Monday, August 31, 2015

Ouray, Colorado

Once again we drove into the San Juan Mountains through its gateway in Ridgway.      This time our destination was Ouray, called the Switzerland of America.    Pronounced "You ray" this small valley town is less than 15 miles from our home base.

Our reason for driving to Ouray was water.   Ouray has a famous public hot spring, non sulfur swimming pool and a number of small hotels with private hot spring pools.  The public pools range in temperature from 80 to 106 degrees.

  We parked and walked around the pool area and I suppose it would have been inviting if it wasn't chock full of people.   Kids and adults swimming and soaking, lathering on sunscreen and laying on towels and chairs and eating hot dogs.    I didn't take any pictures as I didn't want to appear to be photographing people I didn't know!    Perhaps when it was less busy.....

 Ouray also boasts an intriguing water fall, Box Canyon Water Fall, just north of the city proper.    We took our lunch up to the small park and sat beside a cliff to eat before exploring the canyon and falls.

After we finished our sandwiches and a shared peach galette we hiked up a short hill to the edge of the catwalk leading to the Box Canyon Falls.    This spectacular natural wonder pours thousands of gallons a minute down 285 feet through an extremely narrow canyon, the walls of which overhang the falls by some 100 feet.

The walk was green and damp, the sound of the thundering falls in our ears.

The picture above is about as far as I actually got.    I understand that the rest of the way was perfectly safe and there certainly were people coming back from the falls, so there was no crashing of the catwalk, no collapsing of the railing.   But.....The walking surface was see through, as was the railing.   What I saw through was occasionally grey stone and occasionally - nothing below me.  The cliff walls on one side were straight up as we started the walk, but the further we went, the more they intruded into the path making us lean out over the canyon below to avoid banging our heads.    So with claustrophobia and height issues making me vibrate, I asked Dave to walk me back to the "safe" zone and then continue on to the falls.

Sigh.....I'm glad I went, I'm mad I couldn't finish the hike but I'm glad Dave did.   He said it was magnificent.

After returning to the car we drove back into the main street of Ouray and walked the streets, enjoying the beautifully restored buildings.

old glass and new keep watch

Ouray boasts the largest number of surviving original Mesker Bros. cast iron facades in the state.   These ornamental sheet metal and cast iron storefronts were sold by mail order in the 1880's through the mid-twentieth century.

fleur de lis are one of the Mecker signatures


On our way out of town, on the way back to Beluga we saw a sign pointing up to another water fall.    Anxious to redeem myself I suggested we see what the hike to that falls looked like.

But, its late.    I'll show you more tomorrow.    


  1. It looks gorgeous! Do you find the altitude bothers you at all?

  2. Next time give Dave the camera so he can show you what you missed! Ouray is such a lovely little town. We stayed in the 4J1+1 rv park right in town...with the back of our rig practically hanging over the thundering Uncompaghre River! The sites are tight, but the noise of the river provides a different kind of privacy! Of course, your site at Ridgway boasts beauty and peace!

  3. I can totally understand a fear like this. Having suffered with claustrophobia for years, people don't understand how it is to just ignore it. You did get out a ways though:) I can hardly wait to get to Ouray. Several bloggers just left the area from a few weeks of hiking. There are some amazing hikes to over 12,000 ft. I am really looking forward to getting to this area. We did ride through and stop at an ice cream shop years ago on a motorcycle trip. I didn't realize we had a building named after us there in town:)

  4. More great pics, love that Pam and John have their own large building. With our last name, our "monuments" are generally less appealing :-) Those see-through grates really give Tessa a bad time, it's the one thing we've found she has trouble with. I can only do it if I look straight ahead with my hand tightly gripping the railing, but I totally get not making it all the way to the falls. Love the old glass with the reflection, very cool.