Ouray, Colorado, known as the Switzerland of America, is such a beautiful and unique place to visit. We always like to take a winter vacation after Christmas and I discovered this little gem last minute while searching for hot springs. Pronounced “you-ray”, this winter paradise is surrounded by 13,000-foot snowy peaks from the San Juan mountain range, and has lots of relaxation and adventure to offer.
The town of Ouray seemed especially quiet after Christmas, which we loved. Having no traffic lights just made this snowy town all the more charming, and as long as you’re bundled up nice and warm a large majority of the town is walkable. There is so much to see and do, and I’m really excited to share all our hot and cold adventures with you! Ouray instantly has become one of my favorite Colorado towns.
In 2021, we’re still dealing with Covid, so of course not everything was open and that was fine with us. Just keep in mind if you’re reading this post-Covid there should be even more things available.
THINGS TO DO
SHOP ON MAIN STREET
I really enjoyed Khristopher’s Culinaire and the Ouray Bookshop was another favorite. There are lots of quirky stores and souvenir, clothing, and gear shops to choose from. There is also a small grocery store if you need to pick up a few items.
SOAK IN THE HOT SPRINGS
I’m definitely addicted to hot springs! Soaking in a 104-degree mineral pool is just heavenly. There are many hot springs to enjoy in the area including the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa, where we stayed. They have a main hot spring pool and a private hot spring that is available by reservation. They also have a vapor cave which sounds amazing (but it’s closed currently due to Covid) and a spa below. Orvis Hot Springs is just a short drive to Ridgeway and gorgeous. There’s also the Ouray Hot Springs, which is perfect for the entire family with several pools to choose from and waterslides. The Twin Peaks Lodge also has a hot spring on site.
GO ICE CLIMBING
Ice climbing was another thing that excited me about visiting Ouray, they’re known for some of the best ice climbing terrain around. Seasoned ice climbers can climb for free at the Ouray Ice Park. If you’re a beginner like me have no fear. You can take a lesson from the San Juan Mountain Guides and have fun climbing the beginner route. It’s really fun to watch others climb too.
Ice climbing was actually easier than I thought it would be, that is once you get the moves down. It’s fun, but also a bit exhausting… and cold. The day we climbed was one of the coldest days, and it was heavily snowing. Having said that, Brian and I both loved it and can’t wait to do it again.
HIKE TO THE FALLS
I just love waterfalls, even if they’re frozen. Cascade Falls is an easy walk from the parking lot, even in the snow. Those who have hiking poles can walk up a little farther like we did. There is a surrounding trail nearby too. Box Canyon Falls is located near the Ouray Ice Park and quite impressive from what I hear but sadly it was closed the day we tried to visit. That’s okay, it’s just another excuse to visit again, right?
ADMIRE THE GORGEOUS ARCHITECTURE
There are lots of beautiful and unique historic homes and buildings all throughout Ouray. I just couldn’t get enough, I took photos of so many places! Driving and walking around the town looking at all the gorgeous architecture was really fun.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Telluride is a little over an hour away and makes a great day trip to ski, dine, or shop. Be sure to take the free gondola to Mountain Village it was the best gondola rides we’ve done.
The Wright Opera House is currently closed due to Covid but they plan to re-open when it’s safe. There are a few interesting museums in the area, and plenty of spas available too, which we didn’t have time to enjoy.
WHERE TO EAT
We had so many delicious meals, here are our favorite places where we ate.
Bon Ton Restaurant – Delicious Italian food with a neat underground location. Try the scallop pot pie appetizer!
Brickhouse 737 – Okay, we didn’t get to eat here but locals say it’s one of the best restaurants so I had to include it. Next time we visit (can’t wait) we’ll be sure to eat here.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at The Wiesbaden to take advantage of their private hot spring pool. The rooms were charming and sweet and the water felt amazing. Currently there is no breakfast or coffee due to Covid. The Artisan Bakery and Cafe was a short walk from our hotel, there is also another nearby coffee shop as well.
I can’t really speak for other lodging in the area since we only stayed at the Wiesbaden, but the Beaumont Hotel and Spa looked wonderful, as well as the St. Elmo Hotel. The Twin Peaks Lodge also has their own hot spring on site so that’s a bonus. When it’s possible we love to book through Hotels.com because you find the best price and you earn points for free nights.
