Western Traveler

Ouray, Colorado

The year 2012 was a big year for Western Traveler, it was to be possibly the last year that I had easy access to Utah as my friends the Campbell’s decided to move to Oregon.  That meant the final trip to my beloved Utah had to be a great one, and it certainly was.

Jeff and I decided to make the most of this transitional period and see as much as we could.  Our trip began with a jaunt over to Telluride, Colorado for their Blues & Brews Festival, an experience neither one of us will soon forget.

After leaving the festival we had planned to head into western Colorado to check out some of the old, cool mining towns.  We stopped overnight in Ridgeway and the next morning drove straight to Ouray.

After the hustle and bustle of the Blues & Brews Festival it was fun just meandering up and down the main drag in Ouray, one of many mining turned to tourist towns in the Rockies.  Located a mere 10 miles as the crow flies from Telluride, this mountain community is a nice transition from the touristy to the hard-core mining towns of old.  This town doesn’t actually qualify as the “hard core” but does wind you down from Telluride, before you get to Silverton (which is definitely hard core).  Keep in mind that the actual driving distance is about 50 miles due to the mountainous terrain.

Ouray was originally brought to life by miners seeking out their fortunes with silver & gold.  At one time, there were more mules in town than people.  At the height of it’s activity, Ouray claimed more than 30 active mines.  The Denver & Rio Grande railroad came to town on December 21, 1887 and stayed until cars & trucks became the dominant form of transportation.

The contemporary visitor will enjoy the amenities of; restaurants, bars, rental businesses and unique gift shops lining the main drag.  My personal favorite place was the Gator Emporium, home to some of the most interesting gift items found anywhere.  Jeff and I spent a considerable amount of time there examining the countless offerings.

We also availed ourselves of a fine lunch meal at O’Brien’s Pub on Main Street, offering outstanding service and a diverse menu, sure to please the most discriminating.  Our meal was great, and the service even better.   Don’t even ask what appetizer I had!

The economy of this little mountain village is tourism based.  It calls itself the “Switzerland of America” and lives up to it’s name nicely.  Don’t think that everything is gift shop only, the town focuses heavily on recreation in the beautiful surrounding San Juan Mountains.  You can rent Jeeps, purchase gear at many of the fine outfitters and cruise up and down the Million Dollar Highway, a favorite recreation for motorcyclists.

One final note, Ouray has not escaped the attention of Hollywood either, being the film site for the classic 1968 film, “True Grit” starring John Wayne.  If you watch the movie carefully, you’ll see some of the buildings in Ouray as well as nearby Ridgeway.  Also, if you’re a MacGyver fan you may recognize it as the home of MacGyver’s grandpa, Harry.  The area was filmed during the pilot episode “Target MacGyver”.

This little town, home to only 1,000 residents is certainly a jewel in the wild, worth visiting if and when you get the chance.  For more information on what’s happening, you can visit their website http://ouraycolorado.com/

Last modified on: September 26th 2013.
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