Ouray, Colorado may be small, but it is mighty. Possibly because it’s very literally nestled between several mountains, seemingly closing it off to anything and everything that doesn’t have to do with stellar outdoor adventure. And there’s plenty of adventure to be had in Ouray. So grab your hiking boots, your ice ax, or your climbing gear and enjoy these 5 outdoor activities in Ouray.
As the name implies, the Perimeter Trail circumnavigates the city of Ouray. You’ll hike up and down, up and down, as you make your way over foothills, up mountains, and beneath waterfalls. It’s a strenuous hike that will take a few hours, so bring some soy jerky and trail mix and don’t forget the trekking poles–you’re gonna need ’em. (There are other trails, too, but we think the Perimeter Trail is the best if you only have time for one.) Read about our experience–or watch the video–here.
Twenty (soon to be 30) miles of interconnected single track make Ouray a hot spot for outdoor activities on two wheels. Ride the RAT (Ridgway Area Trail System) for tracks suitable for all skill levels or take the scenic pedestrian and bike path that follows the Uncompahgre River from Downtown Ridgway to the trails and onward to Ridgway State Park. Find the best route for you here. Didn’t bring your bike? Rent one from Box Canyon Bicycles.
One of the hottest (proverbially speaking, of course) outdoor activities in Ouray, Colorado is ice climbing. So if you’re around from about December-March, layer up and and grab your picks! The most popular place in town to go ice climbing is the Ouray Ice Park. It’s a free-to-use park (you can support it by buying a membership) that routes some 150,000 gallons of water to the park to maintain the icy walls. There are plenty of local shops (plenty!) that offer gear rentals and instruction, so if you’ve never gone before or just want to try out the sport, have at it! Read more about it here.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better Colorado climbing routes than the ones in Ouray and many of the routes are so close to downtown you could walk to dinner afterward. There are beginner routes and more advanced climbs and most are already equipped with bolts for sport climbing. Try Rotary Park or the Pool Wall for single-pitch climbs from 5.5-5.11. For more challenging routes, head to The Sandias, Overlook Cliff, Roadside Attraction and Upper Camp Bird Road. Check out descriptions of each area here. For rental gear, visit Ouray Mountain Sports or any of the other fine retailers in Ouray.
Do we need to explain whitewater rafting? I didn’t think so. There are several rivers in and around Ouray if you want to book a trip: the Uncompahgre River (Class II/III+), Lower Gunnison River (Class II), Gunnison River/Gunnison Gorge (Class III-IV), San Miguel River (Class III-IV), and Animas River (Class II-V). Find an outfitter here. There’s also stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking available at Ridgeway State Park. RIGS offers guided tours and rentals of all kinds, including inflatable kayaks and SUPs.
Is that enough to get your adrenaline pumping? We thought so. And when you’re done with your day of adventure, ease sore muscles at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. Wander on.
Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com