Soak in a Perfect Fall in the Switzerland of America
Ouray’s mountains are right at your front door, so if you crave adventures that take you away from the pavement, here are five unique ways to fill your fall days.
1 - Soak in the Views
Nothing beats a hot springs soak to start or end a day of adventures. This year, we invite you to experience a brand new Ouray Hot Springs Pool! Just in time for its 90th birthday, Ouray's historic pool unveiled a multi-million dollar renovation. Enjoy the beautiful views of Mt. Abram, the Sandias and the Amphitheater from the elevated Overlook Pools and spread out among the expanded seating nooks. While you're here, explore all five of our and private Ouray County hot springsxplore all five of our and private Ouray County hot springs. If you need even more heat, extend your Colorado stay, and travel the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop.
2 - Dust off Your Trail Shoes
If you're looking for a perfect late fall hike, when the snow has started to blanket the high country (and you've already ticked-off the must-do Ouray Perimeter Trail) try out a section of the Dallas Trail system that starts in Ouray and continues through Ridgway into Telluride, with incredible views of our famous 14'er Mt. Sneffels. Make it a multi-day trek and stay in one of the cozy San Juan Huts or let a horse pack your gear while you camp. The whole Dallas Trail is accessible to mountain bikes, too.
3- Find Peace with a Fly Rod
Spend a quiet day fishing one of our many rivers and lakes. Start with the blue ribbon waters of the Uncompaghre River at Ridgway State Park's Pa-Co-Chu-Puk, then venture up Owl Creek Pass to the Middle Fork of the Cimarron for uncrowded wildnerness fly fishing and late season color.
If you want a gentler river experience, Ouray’s Box Cañon Waterfall and Park offers a short but imposing walk to the base of an 85-foot waterfall crashing into a narrow canyon.
4 – Walk Through History
The history of the San Juan Mountains is just as rich as the scenery. Take the famous Million Dollar Highway south of Ouray to explore the ghost towns in Ironton and the Red Mountain Mining District. This area features historic headframes, tunnels, homes and cabins. During its boom time, this valley was home to as many as 10,000 people, 100 businesses, a post office, jail, schools, newspapers, saloons and gambling halls. Must-do hikes in the area include short (and relatively level) trips to the Colorado Boy Mine and the Corkscrew Turntable, which was the terminus of the supply train from Silverton before the steep cliffs of the Uncompahgre Gorge made train travel impossible.
You can also travel back in time in Ridgway to the classic Westerns that were filmed in the San Juan’s on the Ridgway True Grit Film History Tour and to the time when the Rio Grande Southern, Silverton and Durango & Rio Grande railroads ruled the transportation industry at the Ridgway Railroad Museum.
5 – Crag Hop in Town
The mountains surrounding Ouray are home to some of the finest alpine mountaineering and rock climbing routes in all of Colorado, with many of them right in town! Late fall is a perfect time to explore the lower-elevation local crags when the big peaks are covered in snow.
Try sport climbing at Rotary Park, in the Sandias or on the Pool Wall and challenge yourself on multi-pitch climbs in the Uncompahgre Gorge. There are areas for beginners and families and an ever growing number of high quality routes for more advanced climbers. Be sure to check in with one of our local guide services and let them teach you the ropes safely. Always wear a helmet, and check out our bookstore and outdoor shop for the latest edition of local guidebooks. (Don’t forget to come back in winter, when the Ouray Ice Park offers endless blue ice to climb.)
At the end of each day, come home to Ouray for delicious food, craft beer, spirits, coffee and chocolates, delightful shopping and, of course, relaxing soak. Stay a few days and explore everything the San Juan Mountains have in store for you!
Photos (top to bottom) courtesy of: OurayAtNight, OCRA, Kane Scheidegger, Don Paulson, San Juan Mountain Guides