Ouray lies 16 miles south of Ridgway at 7,792 feet in elevation and cradled in a valley of the San Juan Mountains surrounded by majestic peaks and canyons. Appropriately, it is known as the “Switzerland of America” and the “Gem of the Rockies.” Its rich history, beginning in 1876 as a mining town, is evident in its well-preserved Victorian homes and other historic structures. The railroad was also an important part of its history, which laid the foundation for today’s hair-raising and spectacular Million Dollar Highway from Silverton over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray. It was also the land of the Ute Indians. The town is named after the Ute tribe’s Chief Ouray. He and his people were eventually forced out of the area by the United States into present-day Utah in the 1880’s.
Ouray today remains a vibrant small mountain town of about 1,000 inhabitants. It is the seat of Ouray County. Although tourism now is a major part of its economy, Ouray has not suffered the excesses of over-development, maintaining its small mountain town charm where real people live, work and play. It is definitely an outdoor recreation haven that attracts hunters, fishermen, hikers, campers, and Jeeping enthusiasts in the summer. In the winter, Ouray offers phenomenal snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and ice-climbing at the world-renown Ouray Ice Park. Although a significant number of residents are part-timers, there is an equally significant number who live year-round. Real estate opportunities are abundant for both full- and part-time residents and investors who use their homes as long-term and short-term vacation rentals.