Spend a Winter Day in Ouray

Ouray is one of the most darling towns in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but one of the biggest draws to the town is closed for renovations. After 80 years, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is getting a big makeover and is scheduled to reopen in the spring.

©Denise Bush Photography www.denisebush.com

However, the current pool closure shouldn’t deter you from visiting Ouray this winter. There’s plenty to do in this Swiss-like village and there are other places to soak. Without further ado, here’s the perfect winter day in Ouray.

Ryan and I love soaking in the morning while visiting hot springs destinations, and if you stay at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings, a morning soak should be on your agenda. The Wiesbaden has a hot springs-fed pool and a vapor cave; both are open to the public. Other places to soak include Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs (guests only) and Orvis Hot Springs just 13 minutes down the road in Ridgway.

We’ve been eating breakfast at Backstreet Bistro since 2013. They closed for awhile but have reopened on 7th Avenue. Backstreet serves giant breakfast burritos, delicious breakfast sandwiches, and more.

The Roast & Toast is a newer breakfast option on Main Street, and so far they have an “excellent” rating on TripAdvisor.com.

After breakfast, it’s time to get some exercise. A favorite activity in Ouray, and the sport they are most famous for, is ice climbing. On our first trip to Ouray in the winter of 2013, Ryan and I went ice climbing at Ouray Ice Park with instructor and climber extraordinaire, Dawn Glanc. Glanc is a climbing guide with San Juan Mountain Guides and one of the owners of Chicks with Picks.

I had never been climbing before, let alone on ice. Ice climbing with Glanc was an incredible experience: scary, exhilarating, and ultimately gave me bragging rights for a lifetime. I have a paralyzing fear of heights, so if I can ice climb, so can you.

It’s easy to give ice climbing a try in Ouray, especially during the Ouray Ice Festival, which occurs January 19-22. This is an excellent way for newbies to become acquainted with the sport.

Even if you don’t ice climb, the Ouray Ice Park is worth visiting. Most people only see ice parks like this one in photographs.

If ice climbing isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of cross-country skiing and snowshoe opportunities around Ouray. Check here for trail information.

After sweating it out on the ice or in the snow, make a fantastic sandwich from Artisan Bakery & Cafe at 460 Main Street your reward. Then, sooth your muscles with an afternoon soak followed by a beer at one of Ouray’s two breweries, Ourayle House Brewery or Ouray Brewing (or both).  

After our day on the ice, I rewarded myself with a top-shelf tequila at Buen Tiempo Mexican Restaurant. We enjoy this warm and friendly restaurant and tend to eat here on most of our Ouray visits.

If you’d rather shop than drink beer, Ouray has wonderful locally owned retail shops offering much more than tourists' swag. You’ll find unique jewelry, a great toy store, handmade soaps and more.

For dinner, there are a number of restaurants in Ouray, including the brand new Brickhouse 737. I hear their baked Brussels sprouts with Portuguese sausage has become a favorite of locals.

There you have it—the perfect winter day in Ouray, one of the most picturesque and fun little towns in the Colorado Rockies.  

Categories: The Heidi Guide