Ouray Ice Festival 2023

Ouray Ice Festival 2024

JANUARY 18-21, 2024


The mecca of North American ice climbing promises frozen cliffs, plunging gullies, gear demos and dance parties.

There’s cliff-faces frozen over with icicles the size of small trees. There’s frost shrouded boulders the size of houses. There’s cramp-ons, helmets and enough pick-axes to dig a mine. Ouray Ice Park, though, was built for only one activity: ice climbing. And each winter, its home to the mecca of North American ice climbing, the Ouray Ice Festival.

Its yawning precipices reach peak capacity each year during the Ouray Ice Festival, a three-day gathering of ice-climbing fanatics which ascends the town into one of the world’s premiere climbing locales. Ouray is great for fanatics. It’s not everyone who goes to a climbing gym and says, “I liked it but could we numb my hands and add spikes to my feet?” The festival does admit anyone with a ticket to its activities, and some clinics are geared for beginners.

By day, you can demo the latest ice-climbing gear by world-class brands like Petzl and Scrapa, or watch the mixed climbing competition on the Lower Bridge. By night, the festival heads into Ouray itself, presenting movies and talk-backs by some of the hobby’s most respected names. There’s even a dance party Saturday night to limber up your sore and frozen limbs.  

The annual Ouray Ice Festival bills itself the “Switzerland” of North America. Though Ouray may not have quite the same peaks, when you’re surest footing on a cliff face is a patch of hanging icicles, you certainly feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore. 

Schedule of Events


  • Outdoor Gear Expo – 8am-4pm at the Vendor Village
  • Walk-up Climbing Wall – 10am-3pm at the Kid’s Wall in the Ice Park
  • Kids Climbing College – 10am-3pm at the Kid’s Wall 
  • Fest clinics – 9am-4pm in the Ice Park
  • Fest clinics – 9am-4pm in the Ice Park (good option if you are a beginner and need an intro to ice climbing)
  • Elite mixed climbing competition finals at 10am at Scottish Gullies
  • Fireside chats – 10am-11am


  • Full Circle Everest, a presentation by Phil Henderson (presented by The North Face) – 5:30-7:30 at the Wright Opera House
  • Petzl Party – 8pm-11pm at the Wright Opera House


  • Outdoor Gear Expo – 8am-1pm at the Vendor Village
  • Walk-up Climbing Wall – 10am-1pm at the Kid’s Wall in the Ice Park
  • Kids Climbing College – 10am-1pm at the Kid’s Wall
  • Fest clinics – 9am-4pm in the Ice Park
  • Speed climbing competition at 8:30am at Scottish Gullies
  • Fireside chats – 10am-11am
  • Moment of silence for lost ice climbers – 3:30pm – at the Memorial Wall

Virtual Auction

  • Begin Friday at 9am and ends on Monday at 11pm.

The Specs

  • About 2,000 people attended last year. 
  • All-day passes and gear cards go on sale on December 4. No prices are listed at the time of this writing. 
  • Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to Colorado here


What is the closest airport to the Ouray Ice fest?

Located in southwest Colorado, Ouray is reached most easily via the Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX), about an hour’s drive away from the Ice Park. 

How far is Denver from Ouray Ice Park?

Denver is 334 miles away from the park.

How far is Colorado Springs from Ouray Ice Park?

Colorado Springs is 272 miles away from the ice fest.

What is the town of Ouray like?

Ouray is a beautiful, small town in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. As of the last census there were 898 people who lived there and it’s only 550 square miles total. But the town comes alive during the Ouray Ice Festival, as the local economy depends on tourism. The ice climbing park attracts climbers from around the world.

Is the festival ADA accessible? 

The Ouray Ice Park is free and open to everyone. However, there are not any additional accessibility services provided. 

What is the bag policy?

No restrictions. As Ouray is a climbing fest, you’ll most likely need bags to haul and carry your climbing equipment. 

Is there gear to rent?

Ouray Mountain Sports, Peak Mountain Guides, San Juan Mountain Guides, and Basecamp Ouray provide gear to rent.

If I want to see the backcountry, will I be able to hire a guide?

Guides are usually booked that weekend so you’ll need to plan way ahead of time. You can start by checking out this resource.

What is the ice park? A mountain?

The Ouray Ice Park is a human-made ice climbing park in Ouray. It’s free and a public park. It’s has more than 150 routes, over almost 2 miles of the Uncompahgre Gorge.

What is an ice farmer?

The ice park makes all of the ice and the ice farmers are the ones who “grow” the ice. There are sprinklers and water pipes throughout the park and the farmers spray water on rock to create the ice waterfalls.


BY Sébastien Luc Butler