Ouray is right down the road from Ridgway, on the way to our next destination–a favorite from Big Trip #1—Durango. We visited briefly on that trip in 2016 on a day trip from Durango and were excited to get to spend a night there and explore more.
Ouray is called the Switzerland of America for good reason: it’s a pretty, historic little mining town ringed by 13,000-foot mountains, filled with boutiques, restaurants, breweries, and Victorian houses. It’s well worth a night or two.
But how do you pronounce it? We were taught in 2016 that it’s “YOO-ray.” We were told again this trip that it’s “YOO-ray.” But this link says “YER-ray”? Here, a local says it’s “yoo-RAY”? Or is it “ooo-RAY,” based on the Spanish phonetic spelling of Chief Ouray’s name? We’ll stick with YOO-ray for now but someone please straighten us out!
We stayed at Ouray Riverside Resort, a nice park with friendly people and gravel sites situated along the riverside path leading into town. There’s a park even closer to downtown, 4J+1+1 RV Park. That park was closed for the season; we’d try it next time for the two-block walk to the main drag.
The Uncompahgre River Walk, adjacent to Ouray RV Park, is a great place to walk your dog–or walk yourself the 3/4 mile or so to downtown.
Eating and drinking
Ouray Brewing seems to be the most popular establishment in town. There was a line during the day, but it wasn’t crowded when we came back for an early dinner on the cool (and chilly) rooftop patio. The beer was ok, the salads were good, and sitting outside looking over Main Street and the mountains at sunset was fantastic.
We also had a decent beer down the street at Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing on the dog-friendly porch. It’s easy to miss–basically just a window with a sign next to it. You bang a gong at the window to order a beer from Mr. Grumpy Pants himself, and you can order food from the adjacent burger joint to enjoy as you watch the action on Main Street.
There are two other breweries in town: Colorado Boy and Red Mountain. We skipped Colorado Boy, as we’ve been to the Montrose outpost of Colorado Boy, where we thought the pizza was better than the beer. Red Mountain‘s beer list and vibe were not for us; your mileage may vary.
In a town known for outdoor activities, the coolest one is the dog-friendly Perimeter Trail! It’s a fun six-mile loop above and around Ouray, featuring waterfalls, forests, geology, bridges, and incredible views of town and the neighboring mountains (see the photo at the top of the post). There are several access points in town, allowing you to hike chunks if you don’t want to do the whole thing–but since it’s so accessible, be prepared for lots of fellow hikers on the trail.