VAC: A two-hour drive to Ouray is a great way to cool down
When temperatures tickle the triple digits in the Grand Valley this summer, a two-hour drive to Ouray is a great way to cool down while taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.
Temperatures in this town cradled in the jagged San Juan Mountains between Ridgway and Silverton are routinely 20 to 30 degrees cooler than in Grand Junction, making it a great place to get away for a day, weekend or week.
Here are some of the highlights of the place known as the “Switzerland of America.”
The Glenwood Springs Hot Springs Pool may be the largest and most renowned in Colorado, but the Ouray Hot Springs Pool tones down the sulphur smell and has smaller crowds.
The pool at the north entrance to town is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adult tickets are $10, students and seniors are $8 and children are $3.
The springs offers a range of sections heated to anywhere between 96 and 106 degrees.
Even in the summer months, the pool offers a relaxing end to a day in the outdoors.
You can stretch out your legs from 30 minutes to several days at a number of places around Ouray.
Cascade Falls, on the east end of town, is a short walk from a small, gravel parking area and is perfect for lunch or a few snapshots.
One of the most popular places is Box Canyon Falls, formed when Canyon Creek eroded a deep and narrow boxed canyon through fault-weakened limestone.
There are multiple short trails, including one that will lead you directly into the belly of the falls via a walkway and suspension bridge. A visitor center includes interpretive exhibits on the geology, wildlife, rare plant life and history of the area. The park is on the southwest end of town.
The more adventurous hiker can take U.S. Highway 550 south of town for a little more than a mile to the Amphitheater Campground Road. Turn left and park on the left side of the road before the bridge.
A trailhead is just past the bridge on the right and provides easy access to the Portland/Cascade Loop, the Upper Cascade Falls and the Chief Ouray Mine trails.
There is a reason why Ouray has earned the reputation as the “Jeeping Capital of the World.”
Several roads traverse a variety of terrain, including Alpine Loop, Black Bear Pass, Engineer Pass, Imogene Pass, Last Dollar Road, Ophir Pass and Yankee Boy Basin.
There’s a huge jamboree every fall that allows four-wheeling enthusiasts to take in the fall color.
Don’t own a four-wheel-drive vehicle?
No problem. A number of rental and tour companies can be found in Ouray.
For more information on activities and lodging in Ouray, go to http://www.ouraycolorado.com.