Have I convinced you to visit Ouray? It’s such a unique charming town to visit in the winter and we can’t wait to visit again!
Winter is one of my favorite times to travel and explore Colorado. I love the crisp, cold air and the beautiful snowy mountains and trees, it’s a frozen winter paradise! After 2020 ended I was determined 2021 would be an amazing year full of fun and adventure. I know we’re still dealing with Covid and everyone needs to be careful so a road trip to explore the Rifle Mountain Park was perfect for us, and I was able to check off another Colorado bucket list item, exploring ice caves!
The ice caves are formed after several cycles of freezing and thawing and typically take their shape from December to February. Each ice cave is uniquely beautiful with hues of aqua throughout the ice. It’s a true winter gem.
Rifle Mountain Park is located just north of the town of Rifle, about an hour from Glenwood Springs (another favorite place of ours). Some people opt to park by the entrance sign and walk in, while others prefer to drive closer to the caves. The park road follows the East Rifle Creek through the canyon, and on the other side of the creek is Koper’s Trail. There are small parking areas along the way, with bridges to cross the creek to allow cave access. You can also park at the Koper’s Trail trailhead and hike along the creek to all the caves.
Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle. You pay at a kiosk just past the entrance sign.
The drive into the park is nothing short of stunning. The road parallels the trail and creek so if snow or terrain is ever too difficult you can cross over a bridge and walk on the road. In the summer rock climbing is popular in Rifle Mountain Park, and in the winter you may spot some ice climbers as well.
The trail is a mixture of snow, ice, and dirt. Inside the caves the ground is solid uneven ice. It’s crucial to wear microspikes – or even better crampons – to avoid falling. Poles are helpful when navigating around rocks and terrain on the trail, but poles alone will not help you in the cave. If you don’t have a solid traction device on your feet please don’t enter the cave. Also it’s winter in Colorado so remember to wear a warm synthetic or wool base layer, possibly a mid layer (I usually don’t need one if I’m active), waterproof pants, a jacket, gloves, hat, and waterproof snow boots. Don’t forget to pack some water and snacks too!
The first cave is a a short hike from the beginning of the Koper’s Trail. Upon entering I was in awe of this beautiful icy fantasy land, it’s like walking behind a blue frozen waterfall. Inside, the ground was a frozen thick sheet of ice with icicles hanging from the ceiling. You could hear and see water trickling beneath the ice in some areas but the icy ground was solid.
The caves are large enough to walk around in, and although they can be dim in certain areas you do not need a flashlight to see inside.
Someone on Instagram mentioned how cute it was that I matched the ice caves. Haha… it was unplanned I promise!
The second cave is a little farther down the trail, with a little elevation but nothing extreme. Poles can be helpful here, remember you can always exit and walk along the road where it’s easier.
The second cave is a bit larger, with a narrow opening on one side and a larger one on the other end.
Below is one of the bridges connecting the road/parking lot to the Koper’s Trail that leads to the caves. The creek is warmed by the groundwater with beautiful green aquatic plants growing inside it, even in January.
We had heard that there are more ice caves farther up the trail, but by the time we exited the second cave it had started snowing really hard so we decided to head back. Based on our research, though, we heard that the first two caves were the best.
I think everyone should explore this beautiful frozen trail, and especially the ice caves. After exploring the caves we went back to Glenwood Springs for a nice quiet hot spring soak which was fantastic, and then the next day we ventured a little farther to Ouray, Colorado, where we had more frozen fun. I’ll be sharing our Ouray trip on the blog soon. Happy winter!
If there’s ever a year to celebrate ending it’s this one! Goodbye 2020… we won’t miss ya, but your departure certainly calls for a celebration! I always go big when it comes to Christmas so afterwards I’m pretty tired and need things simple, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun.
This year I decided to create a festive table centerpiece as well as some drink swizzle sticks that everyone can enjoy, and these simple and easy New Years Eve decorations can be thrown together at a moment’s notice. It’s a fun way to add some extra cheer while ringing in the New Year at home. I was able to recycle some of my Christmas items into our centerpiece so hopefully you have some extra stuff hanging around too.
