Juan Mountains is a spectacular time to visit!
Every season in Southwest Colorado holds a special magic. July is the peak of the summer season, with wildflowers blooming everywhere, waterfalls around every corner, and all of the high country four wheel drive trails open, a number of activities and interests are met.
Ouray Colorado: National Historic District Maintains Character in Colorado MountainsTake a step back in time and experience Ouray's turn-of-the-century heritage through legends, ghost towns, and our distinctive mining town charm. As Fall begins to fade into early winter, a sense of the past in Ouray County seems a bit more profound.
- Saunter through the quiet streets and appreciate the Victorian architechture, restored historic buildings, friendly locals and peaceful atmosphere. Enjoy the walking tour of Ouray, strolling past homes and buildings virtually unchanged since they were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s when the town was first founded.
- Visit with Ouray's numerous artisans and galleries. Explore history through the art and antiques of the area. Local talent is immense, and encompasses every taste.
- Enjoy live music and partake in the area's numerous concerts, festivals, and theater productions. From ballets and plays at the Wright Opera House to rock and roll at one of our local pubs, Ouray is rich with cultural experiences.
- Learn about the area's mining, ranching, and railroad heritage through museums and tours. Once the local hospital, the Ouray museum is itself an historic exhibit. The Ridgway Railroad Museum is dedicated to the preservation of railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Take a journey back in time and experience the history these museums have to offer!
- Participate in the many visual and cultural art workshops. Photography, painting and wood working classes just to name a few of the opportunities to expand your knowledge and appreciation of the area abound! Weehawkin Creative Arts is one facility offering a range of classes and lectures.
- Take a tranquil hike and self-discover the area's multitude of historic 1800's era cultural sites. Regardless of the time of year, there are always trails to explore in and around Ouray. Each will travel over spectacular terrain in a journey to the past, with nothing but scenery and perhaps an old mine to explore.
- Stroll Main Street and enjoy over 50 shops and restaurants with unique arts, crafts, fashion boutiques and culinary delights.
With the holidays fast approaching, visiting the shops and galleries is ideal to find the perfect gift for that special person.
The Ouray County Museum is a treasure of memorabilia from the last 150 years of Colorado history. It has 27 rooms on display including a replica of an old mine, a blacksmith shop, a mineral collection, an old jail cell and many others. It also includes countless historical photos from its rich archive along the walls and through the corridors of this three story museum. Plan to spend at least one hour touring their vast collection, although I have never spent less than 2 hours walking through.
When one thinks of businesses in Ouray County, milk dairies do not instantly come to mind, but one hundred years ago dairies were very important to Ouray County. Many of these dairies were small with only a few cows. They sold their milk to the larger dairies that sold directly to the public using their own milk as well as milk bought from the small outfits. In 1900 the Ouray Herald reported that there were a half dozen large dairies in Ouray County.