Durango, is incredibly, splendid and has everything from skiing to craft breweries to hiking. The city is located in the southwestern part of Colorado and is a three-hour drive from Albuquerque, a six-hour drive from Denver, and a seven-hour drive from Phoenix. The city also has a small airport that allows you to fly from cities like Denver and Phoenix in just one hour.
Durango was founded in 1879 to serve as a base for miners scattered throughout the surrounding area, and it has changed little since then, retaining its booming city feel. The only thing that has changed is that the markets and tool shops that once lined Main Street have been replaced by artsy boutiques and gourmet farm-to-table restaurants.
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For lovers of winter sports
If skiing and other winter sports are your things, the best place to go is the Purgatory Resort, which is only 26 miles from the city. While the resort’s name may sound menacing, it’s actually a laid-back, cheerful spot that has something for everyone – there’s a reason Trip Advisor repeatedly calls it the Best Ski Value in North America.
The resort has 99 ski slopes and six terrain parks for snowboarders. They are fully prepared for all your needs, offering rentals, repairs, and lessons for all ages and levels. There is much more for non-skiers to enjoy as the resort also offers snow tubing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
If you want to be close to all the action, consider staying at the resort. There are a number of properties, ranging from slopeside studios to self-contained, privately owned, and rented ski cabins. Staying at any of the properties also gives you easy access to the resort’s nine restaurants, eight shops, and spa.
What to do off the slopes
Take a look at a local festival or event if you don’t like skiing or need a break. Purgatory Resort almost always has a special event or another. You can almost be sure to find yoga, classes, live music performances, visits with rescue dogs, or some other activity happening during your visit. You can also plan your stay extra special events held once a year, as the Cardboard Derby, where people compete in sleds creative made of cardboard, or the Feast of the Angels and Demons, featuring a carnival and a group skiing in the mountains in disguise.
Or head into town and visit the Animas Museum, which features exhibits on local history and even a model classroom dating back to 1904.
Hiking is another great draw to the city, as Durango is located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. One of the locals’ most beloved hikes in the Animas Mountain Trail, which ends on a mountain outside the city and offers stunning views. It is an easy enough climb to be able to do it all year round. If you want a trail that’s suitable for all people and weather types, try the Animas River Trail, a fully paved trail that winds along the scenic Animas River and passes through downtown as well.
Get out of the way
Durango is still relatively undiscovered, but it can be touristy at times. If you want to travel back in time and experience what it was like decades ago, travel an hour to Silverton, a former mining community in the mountains that is home to just 600 people and is far less built than Durango.
One of the most popular ways to get to Silverton is to take the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a steam locomotive that began transporting gold and silver between the two cities and now transports people along with one of the cities. most picturesque routes in the country. The train can get expensive, however, so if you are looking to save money you can catch the same views of the San Juan National Forest by driving to Silverton on the San Juan Skyway.
Once there, stroll through the city center and enjoy the colorful false-front buildings and eclectic gift shops. At the end of Main Street, you’ll come across the San Juan County Historical Society, which gives you an interactive look at the history of the area. You may think of it as a museum-like any other until you travel to the replica mining tunnels and experience the uncomfortable and often terrifying conditions that the Silverton miners had to endure.
Skiers (i.e. very advanced) will also be happy with what Silverton has to offer, as just outside the city is Silverton Mountain, the highest and steepest ski area in North America with a maximum elevation of 13,487 feet. The staff does avalanche mitigation work, but otherwise leave the mountain in its natural state, which means that it does not contain cut runs. It’s definitely only safe for professionals, but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.
If you still have time to spare after savoring these amazing cities, Mesa Verde National Park is worth a visit, which is an hour’s drive from Durango and two hours from Silverton. The park is home to settlements that Native Americans once carved directly from the cliffs that dot the area. As you walk through the towering stone buildings, you will see why it is often called one of the wonders of the world.