Ouray, Colorado

From Academic Kids

Ouray is a city located in Ouray County, Colorado. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 813. It is the county seat of Ouray CountyTemplate:GR.



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Location of Ouray, Colorado

Ouray is located at 38°1'24" North, 107°40'20" West (38.023217, -107.672178)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 km² (0.8 mi²). 2.2 km² (0.8 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.

Ouray is located in the San Juan Mountains of south-western Colorado. It is about 40 miles south of Montrose. It is only 10 miles NE of Telluride but due to the severity of the landscape, the drive is about 50 miles. Ouray is connected to Silverton and then Durango to the south by Red Mountain Pass which crests at just over 11,000 feet. The scenic drive along the Uncompahgre River and over the pass is nicknamed the Million Dollar Highway, although the exact origin of the name is disputed.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 813 people, 374 households, and 225 families residing in the city. The population density is 373.7/km² (965.3/mi²). There are 583 housing units at an average density of 268.0/km² (692.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 97.54% White, 0.37% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.49% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. 6.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 374 households out of which 25.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% are married couples living together, 5.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% are non-families. 34.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.15 and the average family size is 2.76.

In the city the population is spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 42 years. For every 100 females there are 103.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 104.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $36,094, and the median income for a family is $45,313. Males have a median income of $35,217 versus $27,083 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,127. 8.1% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 7.1% of those under the age of 18 and 6.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


The entire present-day economy of Ouray is based on tourism. Ouray bills itself as the "Switzerland of America" because of its setting at the narrow head of a valley, enclosed on two sides by steep mountains. A visitor can float on the Ouray Hot Springs swimming pool (open all year) and gaze at the slopes above, drive or tour over a 4wd road to Telluride or to Yankee Boy Basin with its wildflower display, visit Box Canyon Falls (similar to a European klamm, unusual in America), or just drive the highway up the gorge toward Durango. The main street is lined with trendy shops. Probably because of repeat visitors and no local ski area, it has remarkably little kitsch compared to many tourist towns. Personal opinion from 2001: The glass blower and one ice cream parlor are exceptional.

Like most towns in the Colorado mountains, Ouray was originally a mining town. Fortunately the evidence does not dominate the town. The largest and most famous mine is the Camp Bird Mine, the second largest gold mine in Colorado and still in operation. It can be seen on the steep 2wd road leading to the 4wd roads to Yankee Boy Basin and Imogene Pass.

In the summer, much of the tourism is focused on hiking and four wheel drive expeditions into the San Juan Mountains. 4WD vehicles, often called 'jeeps' regardless of make, can be rented from a number of outfitters downtown. Popular destinations include Yankee Boy Basin, Engineer Mountain, and Black Bear Road. The latter, connecting Ouray to nearby Telluride, is all but impassable. Recording artist C.W. McCall helped make the road famous in the area. His song 'Black Bear Road' borrowed the phrase 'You don't have to be crazy to drive this road, but it helps' from a sign once posted on nearby Engineer Mountain Road.

Ouray has recently become renowned among climbers and mountaineers as host to the world's first artificial ice climbing park. Expanding on a few popular natural falls, the park consists of dozens of frozen waterfalls from 80 to 200 feet high farmed along more than a mile of Box Canyon. The water is supplied by a sprinkler system developed and maintained by a volunteer organization and supported by donations from local businesses, gear manufacturers and climbers. The Ouray Ice Park is free and attracts climbers from around the world. The annual Ice Festival is a weekend-long extravaganza of contests, exhibitions and instruction with many of the world's top ice climbers. Ice climbing has been a boon to the local economy as well, with hotels and restaurants that previously closed through the winter months now staying open to accommodate climbers.


Incorporated in 1876, ouray was named after Chief Ouray of the Utes. The entire town is registered as a National Historic District with most of the building dating back to the late 1800's. Originally established by miners chasing silver and gold in the surrounding mountains, the town at one time, boasted more horses and mules than people. At the height of the mining, Ouray had more than active 30 mines.

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