Discovering Ouray, Part 2


My Ramble Dog adventures often lead me to the local public library of the town I am visiting. Ouray’s Public Library on 3rd Ave. was no exception.

Among the books in a small local history section, I found a modest journal titled, I Remember Ouray, Colorado 1927- 1939, by  Lee Kloepfer. I gobbled up the simply written memories of Rosalie Smith, a girl born and raised in Ouray close to a century ago. Armed with a minute concept of Ouray’s past, I continued my tour through Ouray looking for evidence of continuity and of change.

I Remember Ouray, Colorado 1927-1939

Let’s revisit the Cascade Falls as mentioned in Discovering Ouray, Part 1. For decades, visitors and locals have hiked up to the lower falls on a daily basis. These lower falls are the last of a collection of seven waterfalls on Cascade Creek. On occasion, more experienced and agile hikers will climb up a long steep trail to the Upper Falls. Today, a volunteer group known as the Ouray Trail Group maintains the Cascade Falls trail along with other trails in the Ouray area. 

Cascade Falls Park

Cascade Falls Park, Ouray, Colorado

Kloepfer recalled these spectacular falls in this short piece of her journal.

You could see Cascade Falls from anywhere in town. In the late summer when there wasn’t too much water going over the falls, a bunch of us kids would hike up there for a picnic. After we ate and played for awhile, we would take off our shoes and socks so we could stand under the falls and get wet all over.
Historic photo of Cascade Falls Park in Ouray, Colorado

On my first walk up to Cascade Falls, I discovered a trail that led away from the falls in opposite directions. Its rough wooden sign read Perimeter Trail. Not wanting to bite off more that I could chew, I returned to the RV park to research this trail. Ouray Perimeter Trail

Women and Men post for historic photograph along the Perimeter Trail in Ouray, Colorado

The next day, I encouraged John to take a break from his freelance work in the camper, and we headed out to find that trail. A few blocks from the 4J+1+1 RV Park, while admiring the old homes along Queen Street, we picked up the Perimeter Trail on the opposite side of town from Cascade Falls. We enjoyed the wooded level trail for a short time until we started to climb. Then the hike became dodgy.

A photo of the historic Box Canon trail in Ouray in 1903.

Newspaper article by By Mike Wiggins on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 

Our reward for this out-of-our-comfort-zone hike was granted to us at the bottom of the hill on the opposite side of the bridge. We entered Box Canyon Park from the backside and joined the other visitors who took the easy way in from the parking lot. Who knew?

For the first few days during our stay in Ouray, It was always a mystery to me why the Box Canon sign on the top of the hill was spelled without a “y.” The answer to my question was discovered in that modest journal I had read cover-to-cover during my Ouray Public Library visit. Just a small example of why I am hooked on local history and make the public library my destination. It’s all about the ~ accent. It’s not canyon, but rather the Spanish spelling Cañon.

Box Canon sign above the falls in Ouray, Colorado

In Kloepfer’s journal, she reflected on the Box Canyon Falls.

This place always seem to have a certain kind of mystery about it. The big “Box Cañon” sign was lit up at night and could be seen from any place in town.