OURAY, Colo. (CBS4) – Over the past decade, the small western Colorado mountain town of Ouray has gotten used to the sight of climbers scampering up walls of ice in the heart of winter.
The town opened a ice climbing park in the 1990s and it now draws visitors from across the globe.
“Our ice park here is unique in that we have the right exposure to a cliff, we have an abundant source of water above that cliff, and it’s really hard to duplicate those conditions at any other places,” Bill Leo of Ouray Mountain Sports said.
The park draws between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors every winter. The park is approximately a mile long and has areas for both beginners and experts.
At night staff use a series of pipes that are tapped into the city’s reservoir, located above the park, to run water down onto the ice walls. The water gets sprayed onto the ice walls by about 60 shower heads and freezes in the chilly overnight temperatures.
Each January the park hosts an international festival for ice climbers.
Ice climbers who visit Ouray can usually be found after a hard day of climbing resting and soaking in Ouray’s hot springs.
Admission to the Ouray Ice Park is free. Part of the funding for the park comes through the Colorado Lottery.
Visit OurayIcePark.com for more information or call them at (970) 325-4288. Get there by taking Highway 50 to Montrose on the Western Slope. Head south on Highway 550, through Ridgway to Ouray.
Make plans to vist the area by logging on to OurayColorado.com or call toll free at (800) 228-1876.
Funds from the Colorado Lottery have been instrumental in Ouray over the years. More than $15.3 million has gone to projects in and around Ouray, incuding the ice park and the hot springs.