2012 Durango Area Story Ideas
1. USA Pro Cycling Challenge chooses Durango as overall start of the 2012 race
Referred to as “America’s Race,” the second annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge selected Durango as the overall start for the second annual stage race. After drawing more than 1 million spectators in its inaugural year, the 2012 race will return to Colorado from August 20-26, 2012, and will visit Durango as the start of Stage 1 on Monday, August 20. For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure – more than two miles in elevation. One of the largest cycling events in United States history, the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature the best of the best in professional cycling, competing on a challenging course through some of America’s most beautiful scenery.
2. Animas River Trail Connection Completed
The 7-mile scenic paved trail on the banks of the Animas River was developed beginning in the 1970’s to the present day by the City of Durango and multiple partners. In 2012, the section behind Durango Mall will be completed to link the northern and southern sections of the paved scenic trail. The City plans to extend the Animas River Trail to the northern and southern City limits to create a 12-mile trail that serves as a key recreation and multi-modal transportation amenity for City residents and visitors. The Animas River is a water playground for rafters, kayakers, fly fishermen, tubers, explorers, photographers, waders and kids of all ages. Along the trail, enjoy a wide variety of outdoor public art, museums, parks, historical markers and information resources.
3. New Lodging: Holiday Inn & Suites
The Holiday Inn & Suites located on Highway 550 just west of Downtown Durango is scheduled to open in Fall 2012. The 4-story structure will be approximately 81,000 square feet in size and will house 116 rooms, restaurant, pool, exercise room and meeting rooms. The hotel is dedicating an easement of land along Lightner Creek for the future Lightner Creek Trail that will someday connect to the Animas River Trail.
4. Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen
New restaurant with top chefs builds on Durango’s dining reputation. Chimayo is a casual fine dining restaurant that will offer fresh salads, small plates, artisanal pizzas, fire-roasted steaks, chicken and seafood prepared in 700+ degree stone hearth ovens. Owners Michael and Birgitte Lutfy, former Executive Chefs for Michael Andretti's Indycar racing team, are restoring the interior of the historic Century Building on Main Avenue, revealing turn-of-the century Carnegie steel support beams, decorative tin ceiling tiles and the original brick wall. These historical elements, along with the open expo kitchen and 35-foot concrete bar, create an urban industrial loft setting for a unique Durango dining experience. Opening this May. For more information, contact: 970-946-8036.
5. 100th Anniversary of the City Charter
In 1912 when Southwestern Colorado was consider the middle of the Wild West, Durango voters set up a Home Rule form of government. September 3, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the City Charter that established the Council/Manager form of government in Durango. The Commissioner-Manager form of government lasted until the election of November 7, 1978 when voters adopted the Council-Manager form of government as a result of the work of the City’s second charter convention. Media Contact: Sherri Dugdale, DugdaleSL@ci.durango.co.us or (970) 375-5002
6. Welcome Back Durango Double!
The running term “double” means running or working out twice in one day. “Doubling” in Durango means to run a trail run and a road run in one weekend at 6,500 feet of elevation. After a brief hiatus, the Animas Surgical Hospital Durango Double is back October 6 & 7, 2012. The Trail and Road Festival for Runners is a unique weekend of racing and celebration in Durango. More than just a marathon the Durango Double offers both trail runs and road runs. Runners can enjoy any one the events or opt to do the Double by completing a 25K or 50K trail run on Saturday and a road half or full marathon on Sunday. www.DurangoDouble.com Media contact: Matt Kelly, Race Director, 970-749-0644, email@example.com
7. Durango Welcome Center
802 Main Avenue
Opening on Memorial Day Weekend 2012, the Downtown Welcome Center will offer tourist and locals everything they need to know about the area. The partnership between the Durango Area Tourism Office, Durango Business Improvement District, Fort Lewis College and the City of Durango will be located at Main Ave. and 8th Street in the heart of Downtown Durango. The Welcome Center is designed as “THE” place to discover all that Durango has to offer – and it’s a lot. It is the first visitor center of its kind in the region, offering ticket sales to various attractions such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Community Concert Hall, plus information on Fort Lewis College, river, snow and outdoor activities, entertainment venues, restaurants, local events and more. The current Durango Area Tourism Office at Santa Rita Park will remain open and offer RV parking, dump station and basic information.
