Ouray, Colorado

Days 13-16 (August 11-14)
Ouray, Colorado

The tasty hikes and hot springs of the well-preserved town Ouray call us here. Finding the perfect IPA is just the icing on the cake.

We had driven through Ouray on our way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and although backtracking isn’t great for maximizing time and fuel efficiency, it is nice to be able to see this pretty city with her majestic San Juan mountain backdrop while driving in from the both south and the north.

Ouray Colorado
Uncompaghre River (yes it’s really that green)

Our first day in Ouray is spent walking around downtown, shopping at the great outdoor store, local grocery store, and enjoying a yummy burger and top-notch IPA at Ouray Brewery. We score a seat on the third floor terrace, which provides a fantastic view of the town and mountains. If you are in Ouray, you really must stop for a drink and/or meal here.

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The city is busy this weekend, but we are able to score a big, shady tent site at the Ouray KOA.

Durango KOA
Nice sites at the Durango KOA

On day two in Ouray we hike. It’s tough to decide on a trail, as there are almost 100 of them in the surrounding area. We settle on Old Horsethief Trail (not to be confused with the New Horsethief Trail) , which is one of a few trails included on the flyer from the visitor center. This trail is described as “adventurous” and “strenuous”. I do no further research (very unlike me!), which is probably good in this case because reviews and numbers may have scared me off of what turned out to be one of the best hikes I’ve ever taken.

Old Horsetheif Trail Ouray Colorado
Old Horsetheif Trail – one scary scramble on a steep mountainside

In the 2.8 miles up the side of the mountain on a precipitous trail of loose rock, we gain approximately 2600 feet of elevation. The hike up takes about 2.5 hours including a stop for lunch around mile 2, and the hike back down takes half as long.

Old Horsetheif Trail Ouray Colorado
Close to the peak!

The views from the trail overlooking Ouray and looking up at the rugged San Juan mountain peaks are amazing all the way up, and even better from the top.

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Overlooking Ouray through the smoky haze

A word of warning: this trail is not for small kids, pets, those with heart issues, knee issues, or fear of heights. After this hike, I take both Vitamin A + Vitamin IPA (Advil + an Indecisive IPA from Ouray Brewing) for my already-sore muscles.

Old Horsetheif Trail Ouray Colorado
Descending Old Horsetheif trail. Lots of loose rock!

On our last full day here, we both cool and warm ourselves in the town’s Olympic-sized lap pool and public hot springs, which date back to 1927. The recently renovated facility is huge and extremely well managed. It is feels great to take a warm soak and swim laps after working the muscles hard yesterday. I completely forget to take pictures at the hot springs, oops.

We drag ourselves away from the soaking, and we walk from one end of town to the other and eat an early dinner on the patio at Red Mountain Brewing. On our way back to camp, we stop in to a unique antique / record (LP) / vintage flannel shirt store housed in a hexagonal woodbutcher-style building. We buy a few good used travel books on the southwest, and enjoy chatting with the friendly owner, who tells us that his father built the building around 1970. I wish I could remember the name of this place.

Downtown Ouray, Colorado
Enjoying local brews + lovely views after two hard workout days

Ouray is such a great tourist town, and we agree it’s the best version of a town like this that we’ve ever visited. There is truly something for everyone here: those special San Juan mountains for hiking & Jeeping, great locally owned stores and restaurants (not a single chain!), beautifully restored 19th century architecture, mining history, hot springs, great breweries, and more.

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