To Durango with Love
11 reasons to visit this fabulous Colorado town this summer
Photo by Lauri Grandfield, Mountain Mama Studio, Pagosa Springs, CO
Durango has had a rough start to the summer. A nearby forest fire put them in the news for all the wrong reasons, and with service on the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad suspended for most of June, it’s been tough on the entire region from Durango to Silverton to Ouray.
Despite the fire, which was 37 percent contained as of June 25, 2018, Durango is still open for business. It’s also a great community with many activities available year-round, and you shouldn’t let anything deter you from visiting this fabulous Colorado town.
Without further ado, here are 11 things to do in Durango this summer.
The Animas River Trail is popular with locals and visitors. The best way to experience this trail is to bring or rent a bike to explore the seven miles of paved trail. Get maps and other information about the Animas River Trail here. It passes by several breweries so craft beer-lovers should plan accordingly.
This speakeasy-style joint features a touch of steampunk and superb drinks made by bartenders who know their business. The bar has a fun history, as well, and claims to be the site of “Durango’s Strangest Shootout.” Check out the El Moro Spirits & Tavern website for the rest of the story.
This place is a slice of Southwestern magic. As a working ranch, James Ranch is home to a wonderful food truck-style eatery called Harvest Grill & Greens. Their burgers are simply fantastic. They also have a farm shop selling their meat and cheeses and offer farm tours. It’s a must-stop on any visit to Durango.
We never miss Ska Brewing when we come to town. They have an inviting, bright and airy taproom and a big, sunny patio, and they serve creative food and excellent beer. If you can arrange a brewery tour here, it’s a good one.
One of the most magnificent hotels in Colorado, the Stater Hotel has a long and fascinating history. You can stay in Room 222, the same room that Louis L’Amour always booked. Don’t miss visiting the Diamond Belle Saloon, where you’ll experience Western hospitality and a ragtime ballad on the piano. As an aside, the Strater’s Pozolillo, which is always served at their breakfast buffet, is tops.
Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. visitors can hop in a horse-drawn carriage and take a ride around downtown Durango. Make reservations at the Strater Hotel and catch the carriage at their front door. These rides are a lovely way to see this beautiful town.
While the train is parked at the station, visitors can still get to Silverton by taking a luxury coach bus tour. The San Juan Skyway Tour's 52-mile route is scenic and just $25 per person for a round-trip ride. While in Silverton for 3 hours, do some shopping, eat lunch or take an ATV or mine tour.
Author’s Note: On June 22, 2018, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad launched limited-range diesel locomotive passenger service to multiple locations. The Railroad anticipates the return of steam passenger service on the Fourth of July. For the most up-to-date train information check their Facebook page.
There’s nothing better than a town with a river running through it. Whether you book a rafting trip or just float the river on a tube, getting on or in the Animas River is a fun summertime addition to a trip to Durango. Become familiar with all summer activities available in Durango at VisitDurango.com.
San Juan Brewfest has grown into one of the best beer festivals in Colorado. We love it because you’ll find breweries here that do not make the trek to beer festivals on Colorado’s Front Range. Held under the big trees at Buckley Park, San Juan Brewfest is the perfect excuse to visit Durango this August.
I’ve done a lot of zip line adventures, and nothing compares to this day-long outing in the trees. Soaring Tree Top Adventures is an extravagant zip line experience that you should partake in at least once in your life.
Despite the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad suspension, Soaring Tree Top Adventures, accessible via the train, has remained open. While train service has been suspended, Soaring Tree Top staff delivered guests to their zip line excursion via smaller, personal motorcars on the tracks. For up-to-date information on how Soaring Tree Top Adventures is transporting guests to their property this summer, please call (970) 769-2357.
People drive miles out of their way to stop in at Jean Pierre Bakery & Wine Bar in Durango. A lot of patrons love their croissants and other pastries, but Jean Pierre also serve incredible food in the form of breakfast, lunch or dinner. We like dropping in for a lunch of French Onion Soup and scrumptious sandwiches.
In a day and age when diners are increasingly difficult to find, Durango has several. We love Oscar’s Cafe and have been there a lot, but the Durango Diner rates high as well, although you’ll need to be an early bird to get a seat in this tiny place. Both diners make exemplary green chili so be sure to smothered your order in this deliciousness.