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Responsible Travel

How to enjoy Colorado and its open spaces safely

Residents and businesses take great pride in our community and surrounding open spaces. We invite travelers to visit Ouray County, while considering ways to minimize visitor impacts and maximize local benefits. Traveling responsibly means educating yourself on outdoor recreation best practices, local ethics and community expectations.

Care for Colorado

Colorado’s public lands are cherished by our community and visitors alike. Help us keep it that way by following the seven Care for Colorado principles when adventuring outdoors.
  • Be Careful with Fire

    Colorado’s low humidity has perks, but can create dry, dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires. Be sure to check local restrictions before traveling here.

  • Know Before You Go
    Be prepared and be informed about your destination. Good preparation includes bringing along gear that will keep you safe and reduce your impact, such as reusable water bottles to stay hydrated in our dry climate and avoid plastic waste.
  • Stick to Trails
    Whether you are on foot or in a motorized vehicle, stay on the trails and roads. Colorado’s high alpine environment takes hundreds of years to regenerate, so even the smallest amount of impact can take a lifetime to recover.
  • Trash the Trash
    If you pack it in, pack it out. Pick up after yourself (and your dog) to leave a place better than you found it. Put litter, even nut shells, fruit peels and other food waste in your nearest waste/recycling bin.
  • Leave It As You Find It
    Camp in designated areas only. That beautiful wildflower meadow is not the perfect spot for you to park a vehicle or tent.
  • Keep Wildlife Wild
    Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them – and you – safe, remember to: leash your dogs, pack out waste and don’t feed wildlife.
  • Share Our Parks and Trails
    Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites. Minimize noise, such as music or cell phones, to keep the peaceful atmosphere that many are trying to enjoy, and to increase your chances of seeing wildlife.
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Be Prepared for Adventure

The San Juan Mountains are a rugged and steep mountain range rising to just over 14,000 feet. These beautiful public lands offer a wide range of adventures for anytime of the year. If you are interested in exploring the San Juans, be prepared for challenging, sometimes steep terrain that requires technical expertise and knowledge of the area.
  • Do Your Research
    Come prepared by doing research online to find maps, rules and helpful guidance from public agencies, and user-generated websites. Utilize local expertise when you get into town by stopping in at our local gear stores.
  • Hire a Guide
    We highly recommend working with our local guide services if you do not have technical expertise. Ouray County is home to experts who can help you achieve your goals for all types of adventures: climbing, skiing, OHV, canyoning, fishing, hiking, biking, and other recreation.
  • Take a Course
    Are you new to the backcountry? The San Juan Mountains offer up world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, but these mountains are serious business. Take a course in: backcountry skiing, avalanche safety, rock climbing, ice climbing, and other valuable outdoor skills.
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Year-Round Experiences Await

Summer is the most popular time to visit the San Juans, so it is the busiest time of year. If you are looking for solitude while still achieving those picture-worthy moments, consider visiting during our slower times from October to May. If you are still craving the summertime mountain experience, then do some research to visit lesser impacted zones.

Explore Our Community with Kindness and Care

If you are setting out on an adventure to Ouray County, we ask that you travel responsibly to keep our community safe. Please check local guidelines and restrictions before traveling. 

  • Look Before You Leave

    Check up on Ouray County news and restrictions before traveling here.

  • Practice Clean Habits
    Regularly use hand sanitizer, wash your hands and refrain from touching public surfaces if you can.
  • Remain at Home When Sick
    Please do not travel if you or someone you are in close contact with is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Have a Backup Plan
    Be ready with Plan B in your pocket just in case your ideal destination isn’t able to welcome visitors.

Shop Local

Ouray County is home to a wide array of family-run businesses, local restaurants, independent art galleries and entrepreneurial ventures. Ridgway is one of 26 Certified Colorado Creative Districts, and part of the Creative Corridor. The Colorado Spirits Trail runs through the heart of Ouray, with options for breweries in both communities. Although we are a small mountain community, you can find just about any type of food, with many restaurants sourcing local. Spending your vacation dollars at our unique stores, dining establishments, accommodations, and services preserves our community’s special character by supporting our economy.

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