Ouray County, Colorado

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Ouray County
Ouray County Courthouse.jpg
Ouray County Courthouse
Map of Colorado highlighting Ouray County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Colorado
Colorado in United States.svg
Colorado's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 38°10′N107°46′W / 38.16°N 107.77°W / 38.16; -107.77
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Colorado.svg  Colorado
FoundedJanuary 18, 1877
Named for Chief Ouray
Seat Ouray
Largest cityOuray
  Total542 sq mi (1,400 km2)
  Land542 sq mi (1,400 km2)
  Water0.6 sq mi (2 km2)  0.1%%
  Density8.2/sq mi (3.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district 3rd
Website www.ouraycountyco.gov
Switzerland of America

Ouray County /ˈjʊər/ is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,436. [1] The county seat is Ouray. [2] Because of its rugged mountain topography, Ouray County is also known as the Switzerland of America.



Ouray County was formed out of San Juan County on 18 January 1877, the first county designated by the newly formed Colorado State Legislature. It was named for Chief Ouray, a distinguished Ute Indian chief. Ouray was designated county seat on 8 March 1877. On 19 February 1881, Dolores County was formed out of Ouray County.

On 27 February 1883, Ouray County was split into San Miguel County and what is currently Ouray County. The portion that became San Miguel County almost retained the name Ouray County when the Colorado General Assembly initially renamed Ouray County as Uncompaghre County. [3] Four days later on 2 March 1883, the General Assembly changed its mind and changed the name of Uncompaghre County back to Ouray County. [4]

Ouray County Courthouse Ouray County CO Court House 1881 2006 01 13.jpg
Ouray County Courthouse

The Ouray County Courthouse was constructed in Ouray in 1888 and is located on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mining operators in the San Juan mountain area of Colorado formed the San Juan District Mining Association (SJDMA) in 1903, as a direct result of a Western Federation of Miners proposal to the Telluride Mining Association for the eight-hour day, which had been approved in a referendum by 72 percent of Colorado voters. [5] The new association consolidated the power of thirty-six mining properties in San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan counties. [6] The SJDMA refused to consider any reduction in hours or increase in wages, helping to provoke a bitter strike.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 542 square miles (1,400 km2), of which 542 square miles (1,400 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) (0.1%) is water. [7] The highest mountain in Ouray County is Mount Sneffels at 14,150 feet above sea level. Many high peaks of more than 13,300 feet also exist. Other prominent features in Ouray County include Log Hill Mesa and Pleasant Valley.

Adjacent counties

Major Highways


Historical population
1880 2,669
1890 6,510143.9%
1900 4,731−27.3%
1910 3,514−25.7%
1920 2,620−25.4%
1930 1,784−31.9%
1940 2,08917.1%
1950 2,1030.7%
1960 1,601−23.9%
1970 1,546−3.4%
1980 1,92524.5%
1990 2,29519.2%
2000 3,74263.1%
2010 4,43618.5%
2019 (est.)4,952 [8] 11.6%
U.S. Decennial Census [9]
1790-1960 [10] 1900-1990 [11]
1990-2000 [12] 2010-2015 [1]

As of the census [13] of 2000, there were 3,742 people, 1,576 households, and 1,123 families residing in the county. The population density was 7 people per square mile (3/km2). There were 2,146 housing units at an average density of 4 per square mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.34% White, 0.08% Black or African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. 4.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,576 households, out of which 28.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.40% were married couples living together, 6.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.70% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.50% under the age of 18, 4.10% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 34.10% from 45 to 64, and 12.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 102.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,019, and the median income for a family was $49,776. Males had a median income of $35,141 versus $26,176 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,335. About 6.00% of families and 7.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.00% of those under age 18 and 2.90% of those age 65 or over.


Presidential elections results
Ouray County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic Others
2020 39.2% 1,57758.8%2,3651.9% 78
2016 40.8% 1,35151.3%1,6977.9% 262
2012 46.3% 1,48151.4%1,6462.3% 75
2008 44.7% 1,36753.5%1,6361.9% 57
2004 51.5%1,40247.0% 1,2781.5% 41
2000 57.3%1,27931.6% 70511.2% 249
1996 54.9%98431.7% 56913.4% 241
1992 41.3%65329.1% 46129.6% 469
1988 63.9%81434.5% 4391.7% 21
1984 70.9%91428.4% 3660.8% 10
1980 67.7%81319.7% 23712.6% 151
1976 62.5%64532.3% 3335.2% 54
1972 74.6%66920.7% 1864.7% 42
1968 52.0%40132.4% 25015.6% 120
1964 43.7% 35855.6%4560.7% 6
1960 54.0%50846.0% 4320.0% 0
1956 65.9%63433.5% 3220.6% 6
1952 61.9%69736.7% 4131.5% 17
1948 54.9%57444.1% 4611.0% 10
1944 62.3%50337.6% 3030.1% 1
1940 49.1% 58950.5%6060.3% 4
1936 38.4% 42860.7%6771.0% 11
1932 34.6% 39861.3%7064.2% 48
1928 51.5%53546.1% 4792.4% 25
1924 44.3%48423.4% 25632.3% 353
1920 61.5%73533.6% 4024.9% 58
1916 28.1% 39967.6%9614.3% 61
1912 18.6% 27348.4%71033.0% 483


