Southwest Colorado Road Trip

Southwestern Colorado is one of my favorite parts of the state! This summer I’d been planning a trip with a friend to go hiking & explore a few towns that we hadn’t been to. We had three nights and four days to explore as much as we could and we packed in a TON.

Here’s Our Itinerary:

Day One:
Camp Near Crested Butte

Day Two:
Morning Hike in Crested
Lunch in Crested Butte
Afternoon Hike in Black Canyon National Park
Dinner in Ouray

Day Three:
Explore Ouray
Lunch in Telluride
Telluride Gondola ride
Camp Near Telluride

Day Four:
Hike Ouray Perimeter
Head home!

Camping Misadventures

I’m not a camper. I repeat, I’m not a camper. I’m terrified of wildlife, terrified of sleeping in an unsecured space. And honestly, I really like showering – which camping doesn’t really offer. But, we were doing this trip on a budget so I let my friend Sydney convince me to camp a couple nights.

I was in charge of the tent so I borrowed a nice big one from a family member. Sydney texted me several times to check the tent and make sure it had all the poles, etc. I checked all the poles… but apparently didn’t check for the actual tent itself. When we got to the campground close to sunset and nowhere close to any store, I pulled out what I thought was the tent only to find the cover to the tent.

A few minutes of panicked laughter, a few times hearing “I told you to check the tent!” and one very large glass of wine later Sydney quickly converted us to car camping. Definitely not as comfortable, but we survived the night. (Only after several neighbors came by to ask where our tent was and help us work the grill.)

Crazy enough – tents were nearly sold out all through southwest Colorado! The first Walmart was completely wiped and we got one of the last ones at the next one. It ended up being a very roomy & comfy 6-person tent that we were actually able to set up and enjoy a couple nights later.

Camping is way out of my comfort zone, but that’s what made this so great. Before this trip, I had only gone camping with boyfriends, so it was fun to conquer this fear with a friend who had no problem laughing at my missteps along the way. Like the picture below, when I spilled wine all over myself trying to set up the self timer.

Ouray – My new favorite town!

Ouray had been on my list for a while so I was so excited to finally visit the “Switzerland of Colorado” and not only did it not disappoint, it blew my expectations out of the water.

We drove in just as the sun was setting so we got a glimpse of the towering mountains surrounding this adorable town. Main street had tons of patios and rooftops under string lights. The town feels delightfully quiet and quaint.

What I liked most about this town were the people, every one we met was so sweet, so kind and so genuine. We chatted with locals in the bookshop, the server at the brewery. Before we hiked the Ouray Perimeter I was outside the Visitor Center and a woman said she was a local and asked if she could answer any questions.

The town also has a ton to offer with mini adventures at every corner of town. Box Canyon let me totally geek over over the incredible geologic history, Cascade Falls is literally steps from Main St. Next time I’m adding the Via Ferrata, Ice Park & Hot Springs to the list! Plus, so many more hikes in the region that I didn’t even get a chance to check out!

Black Canyon National Park

This was a last minute thought of hey, since we’re already going to be down there… So we snuck it in on the drive from Crested Butte to Ouray. We picked an easy, quick hike that promised incredible views and it was so worth the detour!

As someone afraid of heights, Black Canyon defintely got my heart racing and palms sweating. Peering over the edge of a 3,000 ft cliff is not for the faint of heart, but every view was jaw-dropping and worth the slight anxiety attack.

Honestly, I think I need a full trip devoted to this park. There’s rafting, climbing, hiking – all in the least visited National Park! We only saw a few other people the whole time, it’s this hidden gem right here in our backyard that seems to go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Add it to your list & get there before the secret gets out!

Road Trippin’

The drive to southwest Colorado and back feels like an adventure in itself, there’s barely a moment when you don’t have incredible views every direction you look. But a few fun podcasts along the way certainly helps make the hours go by faster.

The best podcast I’ve listened to in a while, Reply All: The Missing Hit. A man remembers a pop song from his childhood that is nowhere to be found on the internet so they go on a hunt to find it, or if it ever existed. I laughed out loud so many times and had the mysterious pop song stuck in my head for most of the trip back.

We started and finished an audio book, The Silent Patient, which is one of the few books where I was actually surprised by the ending. Definitely recommend!


If you haven’t taken a few days to explore this part of the state – add it to your list! And let me know which towns & hikes I need to add to my list for next year!

Author of Approachable Outdoors Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I'm not exploring the trails, I'm a Meteorologist! You can see me weekend mornings on NBC affiliate 9News in Colorado. Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

More to Discover

My Little Edible Balcony Garden

My Little Edible Balcony Garden

My Little Edible Balcony Garden I have always talked about having an herb & vegetable garden, but I’ve also exclusively lived in apartments for the last decade so it hasn’t been much of an option. I’d look up cute ideas to have a balcony garden, but never...