February 13, 2015
Ouray County Magazine
FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, ruggedly scenic Ouray County has been a destination for travelers and people seeking a picturesque place to put down roots. Ranging in elevation from seven to 13,000-plus feet, Ouray County is a land of steep gorges, towering peaks, tumbling waterfalls, high mesas and green pastures. Three charming towns (and many “ghost” towns and mining camps) welcome visitors from around the world. Ouray, a jewel-like small Victorian city, is a National Historic District. Ridgway, a ranching and former railroad town, holds its annual rodeo adjacent to its Railroad Museum. Colona still holds Sunday services in the oldest church in the county.
Ouray County boasts hundreds of jeep trails—most are four-wheel drives through the historic mining country. Here, too, are hiking, biking and driving trails past wildflowers, waterfalls and forests teaming with wildlife. Natural hot springs offer soothing soaks beneath blue or starry skies and sometimes falling snow. In winter, deep snow blankets the mountains and red-rock-walled gorges. Spring brings sparkling waterfalls and the quaking of new aspen leaves. Summer is lush, with warm days, shady forests, colorful carpets of wildflowers in the high country and world-class fishing in the clear mountain streams. Fall is a kaleidoscope of color as the aspen and oak turn from greens to rich golds and reds. In all seasons, nature’s abundance beckons, drawing artists, musicians, writers and photographers from around the world. (Special tours for photographers and artists, more here.)
To the south, the Million Dollar Highway winds and climbs over Red Mountain Pass and down into Silverton.To the north and west, Highway 62 crosses Dallas Divide, following the old railroad grade past the spectacular and much photographed Sneffels Range on its way to Telluride, winter playground of ski enthusiasts. And all directions lead back to spectacular Ouray!
Story and photography: Kathryn R. Burke
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