Colorado / Get Out of Town

Winter in Ouray means ice, snow, steam


Photo courtesy Ouray Chamber of Commerce

This winter will be an exciting time of revisiting history and historic change in Ouray.  From new events, to classic winter activities and adventures, to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool multi-million-dollar renovation, Ouray will be bustling with activity.

Winterfest 2015-2016
What makes Ouray a special winter destination? World class ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park, and uncrowded backcountry skiing in the San Juan Mountains, Nordic ski and snowshoeing adventures with epic views, sulfur-free hot springs and the authentic spirit of the mountains found in our historic city. Add unique shops, craft beer, spirits, coffee and chocolates, locally-owned and run restaurants, and boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts and you have the perfect winter getaway destination.

Winter officially starts with the eight-week Winterfest season between Thanksgiving and the annual Ouray Ice Festival in January, with different major activities happening every weekend, as well as many other events throughout the week. The following is a sampling of the events highlighted for this year’s Winterfest activities:

  • December 2nd, Light Up Ouray and Christmas Tree Lighting
  • December 3rd, Yule Night and Parade, Small Business Day, Annual Live Holiday Radio Show at the historic Wright Opera House
  • December 10th, Ouray Wine, Chocolate, & Cheese Festival
  • December 16th, Ugly Sweater Dance Party at the Brickhouse 737
  • December 17th, Winterfest Movie Marathon
  • January 6th – 7th, Ridgway Skijoring Event at the Historic Ouray County Fairgrounds
  • January 7th, Astronomy Night
  • January 14th, PARC Winterfest Games
  • January 19th – 22nd, 23rd Annual Ouray Ice Festival

More information about these events will be available on

Ice, Ice Baby
As temperatures begin to drop in the Uncompahgre River Gorge in Ouray, the scientific and intricate work of building the world’s biggest and best recreational ice park begins for the local ice farmers.  The crew spends hours each day setting and monitoring the system of pipes, shower and sprinkler heads to create the spectacular ice walls and climbs in the Ouray Ice Park. Check out the live webcam of the park at and watch the ice grow!

Unless you are an ice climber, you have probably never seen the park from inside the river gorge. The Ouray Chamber Resort Association and the Ouray Ice Park, Inc. are co-hosting a very special media event that will allow invited media and journalists to tour the park, learn about the history of the park and the sport of ice climbing, and see the ice farming process in action as the ice farming team prepares the park to open for the season. The day wraps up with local brews and snacks at the Ouray Brewery. Here’s a sneak-peak at the agenda for this first-time media event:

Date:  Wednesday, December 14
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
:  Tour of the Ouray Ice Park with Ice Farmers
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm:  Brews and Bites at the Ouray Brewery

RSVP required by Friday, December 9th, please contact Heidi Pankow 970-325-4746, Local hotel media rates may be available for those interested in spending the night in Ouray. Please request a rate sheet at the time of RSVP. 

Skijoring debuts in Ouray County
The exciting sport of skijoring is coming to Ouray County in January, presented by the Ouray County Rodeo Association.

Skijoring pits each horse and skier team against the clock as they race through a series of jumps and gates – think water skiing, but on snow and powered by swift horses.  It’s a thrilling event that is growing in popularity throughout the mountain West.  Already well established in Silverton, Ouray County’s first event is scheduled for January 6 – 8th at the Ouray County Fairgrounds in Ridgway.   “This is going to be a big weekend with lots of associated events, watch for details in the coming weeks,” said organizer, Richard Weber.  “We hope to see as many as 70 teams competing for cash prizes.”

For information about the skijoring weekend, registration and events, please call Weber at 970-318-1042 or

A New Era for the Ouray Hot Springs Pool
In operation since 1927, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool has served the local and regional communities as the premier destination for relaxation, family fun and amazing views. After 89 years of operation and countless visitors, the pool facility was beginning to show its age. In the autumn of 2012, the City of Ouray organized a citizens’ committee that was tasked with reviewing, prioritizing and recommending essential improvements to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Fitness Center Facility. In August of 2015, the Ouray City Council adopted the final master plan design for the new Ouray Hot Springs Pool. The master plan design represents years of hard work and compromise amongst the many interests within the community to create lasting memories for future generations to come. The long-awaited, multi-million-dollar renovation project will address structural and filtration issues, introduce modern amenities, and create some beautiful new and improved soaking areas with completion expected in May of 2017. Funding for the project is provided by a local bond initiative, grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Great Outdoors Colorado and an ongoing capital campaign.

The Fitness Center, locker rooms and shower facilities will remain open throughout the construction project from 10 AM – 6 PM daily. Project details, updates and a live webcam of the project are available at the Ouray Hot Springs website: For hot springs soaks during the construction period, we encourage visitors to seek out Ouray County’s other public hot springs at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings and Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs in Ouray and at Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway. Private hot springs for are also available for guests of the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs in Ouray.

Winter Along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop
If you have more than a few days to travel, don’t miss the chance to stop and soak in our partner destinations along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (, which offer their own charming winter festivals, great resort skiing and unique Colorado experiences. The Loop includes the communities of Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, Pagosa Springs, and Ouray and Chafee Counties. Each destination is about a three-hour drive from the next and makes for a perfect multi-day getaway in Colorado.

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