Metallic shred or tinsel
Beaded necklaces or garland
Wood Skewers (I used 8 inch ones from the craft baking aisle)
A bowl or platter for the centerpiece
For the centerpiece start by placing a layer of metallic shred and then add the rest of the decorations. Use any leftover metallic shreds as need to fill in gaps or add height.
For the drink swizzle sticks simply push each pom pom through the pointy end of the wood skewer, and adjust as needed. No glue is necessary.
So fun, so festive, and so easy am I right?
Let the celebration begin! We’ve got this… just a few more days and we all get a fresh start. Happy New Year my friends, 2021 is going to be a much better year for all of us. Stay safe, healthy, and happy.
I want to share with you my favorite gift wrapping hack, how to make a gift bag out of wrapping paper. So you might be thinking, isn’t it easier to just buy a gift bag? Well… maybe… but we’ve all had those moments where we run out of gift bags, or they’re the wrong size, or you just want to save money. Maybe you just want all your presents to match and coordinate – Virgo here!!
Seriously, this trick is life changing and couldn’t be easier. Once you make your first bag you’ll be whipping these out at warp speed. It’s also lots of fun to customize each bag, and you can even add a handle if desired. Below I’ll show you how easy it is to make a gift bag out of wrapping paper, and be sure to read my helpful tips.
Stapler – optional
Ribbon for decorating – optional
Tulle ribbon to create a handle – optional
Measure wrapping paper to the size of the object, as if you were wrapping the present without a box, leaving extra room at the top and cut.
Fold one side in and crease, repeat on the other side, then tape the back shut.
Fold the bottom edge straight up and crease, this will determine the width of the bag.
Unfold the bottom and then fold the side edges inward to resemble a triangle, crease both sides.
Fold each end up like you’re wrapping the end of a boxed present and secure well with tape, then gently open the bag up.
Place the gift in the bag then fold the top of the bag down. Seal the top of the bag with tape or staples.
If you’re not adding a handle simply add a bow and you’re all done.
To add a handle after the bag is sealed use a hole punch to thread tulle through. I used a punch that was slightly larger than normal to make this step easier.
Determine the length you want the handles to be and tie a knot. Adjust the handles so the knot goes to one side and tie in a bow. You can experiment with different ribbons for a handle, I like tulle because it’s lightweight and fluffy.
Thick sturdy wrapping paper is best, thin wrapping paper from a dollar store may not work as well.
You can cut a cardboard base for the inside if you want your bag to have more structure.
Pay close attention when using wrapping paper where the pattern goes one direction, as in the picture above, you’ll want the pattern facing up.
Only add a handle to lightweight presents or the bag will tear.
If you have lots of gifts that are similar in size, make several bags at once, keeping them flat for easy storage. When your ready to wrap a gift simply open up the bag and seal it.
I hope this gift wrapping hack helps you! I’m officially signing off to enjoy this week of Christmas with my family. Wishing you the Merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I love a good folded napkin, yes, I am a proud napkin nerd. Nothing makes a table special like a well folded napkin, and today I want to share with you how easy it is to fold a napkin into a Christmas tree. To make these Christmas tree shaped napkins you’ll need a square napkin, my favorite napkins are from World Market, they wash well, come in lots of colors, and are very affordable. I chose green but other colors and patterns would work great too.
Start by folding the napkin into a square, and rotate the napkin so the ends are facing you.
Begin folding each napkin layer up, leaving a small border and keeping the points of the napkin lined up.
Continue folding until all the layers are folded up. Tip: Any time I fold napkins I always keep an iron nearby and press every few steps to keep things nice and uniform. This is totally optional though.
Carefully flip the napkin over and fold the right end across to the left side of the napkin, creating a point at the bottom.
Repeat by bringing the left end of the napkin towards the right so both edges create a nice point. Take the top triangle end of the napkin and tuck it in under a layer.
Turn the napkin over and tuck each corner either up or down, depending on the look you like best. Repeat all the way down.
Once finished I like to give the napkin a quick press with the iron, again optional.
These festive Christmas trees are sure to impress your guests! You can even add a star at the top of the tree to write your guests’ names out of paper or salt dough. Be sure to check out my other Christmas blog posts, and next I’ll be sharing my favorite present wrapping hack with you, it’s life changing!