Video: Ice Climbing in Ouray, Colorado

Ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado
Ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado

Tucked away in a remote corner of Colorado is the tiny alpine town of Ouray. Situated at 7,700 feet and surrounded by peaks that soar another 5,000 feet, the region is straight out of a postcard.

Less than 900 people make their home in Ouray, but the area is still a big draw for people around the world. The biggest winter draw is undoubtedly the Ouray Ice Park, billed as the first ice climbing park in the world.

The park lies in the shaded, steep-walled Uncompahgre Gorge. The ice is formed by sprayers that divert water from the town reservoir to strategic locations along the canyon. The result is a safe, ice-filled wonderland. And unlike some areas where you must hike to find good ice, access is easy in Ouray. You simply park and hike into the park.

The annual Ouray Ice Festival is held each January (January 5-8, 2011), and the entire town gets into the celebrations. This annual gathering, which is one of North America’s premier ice climbing events, is attended by ice climbers from around the world, as well as industry sponsors, inspiring speakers, and the world’s top exhibition climbers.

Festival events are held in and around the Ouray Ice Park as well as various other venues around town. http://www.ourayicepark

While the ice may be the first attraction, Ouray’s numerous natural hot springs run a close second. Many hotels have their own private hot springs, but the most popular spot is Ouray Hot Springs Pool. Smack in the middle of town, the 250 x 150 foot public pool has more than a million gallons of clear mineral waters. Happily, the hot springs in Ouray don’t have the putrid sulfur smell typical of other hot springs

In the summer, Ouray turns into a whole other world. Some call it the “Switzerland of America.” We simply call it beautiful.