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Best Things to do in Durango, Colorado

Located in southwestern Colorado near the New Mexico border you’ll find a small but unique city named Durango. Durango was founded in 1881 and is full of many stories with rich western history. This small town is settled beneath the San Juan Mountain Range. With its deep, cultural roots, pristine wilderness, and southwestern charm, Durango is your final frontier for a genuine Colorado experience. There are several outstanding attractions that you can enjoy, everything from national parks, gold mines, railroads, monuments, and archeological sites to century-old ranches. Passing through the mountains and canyons, you’ll discover the legendary 19th-century Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad steam train.

Main Avenue is a Nationally Registered Historic District that cuts through downtown Durango. It’s home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and other amazing businesses. Two notable and historic hotels, General Palmer and The Strater, lie at the south end of the avenue, near the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot. With its combination of historic architecture, entertainment, and shopping, Main Avenue has historically comprised the center of Durango and is a popular year-round tourist destination.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango is known worldwide for its Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It’s a heritage railroad that operates on what was the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s Branch Line to the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado. The Railroad still continues to provide year-round train service to anyone wanting to take a trip through time. The Durango & Silverton is owned and operated by American Heritage Railways. It still notably uses historic D&RGW, 100% coal-fired, steam-operated locomotives, and other historic rail equipment. The locomotives are vintage from 1923-25 and are maintained in original condition. The coaches each provide bathroom facilities and are also heated during the colder months. Hop in an open gondola car that’ll provide a panoramic view of the breathtaking mountains. On every train, there are concessions available. For general information or to make reservations call, 970-247-2733 or book online at

Animas River

The Animas River, 126-mile-long, begins in the heart of the San Juan Mountains and runs through downtown Durango. The Animas River is known as one of the last free-flowing rivers in Colorado and certainly brings a soothing ambiance to Durango. The Animas River is the place to be as it’s the perfect destination for outdoor recreation. It’s known for gold medal fly fishing waters with casters catching Rainbow and Brown trout with most trout measuring between 10 and 15 inches. The Animas River is also popular for whitewater rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and so much more. On warm summer afternoons, a popular activity is to bring a tube and float from Animas City to Schneider Park or below. Come experience the Animas River and enjoy the great outdoors while taking in these breathtaking waters.

Purgatory Ski Resort

Purgatory Ski Resort is a year-round paradise in the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. It’s only 25 miles north of the historic downtown Durango. It’s been distinguished as a family-friendly resort that features over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain, 11 lifts, multiple terrain parks, 105 trails, and a 2,029 feet vertical drop. It was carved by glaciers thousands of years ago and the resort offers a unique mix of wide-open cruisers and steep tree skiing trails that offer some spectacular views. Frequent storms bring consistent dry powder followed by beautiful blue sky sunny days. Purgatory Ski Resort averages about 260 inches of snow annually. The resort features lodging, ski rentals, shopping, and dining. Purgatory is also a popular summertime recreation destination including the Inferno Mountain Coaster, the area’s only alpine slide, scenic chairlift rides, lift-served mountain biking, and more. Located at 1 Skier Pl, Durango, CO 81301, for more information call (970) 247-9000 or visit

Explore the Local Art & Culture

Durango has many spectacular artists of all mediums. Make sure to check out the rich art scene that showcases many downtown galleries. These galleries carry many treasures from Contemporary Western, American Indians, and Southwestern art featuring baskets, pottery, sculptures, photography, home furnishings, and fine art. Feel free to take a stroll through historic downtown during one of the monthly gallery walks or go see the latest theater production. For more information contact the Durango Area Tourism Office at (970) 247-3500,, or visit in person at 802 Main Avenue, Durango, CO 8130.

Stay at a Dude Ranch – Colorado Trails Ranch

If you haven’t been to a dude ranch you’re missing out! The time is now to experience the old west by spending time at a dude ranch, Colorado Trails Ranch located at 12161 County Road 240, Durango, CO 81301. This breathtaking ranch was originally built to be a dude ranch from the very beginning in 1960. There is a lot of family fun to be experienced at Colorado Trails Ranch located just north of Durango in the beautiful San Juan mountains. The ranch offers a variety of activities for everyone including some of the best fly-fishing in the nation, western riding, and a children’s program. Colorado Trails Ranch offers two different vacation options. You can choose a flex plan where you pay as you go as you book activities and cabins. There’s the other option of a traditional all-inclusive dude ranch vacation. If you’re traveling in a large group the ranch can customize special vacation packages that’re the perfect fit for your group. For more information on Colorado Trails Ranch visit their website at or contact them at (970) 247-5055.

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Howdy, I'm Megan deFabry, I grew up in Reno, Nevada & I now reside in Austin, Texas. I'm very passionate about digital marketing and journalism, especially within the Western industry. I'm driven by faith, and have a love for the outdoors, agriculture, rodeos, country music, and maintaining the Western way of life!

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