8. Happy 125th Anniversary Historic Strater Hotel
Durango’s historic Strater Hotel is celebrating its 125th birthday this year! Throughout 2012, the Strater will enjoy a variety of activities, celebrations and events, and offer special packages for guests. The annual Strater Hotel Open House is set for April and will coincide with a special “Room Dedication” project where a variety of rooms will be unveiled through unique history tours; each room will include a displayed plaque, photo, and story. May 19 will mark the Diamond Belle Saloon Girl Reunion which will be attended by Merlie Lou Shephard Smith who is now in her mid-80s. A birthday party is planned for later in the year, though a date has not been set as of yet. The Durango Melodrama opens June 15 at the world famous Henry Strater Theatre and runs through September.
Built in 1887, the Strater Hotel is one of Durango's most prominent downtown landmarks and is located two blocks north of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. A Cleveland pharmacist named Henry Strater had the vision and faith that Durango would prosper, and with its prosperity, it would need a grand hotel. The Strater Hotel opened after an expenditure of $70,000 and placement of 376,000 native red bricks and hand-carved sandstone cornices and sills. As the hotel evolved, it proved to be a popular winter retreat for Durango townsfolk who would close their own homes during the cold winter months and move into the hotel. Through the years it has had its changes but still stays true to its historic roots. Currently, the Strater Hotel houses the world’s largest collection of American Victorian Antiques, many of which decorate the 93 rooms in the hotel. The Strater Hotel is home to the Durango Melodrama, Henry Strater Theatre, The Office Spiritorium, Diamond Belle Saloon, Mahogany Grille, and 1887 Catering.
9. Durango Connect: A Human Chain from end to end of the Animas River Trail
Date: September 2012, TBD. Celebrate the connection of the north and south ends of the Animas River Trail. Be one of the over 8,000 people to join hands the entire length of the trail. The 7-mile scenic paved trail on the banks of the Animas River began development in the 1970s by the City of Durango and multiple partners. The City plans to extend the Animas River Trail to the northern and southern City limits to eventually create a 12-mile trail that will serve as a key recreation and multi-modal transportation amenity. The Animas River is a water playground and along the trail enjoy public art, museums, parks, historical markers and information resources.
10. Destination Operation: Medical Tourism
While news has focused on travel to remote countries for low cost medical care, Durango experiences a growing trend of medical tourism welcoming patients to southwestern Colorado to take advantage of the highest quality of spine and orthopedic surgeons. Spine Colorado and Durango Orthopedic offer world-renowned surgeons for state-of-the art medical care. Post operation, patients enjoy recovery in a scenic and healthy mountain town. Local home health nursing services offer additional care and services for visitors, guests and families.
11. Volunteer Vacations: Tourism with a Cause
Volunteer vacations, sometimes referred to as “VolunTourism,” are tailored to the requests of our Durango visitors and needs of our community. Trips have included work on our trail system through Trails2000, assistance with rescue animals at the animal shelter or cooking meals or construction work at our community soup kitchen. Groups, families and individuals find time during their vacation to assist with activities to further a charitable cause.
12. Durango Discovery Museum celebrates 1st year anniversary
An exciting new destination in historic downtown Durango. Housed in the country’s oldest surviving coal-fired, steam-generated AC power plant, “the POW” sparks curiosity, ignites imagination and powers exploration.
- Thousands of square feet of space for hands-on science + energy exhibits for all ages, historic interpretation exhibits, Durango Discovery Kids, Sudden Science™ and Camp Discovery: science clubs and summer camps, the Solar Roller™: mobile discovery center, a museum store, energy demo labs and workshops, and multipurpose space for special public and private events.
- The Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer is running in the Mensch Spark Shop. If you can model it in three-dimensions on screen, you can print it out in strong Lego-like plastic. Imagine the possibilities.
- New Power Plant @ Work Exhibit. Take control of a power plant control room in this new interactive exhibit in the Powerhouse. Opens May 2012.
