Durango is in the south central part of Colorado, about a 6 hours from Denver. It’s just south of the old western
mine town of Silverton and Ouray, Colorado (known world-wide for it’s ice climbing and dramatic mountain views). Within driving distance, you can also visit the well-known ski town of Telluride and Mesa Verde National Park to the west, where you can see ancient cliff dwellings. This town holds a special place in my heart because I always have so much fun out there. And that is exactly why my husband and I keep coming back year after year. (Seriously. I go every year.)
Where to Stay…
We highly recommend this place. They get a little pricey, but it’s worth it if you can swing it. Each cabin has a full kitchen and they back right up into the Florida (pronounced Flow-Rita) River. We always stay here when we bring our dogs, as their dog friendly cabin has a fenced in back porch.
Historic Strator Hotel:
Historical and right in the center of town. And walking distance to my favorite brewery.
Things to Do (Spring/Summer)…
– Whitewater Rafting/Kayaking:
Durango is probably known best for two things. One of these is of course the whitewater. The Animas River runs right through town,
and extends well up into the mountains. In the spring, hardcore kayakers and rafters are taking advantage of high water in the Upper Animas River and the Rockwood Box Gorge (Class IV -V rapids). Less adventurous folk stick to the “town run,” which offers easier rapids in a kid-friendly environment (Class II-Class III, with an optional Class IV). Regardless of where you fit in experience level, there is a run for you! I highly recommend using 4 Corners Whitewater. Those guys will tailor the trip for you (based on water levels) and are highly experienced, friendly, and laid-back. (Are you going during low water? No worries – when the water gets too low, grab an inner tube and float down the town portion of the river.)
– Narrow Gauge Railroad:
Here’s the other thing Durango is known for: The train! If you are making a trip to Durango for the first time, riding the narrow gauge is practically a requirement. It takes you where the road can’t, allowing you to see steep rock walls and views of the San Juan mountains you can only see if going back country on the Colorado trail (or similar trails). And if by some rare chance you get sick of the views, they sell booze on board to keep you happy! 🙂
The train makes multiple trips daily from Durango to Silverton (and back). And if you plan on taking a raft trip down the Upper Animas or hiking in the back country, the train makes multiple stops for pick up or drop off.
Segment 24 of the Colorado Trail (CT) goes right through Durango, and many have said that this segment has some of the most impressive views of all the CT segments! I can personally vouch for this, as I experienced some of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen while hiking the CT through there. Along with the Colorado trail, there are various other trails in the area that are equally impressive.
This old preserved mining town is accessible via either train (as mentioned above) or by driving the Million Dollar Highway northward. It’s a fun day trip that everyone should do if in the area. It’s more of a tourist attraction than anything these days, but you can learn a lot about the history by visiting one of the saloons or taking a mine tour.
Seriously, what Colorado town doesn’t have great breweries. This is a no brainer, but I’m listing it in hopes that people will visit my favorite in the area: Carver’s Brewing. Great healthy food, amazing beer, and hey – take a growler to-go back to your cabin.
-Other Things to Do:
Ziplining (Durango has two companies to choose from.)
Mesa Verde (It’s a 40 minute drive to the cliff dwellings – a surreal experience if you’ve never seen them.)
Trimble Hot springs
Mountain Biking (Durango has a wide range of tracks in varying difficulties.)
Pro Tip: Make sure when you’re in Durango to go grab a Texas Taco at Serious Texas BBQ. It’s the local favorite and ridiculously delicious! (There are two Serious Texas BBQ locations in Durango.)
What is your favorite thing about Durango?
Your photography is beautiful. When you say there is “kid friendly” white water rafting, what age group would that be appropriate for? Looks like a great place to take the family.
Thanks Joe!! The “town run” in Durango covers about 4-8 miles of river and is suitable for ages 4 and up. It is honestly one of my favorite towns. I think Aaron would LOVE the train for sure.
Winter is also delicious in Durango. Cross country ski trips to many of the passes (Molas, Wolf Creek, Red Mountain. ..), of course with diligent avalanche awareness. Then there is the annual winter celebration, Snowdown! !
I loved living in Durango and may still return