Avoid construction frustration — enjoy a Ouray Layover this spring!

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by Heidi Pankow

Colorado Department of Transportation has begun rock scaling work on US Highway 550 at the site of the January rock slide. The rock slide closed the highway for almost a month until the rock barrier walls and netting were put up. Alternating single lane traffic has been allowed through the area since then, but this current work will close the road again for extended hours, Monday through Saturday until Memorial Day. The road will be closed to all traffic from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. on those days.   
We invite all travelers wishing to experience the spectacular beauty of the “Million Dollar Highway” between Ouray and Silverton and beyond to enjoy the road closure with a “Ouray Layover.” Don’t sit in line in the cone zone, park your car in town and see what we have to offer! Whether you love the outdoors, local history and culture, or just need to soak your road-weary bones in our sulfur-free hot springs, we have the perfect activities to fill up those hours until the road re-opens.
Get outside:
-Stop and soak in one of our three public sulfur-free hot springs – The Ouray Hot Springs Pool, the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa or Orvis Hot Springs.
-Hike one of the highlights of the Ouray Perimeter Trail: Cascade Falls, Baby Bathtubs to the Potato Patch, the Ouray Ice Park loop, or Box Cañon Falls Park. All are short and sweet hikes that you can do in an hour or less.
-Take a scenic detour up Camp Bird Road to the historic Camp Bird Mine (use caution, the road may be wet or slippery).
-Stroll the Uncompahgre River Walk Trail and learn about our local history and wildlife.
-Play or picnic in our parks.
-Have a photography day — just point and shoot, the scenery is stunning!
-Visit the overlook at Ridgway State Park on your way into town.

Learn something:
-Visit the Ouray County Historical Museum or the Ouray Alchemist Pharmaceutical Museum.
-Visit the art collection at the Ouray Community Center.
-View the Camp Bird Mill model at the Ouray Visitor’s Center.
-Visit the “True Grit” courtroom at the Ouray County Courthouse.
-View Ouray’s Victorian architecture on the Historic Ouray Walking Tour.
-Tour the historic Bachelor-Syracuse silver mine.
-Visit the outdoor Railroad Museum in Ridgway or the Dennis Weaver Memorial Park.
-Complete the Ouray Scavenger Hunt found in the Ouray Visitor Guide.
Ouray’s Main Street offers an amazing selection of restaurants and shops and is always a great way to spend a couple of hours of layover time. Locally produced candy, beer, jerky and coffee are just a few of the treats you will find to take on the road with you. Specialty gift shops, art and jewelry galleries, clothing and gear stores are open to help you find the perfect gift for yourself or others. We think you might just be tempted to spend the night to explore everything in town.
Just in case you do get stuck in a traffic line, don’t forget to grab a snack, refuel and pick up some of the great historical, geological or even fictional materials about the area and enjoy the views from the road. On your way up the pass, be sure to stop at the Switzerland of America and Bear Creek Falls overlooks; it’s the perfect time of year for waterfall gazing. However you decide to spend your Ouray layover, we promise it will be worth the trip!
Heidi Pankow is marketing director for Ouray Chamber Resort Association.