Best Things to Do in Ouray, CO

Ouray, CO (pronounced yur-ay) is a picturesque town in the southwest corner of Colorado and has many great things to do! This area of the state has been on my bucket list to visit for several years and our visit did not disappoint. My family moved to CO five years ago, and while we travel frequently, it is often out of the state, and we had yet to explore the southwest corner of our state.

When I turned 40, I told my husband that my gift was to be a long weekend trip with my favorite four boys to the southwest corner. It did not disappoint and I am so happy we finally made it happen.

The southwest corner of Colorado is gorgeous. Draw-dropping. Gorgeous. And, now that I know how much we love it, I promise we will return before another five years pass. There are so many sites, trails and areas left for us to explore. However, here is a summary of the fabulous activities that we enjoyed and we highly recommend that you experience too.

The Million Dollar Highway

I will to start with a BIG highlight. Is it worth a million dollars? Yes! As we were staying in Ouray, we drove from Ouray south to Silverton. The most jaw-dropping beauty is closest to Ouray so my favorite travel was the drive back to Ouray. We stopped at the scenic overlooks on our drive back to Ouray for photos. You must experience this area for itself as the photos do not do it justice.

There is a look out stop near the Bear Creek Falls. It was my favorite stop. Make sure you walk out onto the scenic overlook deck and look down. Ryan had already hopped back in the car but I made him come back out onto the deck to admire the beauty.

Ouray Million Dollar Highway Overlook

On our drive, we were chatting about what wildlife we had seen in the wild and which animals are still on our list to see. At this stop, there was a sign of the different animals and we learned that there are Canada lynx are in the area. We added this to our list to hopefully see someday. One of my favorite parts of travel is all the learning we constantly do while on adventures.

Make sure to stop at the Switzerland of America sign to take photos. Switzerland is one of my favorite countries so it is no wonder I loved Ouray so much! It is a solid comparison.

Ouray Switzerland of America

Ouray Box Canyon Falls

This is one of those places that my husband and boys were not overly excited to visit. And then it was one of our favorite activities. There is an entrance fee but it is inexpensive. It was $19 for my family of 5.

There are a couple paths you can take. One path is a fairly steep climb on a dirt trail with tree trunks and rocks but the view is incredible. You can look out over the entire town. Once you are into the canyon, there are quite a few stairs but it is well worth the trek to admire the beauty inside the canyon.

Ouray Box Canyon Falls

The small towns

Cute little mountain towns. Yes, please. Silverton. Adorable. Telluride. Wow!

Driving through this entire area of the state, you will be able to explore all these cute little mountain towns. I love how they are surrounded by mountains. Everyone we met was friendly. The little shops are so cute. My family is not always fond of shopping but I love looking in all the local shops. One night I ran to pick up food we ordered, and while waiting, I stopped and bought myself a sweatshirt from one of the local shops. I take advantage of time when I am able.

Ouray Hot Springs

Expensive? Slightly. Worth it? We enjoyed it! We rented a townhome for the weekend and the townhome was right next to the hot springs. You purchase a day pass from the hot springs so we visited early afternoon, went home and took a nap, then went back that evening after the sun had gone down.

I will say that the afternoon got a little warm sitting in the hot water. However, the benefit of the daytime was the view. Three of my handsome guys are in the photo below but checkout the scenery. Relaxing and admiring the views was pretty amazing.

The evening was my favorite time. With the chill of the evening, relaxing in the hot springs was fabulous.

Ouray Hot Springs

The Food.

First of all, I have three growing boys. Two are teenagers. To say they eat a lot is an understatement. This was also my 40th birthday gift weekend so there was no way I was cooking. Did we spend quite a bit of money on food over the weekend. Yes. Was it worth it? YES! We did have any disappointments with the food we ate over the entire weekend.

We visited in October so not all shops or restaurants were open. Or many had limited hours (although I am not entirely sure if that was due to the time of year or Covid.) In any case, make sure to pay attention to the hours of the local businesses. Getting food late at night is nearly impossible and we had to skip ice cream one evening because we could not find any place open.

Please aim to support the local businesses in these wonderful towns. Mi Mexico Restaurant is delicious. My husband ordered a chicken burrito smothered in a cheese sauce. When it came, we could not believe how huge it was. He ate almost the entire thing and could not stop saying how great it was. Pizza at Goldbelt is fabulous. We ordered takeout from Red Mountain Brewing. It is also a yummy recommend. I only wish I would have taken food pictures.

Things to do on our next visit

If you are an adventurist, google “Ouray Via Ferrata’. Tell me that doesn’t look like fun!?! While we did not participate on our first trip to Ouray, its on our list for the future. Whether it was due to the pandemic or whether the time of year we visited (October), not all activities were available. Our next visit will be during the summer.

Ouray Alchemist Museum is one of the educational activities that I love to find while we are traveling. My husband, boys and I all love to learn new fun facts. We tend to prefer the more active and adventurous activities but a tour to learn history, especially fun history, such as how our pharmacy used to be. The reviews for this activity are great, but tours are offered only at specific times which did not work during our long weekend.

Cascade Falls is a waterfall close to the center of town that is only a short walk from the trailhead to the falls. The perimeter trail is five miles that loops around the entire town. Pack those hiking shoes to get out and admire the beauty of this town.

I would love to help you plan your trip to Ouray. Submit a travel quote request and I will be in touch!

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