13 Greatest Things to Do in Ouray, Colorado (2023)

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Want to know about the best things to do in Ouray Colorado? You’re in the right place!

Ouray, Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Located in the middle of majestic mountains and stunning vistas, Ouray offers something for everyone.

We were lucky enough to visit Ouray on a Colorado and Utah road trip from our home in Denver and we absolutely loved it. The town is truly magical, and it’s easy to see why it’s called the Switzerland of America.

Whether you are a rock climber, hiker, or just looking for a peaceful retreat with fresh air and plenty of things to do, Ouray is the perfect destination! From off-roading to soaking in hot springs, here are some of the best things to do in Ouray.

Best Things to do in Ouray CO

Learn at the Ouray Alchemist Museum

Visiting the Ouray Alchemist Museum is an amazing and unique way to explore the history of this small mountain town. Not only does the museum house artifacts, but it truly does take you back in time to the Wild West.

The museum is open year-round, so no matter what time of year you visit Ouray, you’ll be able to experience everything it has to offer. So if you’re looking for something different to do in Ouray, be sure to pay a visit to the Ouray Alchemist Museum – it’s one of the best things to do in town!

Drive the Million Dollar Highway

Aerial view of a road going through mountains.

The Million Dollar Highway in Ouray, Colorado is one of the most breathtaking drives that you can experience. The route takes you through stunning mountain views, around sharp curves and across breathtaking high mountain passes – all with the San Juan Mountains as your backdrop.

It’s only really about 12 miles long. Funnily enough, the highway got its name because locals used to say they’d only drive this road if they were paid a million dollars. So… yeah, definitely don’t go on it if you don’t like heights!

We’ve driven it before and trust me when I say I was not the biggest fan because of the heights, but the views were truly unmatched.

Have a drink at Ouray Brewery

Historic town with cars parked along the street. A mountain is behind the town.

If you’re looking for a bite to eat while in Ouray, then be sure to stop by Ouray Brewery. It’s located right on Main Street and is bright red in color, so it’s impossible to miss. This is easily one of the best spots to eat in Ouray.

At the restaurant, they serve craft beer as well as hearty American food that you’d find in pubs. The restaurant also has some rooftop dining so you can take in the beautiful mountains all while enjoying a bite to eat with a drink.

Explore Ouray’s Main Street

Girl walking on a street near mountains.

Easily one of the best things to do in Ouray is to explore the Main Street. There are so many fun shops (including both local and souvenir ones) as well as restaurants along the street.

During our visit, we spent an entire afternoon just hopping from shop to shop, buying fun trinkets to remember our trip. Luckily, parking is pretty easy to come by depending on the time of year you visit. For reference, we visited in October 2021.

Ouray used to be a mining town (home to the second-largest Colorado gold mine) and dates back to 1876, so there’s lots of history in this part of town.

See Box Cañon Falls

People standing in a canyon with a waterfall.

If you visit Ouray without stopping at Box Cañon Falls while you’re there, you’re missing out! There’s a short 500-foot walk into the waterfalls when visiting and you’ll truly have your breath taken away.

There is a fee to visit depending on age, ranging between free to $7 per person. It’s open year-round but the road is closed in winter, so you’d have to park nearby at the OHV Staging Area.

Most people hike the Falls Trail when visiting, which is an easy 500-foot walk. Other options include the High Bridge Trail which is a mile and a half as well as the Native Plant Loop which is the only trail without steps in the park, but it’s still fairly easy.

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    Go on a mining tour

    As mentioned earlier, Ouray was a mining town! So, when you visit, go on a mining tour in order to learn more about the area. The best one is through Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour.

    On this tour, you’ll go 1500 feet into Gold Mountain and learn about Ouray’s mining history. Plus, you can enjoy access to a gold panning area where you can really try to get gold that comes from Gold Mountain. How fun is that?

