Ouray Ice Park is an incredible display of engineering and community support.
Ice climbing: an exhilarating, challenging, if not dangerous sport that brings thousands of enthusiasts to Ouray each year. The crunch of crampons on ice, the swing of ice picks, and the crisp winter air bring these men and woman into the most intimate contact with Mother Nature.
The Ouray Ice Park is supported through many businesses in Ouray, membership fees, and by donations. The canyon walls are transformed with the help of Colorado’s cold winters as well as the Ice Farmers who create the ice a gravity based irrigation system that is fueled by excess water from the city of Ouray. The water is sprayed through one hundred and fifty shower heads onto the canyon walls to create beautiful blue ice. This system requires constant attention during the late fall and winter months to avoid freezing and damage to the system. According to Ouray Ice Park’s website there is a mile stretch of about two hundred climbs that vary from just starting out to advanced expert climbs.
For years, the annual Ice Festival is held in Ouray, 2015 will be the twentieth year. It will be held from January eighth through the eleventh. The festival welcomes all; from spectators, young children learning to climb, intermediates, to seasoned veterans who compete for top speeds and cash prizes.
There are two competitions in Ice Fest; one is a mixed climbing challenge, and the other is a speed test. During the festival San Juan Mountain Guides will be holding climbing clinics. They have half day, full day, and climbing and back country skiing clinics that range from introductory to advanced ice. Ice Fest has many local vendors on site to provide hot drinks and lunch for competitors and spectators to keep them warm and happy throughout. The Festival is also supported by many sponsors that have booths that offer ice gear as well as winter wear.
Those visiting and living in Ouray have the privilege to come in close contact with many of the top ice climbers throughout the US and the world.
We have climbers that come from all over; once they get a taste, they keep returning year after year. The Festival continues to grow and attract more attention. If you do have the opportunity to watch these climbers in their element; take it all in. The intensity of the physical elements, the strength and agility of the climbers, and the incredible beauty that surrounds you. After a day of climbing or watching this unique sport, there is nothing better than soaking in our tubs while contemplating this incredible union between man or woman and nature.
With the purchase of an Ice Park membership, climbers receive discounts on gear, dining, and room rates. For $40.00, this annual membership not only helps to fund the ice park, but also pays for itself in a very short period of time.
This year, in honor of their 20th anniversary, The Ouray Ice Park is offering ALL ACCESS PASSES to the Festival.
The purchase of an ALL ACCESS PASS provides admission on a first-come, first seated (where applicable) basis to all Ouray Ice Festival Events:
- Thursday Night: Kick-Off Party at the Wright Opera House
- Friday Night: Dinner, Silent Auction & Fashion Show Followed by a Presentation by Kelly Cordes at the Ouray Community Center
- Saturday Night: Live Auction and Keynote Presentation by Peter Metcalf and Will Gadd at the Wright Opera House
- Saturday Night Petzl Party at the Ouray Community Center.
The purchase of an ALL ACCESS PASS also automatically preregisters you for your demo gear card to be used throughout the Festival. These passes are non-transferable and limited to the first 150 registrants. The purchase of a pass does not guarantee admission.
Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs happens to be the closest hotel to the Ice Park. We are within walking distance of many climbs!
Let our knowledgeable staff help you to plan the ideal Winter escape! We can provide you with information on gear, as well as guides or teachers who will take you on the ice and make your first (or one-hundredth) excursion into the sport a perfect experience!
About the author: Jennie Withrow is a long term resident of Ouray County, and extremely knowledgeable in the area as well as the best places to shop! We are thrilled to have her with us at The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs! be sure to tell her “Hi” next time you visit!