Do Ouray Right

Ouray, Colorado, known as the "Switzerland of America," is a stunning destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its pristine beauty and unique cultural heritage make it a must-visit spot for travelers from all around the world. However, with increasing tourism and human activity in the area, it's important to recognize the significance of treating Ouray with respect and responsibility.

As visitors, we have a duty to preserve and protect this beautiful landscape for future generations. By adopting sustainable practices and minimizing our impact on the environment, we can ensure that Ouray remains a treasured destination for years to come.

Do Ouray Right Principles

  • Main Street in Ouray, Colorado

    Be Patient & Kind

    Practice patience and kindness in Ouray, where life sometimes moves at a different pace.

    Ouray is a special place and we're pleased to share it with visitors who appreciate our natural beauty, slower pace and friendly vibe. When you're visiting Ouray, we invite you to slow down, breathe in the clean mountain air and put a smile on your face. After all, you're visiting one of the most beautiful places on earth! A little kindness and patience go a long way if service is a little more relaxed than you're used to, traffic moves slowly in town or parking is tough to come by. And yes, we know the views are A-MAZE-ING but please pull over to take that prize-worthy photo!


    • Enjoy our slower-pace

    • Immerse yourself in our small-town hospitality

    • Plan ahead and get a reservation if applicable

    • Lend a hand in town and in the backcountry

    • Be mindful of pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles in town

    • Wave to vehicles that stop for you

    • A smile goes a long way

  • Airstream Camper in the mountains

    Choosing a Campsite

    Be a happy camper! Camp on durable, previously used sites, and leave only memories.

    Ouray and the surrounding San Juan Mountains afford campers of all types an opportunity to experience breathtaking scenery, incredible night skies and endless opportunities for exploration. Exceptional camping options range from dispersed camping to designated campgrounds, even full-service RV parks. Designated camping spots and full-service RV parks fill up when the temperatures warm-up, so make your reservation online ahead of time. Dispersed camping is free primitive, first-come, first-served camping available on public lands such as those managed by the US Forest Service. Tips on choosing the best dispersed campsite? Check regulations before you leave home, and camp only in previously camped in areas that are 100 feet or more from water. Plan to be entirely self-reliant as services and facilities such as trash cans and trash removal, tables, fire pits and toilets are not provided. Campers must be prepared to use only the areas that are previously impacted by camping, and pack out everything they brought in - that means all trash and human and dog waste.


    • If required, make a reservation ahead of time

    • Be aware of amenities in the area or lack thereof

    • Know where you can camp (areas are limited)

      For Dispersed campers

    • Camp in previously used sites

    • Camp 100 feet or more from the water

    • Plan to be entirely self-reliant

    • Pack it in, pack it out

    Photo by @terivibickis

  • Repelling down a waterfall

    Know Before You Go

    The climb is better when you know the ropes.

    Are you new to adventuring in the mountains? Many of the adventures in and around Ouray require a high level of technical skills, proper equipment, physical fitness and knowledge of the area. Your best bet? Hire a guide from one of our many highly skilled guide services!


    Plan ahead for maximum peace and minimum peeps.

    Let's face it, like many special places, Ouray is being discovered! You can still enjoy a trip in the mountains with preparation and planning. If you're seeking solitude, plan to visit during less busy times, such as during the week in peak summer season, and consider Ouray for a spring, fall or winter trip. If exploring the backcountry is on your to-do list, have a Plan B if you show up and the trailhead parking is full. Avoid parking on the roads or blocking trailhead access as this can hamper rescue efforts.


    • What trail are you planning to go on?

    • Have you checked the conditions of the route?

    • Have a plan B in case the trail is crowded or otherwise unavailable

    • Check the weather and other conditions such as wildfire and avalanche danger

    • Park in a designated parking spot

    • Have an up-to-date map, especially in areas where cell service is not reliable

    • Bring enough food for your adventure

    • Bring at least one liter of water per person

    • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back, and check in with them when you’re back

  • Two hikers on the perimeter trail

    Pack it in, Pack it Out

    Pack out what you packed in, yep - even the poop.

