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Ouray, Colorado

Ouray is a city located in Ouray County, Colorado. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 813. It is the county seat of Ouray County6.

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 Demographics
3 Industry


Ouray is located at 38°1'24" North, 107°40'20" West (38.023217, -107.672178)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 km² (0.8 mi²). 2.2 km² (0.8 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.


As of the census of 2000, there are 813 people, 374 households, and 225 families residing in the city. The population density is 373.7/km² (965.3/mi²). There are 583 housing units at an average density of 268.0/km² (692.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 97.54% White, 0.37% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.49% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. 6.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 374 households out of which 25.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% are married couples living together, 5.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% are non-families. 34.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.15 and the average family size is 2.76.

In the city the population is spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 42 years. For every 100 females there are 103.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 104.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $36,094, and the median income for a family is $45,313. Males have a median income of $35,217 versus $27,083 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,127. 8.1% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 7.1% are under the age of 18 and 6.4% are 65 or older.


The entire present-day economy of Ouray is based on tourism. Ouray bills itself as the "Switzerland of America" because of its setting at the narrow head of a valley, enclosed on two sides by steep mountains. A visitor can float on the Ouray Hot Springs swimming pool and gaze at the slopes above, drive or tour over a 4wd road to Telluride or to Yankee Boy Basin with its wildflower display, visit Box Canyon Falls (similar to a European klamm, unusual in America), or just drive the highway up the gorge toward Durango. The main street is lined with trendy shops. Probably because of repeat visitors and no local ski area, it has remarkably little kitsch compared to many tourist towns. Personal opinion from 2001: The glass blower and one ice cream parlor are exceptional.

Like most towns in the Colorado mountains, Ouray was originally a mining town. Fortunately the evidence does not dominate the town. The largest and most famous mine is the Camp Bird Mine, the second largest gold mine in Colorado and still in operation. It can be seen on the steep 2wd road leading to the 4wd roads to Yankee Boy Basin and Imogene Pass.

Ouray has recently become renowned among climbers and mountaineers as host to the world's first artificial ice climbing park. Expanding on a few popular natural falls, the park consists of dozens of frozen waterfalls from 80 to 200 feet high farmed along more than a mile of Box Canyon. The water is supplied by a sprinkler system developed and maintained by a volunteer organization and supported by donations from local businesses, gear manufacturers and climbers. The Ouray Ice Park is free and attracts climbers from around the world. The annual Ice Festival is a weekend-long extravaganza of contests, exhibitions and instruction with many of the world's top ice climbers. Ice climbing has been a boon to the local economy as well, with hotels and restaurants that previously closed through the winter months now staying open to accommodate climbers.