- Information at 970-259-9234 or www.durangodiscovery.org, Media contact: Haz Said
13. Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum honors 1st year anniversary
Firsthand experience with Ute culture and tradition at the 52,000-square-foot facility celebrates the living history of Colorado’s longest continuous residents. Dynamic multi-sensory and interactive exhibitions along with rare artifact collections will be interwoven with texts, photographs, high-quality flat-screen DVD presentations and recorded oral histories – so that the story of the Southern Ute people will always be told and remembered. The museum is located in Ignacio, Colorado, headquarters for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, on Colorado Highway 172, 25 miles southeast of Durango. Information at 970-563-9583 or www.southernutemuseum.org. Media Contact: Heather Liggett.
14. Agritourism and Culinary Delights
- With the increased awareness of sustainability, health and the desire to become educated on where your food is coming from, agritourism is a growing travel trend. The Durango area provides the perfect venue for agritourism with 300+ days of sunshine, more restaurants per capita than San Francisco and great farmers/ranchers that work with famous chefs such as Celebrity Chef Darren McGrady (Royal Family in England) and Emril Lagasses.
- The area offers an unforgettable rural experience and a breathtaking location where vacation and agriculture meet. La Plata County was named “One of the Best Places to Live in Rural America“ by The Progressive Farmer.
- Durango Wildlife Education & Fishing Hatchery --visit the ponds and tanks
- On-Farm/Ranch: Agriculture is the heart of the Durango community. The Durango area has over 25 farmers. These producers offer a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, grass fed and organic beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, churro wool, yarn, flowers, artisan cheese and goat cheese. We have experienced an increase in the number of local farmers providing an increasing amount of local, healthy food to the community.
- Linda’s Local Café: Chef and locavore Linda Illsley offers a local-only menu at her authentic southwestern restaurant. Learn the stories of farmers and local foods. 970-259-6729
- Experience the daily activities and see the animals up close, visit Fox Fire Farms, Turtle Lake Refuge, James Ranch or Rio Grande Alpacas and Icelandic Sheep. While you are on the farm enjoy tours, lunch, wine tasting and more. Big Corral offers “breakfast rides in the mountains” where you ride by horseback to a pristine mountain meadow bordering the wilderness at an elevation of 9,000 ft. Travel back in time with Hole in the Wall Stables for a Stage Coach Ride. Blue Lake Ranch showcases floral gardens and is known for its Spring Iris Sale.
- Dude Ranches: Experience a day in the life of a cowboy and visit one of the areas dude ranches. Dude ranches offer a variety of activities for all ages including horseback riding, fly fishing, cattle drives, ranch work, hiking, gymkhana, cattle sorting and hayrides. Saddle up and hustle to Colorado Trails Ranch, Wilderness Trails Ranch.
- Manufacturing: Local manufacturers produce scrumptious, flavor-intense foods including 100% fair trade coffee beans from Desert Sun Coffee, chocolate candies from Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Animas Chocolates, all natural sodas from Zubberfizz and honey wine, specialty honey/jams, mustards and BBQ marinades from Honeyville and O’Hara’s Jams and Jellies.
- Retail: The Durango Farmers’ Market, Hummingbird Herbals, Durango Natural Foods, Sunnyside Farms Market, Nature’s Oasis, Dietz Market, the Herb Lady of Durango and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage offer local products and organic fruits, vegetables, meats and herbs along with beauty aids and supplements.
- Culinary: The quality of independent restaurants, access to unique and fresh ingredients and the breadth of menu selections in this mountain town boldly challenges the sophisticated culinary offerings of any metropolitan hub. Kennebec, Mahogany Grille, Wine Merchant, Season’s Rotisserie and Grill, Guido’s, The Durango Coffee Company, Just Asian Plus Cooking School are just a few of the restaurants in the area that offer classes, tastings and unique menu items showcasing local foods.
- Microbreweries: Self-proclaimed as the “Napa Valley of Beer” and “City of Brewery Love”, Durango is home to four micro breweries/brewpubs. Due to the readily available “first use” water, Durango is ideal for brewing beer. Each brewery is known for their own specialty: Durango Brewing Co.’s wheat beer, Ska’s True Blonde, Steamworks Brewing Co’s lager beers and Carver’s Brewing Co’s Old Oak Amber.
