Located at 7,792 feet above sea level, Ouray, Colorado is home to some pretty fabulous spots to drink, eat and get down. Here are some of our favorites.
A few miles up the road from Ouray in neighboring Ridgeway, thirsty folks nestle up to the bar inside this brick building for English-style ales on tap or from the cask. Anything off the menu from their brick oven pizzeria, which uses local produce, washes down easy with a 32-ounce beer, AKA a Cowboy can. Not only do they brew award-winning craft beers, but they also show you how to do it, offering a complete immersion course specifically designed to help new brewers get a head start into the craft beer business.
In a town overrun by mountain guides, there's a lot of gear at stake. That's where Gary Ryan comes in. Once a mountain guide himself, then a sales rep turned major brand developer, Ryan has always been a repair man. He employs a lifetime of experience in the outdoor industry to fix broken stuff, and in this corner of the Rocky Mountains that means a lot of skis and boards. And while Ouray doesn't have a chairlift for miles, it has all the backcountry skiing access in the world, so the Guide Garage fits right in. They're open Thursday through Sunday, but you can call for an appointment, or if the light's on, come on in.
Come for the mountains, stay for the burgers. It may not seem like this is the best burger joint you've ever been to, but you're in for a surprise. Once you get past the fact that people have tagged everything from the door frames to the last brick in the corner with their names, we-were-heres and what they ate, you step up, place your order over here and pick it up over there.
Stroll up to the burger bar and fix yourself up, grab a seat and take a bite.
Then it hits you. This Maggie knows what she's doing. We've mowed plenty of options from the hand-drawn chalk board menu, but we'll join the minions and say try the 420 Burger. Thick cuts of bacon, piles of onion rings. Pure heaven.
Bonus points: Bring in your pup. This place is pet friendly.
Swing by Maggie's Kitchen, you just might find yourself looking for spot to sign.
Ricola: America's Little Switzerland
Ouray sits as the gate to the San Juan Mountains. Shrouded by the Ruby Walls, Mount Sneffels and peaks galore. The key to this door is a sense of adventure. Perhaps no other mountain range in the U.S. can boast the number of jagged peaks, lost canyons, hidden valleys and remote alpine refuges as the mighty San Juans, and Ouray is an ideal base camp.
The best part is, you can leave the car parked where it is. Head for the hills, relax in hot springs, bask in vapor caves or soak up the sun.
“You can do all sorts of adventures here,” says professional climber Dawn Glanc. “Hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, all out your back door. It's pretty special.”
Rest day shopping spree
Much of the hundred-plus year old Victorian architecture that Ouray was built upon still stands today: two-thirds in fact. Couple that with eloquent storefronts, chocolatiers, coffee shops, breweries and restaurants and you get a inviting small-town-America experience with a Rocky Mountain twist, capped with rugged peaks and panoramic views. No adventurer is too tough for Kristopher's Culinaire, a remarkably stocked kitchen and home store with everything from salsa and cutlery to original ski area signage.
And in winter hit the Ouray Ice Park. In summer, try the Perimeter Trail.