colorado towns: ouray

I stopped for about an hour in Ouray, Colorado during my drive around the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.  Ouray is designated as a National Historic District and is nicknamed “Switzerland of America” because of its panoramic views of the San Juan Mountains.

The town has preserved a charming Victorian-era feel within its box canyon setting, keeping alive the spirit of the Old West.  There is a famous hot springs here that I sadly didn’t take the time to visit. There are also close to a hundred hiking trails into the San Juan Mountains, and many off-highway driving adventures.  From here, you can explore a ghost town, go mineral hunting, hike a historic mining trail, ride a horse or historic train, or tour a historic mine, along with countless other activities.

I walked up and down the streets, taking pictures and popping into shops.  Glossy pickup trucks and SUVs parked diagonally on the town’s streets, and an elegant cowboy strolled happily along. The town boasted an opera house, eating and drinking establishments such as Buen Tiempo Mexican restaurant, Ouray Liquor, Ouray Brewery,  O’Brien’s Pub and Grill, Duckett’s Market, Khristopher’s Culinaire, and the Silver Eagle Saloon.  Cute shops lined the streets, with names such as Rockin P Ranch, Ouray Alchemists, North Moon, RB Horse Traders, and Chipeta Emporium.

From 1882-1890, the businesses along Main Street consisted of saloons, barbershops, hardware shops, gents’ furnishings, a wagon and carriage shop, a Times printing office, a flour and feed, a coffin maker, and a cabinet shop.  From 1902-1908, the shops were barber and tailor shops, dry goods, hardware, saloons, bailed hay and feed, groceries, jewelry, meat, bakery and grocery stores.

In one shop, I bought an Ouray t-shirt and a pair of fuzzy slippers printed with moose as a Christmas present for my daughter.


first view of Ouray from the San Juan Skyway


Wright Opera House

The Beaumont Hotel celebrated its grand opening in 1887 and immediately became known as western Colorado’s most elegant hotel. For fifty years, it lodged wealthy mine owners, railroad men, and corporate executives who had business in the San Juan Mountains. However, as the region’s mines declined, the Beaumont’s vacancy rate grew; by the mid-twentieth century it had lost its luxurious sheen, and in 1964 it closed altogether. Covered in a coat of unsightly pink paint, it stood empty for 38 years, an eyesore on Ouray’s quaint Main Street. In the late 1990s, two investors rescued the Beaumont, spending several million dollars restoring the building. Today the Beaumont serves as a textbook example of historic preservation, and Ouray stands among Colorado’s best preserved Victorian towns.


Beaumont Hotel


a lone cowboy


Buen Tiempo


Rockin P Ranch


Ouray Alchemisst


clock tower in Ouray


Ouray Brewery


Ouray Liquor


Silver Eagle Saloon

The way north can be seen from an Ouray street corner.


street corner in Ouray


street mural on O’Brien’s Pub & Grill


Beaumont Hotel


Elks Lodge


street in Ouray


Beaumont Hotel

After leaving Ouray, I continued on the San Juan Scenic Byway, passing a herd of brown cows as I headed into Ridgway.  I didn’t stop in the town except to take a picture of a mural at the Old Fort Smith Saloon; this historic building featured in the 1969 Western movie True Grit.


Street mural in Ouray

*Saturday, May 19, 2018*


“PHOTOGRAPHY” INVITATION:  I invite you to create a photography intention and then create a blog post for a place you have visited. Alternately, you can post a thematic post about a place, photos of whatever you discovered that set your heart afire. You can also do a thematic post of something you have found throughout all your travels: churches, doors, people reading, people hiking, mountains, patterns, all black & white, whatever!

You probably have your own ideas about this, but in case you’d like some ideas, you can visit my page: photography inspiration.

I challenge you to post no more than 20-30 photos and to write less than 500-800 words about any travel-related photography intention you set for yourself. Include the link in the comments below by Wednesday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Thursday, March 21, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, every first and third (& 5th, if there is one) Thursday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired!

Thanks to all of you who shared posts on the “photography” invitation. 🙂