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The 20 Best Things to do in Durango, CO

Pinkerton Hot Springs

Situated in the southwestern corner of Colorado, Durango is among the state's smallest and the least popular towns. Known as the 'water town,' Durango has a population of 16000 people and is home to celebrities like Stuart Roosa and Tom Tully. Upon visiting Durango, CO, there are many things you can do and create memories.

Visitors love Durango for its perfect skiing, hiking, and mountain biking experiences. However, that is not the only thing that the town offers. It boasts a great historic center too that you ought to explore. Another top attraction in the town is the gauge railroad from Durango to Silverstone, among the most spectacular train journeys in the States. Durango town also has adequate dining and lodging options for everyone. Here are 20 things to do in Durango, CO.

mountain biking

20. Go Mountain Biking

Durango town's amazing landscape and scenery make it a great spot for mountain biking. There are so many trails that meander through the nearby deserts and mountains, giving you epic views of wherever you go. Some paths will be easy to cycle along, while others will be challenging. Ideal spots for mountain biking include Horse Gulch, which has 50kms of trails to explore.


19. Have some Exciting Moments at Animas River Rafting

People looking for an exciting but adrenaline-filled day are advised to go rafting on the Animas River. It winds its way through the town offering massive rapids to navigate. Several tour companies run excursions from Durango for all ages, so everyone's needs are covered. The lower parts of Animas River are calm and best for inexperienced rafters and families. However, if you want an adrenaline boost, the upper part of the Animas River awaits you. Here, you will be paddling past canyon walls and rocks. You can also decide to relax as you look at the marvelous mountains on either side of the river.

San Juan Skyway

18. Walk on the San Juan Skyway

This incredible American road will take you through the amazing scenery of the San Juan Mountains. Colloquially known as the road to the sky, the road allows you to enjoy some dramatic views of the valleys, mounts, and forest. The 'road to the sky' was founded in 1988, stretching 230 miles in strength. While you can easily complete the stretch in only 5 hours, you will take days in reality as there is so much to see along the way. Some things you can expect along the stretch are abandoned ancient mines and amazing hot springs.

Durango Silverton narrow gauge railroad

17. Hop onto the Durango Silverton narrow gauge railroad

This is one of the most amazing train journeys in the States, and it is one of the reasons why people visit Durango. According to Seenbyamy, the railroad was built in 1882 to transport silver and gold between Silverton and Durango. However, it has since become a tourist line, with the route stretching 45 miles in length. This gauge railroad winds through the San Juan Mountains, where the trip takes three hours on one way. You will enjoy dramatic sceneries, ideal for fabulous views and photos as the locomotive slowly makes its way to Silverton.

Purgatory Resort

16. Ski at the Purgatory Resort

During summer, the scenic surroundings of Durango town make it good for mountain biking and hiking. Does it mean that there are no fun activities during winter? No, actually, everyone proceeds to the Purgatory Resort during winter, where they enjoy activities like snowboarding and skiing. The Purgatory Resort offers 105 trails to shoot as you enjoy the epic snow-coated scenery. Since it opened, the resort has expanded considerably with a huge skiable area for all experience levels. Also, there are bars and restaurants where you can relax and refresh.

Colorado trail

15. Go hiking on the Colorado trail

The Colorado Trail is among the most epic places to enjoy mountain biking and hiking. This trail runs from Durango to Denver, stretching 485 miles in length. It takes you past epic mountains with spectacular scenery. Very few hikers complete the trail, but tourists and locals love hiking and mountain biking, especially in the parts close to Durango. The trail starts at Junction Creek to Gudy's Rest, where you can bask in beautiful views before returning to town.

historic downtown durango

14. Explore the Historic Downtown

Even though most visitors head to Durango, CO, for its great outdoor activities, a historic part of the town is worth your attention. It has attractive architecture and several remarkable landmarks. Get to visit the General Palmer Hotel and Strater Hotel, both established in the 1890s. Additionally, you will find one of the main tourist attractions, the Narrow Gauge Silverton Durango railway depot.

Animas River Trail

13. Stroll along the Animas River Trail

Durango is known for its amazing trails, and the Animas River trail is one you won't miss. It is a popular path meandering on the banks of the Animas River. The seven miles stretch starts from the Animas City Park, passing through different parks and artworks. You will enjoy the picnic spots along the trail. The easily accessible Animas River trail is a favorite among locals and tourists who love strolling, cycling, or jogging along it. Other than the amazing scenery, it becomes easy to watch the Narrow Gauge railway in action. This trail similarly connects to different spots ideal for fishing, kayaking, and tubing.

San Juan National Forest

12. Enjoy the scenic San Juan National Forest

The San Juan National Forest lies close to the North of Durango town. According to Forest Service, the forest encompasses 1.8 million acres in southwest Colorado. It is one spot that will surely delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. You will enjoy wild recreational activities, including but not limited to hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and rafting. Besides cycling and hiking along the numerous trails in the San Juan National Forest, tourists enjoy its sublime scenery as they drive along the 'road to heaven.

