Enjoy Elevated Chills at the Ouray Ice Festival
Sitting at the other end of the famous Million Dollar Highway from Durango, Ouray is almost equidistant from Denver, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque (all of which are nearly six-hour drives). It once was a booming mining town that looked to the mountains for silver and gold, but now survives on tourism—like the Ouray Ice Festival. In a town that once boasted more horses and mules than people, the crowds now greatly outnumber the animals; particularly during the Ouray Ice Festival when people swarm the entirety of the National Historic District of Main Street.
Ice climbing pioneer Jeff Lowe started the weekend-long Ouray Ice Festival which hosts various competitions, ice climbing clinics which range from beginner to expert, opportunities to try out the latest gear, a kid's climbing wall (away from the gorge for safety), as well as an axe throwing contest and many other great events. The local non-profit group that runs the Ouray Ice Park, which relies on the winter ice climbing festival for half of their annual operating capital, purchased it in 2001 from Lowe and has kept it going strong ever since.
Hotels and restaurants that once were closed in the winter months now throw their doors open wide to welcome the crowds for the Ouray Ice Festival. And the competition does not disappoint as the route continues to challenge the best climbers from Russia, different parts of Europe, and even Egypt. This year is sure to be no different as climbers try to scale frozen waterfalls, sometimes even hearing the water run still on the inside as high as 200 feet (61 meters). The town of Ouray is considered the ice-climbing capital of the United States.
When to Go to Ouray Ice Festival
The closest airport service is in Montrose, which is located 35 miles north of Ouray. There is a (donations only) shuttle service that operates into the Ice Park and around the town, which is located only a few minutes walk outside the Park. The Ouray Ice Park is just on the South end of town where Highway 550 switchbacks as it begins its climb toward Red Mountain Pass. The Ice Park is only a few minutes walk from Downtown Ouray, which is very easy to navigate on foot.
Odds n' Ends
Colorado is also known to benefit from a great abundance of sunshine. The high temperature in January may only average freezing, but sunscreen is a necessity when spending long hours outdoors. Being so high above sea level means it’s easier to get burnt. Make sure to take the proper precautions, even if you're all bundled up for the Colorado cold, as no great experience like this can be enjoyable looking like a lobster.
Carpe Diem! Book to do this experience now!
Starting from $100.00 per person.
Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.
French , Hindi , Indonesian , Italian , Japanese , Lao , Malay , Mandarin , Portugese , Russian , Spanish , Thai , Turkish , Vietnamese are some of the languages spoken in United States. If you know of a freely available phrase book or podcast for one of the missing languages, let us know!
Experienced this and have something to share? Experienced something like this somewhere else? Looking for advise or travel companions? Use this space to leave your mark. Our writers and editors are more than happy to help answer your questions.
Listed below are the most recent comments made on Twitter for "ouray ice festival":