We spent 10 days in the San Juan mountains exploring a few towns while working remotely. We visited in the fall when the leaves changed colors which was stunning. Everywhere you looked there were trees with orange, yellow, red, and green leaves. Ouray is called the Switzerland of the United States due to the mountains surrounding 3.5 sides of the town. Check out our Ouray travel guide below!
How we traveled there
Since it’s a 6+ hour drive from Denver we explored a few towns to make the drive worthwhile. We started in Telluride, spent one night in Mesa Verde National Park, then ended our trip in Ouray. We drove the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray. The view, especially with the leaves changing, was unreal.
Right before we got off the Million Dollar Highway into Ouray we saw three moose. Once you get to Ouray everything is very walkable, even trailheads are close by.
Where we stayed
We stayed at this dog-friendly Airbnb. It had a king bed in a room with a bathroom, fridge, TV, and microwave. There was no stovetop or oven. It is a house that was converted into multiple hotel-style rooms. There was a backyard area with a picnic table that we worked from.
What activities we did
- Cascade Falls Trail starts a block from the town. It takes 5 minutes to walk up to the falls. The falls were almost dried up given it was late September. There are also hikes up to the top of Cascade Falls. Dog-friendly.
- Box Canyon is an extremely powerful waterfall (even in September) that plummets into a narrow canyon you can walk to. The falls are in a park right off the town that costs $7/pp. It is 1-1.5 miles long with clear paths and sturdy stairs. You can go above the canyon and to the bottom of it. We spent an hour there. It is closed during winter months. Dogs were not allowed.
- Uncompahgre Trail is a very low-elevation dog-friendly loop trail along the river
Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa is a cool twist on the hot springs we typically visit in mountain towns. The hot spring is located in a vapor cave under the building and includes a pool outside. The hot springs are first come first serve. We waited about 20 minutes. It costs $25/pp.
Jessica enjoyed a massage at ViaSana Massage and Bodywork.
We went to the Wright Opera House to watch a local violinist play. It is a historic theater built in 1888. They served drinks and light snacks.
Here are our favorite shops in Ouray;
- Bloom Modern Merchantile
- The Blue Pear
- Twig + Feather
- The Burning Ass Trading Company (candles)
- Khristopher’s Culinaire
On our way back to Denver we stopped at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. There are multiple stop-offs on the south end of Black Canyon to overlook the steep cliffs. The rock formations and coloring are beautiful to see. We spent 1 hour there going to 5 stop-offs. We recommend grabbing a map from the visitor center and asking them for recommendations on what to see. To see the other side of the park you have to leave the park and drive 2-3 hours north to enter. There is a $30 vehicle fee unless you already have a national park pass. No reservation is required and dogs are allowed in the park.
Where we ate
- Thai Chili – We ordered to-go Pad Thai from this restaurant. It took a while to make given it was so busy.
- Goldbelt Bar & Grill – It had an array of American food but it wasn’t our favorite spot
- Kami’s Samis – We stopped here for breakfast before starting the drive back to Denver. It was tasty!
Where we drank
- Ouray Brewery – They have a rooftop overlooking the town and mountains. They also serve food.
- Full Tilt Saloon – This is a dive bar that allows dogs on the patio
- Sauvage Spectrum Wine Lounge
- KJ Wood Distillers
- Mojo’s Coffee
What we recommend knowing/preparing
It snowed on the peaks of the mountains while we were there in late September. Make sure to pack a jacket, hat, and gloves. It was brisk in the mornings.
What we didn’t do but looked into
- Ouray Hot Springs Pool
- Mr Grumpy Pants Brewing Company – We heard good things but they didn’t have any seltzer or ciders (Jessica is gluten-free)
- Silver Eagle Saloon
What we packed
We wore casual clothes and added a jacket, hat, and gloves in the morning and at night. Check out our recommendations for travel clothing and essentials.
We hope you enjoyed our Ouray travel guide. Leave a comment below or contact us for any questions. If you are looking to explore more of Colorado, then you should also check out our post on Crested Butte.