Durango was founded on April 13th, 1881 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad company and has always been considered a 'railroad town'. The area was originally settled by the Anasazi Indians, now called the Ancestral Puebloans, known for their impressive cliff dwellings.
This western destination is situated between the red sandstone hills of the Animas River Valley. Northeast are the San Juan and Needles Mountains, to the west is arid desert land, and to the South is the vast San Juan National Forest and canyon country. Durango, Colorado sits at 6,512 feet in elevation and receives over 300 sunny days a year, more than Orlando, Florida or Hollywood, California!
ADDITIONAL COLORADO CITY PAGES:
- Started in 1972, the Iron Horse Bike Classic is run in Durango, Colorado on Memorial Day weekend and is the longest running cycling event in the United States.
- Famous western writer Louis L'Amour wrote his Sackett Series of stories while staying at The Strater Hotel, a well known Durango landmark.
- The name 'Durango' is derived from the Basque word Urango meaning water town. The original mayor named this southwest Colorado town after Durango, Mexico.
- Durango Mountain Resort
The Durango Mountain Resort is a year-round family fun destination with 85 ski trails and 11 lifts on 1,200 breathtaking acres in the San Juan Mountains. Enjoy snowmobiling, Sno-Cat tours, dedicated snow boarding zones and intoxicating views of the Needles and La Plata Mountain Ranges. Durango Mountain Resort receives over 260 inches of virgin Colorado snow every year.
During the late spring and summer, Durango Mountain, also known as Purgatory Mountain, is home to pulse-pounding alpine slides, world class rock climbing and rappelling, cookouts, festivals and summer youth camps. The resort makes a great launching point for all kinds of outdoor activities in the Colorado wilderness.
- Durango and Silverton Railroad
The railroad finally arrived in Durango, Colorado on August 5, 1881, and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. By July of 1882, the tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began hauling both freight and passengers. The line was originally constructed to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains back to Durango, but passengers of that day realized it was the view that was truly captivating.
This historic train has been in continuous operation for nearly 125 years, carrying passengers on a spectacular journey through the mountains on a narrow-guage railroad. Of all of the attractions in Colorado, this is one of the best.
- Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is just a short distance southwest of Durango and is a must-see while in this area of Colorado. The landscape of Mesa Verde is awe inspiring and this is the historic site of the once thriving Anasazi civilization. These Ancient Puebloans created vast cliff dwellings throughout the bluffs, including the incredible Cliff Palace. Mesa Verde has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Activities in Mesa Verde include half and full day tours with experienced guides well-versed in the 700-year history of cliff dwellers. The Mesa Verde Museum is dedicated to the culture and history of the Anasazi people. Campgrounds are available from May to October and the Far View Lodge opens in late April for eager visitors. Additional archaeological sites are nearby Durango, Colorado and ready to be explored.
- Las Animas River Adventures
White water rafting, world class fly fishing and kayaking tours are just some of the great things to do on El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas, outside Durango. Las Animas is also known as the Purgatory River and the formal name translates as River of Lost Souls.
Explorers from Spain named the river after a group of explorers disappeared and their bodies were lost, not receiving the Catholic Last Rites so important to their faith. They believed these Lost Souls were confined to Purgatory until judgment day.
The upper Las Animas River offers extreme white water rafting and the lower runs are great for all levels of experience. A two-mile stretch of the Animas River is Gold Medal water, with the highest rating for quality of large trout fishing. Las Animas is full of rainbows, browns, rivers, and cutthroat trout. The nearby San Juan River is also a popular fly fishing destination for Colorado vacations.