In the southwestern corner of Colorado lies Durango: a bustling city of 18,000 surrounded by the Animas River Valley of the San Juan Mountains. The scenery is canyon-plateau country with towering buttes, cliffs, chimney rocks and impressive skylines - a sight for sore eyes. Like many towns in Colorado, Durango took shape in 1881 when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad came through the area. Speaking of railroads, Durango is known worldwide for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a heritage railway originally opened in 1882 that travels from Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton via steam-powered trains. Main Avenue in Durango is also Nationally Recognized Historic District, with architecture, shopfronts and hotels dating back to the town's earliest days. Durango's historical flare and striking landscapes might be the reason why several movies were filmed here: including westerns like The Naked Spur and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; as well as popular favorites like City Slickers, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Around the World in Eighty Days. Another interesting fact about Durango? It has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco, California! With plenty to offer in town as well as proximity to beautiful National Parks, this town truly is a gem.
The world-famous cliff-dwellings of Mesa Verde are just 56 miles from Durango and offer a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans, who called Mesa Verde their home for over 700 years. Explore the park through a ranger-led tour, and learn how these ancient peoples lived, hunted, gathered and farmed from 600 to 1300 AD. Mesa Verde National Park was established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 and protects nearly 5,000 archaeological sites; including 600 cliff dwellings, or Pueblos. Lodging and camping is available here seasonally, so you can devote multiple days to your exploration of the park and its rich history.
Don’t let the winter stop you from exploring the outdoors: hop on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for the Winter Cascade Canyon Train excursion! This 26 mile journey runs from November through May, and takes you through the snow-dusted splendor of the San Juan National Forest and along the icy Animas River. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the untouched land deep in the canyon from the comfort of the heated coaches. If you will be in Durango around Christmas time, you won’t want to miss the Polar Express Train Ride! You and the family can wear your pajamas and stay warm and cozy with a cup of hot coco as you ride up to the "North Pole." Santa will even join everyone on-board the train!
See hot air balloons up close and all aglow in the evening sky at the Downtown Hot Air Balloon Glow in Durango. Part of the Animas Valley Balloon Rally, the Glow takes place in mid-October and gives attendees the chance to see the big, colorful balloons up close and personal in downtown Durango. You can also meet the balloon pilots! Mini hot air balloon candles are given out to the kids, and best of all, the entire event is free! Be sure to arrive early to see the hot air balloons inflate. If you bring your camera and get a great shot, there will be a portable t-shirt factory that can make a t-shirt with your photos!
The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, often just called "The Gathering," is an exciting, one of a kind event in which poets and musicians from around the country come to perform classic and contemporary poetry and songs. Taking place over a long weekend in early October, The Gathering aims to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the American cowboy. It features both evening and daytime performances in multiple locations around Durango, including the Historic Strater Theater. New to The Gathering is the Cowboy Poetry Train, which takes place on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad! If you're a fan of cowboy culture, poetry, or just some good old fashioned fun, you won't want to miss The Gathering in Durango!
In 1986, Carver’s Bakers/Café opened in Durango. Two years later, in 1988, Carver’s opened their Brewery, which became the first brewery in the four corners region since prohibition. Since the brewpub opened, Carver’s beers have won national and even international awards! In addition to award-winning lagers, Belgian-style ales and seasonal brews, Carver’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Speaking of awards, Chef Dave Cuntz has won several national awards of excellence: you'll definitely want to try entrees like the Chipotle Filet Mignon, Beer Braised Beef Tips, Cajun Mac & Cheese, and Lime Chicken Chile Verde. After a day of shopping or exploring the breathtaking scenery around Durango, you’ll want to head into Carver’s Brewing Company to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner and drink!
If you are in the mood for a light meal, be sure to stop by Michel’s Corner Crepes at the southeast corner of College and Main in downtown Durango. Chef Michel Poumay brings a European touch to southwest Colorado in the form of authentic French crepes. He offers sweet crepes, like lemon cream, strawberry jam, chocolate hazelnut, or apple, caramel & walnut. If you’re in the mood for a savory crepe, try the chicken & wild mushroom, pulled pork & goat cheese, or a ham, brie & applesauce crepe. Michel’s Corner Crepes also serves wine, beer, hot chocolate, and hot spiced cider. If you’re strolling along historic downtown Durango, you won’t want to miss this incredible cuisine!