A heaven for the outdoor activity lovers and also famous for its ethereal natural attractions as well as historical spots, Durango (CO) is an extremely popular vacation destination in the United States. A lovely town set at the base of surrounding mountains, Durango is the most populous municipality of La Plata County, Colorado. There are two more places named Durango in the USA. One is in Texas and the other one is in Iowa. So do not get confused if you see the name of the same destination at several locations on the map. Okay, so, Durango (CO) is home to some noteworthy national parks and also there are prominent art and cultural attractions as well.
Great food, great locations, and perfect holiday vibes – check out these best places to visit in Durango (CO). Also, know about the best things to do in this lovely and small city in southwestern Colorado.
8 Incredible & Best Places To Visit In Durango (CO):
San Juan National Park:
San Juan National Park is a U.S National Forest that covers 1,878,846 acres in western Colorado. Theodore Roosevelt created the forest on June 3, 1905, and if you want to observe the true beauty of the wilderness, the meadows, the orange sunset, you have to pay a visit to this National Park in Durango (CO). A forest full of ponderosa pine, streams of gurgling rivers, and the presence of innumerable numbers of flora and fauna, San Juan will be a completely overwhelming forest experience for you. Also do not miss the chance to drive your way along the San Juan Scenic Byway. And wilderness trekking and mountain climbing are the activities you must take part in. outdoor activity lovers will surely enjoy being in the forest thoroughly.
Silverton And Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad:
Riding this 3 ft narrow gauge heritage railroad that runs between Durango and Silverton is truly a magical experience altogether. Initially built in 1882, this rail route came into operation to transport gold and silver ore that was mined from the San Juan Mountains. Now it only operates for tourism and heritage purpose and it uses steam locomotives. The journey through the narrow mountain canyon, the phenomenal beauty outside, and that too sitting in the old restored carriages, taking a ride from Durango to the old mining town of Silverton is a must-do thing in Durango. On your way, you will cross the beautiful Animas River five times and one single ride takes about 3 ½ hours to complete the journey of 72 km from Durango to Silverton.
For the best experience, take one up trip to Silverton. Stay there for a night. Explore the historic town of Silverton and take a train back to Durango on the next day.
James Ranch, Durango, (CO):
In the valley of spellbinding Animas River sits this vast ranching land that covers over 400 acres. Just 10 miles outside of Durango, this site is everything and more that you expect at a ranch. Beautiful pasture lands, clear water, a spruce tree nursery, organic vegetable and flower garden, 100% grass-fed beef, jersey milk cows – this place is breathtaking. Know about the James Ranch family and the families that utilize the organic produce and also know about the surrounding community.
Take a tour of the site, visit the seasonal dairy and cheese-making facility, learn about sustainable farming, see the happy animals, visit the market that sells the fresh produce of the ranch. Buy some beef, homemade jellies, cheese, and also enjoy a meal at Harvest Grill, the Ranch’s restaurant. Oh, this restaurant also serves you organic food.
Mesa Verde National Park:
This national park with ancient cliff dwellings, especially the huge cliff palace is a site that is notable as one of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States. It takes about one hour to reach Mesa Verde from Durango and is an impressive location to witness the remains of such native settlement. View the remains from the lookouts or get into the extensive rock-dwelling on a guided tour – the experience is just beyond your imagination.
Established by Theodore Roosevelt in the year 1906, the site is also the largest archaeological preserve in the U.S. Rock art and murals can also be found all over Mesa Verde region. Apart from the famous Cliff Palace, there are notable numbers of mesa-top ruins that are open to public access. Some of the mention-worthies are Balcony House, Long House, Mug House, Oak Tree House, Spruce Tree House, and Square Tower Houses. If you are looking for a deep insight into the history of the site, feel free to visit the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. The diverse desert wildlife of the region is a bonus attraction.
Historic Downtown Durango (CO):
A Nationally Registered Historic District, Downtown Durango still whispers story from the past. The district bustles with plush hotels, top-class restaurants, galleries, and museums. Take a stroll along the streets and you will find many of the historic structures still there. The General Palmer Hotel, the Strater Hotel are worthy to note. Animas River Trail is perfect for roaming around and Durango Discovery Museum will be a perfect site to be at if you want a session in an interactive science center. It is set on the bank of Animas River and it would be an ideal family adventure place to spend some time and learn through various activities and programs.
Durango Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum:
The mission is to improve the number of the fish population in colorado and with this mission, this fish hatchery is working since the year 1881. The hatchery raises rainbow trout, brown trout, Snake River, native cutthroat trout, and Kokanee salmon. The fishes that are raised here are released in a number of rivers and lakes in southwestern Colorado. It is a great place to feed the fishes and to see the native wildlife in the displays in the Museum. The admission is free and the hatchery remains open year-round from 8 am to 4 pm. The museum remains open from mid-May to mid-September from 10 am to 4.30 pm.
The Colorado Trail:
As we told in the introduction, Durango (CO) will be a playground for them who are into adventure activities. And this 500 miles long Colorado Trail that runs through the majestic Rocky Mountains from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango is a must-hike trail for them. Popular for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking, the trail offers the trekkers excellent views of the mountain ridges, meadows, and placid lakes on the way.
The full hike takes almost a month but you can surely settle for a segment and can be happy with that. There are a total of 33 segments along the trekking route and of course, the trail all along is very well-marked. The change of elevation, different wilderness areas, and eight different mountain range along the way surely make the Colorado Trail one of its kind. The trail difficulty is considered as moderate to strenuous.
Purgatory Ski Resort:
Travelers who visit Durango (CO) come to this ski resort for sure. The resort locates in the San Juan Mountains and is about 20 minutes drive from downtown Durango. A great family-friendly ski resort that sees major footfall in the summer months, the resort has 5 terrain parks and over 1600 skiable acres. The Purgatory Ski Resort or Durango Mountain Resort is the best for the strong intermediate skiers and boarders.
The resort got its new ownership in 2015 and with additional chairlifts, improved snowmaking capacity – the resort has transformed into a hard-to-miss family destination.
Durango (CO) is a year-round destination and has many impressive places in its bag. Its baffling mountainous terrains, dancing streams, and the scenic beauty will linger in your senses for a long time. Founded in the year 1880, Durango was initially a hub of silver and gold mines. From that status, it has slowly been transformed into an alluring spot for outdoor activities. From its historic sites to parks and from museums to its festivals, you will observe the unique flair of Durango everywhere.