Situated in Southwest Colorado, Durango is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Surrounded by diverse and dramatic landscapes, from the Animas River Valley’s sandstone bluffs to the San Juan Mountains’ jagged peaks, Durango offers unparalleled access to the great outdoors, authentic Western heritage and culture, and a historic, walkable downtown full of hip shops, unique eateries and a dynamic art scene. Discover why the locals say that once you’ve been to Durango, you’ll never truly leave it behind.
Mountain biking, whitewater rafting on the Animas River, hiking through fields of wildflowers — the opportunities to uncover Colorado’s unspoiled wilderness in Durango are endless. Go fishing at 7,800 feet in the sapphire-blue waters of Vallecito Lake or immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the San Juans on horseback. During the winter, more than 92 ski runs, five terrain parks and 1,525 acres of skiable terrain await at family-friendly Purgatory Resort. Other cold-weather activities include snowmobiling, dogsledding and snowshoeing.
Founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Durango continues to honor its Old West heritage in unparalleled, authentic ways. Visitors can still board the historic 1880s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for a 45-mile trip through the majestic San Juans to the old mining town of Silverton. The ride takes you through parts of the vast Weminuche Wilderness that can only be accessed by train, including drop points for backpackers, mountain bikers, hikers and fishermen. Downtown Durango, a National Historic District, is lined with shops, eateries and hotels housed in perfectly restored 19th-century buildings.
Durango is the archeological hub of the Southwest. For a peek into ancient cultures, visit the archeological wonders and ancient cliff dwellings at nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Canyon National Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument. Mesa Verde National Park, just 35 miles west of Durango, is where the Ancestral Puebloan people lived more than 1,400 years ago. The park protects more than 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. Be sure to purchase your tickets for a ranger-led tour of Mesa Verde ahead of time at the Durango Welcome Center. These tours give you unique access to the cliff dwellings, and a context of how these ancient peoples lived. Tickets can only be purchased in-person, up to 48 hours in advance.
Durango also boasts an unbelievable culinary scene, making it an excellent destination for foodie-fueled getaways. Sit down for a hearty breakfast at a homegrown diner, taste Colorado beers at six microbreweries and brewpubs, sip spirits at two local distilleries, sample super-fresh, locally inspired fare at farm-to-table restaurants or grab something unexpected, like a traditional Himalayan dish prepared by a former sherpa. There’s something for every taste in Durango.
There are plenty of lodging options in Durango. Slumber in a historic locale like the Strater Hotel (you can even ask for the Louis L’Amour room; situated above the Diamond Belle Saloon, this is where the author wrote some of his most well-known works), cozy up in a cabin with the family or pitch a tent under the stars at a scenic campground.
However you choose to make your basecamp while you’re here, one thing is for sure: Durango will feel like home while you’re here — and long after you’ve left.