Welcome to

Durango Colorado

Welcome to Durango Colorado!

Durango was one of the many towns on the skyway that thrived, and largely came about, as a result of the gold and silver rush of the 1880’s. It became a major rail connection for the area and soon became the largest town on the ‘Skyway’ with thousands of residents, electricity and even streetcars running down the middle of Main Avenue. Durango no longer counts its wealth in gold and silver but in its many attractions, activities and countless things to do. This is a true ‘mecca’ for visitors coming to enjoy adventure sports such as skiing, river rafting and downhill biking but also all manner of milder pursuits like hiking, fishing, sightseeing, wildflower hunting, birding and shopping. Durango is also the closest major town on the skyway to the amazing ruins of Mesa Verde and no trip to Durango would be complete without spending a day visiting the cliff houses and various dwellings carved into the ravines and escarpments of this archaeological gold mine.

Inns of Durango

The downtown area of Durango is home to one of the most famous Inns in the South West.

Activities and Tours in the Durango Area

Ok, are you ready? The number of different activities to do in Durango creates quite the list: Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, kayaking, river rafting, fly fishing, sightseeing, hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, jeep tours, ATV, birding, hunting, horseback riding, rock climbing, snow tubing, dog sledding, hot springs, ice fishing, big game wildlife viewing, museums, spas and nightlife. You get the picture! Durango is your spot for activities of all kinds.


River Rafting



Durango – Beauty, Adventure and Culture 

Although there’s no scientific research to prove it, no one has ever been bored in Durango. The things to do in each season match anything that any visitors from anywhere are looking for in a vacation experience: hiking, skiing, snowboarding, biking, whitewater rafting, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, horseback riding, fly fishing, 4x4s or ATVs, and other activities in and out of Durango’s great outdoors. Durango is blessed with the 3,000 square miles of San Juan Forest National Forest comprising three wilderness areas: Weminuche Wilderness, South San Juan Wilderness, and Lizard Head Wilderness. Pick almost any outdoor sport and Durango is one of the best places in the USA to engage in it. Talk to people who love fishing, for example, and they’ll tell you that, for much of the year, you can fish and flyfish within an hours-drive of Durango. Even the Animus flowing through town offers good fishing most of the year. Fishing enthusiasts like to say that the best time to go fishing in and around Durango is whenever you can.
The variety of options for activities and tours in and around Durango is really amazing. There are over 2,000 miles of Durango bike trails and hundreds of miles of road for biking choices. Zip through treetops on the largest zip line canopy course in the world. Spend an invigorating half-day of rafting on the Lower Animas and then soak in relaxing hot springs. The lakes near Durango surpass most other vacation destinations in the USA. Just 2 miles from downtown, Lake Nighthorse offers great boating and fishing. About 18 miles from Durango, Vallecity Lake is one of Colorado’s most beautiful bodies of water. Emerald Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness is a 20-mile round-trip hike for breathtaking views. Another nearby trail leads past wildflowers in spring and summer months to Ice Lakes with its two picturesque basins of glacial water.

Among the endless opportunities to encounter history in and around Durango, for all-ages the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train and Mesa Verde National Park offer unique experiences. The train’s main route is from Durango to Silverton but additional routes running from Rockwood to Cascade Canyon depending on the time of year. 35 miles west of Durango, Mesa Verde (Spanish for ‘green table’) is one of North America’s natural and ancient man-made wonders and the largest archaeological preserve in the U.S. Established as a national park in 1906 by congress and President Theodore Roosevelt, the history of Mesa Verde dates back to the time it was seasonally inhabited by nomadic Paleo Indians, starting around 7500 BCE, and then Archaic people moved in with semi-permanent rock shelters. By 1000 BCE a Basketmaker culture emerged that eventually became the Ancestral Pueblo culture.

