Though Durango is more upscale than its ever been, some things haven’t changed since the 1890s—you’ll still find the Animas River flowing through downtown, dim saloons hawking pints, and the same railroad running from right here to scenic Silverton, 45 miles (72.4 kilometers) north. (Don’t miss the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Museum, right on the railyard, to learn all about the route’s wild history.)
If you can, book accommodations at the 1887 Strater Hotel, a true masterpiece of Durango history and an exquisite example of American Victorian architecture. It also happens to sit right on Main Avenue, in the mix of Downtown Durango’s best restaurants and just three blocks from the Animas River Trail & Greenway.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Durango can get popular come summer. Book accommodations and activities in advance, including the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, to ensure availability.
- Leave time for a road trip. Drive the Million Dollar Highway or San Juan Skyway, and you’ll see how Durango is truly in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, surrounded by spectacular peaks and valleys in all directions.
- Layered clothing and sunglasses? Yeah. Thanks to Durango’s high altitude (6,512 feet/1,985 meters), it receives notoriously unpredictable weather—you may experience sunshine and snowstorms on the same summer day.
How to Get There
While you could fly into Durango-La Plata County Airport, which is served by American Airlines, it’s easier to roll in on four wheels via U.S. Highways 550 or 160. Of course, if you’re coming from Silverton, you could take the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for the most scenic ride of your life; otherwise, bus services like Greyhound and Amtrak also serve the city.
When to Get There
Though late June to late August is peak tourist season, Durango is a year-round destination—seriously (that’s not just marketing talk). Summer brings warm weather and a wide variety of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and rafting. Fall is great, too, what with the aspens turning gold and the start of hunting and fishing seasons. Winter means skiing and snowboarding takes over, and spring is great time to catch the wildflowers blooming among smaller trail crowds.
The Durango area was once home to the Ancestral Puebloans, famous for the cliff dwellings communities they built in the region more than 1,000 years ago. Visitors can still see—and explore—the remains of these ancient communities at sites like Mesa Verde National Park, less than 45 minutes from downtown Durango.