- Durango Area Food Festivals: Durango celebrates food, the community and the seasons at the plethora of themed-events. Special events include: Wine Experience, Taste of Durango, Tour de Farms, Apple Festival, Coffee Fest, San Juan Brew Fest and Iron Horse Chef at the Durango Farmer’s Market.
15. Soaring® Tree Top Adventures
Soaring® Tree Top Adventures is an extreme zip line adventure and the only one of its kind in the continental United States. Rated the #1 Attraction in the U.S., Colorado and Durango on TripAdvisor.com, Soaring Tree Top Adventures is an adventure that is fun and safe for the entire family. Soaring is the largest zip line canopy tour available in the world with 24 spans. Soaring added three new zip line spans in 2011—two of which are 600 foot long parallel spans for guests to race their family/friends.
Soar through the Aspens and glide above the Animas River on the highest quality stainless steel cable system. A Sky Ranger is there to handle equipment and maintain the maximum level of safety. Soaring has been enjoyed by thrill seekers ages 4-91. Soaring is only accessible by the Durango Railroad. First Class train transportation in Soaring’s private train cars, Eco tour and four-course gourmet picnic lunch served in the trees included in this full day of adventure. Media contact: Dionne Wenke, 970-769-2357 or http://www.soaringcolorado.com.
16. Everything in the Arts
A hidden jewel in the art world, over a dozen galleries carry treasures from American Indians, Contemporary Western and Southwestern works of museum-quality art represented with sculptures, pottery, baskets, fine art photography and home furnishings.
- The Durango Arts Center – a 35-year-old nonprofit organization that is a showcase of our community’s commitment to the arts and an artistic center of influence in the town, offering monthly fine arts exhibits in its galleries featuring local and regional artists, art classes, juried-exhibits and live performances. DAC is the home of The Durango Performing Arts Company as its premier children’s resident theater group providing quality performing arts programming and an intensive summer camp. www.durangoarts.org
- The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College is a state-of-the-art concert hall featuring an amazing array of musical productions including individual performers, dance troupes, opera, musical groups, and Broadway musicals. www.durangoconcerts.com
- The world-renowned Henry Strater Theatre is one of the oldest and most prestigious continually running theatres in Colorado, tallying almost 50 years of quality performances. This intimate and prestigious venue operates year round as a community space and theatre, welcoming live bands from around the nation and professional off-Broadway shows. As featured in National Geographic's ‘Travelers Top Places to Stay 2009!’ www.HenryStraterTheatre.com
- Durango Art Galleries—Home to more than 14 commercial galleries, Center of Southwest Studies and Art Gallery at Fort Lewis College, and two Durango Art Center Galleries. The public participates in the artistic spirit of the town when the Gallery Association hosts their quarterly Gallery Walks as galleries set aside special nights to welcome the public after hours. Locals and visitors enjoy good food and conversation as they stroll the streets and visit the galleries. Artists open their studios for tours during Artist Open Studio.
Contemporary fine art consisting of fused glass, sculpture, jewelry, watercolor, pastel, oil and mixed media paintings. A fascinating treasury of Indian arts, weavings and southwestern works of museum quality due to their authenticity. Contemporary western and American Indian artists are represented with sculptures, pottery, baskets and one-of-a-kind home furnishings. Fine art photography in both color and black and white with galleries presenting photographs from the local four-corner area and around the world. Gold, silver, precious stones and bronze transformed into sculpture and custom jewelry.
- Public Art -- Downtown Durango is dotted with numerous displays of public art. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad stables “Whinny and Friends” a bronze trio of ponies sculpted by Joyce Parkerson. A walk down 2nd Avenue reveals the bronze sculpture work “Puck” by Elizabeth MacQueen and a 20-by-35 foot outdoor mural by Judy Baca--"La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra". Down the street, a visit to the public library reveals Allan Houser’s sculpture “My Children”; a short cruise down the hill to The Durango Herald and you will find “The Basket Dance” by Glenna Goodacre. Enjoy the Animas River as the backdrop for “Parade Formation” by former Fort Lewis College art professor Mick Reber--a 30–by-10 foot steel abstract depicting three horse riders in Santa Rita Park. To commemorate the city’s 125th anniversary, the city commissioned a public artwork by La Plata County artist Bryan Saren. The steel and copper sculpture is made of 125 parts, one for every year the city has been incorporated and is located at the entrance of the Durango City Hall.
