Destination: Ouray, Colorado
About: Known as the little Switzerland of America Ouray sits in Southwest corner of Colorado in between Gunnison and Durango in the gorgeous San Juans. Ouray is known for off roading and hot springs!
Route: Drive or fly into Montrose or Durango
Distance: ~320 Miles
Time: ~6 Hours
Trip Length: Overnight
Ouray has been on my bucket list for years but it’s definitely a haul from Denver at just at six hours away. We made the yearly pilgrimage to Telluride for Bluegrass but never got to check out the other towns. Years ago I did a collaboration with Toyota where we drove the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Silverton to Ouray and on to Telluride. Since we did it in a day we ran out of time to stop in Ouray. Last year for our 4th of July adventure Clay and I decided to do a similar road trip Telluride>Durango>Ouray and spend a few days exploring Ouray.
We spent the 4th of July in Telluride – the parade is so fun! Full guide to Telluride here. Then camped at a HipCamp site outside the town of Rico. From our site, you could walk along the river to town where we ate and watch the fireworks. There are only two restaurants in town, and the fish tacos at The Rico Bar were fire! We were the only out of towners at the bar but we made friends! The next day we continued on to Durango where we stopped for lunch on the balcony of Fired Up Pizza.
Our plan was to find camping on the way to Ouray but we were out of luck at 5 locks and ended up booking the LAST room in town at the Twin Peaks Lodge. We spent a pretty penny on the 2 bedroom condo but we had a place to sleep!
The next night we moved into our previously booked hotel in Ouray at the Rivers Edge Motel. It was a very small and basic room, but that’s really all we needed. The hotel is right on the river with some benches and we enjoyed sitting in that area.
The town is so drop-dead gorgeous and we spent most the day at the Ouray Hot Springs. The town Hot Springs are open till 10 pm so we spent the day moving between pools and swimming, then went to dinner and headed back for a sunset soak.
What To Do in Ouray
Ouray is known as the Switzerland of Colorado and once you see it you will be like “Yep, totally get that” Its the architecture but also the sheer magnitude of the mountains. Ouray is known for a few things, ice climbing in winter, jeep/4×4 ride and trails and hot springs!
Ouray Hot Springs – A number of the hotel’s resorts have their own hot springs but Ouray Hot Springs are where it’s at. The Hot Spring facility is gorgeous and so nice after the recent multi-million dollar renovation. There are a number of pools at different temperatures, adults-only section, a swimming pool and activity pool with obstacles course oh and a slide! I feel like the pricing was $7-12 for a full day and we 100% got our money worth there. Oh and all of the hot springs in Ouray are Sulfer free so no weird smell!
COVID Update – as of now the Ouray hot springs are still closed but check back here for more information.
Outside of the Town Hot Springs are a giant park with a baseball field! Perfect place to take the family to play or have a picnic. As you can see its gorgeous at sunset.
Hike – There are a number of hikes around town and a short drive away. Check our All Trails for hike recommendations. The Perimeter Loop Trail goes around the town that we were planning to do but opted to spend most of the day at the hot springs. We did however hike up to the Lower Cascade Falls in town. You can walk from town or drive up pretty close. It’s not a “hard” hike but its very vertical so just take time and some deep breaths to get up with the quick altitude change!
Box Canyon Falls Park – We were excited to go explore this area but unfortunately, you can’t bring dogs and we had the dogs with us. So hoping to explore this area next time! It’s $5 per person to enter an walk across the bridge near the Box Canyon Sign – more info here.
Drives & 4×4 – The Million Dollar Highway is a beautiful drive from Ouray to Durango (and back) I did the drive a few years ago during peak fall colors and it was incredible. Read my full post about it here. Jeeping in the area is also very popular and there are a number of outfitters that you can rent from, find more information here.
Kayak Molas Lake – On our way to Ouray, we stopped at Molas Lake for some Kayaking. This is a private campground on a gorgeous lake. I highly recommend making a pit stop here. We would love to go back for a weekend and just stay here! This drive will take you through Silverthorn too!
Where to Eat in Ouray
Our dinner out was Goldbelt Bar was meh… but the patio was nice, which is really why we chose it! We originally planned to eat at Colorado Boy (brewery and artisan pizza) but it was like their first weekend open and they had a big wait. For breakfast, we stopped in The Goods before heading out and it was great. We will defiantly have to try more spots next time we visit.