Durango Wildlife Museum

11. Visit the Durango Wildlife Museum

This amazing tourist attraction is situated in the North of Durango's town center. It amazingly lies on the banks of the famous Animas River. It serves as the spot for educational exhibits regarding the wildlife and nature of the area. This also hosts a fish hatchery that ensures that neighboring lakes and rivers remain stocked with trout and salmon species. While tourists can enjoy watching videos on the operation of the hatchery, visitors also enjoy feeding the fish. Here in the museum, visitors learn everything about Colorado's local wildlife and diverse habitats and ecosystems. So many educative displays and mounted fish and animals dominate the museum.

Mesa Verde National Park

10. Visit the Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa is another spot that you must visit while in Durango. The national park is located in the southwestern corner of this state. You will enjoy watching the cliff dwellings and rock art sites. There are about 5000 old stone structures that have been protected within the confines of the park. The national park was established to preserve different archeological sites that Ancestral Puebloans initially built. According to the National Park Service, this Heritage site is home to thousands of species that can never be found anywhere on Earth.

rock climbing

9. Try Bouldering or climbing

If you love climbing, Durango will be the best place to explore new routes. According to NBC Chicago, climbing made its debut as an event in the Olympics during the 2020 Olympics, and the sport has grown in popularity. From the granite walls of the San Juan Mountains to the sandstone buffs from the Anime River valley, climbers enjoy the experience here. Much action is centered in Dalla Mountain Park on the edge of the town. You can stop at the Rock Lounge gym to learn more about where you will go or get started.

Emerald Lake

8. Explore the Emerald Lake

You will love this epic spot around the Rocky Mountain National Park, which hikers always love to visit. The region around Emerald Lake is an ideal spot for camping despite being a stone's throw away from the lake. When hiking to the lake, you will follow the paved trail, making it a good hiking trail within the mountain region. It is a moderate hike, with guests warned that it could be rugged. According to NPS, the elevation is 744 ft. ASL. Hiking enthusiasts will find this spot amazing.

science center

7. Visit the Powerhouse Science Center

This science center was designed mainly for kids aged up to 10 initially. Despite most families spending much time in the great outdoors of Colorado, many indoor attractions offer nice breaks. This is especially the case the outdoor weather is not good enough. The powerhouse science center also exhibits a little touch on different topics such as animals, technology, nature, and so much more. Visitors have always appreciated the simple fact that the science center is spacious enough for hours of learning. At the same time, the space is small enough for parents to keep an eye on their kids.

Schneider Park

6. Visit the Schneider Park

For individuals who stay in town and are unwilling to take a ride to appreciate nature, Schneider Park will be great for you. This park lies adjacent to the Animas River, and other than having an epic setting, there are so many activities that visitors can enjoy. Hiking and fishing will be a great way to pass the time in the park. For visitors with kids who wouldn't mind something extra, there is a skate park for the little ones. If you have to go fishing in Colorado, make sure you have a fishing license.

zip line

5. Take Zip line tours and Durango adventures

As far as outdoor recreation is concerned, the new kid on the block is zip lining. The reason why this outdoor activity has gained so much popularity is the fact that it is fun, safe, and less expensive. Zip lining allows visitors to glide effortlessly in the air as they enjoy the epic view that people on the ground don't. Individual zip lines will be a great choice for kids aged four and above. If you wish to enjoy the zip lining tour, ensure you don't weigh more than 230lbs. safety is a priority here, so there is no need to worry about that. The staff is well-trained and patient enough, even with newbies.

mexican food

3. Visit Tequila's Mexican Restaurant

People who have dined at this restaurant have always claimed how good the food is. The menu is filled chock-full of conventional Mexican favorites. You will enjoy chimichangas, fajitas, and tacos. You will also find rice, refried beans, and guacamole. Visitors traveling with their kids also treat their young ones to the kids' menu at lower prices. Bette still, the restaurant hosts a complete bar for the tired adults looking for some liquor relaxation. Football fans will never miss a moment with the big screens in the bar.


2. Enjoy Sampling Beer at Animas Brewing Company

If locally brewed beer is something you hold close to your heart, you will not be short of options in Durango. The Animas Brewing Company is among the most famous destinations in Durango. This company is situated at East 2nd avenue and opens at 11 AM daily. The interior is not only cozy but also contemporary to make sure that guests feel comfortable. Better still, the staff is adept and will assist people who need assistance. The good thing about the beer here is that it arrives in various flavors, alcohol levels, and colors. There will be something for every beer lover.

Pinkerton Hot Springs

1. Visit Pinkerton Hot Springs for some Amusing Moments

This is one of the most famous attractions in Durango. People looking for the best way to soothe their weary bones and muscles will find this a good spot. Even though there are different hot springs in the area, the Pinkerton Hot spring stands out with its unique history. According to Hot Springers, the hot spring once flowed to the hillside, leading to dangerous road conditions. Since then, the water has been rerouted to human-made pools, and this is where the resort was established. This is a good tourist spot for guests. The water here has so many minerals that create red deposits with time. According to the legend, this warm water has therapeutic benefits.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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