During a visit to Durango, Mesa Verde and its cliff dwellings has to be part of the itinerary. Once home to the Ancestral Puebloans, Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. A National Park Service tour of Balcony House is an adventure that that involves scaling wit ladder and shimmying through a tunnel. A 2-hour ranger guided tour of Long House involves a 2.25-mile hike and climbing ladders. Less strenuous, the history of Mesa Verde and the Ancestral Pueblos can be seen at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

Jeep tours around Durango are another way to check out lakes, tumbling waterfalls, rushing rivers, historic mining ghost towns and other sights in addition to viewing fall foliage. Mountain bike riding is another very popular way to enjoy stunning fall foliage. Southwest Colorado and the Durango area have some of the best mountain bike trail systems in the nation. Visiting a dude ranch in various seasons and between them is another great way for family members of all ages to engage tubing, archery, fishing, riflery, cross country skiing and other activities in addition to horseback riding. Durango’s spring season typically consists of snowstorms followed by sunny days where the temperatures get up into the high 50s and 60s. Springtime in Durango also is full of events like the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown dedicated to bluegrass music that is so popular in Durango.

Animas Mountain is just a moderate 5-mile hike from Durango with views of the Animas Valley and Animas River. From Durango, within a few miles of driving, it’s easy to get to and explore part of the 469-mile Colorado Trail. Oher trailheads like those for the Goulding Creek Trail and Emerald Lake are a bit further away. The trailhead for Emerald Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness is about 15 miles north of Durango. In addition to being a paradise for hikers, the Durango area is a playground for adventurous rock climbers. From beginners to advanced rock climbers, bouldering around Durango has some of the best and scenic choices anywhere in the Rockies. Durango even has an indoor climbing gym where experts and beginners alike can go to improve their skills.

Durango has been a vibrant center of Southwestern Colorado for almost 140 years. Previous to Durango, Animas City was established in the valley together with its thriving agricultural economy. When the railroad was unable to make a deal to build a depot in Animas City, the town of Durango was founded in 1880 two miles south of Animas City. The first train of the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad arrived in Durango August 1881. By 1882 trains were bringing gold, silver, lead and copper to a smelter in Durango. By 1893, streetcars powered by electricity were running down the middle of Main Avenue. Animus City finally merged with Durango in 1948.

The original plan consisting of grid streets for Downtown Durango remains intact today. Durango’s historic residential district and Downtown Durango both reflect the Victorian heritage of the town. Animas City, now called Uptown Main, was eventually incorporated into Durango. In the early 1880s thousands of settlers poured into the area in response to a newspaper advertisement hailing Durango as the “New Denver of the Southwest.” By the early 1880s the more than 100 businesses included at least 20 saloons.

Durango’s architectural heritage is visible along Main Ave. A walking tour of the Downtown should include: the 500 Block of Main which was the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot, a National Historic Landmark; in the 600 block, the Historic Strater Hotel, opened in 1888, that exemplifies architecture in the Victorian era; and in the 900 block see the Queen Ann brickwork building with its Romanesque sandstone arched windows. To learn more about Durango’s rich heritage, visit the Animus Museum.

Articles Relating to the Town of Durango

Railroads of the San Juan Skyway

Railroads of the San Juan Skyway

As new mining claims were discovered in the 1870s and the population of the San Juans mushroomed, so did the need for an economical, year-round transportation system. Most of the ore from mines discovered was not yet shipped out by the mid-1870s.

Ouray to Durango

Ouray to Durango

Heading south on Hwy 550 from Ridgway to Ouray, the panorama is full of summits and jagged ridges of the Uncompahgre Wilderness. The very pretty Victorian mountain town of Ouray, tucked beneath a dramatic granite amphitheater…

Durango to Cortez

Durango to Cortez

Leaving Durango, Fort Lewis College sits on a bluff above the town. The college has unique origins, history and mission that visitors to the area should know about. In 1891, Fort Lewis was decommissioned and converted into a federal, off-reservation boarding school.