Just a short drive from Grand Junction, Colorado is the incredible town of Ouray which is known as the little Switzerland of America.

According to Ouray Ice Park, the Ice Festival and Competition is returning this year in 2022 after taking a year off in 2021. This year the ice fest is happening January 20-23.

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About Ouray, Colorado

Ouray pronounced "Yur·ay" is a small city in the Southwest of Colorado with a population of approximately 1,000 people.

The city was originally a popular mining town, but these days Ouray is known as a popular destination for tourists and those looking to do some ice climbing.

What Is Ice Climbing?

As a non-native, I had never even heard of ice climbing before reading about Ouray.

Rock climbing? Sure!

Ice climbing? Huh?

Ice climbing is the act of ascending an inclined ice formation. In order to accomplish this incredible feat, climbers are equipped with crampons and ice tools.

Okay, so what's a crampon, and what are ice tools?

Photo by Lori Jakab on Unsplash
Photo by Lori Jakab on Unsplash

As you'll see in the above photo, crampons are the devices that are attached to the feet that let you kick and climb the ice.

Ice tools are special scaled-down ice axes that serve as picks to bed into the ice.

What Is the Ouray Ice Festival?

The Ouray Ice Festival is an annual fundraising event that brings approximately 15,000 people from around the world to visit Ouray's man-made ice park.

The festival includes tons of fun events and things to enjoy such as:

  • movie screenings
  • ice climbing competitions
  • a village of vendors
  • festival clinics and expos
  • a costume party and more!

The money raised during the annual Ouray Ice Festival goes directly to funding the operational costs of the Ouray Ice Park. Typically the Ouray Ice Festival sees about 3,000 participants each year.

Knowing that last year's ice festival was canceled, I'd say this year will probably be bigger and better than ever before.

Check Out Over 200 Ice Climbs at Ouray Ice Park

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