    Depending on when your tour is, you may even be able to stop at the Miner’s Weekend Cafe, open on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Here, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast with produce and pancakes.

    Enjoy pizza at Goldbelt Bar and Grill

    View of a cheese pizza from above.

    Another excellent place to eat in Ouray is the Goldbelt Bar and Grill. This family-friendly restaurant serves up some of the best pizza that you can get in all of Ouray.

    In addition to pizzas, they have everything from salads to wraps and burgers. Plus, there’s a special kids menu as well, including nutella sandwiches for the kiddos who are a bit picky!

    Most meals on their menu are under $15, with a few specialties (like prime rib sandwiches) costing slightly more.

    Marvel at Cascade Falls

    Waterfall going down a rocky landscape.

    There are so many waterfalls in Colorado, but Ouray’s Cascade Falls is one of the absolute best. There are a few hikes here, but the most trekked is to Cascade Fall Parks, which is the lowest waterfall of seven. The short trail is only about 0.2 miles and provides impeccable views!

    To see the higher waterfall, you’ll want to hike Chief Ouray Mine Trail which is about 4.3 miles long and has around 2,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s still a popular trail but is a lot harder and is recommended for those who are experienced hikers, as it takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete.

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    Relax in the Ouray Hot Springs

    View of pools outdoors in the middle of tall mountains.

    With so many hot springs in Colorado, it can be hard to choose, but did you know that Ouray has its own? That’s right, Ouray Hot Springs is actually home to geothermal heated pools!

    Admission is free for those under 4 or above 75, but adults can expect to pay about $26. If you live in the area, you can also purchase a punch pass that will bring the price down slightly. This is perfect if you plan on visiting and soaking up a lot.

    Hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail

    Hiking in Colorado is an absolute must-do – trust us, we’ve hiked everywhere from the Hanging Lakes to Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there’s also great hiking right in Ouray, especially at the Ouray Perimter Trail.

    This 6-mile trail is a moderate hike that’s about 1500 feet in elevation gain. As a loop trail, you can see new views the entire time. Along the way, enjoy the views of the Uncompahgre Wilderness.

    Take in the view at Yankee Boy Basin

    Clear turquoise blue lake with mountains around it. The rocky mountains reflect on the water because it's so still.

    One of the most popular views in all of Ouray is Yankee Boy Basin. If you have a car with good clearance, then it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s located right in the Uncompahgre National Forest and goes up to 12,400 feet at its highest, and you’ll see some of the most beautiful blue waters.

    It’s about 18.6 miles and you’ll have about 4,700 feet of elevation gain. The trail is easier for the first half to drive, but after the bathrooms, does get a bit more narrow and agressive.

    Experience the Animas Forks Ghost Town

    About an hour outside of Ouray is the Animas Forks Ghost Town. Many ghost towns can be found throughout Colorado, but if you’re in Ouray already, you might as well make the trip if you have time!

    The first part of the town was built back in the 1870s and was historically called Three Forks of the Animas, though was shortened at a later date. To get there, you’ll want to use the Alpine Loop which is connected to nearby Silverton, too.

    See the sights from a train

    An orange and black trail going through a canyon with a lake next to it.

    Last but certainly not least, if you’re in this area of Colorado, you might as well enjoy a scenic train ride! One of the best is actually the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which isn’t super far from Ouray.

    This is one of the most well-known trains in all of the USA and will give you incredible views along the way. Be sure to book your train ticket in advance, because it can get really busy.

    Final Thoughts: Ouray Colorado Things to do

    Ouray Colorado is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. From hiking and exploring to enjoying the beauty of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray has something for everyone.

    Whether you’re looking for an adventurous weekend or just some beautiful scenery, Ouray has it. With its incredible views, nature activities, and friendly locals, Ouray is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

    So why not explore this little mountain town in southwestern Colorado? You won’t regret it!

    Watch our vlog from our day where we visited Ouray, Telluride, & Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!

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