In southwestern Colorado, where well-known towns like Telluride and Durango steal the spotlight, the small box-canyon town of Ouray is building its own spectacular reputation. Like other Colorado towns, it has hot springs and historic buildings that date back to the area’s mining era. However, a short walk from downtown, hanging from the edge of Uncompahgre Gorge is Ouray’s most famous feature, a large-scale ice park often referred to as, “the best in the world.”
Twenty years ago, Bill Whitt, a California winder surfer turned ice climber, convinced Ouray’s hydroelectric plant to let him tap into a water pipe that ran along the gorge’s rim. After much trial and error, he and other climbers managed to turn that water into curtains of ice that look like wax melting from a tapered candle. Today, the town provides the water while the Ice Park has helped Ouray garner the title, “Switzerland of America.”
The Ouray Ice Park is free and open to the public. But, it takes $200,000 to do so, nearly all of which is raised during Ouray’s annual Ice Festival. Each year in January, Ouray becomes the center of the ice climbing world. Novice and professional ice climbers come from all over the globe to partake in ice climbing competitions, clinics, and presentations, while vendors exhibit the newest tools, gear, and apparel. In true mountain-style, days of hard, physical exertion are followed by great music, delicious food, and wild parties.
For a unique mountain experience and a full day of fun, visit the Ouray
Ice Festival January 19th through the 22nd. There are activities for all ages and abilities and an incredible view most people will never see in their lifetime.
For more information, visit www.OurayIcePark.com.