    The mountains surrounding Ouray are rugged and wild, and we need your help to keep them this way. Keep in mind you might not find services you're used to, like restrooms and trash cans. Be prepared to pack out everything you pack in, including trash, human waste and dog waste. Plan a visit to the Ouray Visitor Center before your adventure for human and dog waste bags and proper backcountry poop etiquette.


    • Take only pictures, leave only footprints

    • Bring wag bags for human waste

    • Bring dog poop bags and a way to carry it out

    • Bring an extra bag to hold trash

    • Know trash receptacle locations

    Photo By: @Amygoco

  • Jeeps lined up at the top of Imogene Pass

    Respect the Trail

    Keep your wheels on the road and a smile on your face.

    OHVs are incredibly popular in Ouray as they allow us to travel faster and further into the backcountry and explore areas that take more human-powered effort to get there. With this privilege comes the responsibility to be considerate of fellow wheeled and non-wheeled adventurers, wildlife, and the fragile high alpine ecosystem. Before heading out, be sure to check in with local tour and rental shops for current trail conditions and always follow the Stay the Trail etiquette.


    • Check the weather before adventuring out

    • Stay on designated trails

    • Check current trail conditions and avoid using muddy trails

    • Know your route, bring a GPS or paper map

    • Do not pick wildflowers

    • Motorists yield to non-motorized users

    • Vehicle or person traveling uphill has the right of way

    • Leave gates as you found them or as marked

    • Use appropriate exhaust for trail riding

    • Pull over to let faster vehicles pass

    • Avoid blocking trails or trailheads

    Photo By: @Tyroadventures

  • Million Dollar Highway

    Slow Down & Enjoy

    Enjoy the drive - Ouray and all its splendor will be here no matter when you arrive.

    Whether you're driving to Ouray from the east, west, north or south, you'll encounter mountain passes, summer construction projects, and frequent changes in weather and road conditions. We encourage you to plan ahead and understand that 30 miles in the mountains will likely take much longer than 30 minutes. Pack water, snacks and plenty of layers for stopping at those incredible high alpine vista points. Traveling in the mountains is a good time to take it slow, revel in the scenery and give other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and wildlife plenty of space. Once you're in Ouray, enjoy this beautiful and historic town by parking your vehicle in a designated spot and exploring on foot. All the better to get the perfect, prize-winning photo!


    • Take in the scenery

    • Give other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and wildlife plenty of space

    • Pull over to take pictures in designated areas

    • When in town, park your vehicle safely and explore on foot

    • Follow all speed limit signs

    • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists

  • Winter road

    Be Prepared for Winter

    Make sure you and your car are winter ready. Check the weather and load up on essentials.

    Driving through Colorado’s high country offers unique challenges no matter what season you're visiting. Check before you pack up the car and Follow Colorado Department Of Transportation (CDOT's) helpful mountain driving tips and get to Ouray safely. The views will still be here! Colorado has Passenger Traction and Chain Law in effect from September through May so make sure your tires have adequate tread. Be aware of changing weather conditions and always check road conditions before heading out. Make sure you and your vehicle are ready for mountain travel by packing the essentials, as recommended by CDOT:

    • Sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow

    • Flashlight with extra batteries or crank-powered flashlight

    • Blanket or sleeping bag

    • Gallon jug of water

    • First aid kit and essential medications

    • Tire chains and tow strap

    • Jumper cables

    • Flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists

    • Battery or crank-powered radio to listen to emergency broadcasts Once you're in Ouray, Slow down, give other drivers and pedestrians plenty of space and be mindful of parking. Try not to park on a slope that might be difficult to back out from. If you do get stuck, don’t worry, it has happened to the best of us. Try the Ouray Way to get unstuck: carry Auto Socks with you in the winter. They're like tire chains, but more portable and easier to manage.


    • Do you have 4x4, AWD, or snow tires for traveling by car?

    • Keep water, snacks, blanket, flashlight, and first aid kit in your vehicle

    • Give other drivers and pedestrians plenty of space

    • Be mindful of parking, don’t park where it is icy/snowy

    • Check for road conditions and cameras

    • Make yourself familiar with the Passenger Traction and Chain Law

    • Dress adequately for the weather

    • For added traction get crampons for your shoes

    • Know what is open (roads, businesses, and recreational areas)