Jeeping in Ouray, Colorado

Bailey here –

I promised to show you Ouray, Colorado, so here goes. I loved Ouray! What a gorgeous little town that seemed to me to be a caldera (volcano) surrounded by steep mountains on all sides. Why else would there be a hot springs and a hot river flowing through it?

Centuries before white men arrived, the Tabeguache Utes, a nomadic Indian tribe, traveled to Ouray in the summer months to hunt game and soak in the “sacred miracle waters”. They knew the springs that simmer beneath much of Ouray were therapeutic. The town’s original name was “Uncompahgre,” the Ute word for “hot water springs” and the hot river running through town is called the Uncompaghre River.

The Utes served as guides for expeditions crossing the southern Rockies in the 1700s. Spanish explorers named the rugged mountain range the San Juan Mountains, but the Spaniards weren’t interested in settling such a harsh and unforgiving environment. It was the miners, flooding the region in the late 1800’s in search of silver and gold, who’d forever change the face of the San Juans. In fact, many of the roads we jeeped on were access routes that miners made over a hundred years ago.

In 1873, the famous Ute Chief, Ouray, reluctantly signed a government treaty releasing the Ute’s treasured San Juan Mountains to encroaching settlers. The town, officially incorporated in 1876, was named in Ouray’s honor. Although the locals say it ‘you-ray’ not ‘ew-ray’ and they’ll correct you. In its first year, 400 struggling inhabitants forged their way through the long frozen winter and eagerly greeted spring with its blooming alpine flowers, rushing brooks and gentle mountain rains.

By 1880 with the frenzy for precious metals, Ouray had grown into a booming mining town with over 2,600 inhabitants. The town included a school, several churches, a hospital, restaurants, saloons and brothels, hardware, clothing and supply stores for the miners, hotels and boarding houses. By 1888, the town would celebrate the arrival of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad. Less than five years later, the value of silver fell drastically challenging the resolve of Ouray’s residents.

As you can see, the jeeping was beautiful and amazing. And the guys had lots of fun. I love to watch guys in their Jeeps try to conquer an insurmountable pass. Sometimes they even make it! And it sure makes for some great pics.

We made it to several summits, saw glacier lakes, awesome storms, and lots of marmots (big rodents). The wildflowers this year were incredible. It’s not like this every year and I felt very special to be able to see them in their glory. It was definitely an epic summer vacation!

Oh, and don’t forget you can click on any picture to see a bigger version of it.

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