Sitting on the edge of the gorgeous San Juan Mountains and just 45 minutes away from ancient Puebloan ruins, Durango lured me in from day 1 of my first visit. The town’s natural surroundings also make its mining, railroad, and Hollywood history feel tangible—Durango’s known as the “Hollywood of the Rockies,” since a few Wild West classics like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed here.
Every time I go back, there’s another adventure to tackle, another mountain to climb, another Wild West secret revealed. When you step foot here, hopefully you’ll get that sense, too. With three days, you’ll be able to cross off the town’s best experiences. Here’s where to begin.
Durango is high-altitude and sunny, so pack layers and sunscreen.
If you only have time for one thing, make it the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
If you landed in Durango from the east or west—as most visitors do—you haven’t seen what lies north of this Wild West town: the Million Dollar Highway. Stretching for 25 miles (40 kilometers) on U.S. 550 between Silverton and Ouray, this part of the San Juan Skyway Colorado Scenic Byway might actually make your jaw drop a little.
Leave some time to explore historic downtown Durango. Pop by the Railroad Museum (home to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), stroll down Historic Main Avenue, and grab a bite at the Food Truck Park.
Spend today on the Animas River, which courses right through Durango. Rafting tours are surprisingly family-friendly, even with small kids in tow, while stand-up paddleboard tours stay close to downtown—and you can break for a swim in the gentle waters and watch for bald eagles.
If you prefer staying dry, Durango is less than 45 minutes from the ancient Puebloan ruins of Mesa Verde National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Book a tour to explore the cliff dwellings of this ancient village up close or see them while driving the 6-mile (10-kilometer) Cliff Palace Loop Road.
Durango is surrounded by world-class hikes in the San Juan Mountains. But for those not looking to hoof it, take a Jeep tour to the uber-scenic La Plata Canyon. You’ll go deep into the backcountry, glimpsing wildflowers, waterfalls, glacier-carved mountains, and maybe even wildlife like elk or marmots.
For one last adventure, wiggle into a harness at one of the area’s wildly popular zipline spots—you’ll fly over the ponderosas of the San Juan National Forest, enjoying thrilling views.