Ice climbers from all around the world come to our sleepy town of Ouray every year to brave the extreme temperatures, heights, and vertical climbs of the Ouray Ice Park. Anticipation builds as ice farmers dangle by ropes to prepare every crevasse of the park to ensure safe and desirable ice climbing conditions. Ice farmers fearlessly brush off fresh snow, excavate unwanted ice, and form new ice daily from the many faucets at the top of the gorge. Since the park has so many variables effecting the ice formations, the official announcement of when the gates will open and close to the public changes each year. This year, thrill seeking enthusiasts received the perfect holiday gift, because the park opened on Christmas Day.
The height of the season is celebrated with travelers from across the globe migrating into town for The Ouray Ice Festival. This year’s festivities are from January 14th-17th. This world class festival has been running annually for 21 years, and has grown quite the following. Attendees have the opportunity to watch climbing competitions, test out the newest and latest gear, participate in climbing clinics, and watch presentations from world class athletes. Proceeds from the festival keep the ice park running each year. You have the option to buy an all access pass for $60.00 or just buy individual tickets for the evening events. If you do opt for the pass, you receive access to all the evening events, shorter admission lines, three free issues of the Rock & Ice Magazine, and a gear pass. The gear pass allows you to demo the latest in ice climbing equipment from some of the top brands. If you decide against the full membership, you can still go online and buy a gear pass for five bucks. Remember, all funds go towards supporting our beautiful, nonprofit ice park.
Looking to get out on the ice this season but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry because the park includes ice that ranges between all levels of difficulty. If you already have your gear and are ready for the action, head on over to the ice park and jump on a chunk of ice at no charge. Entry to the park is completely free. If you don’t have all the mandatory equipment, there are three local outfitters that rent gear as well as provide personal guides to teach the craft. If interested, contact San Juan Mountain Guides, Ouray Mountain Sports, or Peak Mountain Guides.
The ice park is open every day of the week from 7:30AM to 4:00PM. After the climb, relax in one of Ouray’s many natural hot springs to soothe your sore muscles all the while feasting your eyes on snow covered mountains for the perfect winter getaway. Don’t forget to purchase a membership at the Ice Park in order to recieve discounts all over town. The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs offers a great discount to Ice Park Members!
About the Author: Sarah Martin currently resides in beautiful Ouray after spending countless summers vacationing here with her family. She is the newest addition to the Box Canyon Lodge family and is happy to share with guests her favorite parts about the area.