Visitors are welcome to visit
Ouray NWR and enjoy the scenic beauty and an enormous array of wildlife observation
opportunities. Most Refuge roads are open to the public except for limited closures during
inclement weather. The best times to visit are in spring and fall, during early morning
and early evening hours, when animals are most active. The Refuge entrance gate opens 1
hour before sunrise and closes 1 hour after sunset. The use of mosquito repellent is
recommended during the spring and summer months.
Auto Tour Route
A 9-mile self-guided auto
tour route winds through a variety of Refuge habitats, providing excellent wildlife
viewing. Visitors traveling this route will have opportunities to see ducks, geese,
cranes, herons, and a variety of shorebirds in the Refuge wetland areas. The road meets
and follows the river where Lewis woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls,
songbirds, and porcupine can be seen in the cottonwood and willow trees. As the tour route
travels up the clay bluffs onto the grasslands, white-tailed prairie dogs and pronghorns
can be seen on both sides of the road along with western meadowlarks, sage sparrows, and
black-tailed and white-tailed jackrabbits.
A wildlife viewing area,
adjacent to the croplands, provides opportunities to see Canada geese and mallards by the
thousands in spring and fall. During this same time of year, other species, such as
red-winged blackbirds, American goldfinches, horned larks, and savannah sparrows, can also
be seen in the croplands. Look for bald and golden eagles perched on nearby cottonwoods
hunting for smaller bird and mammal species. From September through November mule deer,
elk, and pheasant become more active and easier to see.
Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, rafting, wildlife watching, and wildlife photography are also welcomed activities at the Refuge. Canoeing and rafting are permitted only on the river, and off-road vehicle travel is prohibited. Rest rooms are located adjacent to the kiosk near the Refuge entrance and in the Visitor Center. Drinking water is also available in the Visitor Center. Visitors should be aware that there is no gasoline available on the Refuge. The nearest accommodations are located 30 miles to the north in Vernal and 28 miles west in Roosevelt.