Situated In A River Valley At 7,700 Ft. In The Heart Of The Rocky Mountains Lies The Spectacular Mountain Town Of Ouray, Eloquently Nicknamed The Switzerland Of America.
Ouray officially began in 1876 with the eager stroke of the prospector’s pick. However,the future brought with it those simply inspired by its beauty. Because of Ouray’s majestic peaks, cascading waterfalls, natural hot springs, the famous Million Dollar Highway, Ouray Ice Park, and its reputation for being the Jeep Capital of the World, modern visitors flock to Ouray as much for its beauty as the miners of the past did for the riches they hoped to find.
Prior to the arrival of the miners, the Tabequache Indians, a nomadic band, traveled to this idyllic setting in the summer months to hunt the abundant forest game and to soak in what they called “sacred miracle waters”. In 1873, the famous Ute Chief, Ouray, reluctantly signed a government treaty releasing the Ute’s treasured San Juan Mountains to encroaching settlers. Chief Ouray was instrumental in keeping peace between the Ute Indians and the many settlers. The town was named in his honor.
By 1880 with the frenzy for precious metals, Ouray had grown into a booming mining town with over 2,600 inhabitants. Many of the buildings built between 1880-1900 are still standing. For example, the beautifully restored Beaumont Hotel & Spa (built 1886), the St. Elmo Hotel (1898), the Miners Hospital (1887), now the Ouray County Museum, and the Walsh Library (1899), to the un-restored Livery Barn (1883) and the Historic Western Hotel & Saloon Restaurant (1881). Ouray presents a variety of remarkable old Victorian architecture. On the side streets, classic examples of Victorian homes abound, most of them beautifully restored. In 1983, both the Colorado and National Historic Authorities honored the City of Ouray as a National Historic District.
The present year-round population of approximately 800 swells considerably in the summer months as thousands of travelers visit this unique valley. Ouray is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Whether you set out to conquer the mountains with rope and carbineer, on foot, bike, or four-wheel drive—there’s a route for everyone. Autumn is truly an outstanding time of year, with aspen stands and mixed conifer forests exhibiting glorious displays of golden colors. The winter months are enchanting. At night when the lights meet the formations of ice and snow they join in a shimmering dance of magical light. It’s no wonder that this area has been described as the “Gem of the Rockies.”
Ouray is the perfect retreat for rest and relaxation. In addition to the area’s outdoor opportunities, we have Shops and Galleries, summer and winter events and entertainment, the Hot Springs Pool & Fitness Center, and a variety of Dining and Lodging options. This is a vacation you will want to remember for the rest of your life. There are panoramic vistas, mountain basins with waterfalls and wildflowers and a inspiring winter wonderland waiting to be capture on film, so don’t forget your camera!