- Art Festivals – Celebrate arts at one of our many art centric festivals including:
- Music in the Mountains, July 8-29, 2011 - www.musicinthemountains.com
- Durango Independent Film Festival, February 29 -March 4, 2012 - www.durangofilm.org
- Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, April 20 - 22, 2012 - www.durangomeltdown.com
- Showcase of the Arts, September 2012 - http://www.durangoshowcaseofthearts.org
- Durango Cowboy Gathering - www.durangocowboygathering.org
Durango is home to national treasures for Native American studies, Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College and the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum. The Animas Museum traces the birth and history of our mountain town while the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum brings the steam engine’s heritage to life.
- Historic Downtown Durango shows off our lovingly preserved and thriving downtown. Durango was the winner of the 2007 Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has accumulated numerous awards for its western heritage and spirit.
- The Durango Discovery Museum is an interactive science + energy center in Durango’s historic Powerhouse with hands-on science + energy exhibits for all ages, historic interpretation exhibits, Sudden Science™ and Camp Discovery. Housed in the country’s oldest surviving coal-fired, steam-generated AC power plant it promises to spark curiosity, ignite imagination and power exploration. www.durangodiscovery.org.
- Visitors to the new Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum gain firsthand experience with Ute culture and tradition. More than 20 years in planning, the new 52,000-square-foot facility celebrates the living history of Colorado’s longest continuous residents. Dynamic multi-sensory and interactive exhibitions along with rare artifact collections will be interwoven with texts, photographs, presentations and recorded oral histories – so that the story of the Southern Ute people will always be told and remembered. The museum is located in Ignacio, Colorado, headquarters for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, 25 miles southeast of Durango. Information 970-563-9583 or www.southernutemuseum.org.
- Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College offers a learning opportunity where people can experience the unique nature of the American Southwest through the understanding of its people and their dynamic relation to the landscape. It houses one of the largest collections of Native American Manuscripts. The Center facilities include an exhibit space, an archival repository, a special collections library, the Office of Community Services, classrooms, labs and offices for the College's Anthropology and Southwest Studies academic degree programs. http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu
- The Tour of Carvings at Vallecito Lake commemorates the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002. Vallecito Lake is home to thousands of Ponderosa Pine trees with many over 200 years old and standing up to 175 feet tall. Local artist Chad Haspels carved many of the fallen trees to memorialize the wildfire and fire fighters. Most of the carvings are mounted on concrete piers and can be found all around the lake; a number and name are assigned for identification. Each stands 18 feet tall and weighs around 2,600 pounds. http://www.vallecitolakechamber.com
- The Animas Museum is owned and operated by the La Plata County Historical Society, whose directors and staff have transformed the 1904 Animas City School building into a charming local history museum. Our local history comes alive through this interpretive exhibit featuring historic photos and relics from the past. The Museum offers a variety of exhibits and programs for all ages, and is also home to our research library and photo archives. Our permanent exhibit reminiscent of school rooms across the country in the early part of the 20th Century. The permanent collection of pottery and weavings from the Four Corners region and beyond are always on display. http://www.animasmuseum.org/
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum captures the history of the area and its historic steam train. The 12,000 square foot museum houses an impressive variety of exhibits including an 800-square foot scale model railroad depicting the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad as it would operate in the 1950’s; a large library selection of railroad history books; exhibit cases with a large selection of railroad tool displays, photographs; paintings; lanterns, locks and keys; two steam locomotives and a 1916 American La France fire engine. http://www.durangotrain.com/
- Take a self-guided walking tour of Historical Main Avenue and 3rd Avenue
- Mesa Verde Country, home to Mesa Verde National Park, is the archeological center of America offering unforgettable opportunity to see and experience the life of the ancient Ancestral Puebloans.
