The recent weather in Colorado has been anything but boring! We spend a day in t-shirts and jeans, followed by rain coats, the next day everything is covered in a blanket of fresh snow. It is a wonderful sampling of every facet of spring! Adventures are more spur of the moment, based on what Mother Nature has decided to offer today, but tomorrow may be a completely different story!
Of course, as the snowpack is continuously melting, then freezing, a heavy wet spring snow can definitely create some adverse conditions in the back country. I’m sure you have all watched the news, youtube, or social media and been transfixed by videos of a wall of snow plummeting toward the unfortunate photographer, quickly enveloping their feed in a terrifying mass of cold darkness. I know I’ve seen a few. I’m also sure you have seen the news that Red Mountain Pass is closed indefinitely as CDOT works to make it safe.
Despite the dark and dismal coverage of the spring storms and avalanche danger, this weather is not really unusual in Southwest Colorado. According to the old-timers around here, heavy snow years are pretty cyclical – usually occurring every 3 to 7 years. Looking back at my Facebook memories, 2011 and 2013 were epic snowfall years, so, we are pretty much on schedule. Every year around this time, according to Facebook (and we all know if it’s on FB, it is completely true!) there is at least one complaint about winter not being over yet. We have a tendency to forget that Ouray has been known to experience the last storm of the year in June – once, several years ago, it actually snowed on the Fourth of July! Can you imagine how fun that water fight must have been?
One thing we in Colorado are extremely fortunate in is our department of transportation. The men and women who maintain our roads and highways are some of the best in the country. They work tirelessly to ensure our safety. Here at the hotel, in addition to word of mouth reports from guests and locals alike, we take advantage of cotrip.org, which is a very user friendly website designed by CDOT, giving frequent updates on all of the highways in Colorado. This tool allows us to provide the best and safest route information to our guests as they travel to see us, whatever the season.
So, with adverse conditions in the high country and on Red Mountain Pass, many people might question whether Ouray is the place to visit right now. The answer of course, is YES! There is so much more to this town and area than one or two options. From sledding to ice skating, to ice climbing (yes, the park is still open!), not to mention a number of trails accessible for snow shoeing and cross country skiing, Ouray is an absolute winter wonderland right now!
Our guide companies work tirelessly to make sure any adventurer will have the best and safest experience, whether high adrenaline, or family oriented, regardless of the season. These individuals, whether or not you choose to enjoy one of their courses, are always ready with answers to any questions, because they genuinely want everyone to have a positive appreciation of this place they choose to call home. In fact, you will discover that most locals are eager to help you to enjoy your time here, and are knowledgeable in activities in the area, as well as where to get the best information for your personal endeavor.
After a day of sampling the plethora of activities in the area, nothing quite compares to soaking in the hot springs. Muscles relax, and any residual cold evaporates from your bones, as the occassional deer casually grazes nearby. The quiet is serene and time almost seems to stand still. After a soak, the walk back to your room is relaxed and easy, despite the chill in the air.
Regardless of the weather, or status of Red Mountain Pass, Ouray is almost always accessible from the North. I think the road was closed once from the north for about an hour last year, due to an accident, and traffic was re-routed to County Road 17 which takes you directly into town. Alternate routes from the South may be farther in miles, but these highways are not as curvy as 55o, so actually don’t take much longer. Any way you drive to Ouray, the scenery is spectacular and well worth the trip!