The Ouray Ice Park is not only a recreational ice climbing venue but also an engineering effort that combines natural and manmade elements.
The Ouray Ice Park exists thanks to an overflow of excess water from the City of Ouray’s spring-fed supply tank; a clever layout of irrigation pipe; more than a hundred garden-variety shower heads; a little knowledge of fluid mechanics; and a perfectly located deep, shady, and cold Uncompahgre Gorge.
Technical facts about the Ouray Ice Park:
- Water source: overflow from the City of Ouray water supply tank 0.25 mile to the west
- Gravity-fed system; no pumps, no motors
- Water pressure: incoming water pressure is 105 psi; pressure on the other side of the pressure-reducing valve is 50 psi
- Lineal feet of irrigation pipe: 7,500 feet throughout the Park
- Type of pipe: Yellow mine irrigation pipe
- Water supply: 150 shower heads
- Average flow rate per shower head: 2 gallons per minute
- Typical water pressure: 30 psi at the South Park climbing area (farthest upstream point)
- Number of gallons per night: 150,000–200,000 gallons
- Length of open and climbable terrain: more than 1 mile
- Cumulative vertical climbing terrain: more than 3 miles