Ouray County, Colorado with Mount Sneffels OurayCountyColoradoMtSneffels.jpg
Ouray County, Colorado with Mount Sneffels

Ouray County, named Switzerland of America, is home to many parks and hiking trails. The Ridgway State Park is located due north of Ridgway on the Ridgway Reservoir and includes a marina and camping facilities as well as an extensive trail system. Within and surrounding the county are the Uncompahgre National Forest, Mount Sneffels Wilderness, and the Uncompahgre Wilderness. Leading through the county is the Bear Creek National Recreation Trail. Well known for its view of the San Juan Mountains and Cimarron Range, scenic highways such as the Alpine Loop National Scenic Back Country Byway and San Juan Skyway National Scenic Byway exist. The Great Parks Bicycle Route and Western Express Bicycle Route also go through Ouray County.

The Elks Lodge of Ouray County is only one of a very few surviving American locations for a bowling alley facility - a more famous one being Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Holler House - that uses exclusively human-operated pinsetting units to set the tenpins for bowling on its pair of vintage wood bowling lanes. [15]


View from Ouray to Loghill Village OurayCounty.jpg
View from Ouray to Loghill Village
Fall colors on Bear Creek, south of Ouray Gold on Bear Creek, CO.jpg
Fall colors on Bear Creek, south of Ouray

Ouray County has two home rule municipalities, three census-designated places, and four unincorporated communities. The home rule municipalities are the city of Ouray and town of Ridgway, also the most populous settlements in the county. Loghill Village is the next largest development and is a residential, relatively affluent, community in comparison to the rest of the county. Along with Loghill, Portland and Colona serve as census-designated places within Ouray County. The unincorporated communities within the county are Camp Bird, Dallas, Thistledown, and Eldredge. All the communities, with the exception of Ridgway and Ouray, serve as primarily residential communities, though Loghill Village maintains a small tourism sector.

Colona, Eldredge, and Dallas are located in the northern reaches of the county along U.S. Highway 550, though Eldredge and Dallas are located within the valleys of the San Juan Mountains while Colona is in the short stretch of the Uncompahgre Valley within Ouray County. Portland is placed down valley of Ouray, though still south of Ridgway. Camp Bird and Thistledown are communities placed southwest of Ouray on Camp Bird Road. From north to south the communities are Colona, Eldredge, Dallas, Ridgway, Ouray, and then southwest along Camp Bird Road to Thistledown and Camp Bird. The historic towns of Sneffels and Ironton are located further west from Camp Bird and south of Ouray, respectively. Populations listed below are from the 2010 United States census data. [16]

Incorporated cities and towns

census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Historic towns

Minerals of Ouray County

See also

Related Research Articles

San Juan Mountains Mountain range in Colorado and New Mexico, United States

The San Juan Mountains is a high and rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. The area is highly mineralized and figured in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Major towns, all old mining camps, include Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining has ended in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale mines were the Sunnyside Mine near Silverton, which operated until late in the 20th century and the Idarado Mine on Red Mountain Pass that closed down in the 1970s. Famous old San Juan mines include the Camp Bird and Smuggler Union mines, both located between Telluride and Ouray.

San Miguel County, Colorado County in Colorado, United States

San Miguel County is one of the 64 counties of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,359. The county seat is Telluride. The county is named for the San Miguel River.

San Juan County, Colorado County in Colorado, United States

San Juan County is one of the 64 counties of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 699, making it the least populous county in Colorado. The county seat and the only incorporated municipality in the county is Silverton. The county name is the Spanish language name for "Saint John", the name Spanish explorers gave to a river and the mountain range in the area. With a mean elevation of 11,240 feet (3426 meters), San Juan County is the highest county in the United States.

Montrose County, Colorado County in Colorado, United States

Montrose County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,276. The county seat is Montrose, for which the county is named.

