On the road: A night in Ouray | AspenTimes.com

On the road: A night in Ouray

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesA deep, narrow canyon provides Ouray's setting for an ice-climbing park.

OURAY, Colo. – Sometimes, I just need to get out of Dodge, as they say. And Ouray was just the ticket. Different mountains, different rivers, different vibe – it’s as though I was a world away, though it’s only a four-hour drive from home.

Once we were headed down the far side of McClure Pass on Saturday morning I felt the change of scenery take hold.

The itinerary was simple and flexible. We planned to fish the Uncompahgre River below Ridgway Reservoir on our way down, and I didn’t plan to catch any trout, given my generally futile past experiences there. I guess the 3-inch rainbow that came hurtling back at me on a back cast should be considered an unexpected success, but it was fun to stand around in some different water anyway.

A side trip into the old part of Ridgway, about a square block of buildings on mostly dirt streets, led to a pleasant surprise. Like every other mountain town these days, it seems, it now sports a brewery. A pint at the Colorado Boy Brewery was deemed a necessary, if unscheduled, stop.

Then it was on to Ouray, nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. It’s one of my favorite getaways, but instead of a room in one of its creaky, ancient downtown hotels, we upgraded our accommodations to The Wiesbaden, which boasts a vapor cave in the basement, a small hot-springs pool out front and a private hot spring, the Lorelei, where guests can book a private soak. (During the offseason, this treat is free Sundays through Thursdays.)

Needless to say, we lounged until the sun went down, sought out a late dinner and zonked out early in a comfy room.

We decided to skip the fishing Sunday in favor of more hot-springs relaxation and a visit to the fabled waterfalls crashing down the mountains on the edge of town – Cascade Falls and Box Canyon Falls – plus plenty of peering down the narrow, deep canyon where Ouray creates an ice-climbing park in the winter. Some of the ice was still clinging to the cliffs. Impressive.

We vowed to pay Ouray a wintertime visit (to try the cross-country skiing, not the climbing) over an impromptu pint at the Ouray Brewery on the way out of town.


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