Ouray: Hiking the 'Switzerland of America'

From Ouray in Colorado’s incredible San Juan Mountains, hike challenging mountain trails and discover fascinating wildlife and geology from local experts.
Rating (4.8)
Program No. 9883RJ
8 days
Starts at
10 Reviews
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4.8 Average

Definitely a challenging hiking trip, but well worth the effort. This part of Colorado is stunningly beautiful! Just be sure you are in tip top shape. Even though I hike in the Sierra frequently, I reached the limit of my abilities on this trip. Peter and Mike were great, so knowledgeable and helpful, and gave some choices as to the hikes. Being able to complete a challenging hike was empowering.


First things first. Your legs and lungs must be in very good shape to have fun on this trip. The hiking is advanced. The inclines are steady and the oxygen is thin. Only take this trip if you are in physically good shape and are a frequent exerciser. Read my last sentence again. The views are exceptional and well worth the effort. The leaders are professional and extremely knowledgeable. In fact, they know their plants and geology better than any other guides I've ever encountered. There wasn't a question asked that they couldn't answer. These guys are pros! The hikes they chose were progressively harder as the week went by. They chose easier, half-day hikes for the first two days in order to allow us to acclimate to the altitude. The last four hikes took us to amazing places where the vistas were "to die for." The elevations for all of the hikes were generally between 10,000 to 13,300 feet. Besides the hiking, the leaders mixed in mining lore and local history. The food was very good overall. If you want a challenge, and want bragging rights on taking one of the most challenging, hardest rated trips, this is the one for you.


Very challenging hiking in a sublimely beautiful part of the USA. Peter and Mike are experienced guides with expert knowledge of plants, geology, history, trails, etc. of the area. Each day held a different challenge as we hiked in varied terrain. A requirement: good cardiovascular fitness (it's all about the elevation), balance and agility. Food was good with several options for each meal. Most participants were experienced hikers and it was fun to share stories and info. Highly recommended.


Physically challenging (maybe the most challenging in Road Scholar?). Group leaders were top notch in history, geology, flora, and fauna. A very beautiful part of Colorado!


Challenging hiking amidst fabulous scenery, with extremely knowledgeable and helpful guides. Be aware that most hiking in the San Juans involves STEEP climbs and descents (often on rocky terrain), and high elevations, and train accordingly! A great experience and highly recommended!


Peter and Mike were the best guides possible for this trip. Amazing scenery but you really do need waterproof boots, walking sticks, rain gear, and stamina and agility!


This program is everything the writeup says it is. Challenging, the vastness and beauty of the mountains is breathtaking. You will breath hard and deep, so preparing for this trip is a must to enjoy it yourself and not deter other participants. History of mining and associated museums is informative and gives perspective to those who endured the hardships of life in mining towns.


Hiking Switzerland of America was a challenging and beautiful experience. The leaders were professional and knowledgeable. Thanks to Peter, Mike, and Addy for a great week.


Excellent and challenging program. All participants were able to cope with the reduced oxygen at higher altitudes. I am in my later 70s and found great personal satisfaction in being able to climb to altitudes around 12,000 ft. All 3 instructors were very good. Accommodation was sub-par.


The 'Ouray: Hiking in the Switzerland of America' was a fantastic program! Great, challenging hikes and outstanding Group Leaders! Peter McCarville and his team at Mountains & Plains Institute for Lifelong Learning were fantastic! Caring, inclusive, and very knowledgeable! Do this hike!!

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