Hooray for Ouray

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The main attraction, however, is the Ouray Ice Park which boasts several hundred different ice climbing variations ranging from easy to expert, mixed lead routes, and everything in between. The ice routes are formed by a series of pipes that carry water along the top of the gorge and then spill over the edge through valves that are turned on each evening to keep the ice in excellent shape. There is no admission to the park but contributions are encouraged in order to keep this amazing resource open.

The main attraction of the park is the fact that you can climb multiple routes of varying degrees of difficulty all within a day’s time without having to face a long approach to a remote and desolate area. Most of the routes have anchor options in the form of trees or anchor bolts and most areas within the park have trails to access the base of the routes. Since the park is situated in the gorge, climbers typically set a rope and rappel or hike to the bottom to access the climb.

The park has strict rules regarding the mandatory use of helmets and crampons to access the climbing areas, but it also has many viewing platforms for non-climbers to watch the climbers below. As mentioned earlier, the park is on the south end of town and can be easily accessed by simply walking from your hotel or taking a short drive to the parking area. There are also port-a-lets available
at the entrance to the park for your convenience, and with a short walk back to Main Street, you can take as many coffee breaks as you want to at any number of restaurants and coffee shops located in town.

Overall, the park is an exciting adventure that accommodates any skill level, from beginners to well experienced professionals who want to test their skills. Every year the park hosts the annual week long Ouray Ice Festival which attracts top climbers from all over the world. The festival is usually held in mid January and has competitions and events throughout the week that are sponsored by leading companies in the industry. Most of these companies offer prize giveaways and free gear demonstrations. Furthermore, many top climbers offer instructional classes and workshops during the week that aid all skill levels.

After a long day in the park, Ouray offers plenty of excellent restaurants that feature affordable meals, as well as fancy establishments for special occasions. Of course, don’t forget to save some time for the naturally fed pools of the Ouray Hot Springs to end the evening.

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