Ouray, CO is known as the “Switzerland of America”, and for good reason! With gorgeous mountains, numerous scenic drives and a charming downtown, there is a lot to explore in this tucked away mountain town. One of the best ways to see Ouray in the winter is by snowshoe! Snowshoeing in Colorado is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get outdoors and explore in the winter. Read on for my guide to a day of snowshoeing in Ouray, CO!
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About Ouray, CO
Ouray is located in the southwestern mountains of Colorado and is a great, central location for those looking to explore the surrounding areas! Ski in Telluride for a day or take the Durango-Silverton Train for a unique and beautiful view of the mountains.
In the winter, the town comes to life with loads of outdoor activities! You can watch or participate in ice climbing, or you can snowshoe, cross-country or back country ski and much more. There are many unique restaurants, breweries and shops to check out as well after a day of playing outdoors! The hot springs are a popular option in the winter too if you’re looking for some relaxation.
Snowshoeing in Colorado – Ouray
One of our favorite things to do in the winter is to take a day drip to Ouray to snowshoe! Ouray is located about 45 minutes from Montrose, CO and about 5 and 1/2 hours from Denver, CO. It’s a bit of trek from Denver but is worth checking out if you are making a trip up to the southwestern part of the state!
What to Bring – Your Packing List for Snowshoeing in Colorado
You will want to be extra prepared for a day of snowshoeing in Colorado, as the weather can change quickly here and you will likely be at a very high elevation! To help take the guesswork out of packing, I have created a comprehensive snowshoeing packing list which you view and print off here for any snowshoeing trips you may be taking in Colorado!
In addition to this list, here are a few of the specific gear items that Nathan and I use when snowshoeing:
Women’s Snowshoeing Gear
- Tubbs Frontier Snowshoe – These are similar to the snowshoes that I have and they work great! They are very easy to put on and take off.
- Helly Hansen Waterproof Snow Boots – You can wear these with or without snow pants, depending on how deep the snow is.
- Marmot Snow Pants – These are very similar to what I own and are super warm.
- Eddie Bauer Down Jacket – This jacket is thin but warm, so it can be layered or worn by itself! It also packs down very small in case you need to put it in your pack.
- Waterproof Shell – Bring a waterproof shell as an extra layer in case it starts to snow.
- Burton Mittens – These have a zipper pouch on the front for hand warmers!
- Kelty Poles – These are similar to what I own and are adjustable for your individual height!
- Point 6 Ski Socks – These are the warmest and best ski socks that I own! They are headquartered in Steamboat Springs, CO where we used to live.
- Hand Warmers – I pretty much take these everywhere in the winter!
- Thermos – This is great for soup or a warm drink in case you get cold!
- Neck Gaiter – This is nice to pull up over your face if it gets windy! It’s thin and packable too, plus it dries quickly.
Men’s Snowshoeing Gear
- Tubbs Snowshoes – The adjustable knob on the top makes these easy to size.
- Eddie Bauer Down Jacket – We recently bought this for Nathan and he says it is super warm and easy to layer with! Plus, it doesn’t have stitching like traditional down jackets do, so you don’t lose the down filling as easily.
- Waterproof Shell – You will need a waterproof shell if it starts to snow!
- Down Waterproof Gloves – Nathan uses these if it is fairly chilly or is starting to snow, but otherwise he is usually fine with thinner gloves.
- Thin Gloves – Nathan typically uses thin gloves since his hands don’t get cold as easily as mine!
- Patagonia Snow Pants – We got Nathan’s at a garage sale awhile back and they are very durable and easy to layer under!
- Kelty Poles – Same poles as mine, they can be adjusted for different heights.
- Point 6 Ski Socks – These are our absolute favorite socks for skiing or any outdoor winter activity!
- Thermos – This is great for soup or a warm drink in case you get cold!
- Neck Gaiter – Nathan likes this because it’s not too bulky and hot.
- Hiking Boots – These are very similar to what Nathan has. A waterproof hiking boot is a great option for snowshoeing.
Where to Rent Snowshoes
If you don’t have your own snowshoes, then you can rent snowshoes/poles right in Ouray! I would recommend Ouray Mountain Sports for this. If you plan on doing a lot of snowshoeing though, I would highly suggest getting your own pair! The cost isn’t nearly as high as skis so it’s an easy sport to get into. And if you can walk and hike, then you can snowshoe without a problem!
Where to Snowshoe
The great thing about Ouray is that there are tons of uncrowded little trails that you can snowshoe on! I’ve listed two of our favorite areas below. These options are all perfect for beginner or intermediate levels:
- Ironton Park – This snowshoe and cross country ski area is located about 9 miles outside of Ouray. To get there, you will take a gorgeous drive over Red Mountain Pass (one of the highest paved passes in Colorado!). There are multiple beginner and intermediate trails with scenic views and old historic mining sites scattered throughout. The Townsite Loop is a great option!
- Angel Creek Campground – We actually stumbled upon this area the last time we went snowshoeing and it was the perfect tucked away trail to snowshoe on! This is located a few miles outside of town, so it is very easy to get to. The trail offers views of the surrounding mountains that are near downtown! To get to the trailhead, travel south on State Highway 550 from Ouray, CO. Turn right at end of town on Canyon Creek road (County Road 361). Turn right on FSR 853.81 to the trailhead.
Where to Eat
Downtown Ouray is a charming little area full of local shops and eateries that are definitely worth exploring! There are a variety of dining options that you can try, but if you are in Ouray for a day trip here are a few of our favorites!
- Red Mountain Brewpub – We have eaten here a few times and this brewery always has great food and a large, rotating selection of beers made in house! For food, I would recommend the Grilled Chicken Sandwich or Green Chili Burger.
- Ouray Brewery – This is one of our favorite spots to go in either the winter or the summer! They have a rooftop seating area which offers great views while you enjoy a nice meal and beverage.
- Colorado Boy Southwest – If you are looking for yummy, artisan pizza then this is your spot! Most of their ingredients are sourced locally plus they have a selection of salads and non-pizza items. Our favorite pizza is the “Rustica”
- Ourayle Brewhouse aka “Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewery” – This is a MUST SEE! The Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewery is a bit hard to find but is on the main road right next to Maggie’s. Order a beer from the grumpy man himself (he’s the owner), and make sure to take a look at all of his paraphernalia on the walls. I’m guessing that, judging by the name, you will know you’re in for an interesting experience! No food here. Just beer.
- Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee – If you’re in the mood for delicious chocolates, ice cream, or if you need to warm up with some coffee or hot chocolate, this is your place!
If you have other questions about snowshoeing in Colorado or Ouray specifically, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below! I have gone many times and would be happy to give advice to anyone heading out for their first time. Or, tell me your favorite place to snowshoe in Colorado! I’m always looking for new areas to explore.
If you are looking for a healthy, packable snack to take with you, then check out my Healthy Homemade Cherry Almond Granola Bars! They are low in sugar and are ridiculously easy to make.
Hope you enjoy snowshoeing in the beautiful Southwestern Colorado mountains!