18. Green and Eco-friendly Efforts
- The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad created the Train Smoke Mitigation Task Force to guide pollution-control efforts and the train has taken innovative steps at softening its carbon footprint. D&SNGRR calculated the life spans of their vehicles and then determined how many trees are needed to eliminate the emissions. A consulting group, CarbonZERO, determined that each new tree planted absorbs 1 ton of carbon emissions for every seven years of the tree’s life. The company looked at the size of the train’s vehicle fleet and arrived at 2,587 trees. Other green efforts include: burning wood pellets at night in place of coal, an enhanced filtration system to reduce smoke emissions from the roundhouse including a scrubber system that captures smoke from idling locomotives parked overnight in the roundhouse. The railroad pledged $1 million over the five years to clean up emissions.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the City of Durango as a "Green Power Community" for its collective commitment to purchase Green Power through La Plata Electric Association (LPEA).
- Trails 2000 is our local trails advocacy organization. As a 501(c)(3) their mission is to build and maintain trails, educate trail users and advocate for connectivity on road, path and trails. As a founding member of Bicycle Friendly Durango, Trails 2000 and their volunteers contributes to trail work and events that help establish Durango as a world class trails destination. Founded in 1988, the group donates over 3000 hours of trail work each trail season on Forest Service, BLM, County, City and private properties in an around town. www.trails2000.org
- Restaurants: Raider Ridge Café is totally wind powered, Carvers Brewing Company has a hot water solar heater and brewing facility, SKA’s new brewing facility utilized Green LEED construction,
- Strater Hotel installed hot water and electricity co-generation systems. It won the green award for sustainability, 2008 Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence. The State of Colorado named the 1887 property as the “Best Building Improvement Project: Best Restoration.” In 2010, the hotel received the coveted Energy Star Certification from the US EPA for energy efficiency in a commercial building--a high honor especially for a historic building.
- Wilderness Trail Ranch enforces a total recycling program and organic and local food coop
- Powerhouse at the Discovery Museum offers pedal-powered outdoor movies and a whole lot of Green living!
- Durango Farmer’s Market--open weekly in the summer featuring locally grown produce and products.
- Local First is an economic initiative and consumer promotion to encourage shoppers to shop locally. Locally owned, independent businesses inform customers about the benefits of “looking local first” for products and services.
- Durango Intermodal Transit Center-- Opened in Fall 2010, the Intermodal Transit Center is located at 250 W. 8th St, --the 8,000 square foot, $4 million building is the largest of its kind in the Southwest. The new transit center acts as a regional hub for public transportation in the region. The facility is LEED certified and includes passenger amenities like restrooms, information counters, a passenger concourse and city transit offices. The Transit Center houses covered bike parking for approximately 100 bicycles. The Transit Center was funded with Colorado state transportation dollars and built on land donated from the City of Durango. Information at 970-375-4940 or http://www.durangogov.org/transit
- Fort Lewis College Student Union building and several other buildings on campus are LEED certified.
19. Everything Winter for Ski and Boarding
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort (DMR) is a fun-family destination for skiers and snowboarders. Conde Nast Traveler named Purgatory one of the Top 20 Resorts. Ski Magazine selected Purgatory as one of the 7 Great Mountains to Ski with Your Kids. As Phase 1 of a 25-year master plan, DMR had over $100 million in base renovations, new slope-side lodging, the Purgatory Plunge Zipline, and ski-mountain improvements this year.
The Purgatory Plunge Zipline provides a unique perspective of the awe-inspiring San Juan Mountains as you glide 420 feet at speeds up to 35 mph! The adventure starts at the top of the Purgatory Village Tower, the tallest structure in the Durango area, and stretches over Purgatory Beach. Featuring two parallel lines, race your friends or family members for an exciting thrill ride.
Durango Mountain Resort expanded snowmaking capabilities to ensure a quality skiing experience from early to late season, regardless of cooperation from Mother Nature. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Purgatory offers a complete lineup of winter activities, including sleigh rides, snow tubing and ski biking. The resort offers 85 trails with terrain for all ability levels, including a dedicated beginner’s area and two terrain parks.
