Is Ouray Hyped? | Box Canyon and Ouray Hot Springs

2.13.2021 Ouray, CO, USA

Sometimes it all boils down to making a choice. Between the touristic Telluride, the popular mountain town of Colorado, and a little offbeat Ouray also known as Switzerland of America, we chose Ouray from the word of mouth. I would be lying to myself if I say those heated public Ouray Thermal Pools weren't Instagram worthy, in fact making the perfect shot with the view of the mountains on a backdrop was easier, still, we weren't feeling it to the bone. 

Because something about it was incredibly man-made and commercialized. Yet, we found our solace in our short hike to box canyon(A waterfall that comes from inside the Canyon) & the Ouray downtown & our walk along the Uncompahgre river situated next to our hotel stay. 

Needless to say, the view of the 13000 feet of San Juan Mountains surrounding Ouray gives it a very hill station vibe. 

Do these pools look like Hot Spings to you? Hmm...we thought so too. There were several pools with different temperatures, but these didn't woo us at all. 

I think the most I enjoyed in Ouray was our stay at the charming Hot Springs Inn located adjacent to Uncompahgre river. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the river and strolling down the riverwalk was pretty easy and scenic too. The decor is very Scandinavian type, very artistic and we loved how a few pieces in the room gave us a 'straight out of a museum' vibe. The room was enormously big and very cozy. Due to Covid protocols, one can collect their packaged breakfast (which was very ordinary) but can also book their timed entry into their hot inflatable pools.  

Ouray downtown is a small downtown with a few blocks surrounded by mountains. We especially loved the Thai food (both takeaway and dine-in) at Thai Chilli, and we loved the ice-cream delicacies of Mouses Chocolates & Coffee. There are a few breweries on these blocks, but little did we know that they were closing early and hence we missed entry. 

Hiking wise, we did the easiest hike to Box Canyon waterfalls situated outside the city. The easiest hike down into the Canyon takes 15 minutes on the paved grilled steps. There, the roar of a waterfall from inside the canyon gives a very rushed water peek into from a side angle. 

It was founded as a mining camp and helped the city of Ouray establish itself as a permanent community. Box Canyon is home to Box Canyon Falls, a 285 feet (87 m) waterfall, with quartzite walls that extend almost one hundred feet past the falls. Access to the canyon is through a short, 500 feet (150 m) foot trail to the base of the falls or a steep trail leading to the top of the falls. The admission fees is $5.

Another hike is towards the high bridge that is longer and steeper, but we did not go there. If you have time you can do the perimeter trail or if you have a day the blue lakes trail.  

Do you see the cement wall on the side of the creek? Hot Springs that once surfaced here but now a pipe inside the vault carries the steaming 150 degree(F) water to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.

The steady roar of the waterfalls can be heard year around. Did you know, that the force of the falls could provide power to the whole of Ouray? Here in this picture, is the old mining equipment left from the 1960's in the canyon.

During the summer months of June, the rare Black Swifts rests in their summer homes. Their nests are often seen camouflaged in the canyon walls. 

Photo By Jaknelaps - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

So here are a few things to keep in mind when exploring Ouray:
  • The shower rooms have no curtains in the Restrooms inside Ouray Hot Springs.
  • Ouray Box Canyon closes at sharp 5 pm. She warned us, if we are left inside, we would be left inside.
  • Many restaurants and bars close early here, like around 8 pm. We are not sure if that was because of Covid, but it was very early to get in the bar even though the long queue outside Ouray Brewery was inviting us in.
  • The drive from Ouray to Durango on a million Dollar Highway is scenic.


  1. This is such an informative blog. The pictures look absolutely stunning. The Box Canyon looks interesting and extremely scenic. Will surely keep all the things in mind if we plan to visit it anytime. Thanks for such a detailed post!

  2. This place looks so good I like your photographs

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  6. Great informative blog post. looking forward to travelling to the usa some time soon.

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  8. Great Article with good photos. Thanks for sharing with us. We planned a trip to Rio de Janeiro, one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere, for our summer vacation. My father is a lover of natural beauty, and we decided to book flights to Rio de Janeiro because it is known for its natural settings, samba, carnival, bossa nova.

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  10. what a great images stunning views. Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. It's definitely not hyped enough, perfect amount of luxury and simplicity

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  13. It's so beautiful place I love to visit Hot spring. Hiking in a mountain ranges.

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  19. so nice, calm and beautiful.
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  20. Such a nice place, thank you for sharing and keep posting


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