Loghill Village, Colorado Census Designated Place in Colorado, United States

Loghill Village is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place (CDP) located in and governed by Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The CDP is a part of the Montrose, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area. The population of the Loghill Village CDP was 521 at the United States Census 2010. The Ridgway post office (Zip Code 81432) serves Loghill Village postal addresses.

Ouray, Colorado Home Rule Municipality in Colorado, United States

The City of Ouray is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 1,000 as of the 2010 census. The Ouray Post Office has the ZIP code 81427. Ouray's climate, natural alpine environment, and scenery has earned it the nickname, "Switzerland of America".

Ridgway, Colorado Town in Colorado, United States

Ridgway is a Home Rule Municipality in Ouray County, in the southwestern portion of the U.S. State of Colorado. The town is a former railroad stop on the Uncompahgre River in the northern San Juan Mountains. The town population was 713 at the 2000 census and 924 according to the 2010 census.

Uncompahgre River

The Uncompahgre River is a tributary of the Gunnison River, approximately 75 mi (121 km) long, in southwestern Colorado in the United States. Lake Como at 12,215 ft (3723m) in northern San Juan County, in the Uncompahgre National Forest in the northwestern San Juan Mountains is the headwaters of the river. It flows northwest past Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose, and Olathe and joins the Gunnison at Confluence Park in Delta.

Uncompahgre National Forest

Uncompahgre National Forest is a U.S. National Forest covering 955,229 acres in parts of Montrose, Mesa, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Juan, and Delta Counties in western Colorado. Only its headquarters is in Delta County, in the city of Delta. It borders the San Juan National Forest to the south.

Yankee Boy Basin

Yankee Boy Basin is an alpine basin in Ouray County, southwestern Colorado. It is in the San Juan Mountains, protected within Uncompahgre National Forest.

Mount Sneffels

Mount Sneffels is the highest summit of the Sneffels Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,158-foot (4315.4 m) fourteener is located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness of Uncompahgre National Forest, 6.7 miles (10.8 km) west by south of the City of Ouray in Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The summit of Mount Sneffels is the highest point in Ouray County.

The San Juan Skyway is an All-American Road and a component in the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway System. It forms a 233.0-mile (375.0 km) loop in the southwest part of the U.S. state of Colorado traversing the heart of the San Juan Mountains. It roughly parallels the routes of the narrow gauge railways: Rio Grande Southern ; and the unconnected Ouray and Silverton Branches of the Denver & Rio Grande along US 550 with the Silverton Railroad bridging a part of the gap. Its origin can be traced to the Around the Circle Route promoted by the D&RG.

Imogene Pass

Imogene Pass is a high mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains in the southwest part of the US state of Colorado.

Dallas Divide Mountain pass in Colorado, USA

Dallas Divide is a high mountain pass in the United States state of Colorado located on State Highway 62 about 12 miles (19 km) west of the town of Ridgway.

Ridgway Reservoir

Ridgway Reservoir is a lake impounded by Ridgway Dam on the Uncompahgre River north of the town of Ridgway in Ouray County, Colorado in the western United States.

Sneffels Range

The Sneffels Range, regionally conterminous with San Juans, is a young, prominent, and rugged range of mountains in southwestern Colorado of the San Juan Mountains. The Sneffels range form the southern border of Ouray County and run west to east.

A List of Communities in Ouray County.

Eldredge, Colorado

Eldredge is an unincorporated community in Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The community is located between Colona and Ridgway - both within Ouray County - north of Ridgway State Park on the Colorado stretch of U.S. Route 550 and the Uncompahgre River.

Log Hill Mesa

Log Hill Mesa is a mesa in Ouray County, Colorado. Log Hill Mesa includes part of the southern end of the Uncompahgre Plateau and faces south towards the Sneffels Range.

Dallas Peak

Dallas Peak is a high mountain summit in the Sneffels Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,815-foot (4,211 m) thirteener is located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness of Uncompahgre National Forest, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) north by west of the Town of Telluride, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide between Ouray and San Miguel counties.


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  14. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  15. Junior Mativi, Mike Canavan, Steve Turk, Eli Lane (June 14, 2009). Tulane Alley Brunswick B 10 semi automatic pinsetter (YouTube) (YouTube). Ouray County Elks Lodge, Colorado USA: wattaman. Event occurs at 4:54. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  16. "Colorado Trend Report 2: State and Complete Places (Sub-state 2010 Census Data)". Missouri Census Data Center. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2011.

Coordinates: 38°10′N107°46′W / 38.16°N 107.77°W / 38.16; -107.77