Ouray, Colorado is often referred to as the Switzerland of America for good reason. The old mining town is situated in a river valley surrounded by the rugged and steep San Juan Mountains. The combination of charming historic buildings and jaw-dropping mountain views make Ouray the most beautiful town in Colorado.
I first drove through Ouray years ago on my way to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t researched the drive more than just mapping the route out and was completely in awe when I arrived in Ouray and drove the Million Dollar Highway.
Things to do in Ouray Colorado (and nearby) in the Summer
Besides being one of the most beautiful towns in the west, there are also so many fun things to do in Ouray, Colorado in the summer.
Things To Do In Ouray Colorado In The Summer
- Drive The Million Dollar Highway
- Stroll Down Ouray Main Street
- Enjoy The Rooftop Deck At Ouray Brewery
- Swim In The Ouray Hot Springs Pool
- Hike The Uncompaghre River Walk Loop
- Tour The Bachelor Syracuse Mine
- Paddleboard And Beach At Ridgway State Park
- Ride Bikes On The Uncompaghre River Way Trail
- Day Trip To Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
- Where To Stay In Ouray Colorado
Drive The Million Dollar Highway
Driving the Million Dollar Highway is a must-do on your visit to Ouray. The winding highway is the most picturesque drive in all of Colorado. It is also a little nerve-wracking to drive the steep winding road with no guard rails.
Luckily, there are plenty of turnouts so the driver can stop and take a break from keeping their eyes on the road and check out the incredible views.
The Million Dollar Highway is a 25-mile section of Highway 550 that goes south from Ouray to Silverton over the 11,018 foot Red Mountain Pass. You don’t have to do the entire drive, we usually turn around at the top of Red Mountain Pass.
*Look for the old abandoned mines when you get close to the top of the pass.
I’ve always thought the drive from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska was the most beautiful drive in the United States. But, the Million Dollar Highway is a close second.
Stroll Down Ouray Main Street
Looking for some souvenirs or art to take home from your Colorado vacation? Main Street Ouray has some great shops. Browse books, t-shirts, toys, pottery, jewelry, and fun gift shops.
The historical buildings along Main Street Ouray have kept their rustic mining town charm so just strolling down Main Street is enjoyable.
Enjoy The Rooftop Deck At Ouray Brewery
The Ouray Brewery roof-top deck is a must-do on your visit to Ouray. The deck offers incredible views of Main Street Ouray and the surrounding mountains. Not only that, the food and beer are top-notch. Eli loved his specialty root beer.
While we were on the rooftop deck we saw a huge buck deer walking right across the busy Main Street!
There is usually a wait to get a table on the roof-top deck, but the experience, food, and views are well worth the wait. If the weather isn’t great, the bar downstairs is also worth a visit. The barstools are swings!
Swim In The Ouray Hot Springs Pool
The Ouray Hot Springs pool is one of our favorite hot springs in Colorado, right up there with the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. There is so much to do there for the entire family. Waterslides, a water obstacle course, volleyball, relaxing hot pools, and shallow swimming pools.
*Children need to pass a swimming test to use the obstacle course. Eli is a pretty good swimmer but couldn’t pass the swim test because it required swimming one lap and then doing the backstroke on the way back. He doesn’t know how to do the backstroke so the lifeguard wouldn’t let him pass.
If you are traveling without kids, you can enjoy the adults-only pool.
The facility is fabulous and so are the views of the rugged mountains surrounding the pool. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon playing and soaking in the warm water.
For current hours and pricing, visit the Ouray Hotsprings Website.
Hike The Uncompahgre River Walk Loop
The Uncompahgre River Walk Trail is an easy two-mile loop along the river to the North of the hot springs. You can actually park in the Hotsprings parking lot to access the trail.
The walk along the river is peaceful and beautiful. It is the perfect walk for all ages. Make sure to look up to see the old mining structures on Gold Hill.
Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on a leash.
Tour The Bachelor Syracuse Mine
Go back in time with a tour of the historic Bachelor Syracuse Mine. The informative mine tour goes 1,500 feet into the mountainside. It is interesting to hear about the risky working conditions of the miners years ago. Also included in the tour is gold panning out of a real river (at some mine tours gold panning is done in a trough where gold nuggets are planted).
For info on other Colorado mine tours read the post- Kid-Friendly Colorado Mine Tours
Day Trips From Ouray-
If you are staying in Ouray for more than a few days, there is a lot to see and do within an hour’s drive of Ouray.
Paddleboard And Enjoy The Beach At Ridgway State Park
Ridgway State Park is fifteen miles north of Ouray. This awesome state park has the best sandy swimming beach! It is the perfect place to hang out on a sunny summer day. The water in Ridgway Reservoir gets warm enough to swim in but cool enough to still cool you off when it’s hot.
Paddleboards are available to rent near the swim beach. The calm water is a great place for paddleboarders of all abilities.
Ridgway is just one of many incredible Colorado State Parks. Read – 7 Amazing State Parks In Colorado
Ride Bikes On The Uncompahgre River Way Trail
The Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail is a fun and easy (relatively level) bike path that goes from Ridgway State Park into the town of Ridgway. The paved trail is approximately five miles one way with incredible views for the entire bike ride.
If you don’t have your bike, you can rent bikes from Ridgway Adventure Sports and access the trail from there. Sadly, there aren’t any options for renting kids-sized bikes or bike trailers in Ridgway. But, if you have a little one in a stroller, the bike path is also a great place to walk.
Visit The South Rim Of Black Canyon Of The Gunnison
The South Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is only an hour’s drive from the town of Ouray and well worth a day trip. Black Canyon is the least visited National Park in Colorado because it is in such a remote location. It is so refreshing to visit a National Park without the crowds.
Your first glimpse at the steep rock walls of the Black Canyon will take your breath away!
Here is everything you need to know to plan your day trip – How To Make The Most Of One Day In Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
Where to Stay in Ouray Colorado
Disclosure- Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
There are plenty of lodging options right in the town of Ouray. Keep in mind that summertime in Ouray is really busy. You’ll want to book as early as possible to get your first choice of lodging.
Hotel – Hot Springs Inn has an excellent location – right in town within walking distance of everything, the hotel also has amazing river views.
Bed and Breakfast – The Black Bear Manor is the perfect place to meet fellow travelers and enjoy comfortable accommodations and a great breakfast.
Cabins – Ouray Riverside Resort – Inn & Cabins has a beautiful setting right on the river. Cabins include a small kitchen!
There are also plenty of vacation rentals through VRBO.
We always camp at nearby Ridgway State Park when we are visiting Ouray. There are also plenty of other camping options in and around Ouray. But, like the other lodging, you will want to reserve a spot because summers are busy in Ouray.
If you are visiting Colorado in the Summer you will want to add Ouray to your itinerary.
Ouray is very remote and out of the way, but it will be well worth the added drive time to visit this incredible town.
Pin for later– Awesome Things To Do In Ouray, Colorado In The Summer
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