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OURAY, COLORADO

Ouray: Hiking the "Switzerland of America"

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Road Scholar
Program #13797RJ
8 Days | 7 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Challenging
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Ouray is at 7,700 ft, hikes will be 8,000-14,000 ft.

Equipment Requirements
Daypack, water bottles, good broken-in hiking boots, rain gear, recommended list will be mailed.

Itinerary for Aug 3 — Aug 10, 2013

Expand all
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day One: Saturday, August 03 - Hotel Check-in 3-4 pm, Orientation and required s...
Hotel Check-in 3-4 pm, Orientation and required safety lecture 5 pm followed by dinner.

Note: Ouray has been a special destination for more than 100 years. Set at the narrow head of a valley at 7,792 feet and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks - Ouray is home to hundreds of miles of historic roads, hiking trails, sulfur-free hot springs with stunning views and the world-famous Ouray Ice Park. Remarkably, two-thirds of Ouray's original Victorian structures, are still occupied, and have been lovingly restored in order to preserve their turn-of-the-century charm.

Arrive To: Arrival by 4 p.m. Required safety orientation 5 p.m.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant where you will order off of the menu.

Evening: Prepare for next morning's hikes

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Dinner
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Two: Sunday, August 04 - Portland Trail above Ouray/Box Canyon Park. Note ...
Portland Trail above Ouray/Box Canyon Park. Note on each day's hikes: We begin with easier hikes both in distance and elevation gain/loss building each day in length and difficulty so that participants can acclimate to both physical and altitude factors.

Note: Today's hike will be 4 miles round trip, 4 hours total including trail lunch, elevation gain of 500' and maximum altitude of 8,000'.

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: Today we begin our hiking adventure with an easy hike in the Forest near Ouray. We gather in the brisk morning mountain air with our resident geologist and leader. This short trail, gains about 500 feet elevation over its well-groomed course. It follows Portland Creek through the basin above the Amphitheater, a large depression in one of the mountainsides surrounding Ouray. The Amphitheater resulted from volcanic activity some 60 million years ago. The reward of the hike are the magnificent vistas and nearby waterfalls that fall magnificently into the amphitheater area.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: After lunch we travel to and take a short hike in Box Canyon Park. The Box Canyon Waterfall & Park is Ouray’s natural wonder—formed when the rushing waters of Canyon Creek eroded a deep and very narrow box canyon through fault weakened limestone. The trailhead begins at the southwest end of town and allows us another view of the town nestled in its valley. We then walk along the gorge, high above the ribbon of Canyon Creek. We crossed "The High Bridge" built in 1900 to carry a water pipeline between two reservoirs. The project was disbanded in 1950 when extra water was no longer needed. We make our way into Box Canyon, reaching Box Canyon Falls along a catwalk passing a winch left by miners, unsuccessful at finding gold in the creek sediments.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant where you will order off of the menu.

Evening: Free for exploring the historical, Victorian town of Ouray or a possible swim in the hot springs pool.

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Three: Monday, August 05 - High alpine hiking near Silverton, CO/ Historic g...
High alpine hiking near Silverton, CO/ Historic guided Mine and Mill Tour

Note: A moderate hike 4 miles round trip over 4 hours including lunch on trail, elevation gain of 800'. maximum altitude 12,500.

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: To reach the trailhead for today's hike, we travel south from Ouray on US Route 550. This road is known as the "Million Dollar" (for views) Highway. We cross Red Mountain Pass. The red results from the highly oxidized iron content of the mountain. We take a rough gravel road to the trailhead in an alpine meadow at 11,400 ft. Beautiful views of the mountain ranges start the hike on a jeep road, making for easy walking occasionally encountering late summer snowfields and pristine runoff streams. Notable throughout this walk are an absolute carpet of flowers. The hike destination is Bullion King Lake in the Porphyry Basin at 12,500 feet. Porphyry refers to a texture of igneous rocks. In its non-geologic, traditional use, the term "porphyry" refers to the purple-red form of this stone, valued for its appearance. We stop for lunch and a lecture about the geology of the area.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: We descend by foot and van into the mining town of Silverton and then drive to the Old Hundred Gold Mine for an authentic undergound tour. We also visit and tour the Mayflower Mill where millions of dollars of gold were processed for several decades.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a Silverton restaurant where you will order off of the menu.

Evening: Return to Ouray

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Four: Tuesday, August 06 - All day hike to Alpine Mine on the Weehawken Trai...
Note: Moderately difficult hike 5.5 miles round trip, 6 hours 2,200' elevation gain, highest elevation 10,900'

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: A challenging all day hike due to the long uphill gain, but ultimately very rewarding for the views and the rich geologic story along the trail. The first mile of this trail climbs through aspen groves and open meadows. Signs of elk and beer scar the aspen trees and flowers fill the grassy meadows. The views of the Mt. Hayden massif to the east are ominous and beautiful. The trail splits after 1.3 miles. The right fork is the Alpine Mine Trail. The Alpine Mine "overlook", at 2.7 miles, provides a view down to the town of Ouray (approximately 2000' below), a view of the red rocks of the Cutler Formation and the multiple series of volcanic rocks that drape the Cutler. All of this exposed within the glacially-cut Uncompaghre River Gorge. A view well worth the effort.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: After lunch on the trail continue the hike. Arrive back in Ouray mid-afternoon. The town is named after the great Ute Chief Ouray (c. 1833–August 24, 1880). Ouray (Arrow in the Ute language) was a Native American chief of the Uncompaghre band of the Ute tribe, then located in western Colorado. Because of his leadership ability, Ouray was also acknowledged by the United States government as a chief of the Ute. In 1880 he left Colorado to travel to Washington, D.C., where he testified before Congress about the Ute uprising of 1879. He tried to secure a treaty for the his tribe, Uncompaghre Ute, who wanted to stay in Colorado; but, the following year, the United States forced the Uncompaghre and the White River Ute to the west to reservations in present-day Utah. Although unsuccessful in keeping their homelands in Colorado, Ouray was renowned as he sought reconciliation between peoples, with the belief that war with the whites likely meant the demise of the Ute tribe.

