Go Off-the-Beaten-Path in Ouray, Colorado

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Do you have a favorite off-the-beaten-path mountain town in Colorado? For Alan and me, Ouray takes that honor. Situated at 7,700 ft in the San Juan Mountains, the former mining town is a quaint counterpart to upscale Telluride—a skip and a jump over the mountains to the west.

An historic brick building in Ouray, Colorado, with mountains behind it.
Ouray is our favorite Colorado mountain town.

When it comes to charm combined with fun in the outdoors, you can’t beat Ouray. Two-thirds of the town’s original Victorian structures are still used as shops, galleries, restaurants and homes.

Take a self-guided walking tour around town to see what I mean. The Ouray County Museum makes an informative starting point if you’re interested in learning about southwestern Colorado’s mining history.

Summer flowers decorate a wooden wagon
Summer flowers decorate a Ouray sidewalk.

Outdoor adventures are sprinkled throughout the 13,000 ft mountain peaks that loom over Ouray. Hikers trek to Box Cañon Falls Trail or Lower Cascade Falls Trail directly from town.

A short drive in any direction leads to trails that wind high into the San Juans. Frequented by mountain bikes, ATV’s and four-wheel-drive vehicles. The trails offer fun Colorado adventures wrapped in a scenic setting that just might inspire you to belt out a round of “The Hills Are Alive” from the Sound of Music. It’s that good.

If you don’t believe me, check out our experience 4-wheeling in Yankee Boy Basin or driving the Alpine Loop.

green mountain meadow surrounded by snow-covered mountains
Yes, I was tempted to belt out “The Hills Are Alive” in Yankee Boy Basin. Can you blame me?

If you’d rather someone else do the driving while you enjoy the views of Colorado’s “Swiss Alps,” several companies offer 4-wheel-drive tours. As an expert driver guides the vehicle along bumpy trails with jaw-dropping views, you’ll be taking non-stop photos. And there’ll be opportunities to explore the many abandoned mines and ghost towns, crumbling relics from Colorado’s silver and gold mining boom.

Blue jeep on a dirt trail in the mountains
Exploring the Ouray area in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is one of our favorite boomer adventures.

Lodging choices include bed and breakfasts, historic hotels and chain motels. Some have their own hot springs.

Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodge sits atop a cave system where Ute Chief Ouray once steeped in the waters. Today, patrons come to relax and renew themselves in the vapor caves.

Across town, steam rises from the rocks above Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs.  A series of decks house redwood hot tubs holding hot spring water.

Woman on a horse
I rode Pedro along a Ouray mountainside and lived to tell about it.

On your visit, follow our lead, explore Ouray on horseback followed by a soak in city-owned, Ouray Hot Springs Pool. It’s a soothing ending to a fun day of exploring in our favorite Colorado mountain town.

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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