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About Ouray County

Located in the southwestern corner of Colorado amongst the 13,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray County currently covers 542 square miles after having been split into Ouray, Dolores, and San Miguel Counties in the late 19th century. Ouray County was named for Chief Ouray, a distinguished Indian Chief who led the Southern Ute Tribe during the mid-1800’s.

The first settlers came to Colona in 1874, with ranchers and farmers settling in the fertile land on either side of the Uncompahgre River. In 1887, the railroad came to Colona, stopping twice daily and allowing ranchers to ship their cattle to the East Coast.

In 1875, the town of Ouray was founded along with the discovery of silver, gold, and other precious ores in the surrounding mountains. The population exploded along with the mining industry, and the town quickly grew to include saloons, the Ouray Hose Company, community facilities, and the Wright Opera House.

The railroad was the focal point of Ridgway, which officially came into being in 1890; the Rio Grande Southern traveled from Montrose to Ouray and over the mountains to the west. The town rapidly became a center of building activity beginning with a roundhouse and depot.

Given the stunning dramatic terrain of the area, Ouray has earned the unofficial title of the ‘Switzerland of America’. With the Uncompahgre River still winding through the valley, the massive Ridgway Reservoir in the state park of the same name, and the extensive rock and ice climbing opportunities of Ouray, the natural beauty of Ouray County provides for exceptional recreational and sightseeing opportunities for all.

For comprehensive visitor info about Ouray County, please visit the following websites: