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Durango - Colorado

The old city of Durango is blessed with the history and cultures of its inhabitants and early settlers: the Indian, Spanish, and the North European immigrants who came to live in the splendid Animas Valley.

The Spanish called it El Rio de las Animas Perdidas," The River of Lost Souls". Lying at the southern foot of the San Juan Mountains, Durango bears the heritage of the mining boom of the 1880s which happened just to the north of the city, in the area around Silverton and Ouray.

Durango Snow Information

Durango Mtn. Resort

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Snow Conditions

   

Skiers are coming increasingly to Durango Mountain Resort, the ski area north of Durango on Highway 550 that used to be called Purgatory. This is a good downhill area with 35 miles of runs with a vertical drop of 1,750 feet. Although there is a lodge next to the ski hill, accommodation is limited and many skiers stay in Durango and drive the 28 miles. The resort also has a fine series of cross country ski trails, in the San Juan National Forest, across the highway from the ski lifts. Head to "Purgy's" in the Purgatory Lodge for food and drink.

Durango History

The Ute Indians, who had been granted this large tract of land by the government were dispossessed, forced to relinquish some 6,000 square miles of territory and moved to a reservation on the New Mexico border. At the same time, a small town named Durango was becoming an important railway center.

The first white settlement in the area was Animas City, a few miles north of the present city of Durango. When the residents of this town refused to let the railway build their terminus there, the plum went to Durango. The growing city served the mining interests of the region until the silver and gold ran out. Tourism took over as the primary industry and Durango remains a charming historic town with a "Wild West" and Spanish ambiance, combining to make this a wonderful place to visit.

What to See & Do

One of the chief attractions is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a scenic railroad which runs along the old route to the silver mines, developed by the Denver and Rio Grande Western. This is a spectacular day long return trip, through the beautiful Animas Valley, climbing high above the river with incredible views of the massive San Juan peaks. The round trip takes eight hours although you can ride the trail one-way, stay in Silverton overnight or return to Durango by bus, over scenic Molas Pass. People with cars often split up in order for some to take the ride to Silverton while others (who drive to Silverton) make the return trip. This trip is highly recommended as are reservations. Contact the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, 479 Main Ave., Durango CO 81301 or phone (970) 247 2733.

The Animas River is well known for its white water, offering excellent rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Animas River Days is a celebration held the last weekend in June with river races and other events. Colorfest is an ongoing festival held while the trees are turning, from. mid September to mid October. Special events are staged during these four weeks including an auto show, more raft races, art shows, fishing derbies and more. Snowdown, a slightly crazy event to get rid of cabin fever is held late in January each year. For information on special events in Durango, call (970) 247 0312.

Hikers enjoy the challenge of the Colorado Trail which begins its 469 mile jaunt over the mountains and across the Continental Divide near Durango. The trailhead is reached by taking 25th Street from north Main Street and then stopping just inside the San Juan National Forest. The Goulding Creek Trail provides an interesting day long hike through aspen groves, 17 miles north of Durango. The trailhead is on the west side of Highway 550. It's a 6 mile round trip with quite a climb above the Hermosa Cliffs. Check with the forest ranger station for trail information and maps.

There are several fine golf clubs in the area including the Hillcrest Golf Course which offers good views of the mountains. The club is located on the Fort Lewis College mesa, at the east end of town. Tamarron Resort has a championship course and the resort is one of Colorado's finest. If you're staying at the resort, you have your choice of tee times. If you're not, you take your chances when you get there. The resort is located beside Highway 550, 18 miles north of Durango, on the way to Silverton.

Day drives in the La Plata Mountains and along the Animas River provide visits to several ghost towns. Anglers don't have to go farther than the Animas River to catch trout. The best locations are south of the city or below Devil's Falls. The Vallecito Reservoir has a 22 mile shoreline, boat ramps and is well stocked with rainbow, German brown trout, northern pike and kokanee. The reservoir is 23 miles to the northeast of town via County Road 240 and then on County Road 501 which runs beside the Los Piños River to the reservoir.

Soakers will want to have a plunge at Trimble Hot Springs, just north of town via Hwy. 550. The operation was a spa in the 1880s and the current owners, the Bears who renovated the facilities in 1988, have an Olympic size pool, a spacious bathhouse and a small outdoor pool plus private hot tubs. The water in the small therapeutic pool has a temperature of 104 degrees F. The large pool has warm water and is suitable for swimming. There is a picnic park with barbecue grills on the site.

Durango boasts a busy nightlife scene in the hotels and clubs and those interested in local culture visit the downtown arts and craft shops and the Animas School Museum at 2nd Ave. and 31st St.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Guide to Durango

Durango Camping

KOA Kampground
30090 Highway 160, (970) 247-0783
This KOA has all the amenities, including full hookups and tent sites, pool, store, and other KOA features. Located east of town.

For details on nearby towns and attractions,
Go to
Mesa Verde National Park
Silverton, Ouray, Cortez

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