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Snuggled away in the San Juan Mountain Range is the tiny little cowboy town of Durango, Colorado. Unknown to many, this cute little town is picturesque, old school, Colorado. A pioneer village in the southwest of Colorado, Durango holds a quaint type of charm. But it’s not just the city that draws visitors to this little place near the four corners of the United States. No, there is a multitude of things to do in Durango, Colorado, for any type of traveler.
Whether traveling in winter or summer, on things you are going to need while you are traveling in Colorado is good boots! Good hiking boots or snow boots will make or break your trip to Colorado! Some of my favorite hiking boots are from Helly Hansen. They are decently priced hiking boots that have lasted me for years and are one of the top brands in the industry! My personal snow boots are from Columbia and I am in love with them. I’ve had them for 2 years and wouldn’t trade them out for anything. They are warm, comfortable, and above all, I don’t feel as though they restrict my feet too much! Apart from Columbia, I’ll say it again, Helly Hansen also makes fantastic snow boots.
Ski at Purgatory Ski Resort
Obviously one of the biggest draws to the Colorado mountains every year is the prospect of ski and snow. There are many ski resorts in Colorado to choose from, but Purgatory has got to be one of my favorites. While you absolutely can go to Aspen or Vail and pay $200+ daily for lift tickets, spend the entire weekend waiting in line, and dealing with monstrous crowds… INSTEAD, you could go to Purgatory where there is rarely a line except for holidays and weekends (and even that isn’t bad), and only pay $70-$110 for lift tickets. Just some suggestions, but I’ll see you on the slopes at Purg.
If you’re looking for professional ski gear that will keep you looking fly on the slopes and warm all around, none do it better than Helly Hansen. Additionally, Colombia, Oakley, and Giro are all great brands as well.
Try your best at Dog Sledding with Durango Dog Ranch
One of the best experiences I’ve ever had in Durango was Dog Sledding with Durango Dog Ranch. This family business, which has been running for 25 years really knows what they are doing. Gretchen and Greg run a tight ship and you can tell their animals are well-loved and taken care of. When dog sledding you get to meet your guides and each individual pup who has a different personality. You get to help harness and set up your sled and even get the chance to take a drive behind the sled! This two-hour excursion through the San Juans is truly magical and will leave you thirsting for more without a doubt.
Don’t think this is solely a winter activity! Tours run in the summer as well.
Visit the Hot Springs
There are several options for Hot Springs in and around Durango, Colorado. In town, there are the Durango Hot Springs, only 5 miles north of town and 15 miles south of purgatory. However, if you are looking for the best in the area I would have to recommend the Ouray Hot Springs or the Pagosa Hot Springs Spa and Resort.
The Ouray hot springs are about an hour and 45 minutes from Downtown Durango and about one hour from Purgatory Ski Resort. These mineral waters are naturally heated from the nearby Box Canyon. This hot spring by far has one of the best views of any hot spring I have ever experienced, and I have dipped in Hot Springs all around the world, from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland to the valleys in Banos, Ecuador. Ouray Hot Springs has 3 large pools of varying temperatures. There is a gym on-site if you want to get your pump in as well! But apart from that, the facilities are limited. The drive to Ouray is part of the Million Dollar Highway (see below!) and it’s definitely an adventure worth taking. At the time of this writing, it cost $18 for entrance.
Pagosa Hot Springs and Spa takes a bit of a different approach. Pagosa Hot Springs is more of a Spa/Resort type feeling and it definitely exudes luxury. With boardwalks between different pools, an adults-only area, and a walk-up bar in the center of all the pools, this Hot Spring definitely caters to the boujie. Each pool is like a mini hot tub for you and your friends traveling with you, and each tub is a different temperature. Prices are a bit more expensive for Pagosa, with packages starting at $35.
Take a hike on one of the many beautiful trails the San Juan Mountain National Park has to offer
During the summer the ski slopes melt away and you are left with beautiful scenery and thousands of amazing trails to hike. In town, the most simple and easy hike to access is the Animas Trail Hike (5 Minutes outside of town). A few of my other favorite hikes are the Canyon of The Ancients, and if you’re really looking for a go-getter intense mama hike, the Engineer Mountain trail is sure to test your trekking skills. As always make sure you are practicing standard mountain safety. This includes making sure you have enough water on you, leaving no trace, and carrying bear spray and an air horn!
Things to do IN Durango? Take a ride on the Silverton Steam Train
The Durango Silverton Steam Train has been in operation since 1882 to carry both goods and passengers up the mountain with some spectacular views at hand! The train runs all summer long for your pleasure and also runs during the Snowdown Festival on the first weekend of February. This steam train ride is definitely worth the ride. Check it out while you are in Durango for amazing photos opportunities and create a fun adventure that is great for the whole family.
Tour a Dispensary
Weed is legal in Colorado! Take a tour at one of the several dispensaries in town and see how the creation of the Devil’s Lettuce goes down. At the end don’t feel pressured to buy anything, but I’ve heard the gummy bears are nice!
Create a Glassterpiece (Glass Masterpiece) at the Glass Blowing Shop Downtown
Sick of skiing and the cold? Get creative and create an interesting work of art at Get Fused! glass studio in Durango. Furthermore, my mom and I have made this a traditional activity in Durango that we do every year while visiting in January. In the last two years, we have made fun and unique cheese plates!
Eat at one of the many restaurants Durango has to offer
Shockingly enough, this little cowboy town has an interesting claim to fame. 2018 announced that Durango has more restaurants per capita than any other US city. Even more than San Francisco!
Take a Drive on the Million Dollar Highway
The famous Ski resort of Telluride is only 50 miles away from Durango. To get there you simply have to take a drive on the million-dollar highway! I say simply, but this is not actually the case. The million-dollar highway is a winding route and is a part of US 550. It is also known as the San Juan Skyway. It is called the Million Dollar Highway because, for each mile they built, it cost them a million dollars. The Highway has STUNNING scenery and can be a little tumultuous and if you are afraid of heights, you might want to avoid it as the cliff drop off is relatively frightening. The road leads you through Silverton, Ouray, and eventually to Telluride!
What have you done in Durango?! Anything new on your list!? What’s missing from this one? Let me know in the comments below!