ROCKY ROAD - SHOP OURAY WEEKEND
Saturday February 8, 2014 and Sunday February 9, 2014The recent closure of Red Mountain Pass due to a massive rock slide has given local residents a taste of what life was like in this tiny mountain town not too many years ago. There was a period of time in Ouray after the mines closed and before the creation of the Ouray Ice Park when it was so quiet in the winter that local children could safely sled across Main Street with little concern about traffic. Many businesses on Main Street closed for the season and many nights it was difficult to find an open restaurant. Fortunately, today the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is open year-round, restaurants and shops are open, special events happen every week, and the Ouray Ice Park and Ironton Nordic Ski area have made Ouray just as fun and accessible in the winter as in summer.
Main Street Ouray has been very quiet recently with traffic traveling over alternate routes to Red Mountain Pass. The closure on Highway 550 has also temporarily cut Ouray off from our sister city, Silverton. For more than 100 years the residents of Silverton and Ouray have recognized the necessity of working together and supporting each other while working and enjoying life in these high mountains.
Workers from each community and many from CDOT have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to stabilize loose rock, and Red Mountain Pass is now open for two hours each morning and two hours in the evening. Local rock climbers and mountain guides from Rigging for Rescue have applied their mountaineering skills to access the steep cliffs where the rock slide occurred. A helicopter from Silverton Mountain that is usually lifting skiers up to backcountry powder glades was made available for lifting heavy steel nets, which were bolted to the mountainside to prevent further rock fall. Crews worked long hours to successfully complete the work before the arrival of a winter storm. Just hours before the first snowflakes began to fall the Colorado Department of Transportation announced that the road is reopened, albeit with limited one lane travel.
Even with the road partially open, Ouray and Silverton are still feeling the impact of the road closure. Businesses in both communities have reported a substantial drop in business since the road was closed in mid-January. A typical day in January sees 2,100 vehicles crossing Red Mountain Pass between the two communities, and many travelers make the choice to stop in town or even spend the night. Cutting those numbers to zero has major repercussions for Main Street.
The Good NewsThe good news is that Ouray is still easily accessible from the north, as is Silverton from the south. Even the detour over Lizard Head Pass and Highway 145 only adds about an hour of travel time from Durango and follows a spectacular portion of the San Juan Scenic Byway. Visitors to Ouray always comment about the special treatment they receive during the winter season and how appreciative people in Ouray are to see them. While we look forward to planning a grand reopening party for Highway 550 with our neighbors in Silverton soon, we hope to see our regional visitors back in town much sooner.
The Ouray Chamber Resort Association and the City of Ouray are promoting this upcoming weekend – February 8th & 9th as a “Rocky Road - Shop Ouray Weekend.” This is the perfect time to invite friends from Montrose or Grand Junction (or anywhere else) to meet at the Hot Springs Pool, to visit one of Ouray's delightful breakfast shops for coffee and a treat, to visit the Ouray Ski Hill and après ski at a Ouray restaurant, or buy a sled and make some trips down Vinegar Hill. (But don't sled down Main Street; there is more traffic than in the 1980's!) The San Juan Mountains in the winter are like no other place on earth. Take a few hours, or a whole weekend, and enjoy them during the “Rocky Road - Shop Ouray Weekend.” We look forward to seeing you in Ouray soon.
Here are just a few ways you can enjoy Ouray this weekend:
- Invite your friends from Grand Junction, Delta, Montrose, Telluride, Norwood and beyond to meet you for a dip in the Hot Springs Pool.
- Get your morning coffee fix from your favorite coffee shop on Main Street.
- Splurge for a dinner out.
- Visit your local grocery or hardware store for your essentials.
- Shop early for a special gift for a Valentine, birthday, or graduation.
- Take a "staycation" and treat yourself to a night at hotel or B & B.
- Schedule a much needed spa day or massage.
- Finally fulfill your dream of learning to ice climb!
- Buy a sled and join the kids on Vinegar Hill.
- Treat yourself to that beautiful piece of art or jewelry - you are worth it!
- Fill up your gas tank in town.
- Purchase a special treat for a teacher, neighbor or civil servant.
- Give your favorite bartender or server an extra tip.
- Visit a shop or restaurant you have never been to before.
- Organize your own brewery, pub and restaurant crawl in town.
- Make a donation to your favorite local non-profit organization.
- Share photos of your Ouray life on social media and encourage your friends and relatives to come for a visit.