About DurangoDurango began as a railroad town with a mining and smelting center during the gold and silver booms. It is now a crossroads for local industry, ranching, commerce and culture. Vestiges of the past accent Durango's Victorian downtown, where visitors can still enjoy the spirit of that colorful era.
Durango is a natural gateway to the San Juan Mountains, one of the more scenic sections of the state. Because they are geologically younger than other Colorado mountain ranges, the San Juans present a more jagged, precipitous appearance.
US 550 runs north from Durango to Silverton and Ouray; the part of the road that is known as the Million Dollar Highway includes many overlooks and is cut from nearly vertical cliff sides. Because the road has steep drop-offs and no guardrails it should be traveled with caution.
Some of the largest and best preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in the Southwest are 36 miles west in Mesa Verde National Park. Tours to these places and into the back country of the San Juan National Forest can be arranged in Durango; contact the tourism office at (970) 247-3500.
A high mountain hamlet and the Tour of Carvings are 22 miles northeast of Durango at Vallecito Lake Reservoir. Ponderosa pines scattered around the reservoir are carved to represent firefighters and animals who perished in a 2002 forest fire; phone (970) 247-1573.
Other activities available in the Durango area include art gallery tours, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain and road biking, rafting, rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding. A convenient year-round way to get around in Durango and avoid parking hassles is to ride the free trolleybus that runs daily every 20 minutes along Main Street 7 a.m.-10 p.m., mid-May to mid-September; Mon.-Fri. 7-7, Sat. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., rest of year.
Durango abounds with more than 100 special events during the year, including Snowdown, a wacky celebration held in late January featuring costumes, a parade and a different theme each year. July's Durango Fiesta Days includes a rodeo, parade and barrel races. Music in the Mountains, a classical music festival, is held from mid-July to early August. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railfest is in August; and Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place in early October.
Visitor Centers Durango Area Tourism Office 802 Main Ave. Durango, CO 81302. Phone:(970)247-3500 or (800)525-8855
Things to Do AAM's Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours Inc.
Horseback Riding Rapp Corral
Skiing Purgatory Resort
Snowmobiling Snowmobile Adventures
White-water Rafting Mountain Waters Rafting
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.