While many of Colorado’s mountain towns have succumbed to sprawl, Ouray’s location in a tight canyon limits the amount it can grow. And its nickname, the Switzerland of Colorado, says it all.
Get your daily joe and pastry at Roast & Toast (roastandtoastouray.com) on Main Street. For a heartier breakfast or lunch, hit up Backstreet Bistro (970-325-0550). Fresh and affordable, the place serves dishes like huevos rancheros and a bear burrito that will fuel your engine. Brickhouse 737 (brickhouse737.com) has the best dinner in town. Owner Hans Vander Ploeg and Chef Cory bring gastronomic sophistication to town, with local Colorado fare like seared Boulder natural chicken and elk Bolognese. For pub fare and brews, check out Ouray Brewery (ouraybrewery.com). Note: Many restaurants are closed on Mondays.
Accommodations are limited, so book early if you will be visiting during the famous Ouray Ice Festival (January 18-21, 2018) . The China Clipper Inn (chinaclipperinn.com), which Chef Hans also owns, is just a block from Main Street. Built in 1990, it could pass for an old Victorian inn. Its quirky nautical charm might seem out of place in the mountains, but an old Navy Commander who loved all things maritime thought its salty kitsch would fit the town’s eclectic personality (you be the judge). Hans and wife Ingrid have been brought European flare to the small town since 2009. Their rooms are spacious (with fireplaces and Jacuzzis in some) and Ingrid’s hearty breakfasts make the perfect start to a day of adventure
Climbers from across the planet head here for the famed (and free) Ouray Ice Park (ourayicepark.com), with roughly 200 manmade ice and mixed climbs over three miles of terrain. The controlled environment of the park makes it and ideal place to learn the craft or up your game. If you want to work on your form or just learn the ropes contact San Juan Mountain Guides (mtnguide.net), who also guide backcountry skiing in the surrounding San Juan Mountains. Finish a big day in the town’s hot springs. The recently renovated Ouray Hot Springs Pool (ourayhotsprings.com) is chock full of options—including a new 357-person-capacity hot pool— for enjoying the town’s warm waters.