3 Reasons to Get to Durango Before the Snow Melts
Don't miss the chance to see this wintry Southwest Colorado town
Photography by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
We visited Durango in February for Snowdown, the town’s crazy winter festival that will celebrate 42 years of zaniness in 2020. It was my first visit to this Southwest Colorado town during the winter, and with college in full swing and snowflakes in the air, it felt energetic.
During Snowdown, the energy of the town is electric and the amount of local businesses that get involved in the festival is a tribute to the community. From fireworks to a parade and pub crawls, Snowdown is a great time to be in Durango.
Here are a few reasons to visit Durango before the snow melts:
Southwest Colorado is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If you’ve never witnessed the San Juan Mountains covered in white, you’ve been missing out. These mountains are simply glorious and they are a year-round playground for locals and visitors.
The Animas River offers tons of summertime fun in Durango, but it’s a winter draw as well. Fly fishermen catch trout here all year long and the river looks stunning in the snow. In addition, the Animas River is a big draw for waterfowl. We saw at least four different kinds of duck on its waters while we were there, and several fly fisherman too.
Purgatory Resort is located about 30 minutes outside of Durango and the drive into the mountains is breathtaking. The resort has a laid back feel, which one would expect in Southwest Colorado. People who live in this area are a chill group of individuals and many have intentionally moved here to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Ryan is the skier in our family and has skied nearly every resort in Colorado. This was his first experience at Purgatory and he immediately noted that there were fewer people on the lifts and slopes than most ski resorts close to Denver. He also loved the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl he got midday from Dante’s on the mountain. It was some of the best resort food he’s eaten.
Purgatory Resort gets an average of 21 feet of snow. There are 11 lifts serving 91 trails and 1,525 acres of skiable terrain. Spending a day or two here is a nice addition to a winter getaway to Durango.
While Ryan skied, I went dog sledding with Durango Dog Ranch. There are one-hour outings and half-day excursions available. The pickup zone is at the resort, and because of the good amount of snow that’s fallen this year, and because I was doing the hour tour, Durango Dog Ranch is utilizing trails that are just a five-minute drive from the pickup point. This makes a dog sledding excursion easy to do for anyone visiting the resort.
If you haven’t been dog sledding, it’s an exhilarating experience. My dog sledding tour was with guide Braxton and a team of seven dogs eager to run. The little bit of sunshine that day caused the top layer of snow to melt, so the trail was fast. Braxton let me sit for a while and then stand, like a real musher.
Having grown up watching the Iditarod on television, I always jump at the chance to go dog sledding and the outing with Durango Dog Ranch included puppy love so I was in Seventh Heaven.
Whether you go to ski, eat, drink, take the famous scenic train or just play in the snow, Durango makes a wonderful winter getaway.