For a long time Durango has been one of my favorite weekend getaways in Colorado. It has it all: a fun downtown, good food, hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, and any other outdoor adventure you can think of. You can make it part of a bigger Southwest Colorado Road Trip or a home base for things to do around Durango. There are fun things to do in Durango all year!
Things to Do in Durango, Colorado in Summer
Camping near Durango: My hubby and I have stayed at several campgrounds close to Durango. Our two favorites are Haviland Lake Campground and Vallecito Campground. Both camp grounds have amazing fishing options. My husband caught three fish in 30 minutes in Lake Haviland one Memorial Day. (When going camping as early as Memorial Day, we learned the hard way that it is very cold at night.) Haviland Lake Campground books up many months in advance because it is relatively small and so beautiful, so book early.
Fishing in Durango: Anywhere you see water around Durango, it is most likely a good place to fish. Vallecito Reservoir, which is about 25 miles away also offers great fishing if you can rent a boat (the lakeside fishing there is not as good).
Hiking near Durango: Every time we visit Durango, I try to hike a trail I have never hiked before. I just discovered a trail that is my new favorite out of Vallecito. The Vallecito Creek Trail heads up into Weminuche Wilderness. You can choose to do a short day hike on this trail or up to a 5 day backpacking trek. Each corner I turned on this trail made me want to explore further because each corner unleashed a new view.
Another fun trail right out of Durango is the Colorado Trail, which if you're feeling motived, will take you the 500 mi. to Denver. Since my husband and I only had a day we chose to just hike a few miles of it.
Things to Do In Durango, Colorado Year-Round
James Ranch: This is the place I try to visit on every trip to Durango, no matter what. About 15 minutes drive north of Durango lies James Ranch. In the winter the ranch is only open on Saturdays, but in the summer they are open Monday-Saturday. The ranch has a little grill with great food, including one of my favorite burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches of all time! You can tour the ranch and buy grass fed beef, eggs, cheese made from raw milk on their ranch, and many other great items in the store.
Honeyville: As a kid my favorite type of honey was the whipped cinnamon honey from Honeyville. Their store and home base is just north of Durango in Hermosa. The store is more than an ordinary store because you can watch the bees up close (behind glass), making honey.
Downtown Durango: Being a college town, Durango has a great downtown scene. Even though downtown here is little more than one street, I would choose downtown Durango over a big city's downtown any day. There are amazing restaurants, bars, and shops. A few favorite regular stops for me are Ken and Sue's for great food, Diamond Belle Saloon for a touristy drink, and the Himalayan Kitchen for great Indian food.
Freenotes Harmony Park: This is a fabulous park right on the river on the southwest side of town. As a musician, this park is a dream for me because it has amazing chimes and xylophones for kids of all ages (me included) to play!
Things to Do in Durango, Colorado in the Winter:
Ski Purgatory: Purgatory is an unusual mountain with it's almost stair-step like slopes. It is a lot of fun to ski!
Polar Express: I have not done this, but friends have highly recommended it. A great daytrip is to ride the train to Silverton, and in December they theme the train after the Polar Express; for more info click here.
Day trips from Durango, Colorado
Silverton: As I mentioned before, a great daytrip from Durango is to go up to Silverton. The train runs from May through October and in December, however I've always enjoyed driving it. There is gorgeous scenery along the way and it is nice to be able to pull off and admire it, especially the spectacular peak of Engineer Mountain. Once in Silverton, wander the streets and into the old fashioned candy shops and little, old-timey saloons, which all serve to preserve the small mining-town feel.
Mesa Verde: To see one of the wonders of mankind you must visit the ruins carved into cliff walls over 700 years ago by ancient civilizations at Mesa Verde. I have not been here since I was a little girl, but the memory of this place is still painted vividly in my mind. It is too powerful (and too cool!) to forget.
Traveling to Durango with a Dog
I love being able to take my dog with us on vacation and Durango certainly is a great place to do that. They have a fabulous dog park across the river from the Doubletree hotel. Also, since it is a mountain town, there are a lot of restaurants that allow dogs to join their owners on the patio.