The Switzerland of America


I like visiting hot springs but I wasn’t sure if I could do it with two young children in tow. I was thrilled with how it worked out at Ouray Hot Springs in Ouray, Colo., which calls itself “the Switzerland of America.”

IMG_3593This place was basically a large outdoor pool complex built over natural hot springs. There is one pool only two feet deep and a comfortable but not too hot 98 degrees Farenheit that was perfect for my two sons, ages 2 and 3. They both could have fun walking freely around the pool. Another nearby pool was cooler for lap swimming and another one was very hot for adults. There was another section with a giant slide but it was closed off when we visited. Other benefits to these pools were there was no strong sulphur odor and there was an amazing view of snow-capped mountains. Plus children under 4 are free (it cost $12 for me to get in) and there’s a large playground and picnic area right next door.IMG_3589

The town itself has quaint storefronts similar to what you would see in the California Sierra Mother Lode towns like Sonora or Jamestown but a little better kept up. Lee said it was “Sonora on steroids.”

Usually we quit after one activity and head back home but we were in such a good mood after this experience that we decided to check out Telluride. It’s only 12 miles from Ouray as the crow flies but it takes about 50 minutes to get there because you can’t go straight through and have to go around the mountains.

While the boys slept in the back seat, Lee and I enjoyed the breathtaking views of the mountains IMG_3601and rivers. Telluride is famous for being a ritzy ski resort and the home of Tom Cruise. It was definitely hopping at our visit. The town was crowded and there was a lot of construction activity going on in several locations. There were upscale imports and clothing stores and lots of signs advertising the upcoming Mountain Film Fest.

And yet… I was impressed to see that they had a free store IMG_3598just like in Crestone (is this a Colorado thing?).  The sign said this was so residents could recycle usable clothing and household items. I ended up taking the children’s book “Maisy Goes to the Library” (my sons love the Maisy series) and a toy horse for Theo. I think these things are great and should be in every town.

After a short stroll around downtown, we got back in the car and drove to nearby Ridgway, where we got take-out Chinese and had the boys play in the beautiful shaded downtown park. I chatted with one of the moms and told her my family was spending the year touring North America. She said one of her friends did something similar and then came back, saying that the Telluride area really was the best in the country. She might have a point.

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