Dinner: Dinner on own to explore Ouray restaurants

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Five: Wednesday, August 07 - All day hike on the Ice Lakes Basin Trail
Note: Moderately difficult day hike from 6 to 8 miles round trip depending upon hikers interests; 6 to 8 hours including lunch on trail, elevation gain 1,200' to 2,000' with highest elevation 12,500'.

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: We retrace our earlier in the week's drive south on US550 to today's trailhead and the Ice Lake Basin Trail. This at times strenuous all day hike has the attraction of reaching three spectacular lakes on this trail. We hike through intermittent forest for 1.8 miles. Once in the lower Ice Lake Basin, rugged mountain views are constant. There are also numerous big waterfalls and creeks. Wildflowers are tall and thick. The trail to the upper basin cuts up through a massive rock wall. Ice Lake, the first lake encountered is surrounded by sharp, jagged peaks. The rolling hills are festooned with flowers. The view is as one author put it, "classic Colorado. Inspiring!"

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: After a welcome lunch break, options for additional hikes to two more lakes are available. Fuller Lake is a relatively easy 1.7 miles round trip hike. We continue on the same trail that brought us to Ice Lake. It is a good trail that passes an un-named little lake before making the moderate ascent to Fuller Lake. Wildflowers and a spectacular look back to Ice Lake make this a great side trip. Another option is to hike to Island Lake: We cross the outlet stream from Ice Lake and pick up a trail contouring north up the mountainside. Island Lake is around the saddle 1.2 miles round trip above. Once again spectaculat views and fields of wldflowers prevail. We return to Ouray in late afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant where you will order off of the menu.

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Six: Thursday, August 08 - Local Mining and train History-Guided hike of an ...
Local Mining and train History-Guided hike of an old mining "ghost" town, mine remains and a engineering marvel railroad grade and turntable

Note: Easy hiking day with 4 miles total round trip, 4 hours hiking including lunch on trail, 200 feet elevation gain, maximum altitude 10,000'

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: Today we explore the Red Mountain mining area. Walking along old rail beds we visit several mines—in particular, Yankee Girl and American Girl, both of which produced the most gold and silver in the area. We learn about extraction operations of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The mines and the towns that grew up with them were relatively short-lived—most lasted little more than five years. We visit Guston, where by 1888, several dozen homes had been built and the population was about 200. The town's streets were so steep that they had to snake up the mountainsides. In 1897 all three mines closed, and Guston quickly became a ghost town. The only structures remaining in the area are the mining structures and of the Yankee Girl mine.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: Our hike follows the railroad which served the towns and the mining operations were really the engineering marvels of the time. We discover how the railroad came through the valley, we see an engineering marvel of the day, the turntable and ‘Y’ configuration of the tracks so the locomotives could be turned around, and the “cut and fill” method of keeping the tracks on a level by cutting through rock ridges and filling in gullies. We return early afternoon for a self guided tour of Ouray Historical Museum.

Dinner: Dinner on own to explore Ouray

Evening: Free for reflection, relaxation; optional Hot Springs and Swimming Pool visit

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Motel

Description: Located in the heart of downtown Ouray within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and museums.

Contact info:
510 Main Street
Box 544
Ouray, CO 81427 USA
phone: 970-325-4331
web: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Room amenities: Phones, wireless internet, refrigerators, hair dryers, coffee maker, satellite TV

Facility amenities: Sun deck, hot tub

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Seven: Friday, August 09 - High Alpine Day (high alpine basin exploration) w...
High Alpine Day (high alpine basin exploration) with hikes to Blue Lakes Pass or Mt. Sneffels

Note: Choice of hikes in Yankee Boy Basin, 5 to 7 miles round trip, time 8 hours with lunch, elevation gain 1,100 to 2,150 feet. Maximum elevation either 13,100 or 14,150 depending upon hike chosen.

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Morning: Guided hiking from 11,500' Yankee Boy Basin with two hike options: ascent of 14,150' Mount Sneffels or hike to 13,100' Blue Lakes Pass. Choice of hike will depend on individual hiking ability, weather conditions, and group interest.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail

Afternoon: Continue morning hike-climb. Speak Yankee Boy Basin to any seasoned Colorado photographer and they'll probably wax philosophical about their past visits to this popular wildflower haunt. No single place in Colorado defines the wildflower bloom and the budding anticipation of the season than this destination in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Nestled at an elevation between 11500 and 12000 feet, Yankee Boy Basin contains some of the most prolific stands of wildflowers in Colorado.

Dinner: Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant where you will order off of the menu. Celebrate with your fellow Road Scholar participants the hiking achievements of the week.

Evening: Free for relaxation and packing.

Lodging: Ouray Chalet Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Eight: Saturday, August 10 - Departures after breakfast, motel check out 10 am
Depart From: Independent departures after breakfast

Breakfast: Full breakfast at a local restaurant.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
Currently selected:Prices Starting At:
Aug 3 — Aug 10, 2013 waitlist only  

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
7 nights of accommodations
18 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners
13 Expert-led lectures
12 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences

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5
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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