Ouray, CO

This Small Town in Colorado Is Considered the "Switzerland of America"

Diana Rus

Ouray is known as the "Switzerland of America" for its climate, natural alpine surroundings, and landscape. It is situated at an elevation of 7,792 feet.

Ouray is a home rule municipality and the county seat of Ouray County in Colorado, United States.

Founded by miners seeking silver and gold in the nearby mountains, the town once had more horses and mules than humans.

Visit Ouray

Ouray's economy is mostly centered on tourism. Due to its location at the narrow head of a valley that is surrounded by steep mountains on three and a half sides, Ouray refers to itself as the "Switzerland of America."

Ice climbing, mountain biking, hiking, trail running, and off-roading in four-wheel drive excursions into the San Juan Mountains make up a large portion of the town's tourism sector. Due to its location at the start of the Million Dollar Highway, Ouray has also grown in popularity as a travel destination for motorcycle riders.

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Ouray, ColoradoPhoto byNathan AndersononUnsplash

Ice climbing is a common activity in Ouray. The world's first ice climbing park, built on previously popular natural falls, consists of dozens of frozen waterfalls ranging in height from 80 to 200 feet and stretching over more than a mile down the Uncompahgre Gorge.

Climbers from all around the world visit the free Ouray Ice Park. The annual Ice Festival is a two-day event with competitions, displays, and tuition from many of the best ice climbers in the world.

The local economy has benefited from ice climbing as well, with hotels and eateries that used to close during the winter months now remaining open to welcome climbers.

In Ouray and nearby Ridgway, there are five developed hot springs. These include vapor caves and thermal pools. The biggest facility with the most swimming pools is Ouray Hot Springs.

The drive from Durango to Ouray is surrounded with waterfalls, and there are two that are conveniently located inside the city limits. The short, 1/4-mile hike to Cascade Falls begins at a parking area on 8th Avenue. The Box Canyon Falls are located on Ouray's southwest border.

Ouray was was a mining town. The Camp Bird Mine, the second-largest gold mine in Colorado and one of the most well-known, was started by Thomas Walsh in 1896.

On the leaning two-wheel drive road leading to the four-wheel drive highways to Yankee Boy Basin and Imogene Pass, the abandoned mine may be observed.

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