The Purgatory Lodge has a heated outdoor pool with water slide, large outdoor hot tub, full fitness facility, spa and the Durango Mountain Club. The Mountain Club is a private area for guests of Purgatory Lodge. The DMC is complete with a large game room for kids and a full bar and lounge for adults. In addition to Purgatory Lodge, Durango Mountain Resort manages lodging at Purgatory Village, Cascade Village and the lodge at Tamarron. The base area at Durango Mountain Resort has numerous shops and 3 restaurants including a deli, Italian Pizza kitchen and Purgy’s. Transportation is available for those staying at the resort looking to go into town during their vacation. Information at 970-247-9000 or www.durangomountainresort.com.
- Ski Hesperus is located 11 miles west of Durango and offers day and night skiing on lighted slopes. This smaller ski area has 1 chair lift, 1 rope tow, a tubing hill and base lodge. Top: 8,880 feet. Ski and boarding lessons available. Information at 970-259-3711 or www.ski-hesperus.com.
- Chapman Hill Ski Area greets 2011 with snowmaking for a consistent ski and boarding season. This in-town ski hill has one rope tow, ski and boarding lessons and nighttime skiing. A sledding hill is located to the north side of the ice arena. Located on Florida Road, this hill has taught many a Durangatan how to ski!
- Durango Nordic Center has over 18 Km of groomed trails from easy to difficult for classic and skate skiing. Lessons, clinics and races. Located North of Durango across from Durango Mountain Resort. Information at 970-385-2114 or www.durangonordic.org/NordicCenter.htm.
- Hillcrest Golf Course and Vallecito Lake also offer Nordic Skiing when snowfall permits.
20. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Named number three in the World’s Top Ten Train Rides by the Society of American Travel Writers in 2009. Named the Number One North American Train Trip by National Geographic Traveler in 2010. Retrace the steps of claim-seeking miners and board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGRR) as it winds through the remote and scenic mountain wilderness to the historic town of Silverton. Originally constructed to haul silver and gold from mining camps, the railway has been in operation since 1881. The D&SNGRR museum archives and brings to life the history of the museum with exhibits and historical memorabilia. In the winter, the train reveals a snow-filled wonderland on the trip to Cascade Canyon. Enjoy seasonal theme rides like Dinosaur Train™, The Polar Express™, Peanuts™ Easter Beagle Express and Peanuts™ The Great Pumpkin Patch Express. Information at 970-247-2733 or www.durangotrain.com. Media Contact: Andrea Seid, 970-385-8829
21. Outdoor Adventure
- Animas River for kayaking, rafting, floating, fishing and everything water!
- Durango Off Leash Dog Area offers off- leash puppy heaven
- Soaring® Tree Top Adventures
- Mountain Biking and Road Biking--try a San Juan Hut trip, guided trip from Southwest Adventure or Hermosa Tours
- Hiking and trail running—With over 350 miles of trails there are plenty of options. Take the train to Chicago Basin and hike in, Trails 2000, Colorado Trail, San Juan National Forest
- Winter playground: Skiing, snowboarding, snow biking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides
- Horseback riding, hayrides, stage coach rides
- Fishing—gold medal waters of the Animas River and Vallecito Lake
- Boating, canoeing, fishing—Vallecito Lake
- Hunting—guided hunting trips by local outfitters
- Golfing and mini golf
- Climbing--indoor and outside
- Zip Line at Full Blast Adventures
- Camping--choose from a wide variety of public and private campgrounds.
- DMR serves as a natural summer playground offering spectacular views and activities including the Alpine Slide, miniature golf, bungee trampoline, Frisbee golf, climbing wall, Digglers Mountain Scooters and scenic chairlift rides with access to mountain biking and hiking trails.
- National forest and wilderness areas that surround the area
22. Value Travel—More Fun for Less Money!
- Durango offers value vacation options that won’t feel like a budget vacation. The natural beauty of our mountain town offers a splendid backdrop for an adventurous, relaxing, family or getaway vacation that fits your budget. A wide variety of lodging options include in town and out-of-town, camping, budget and off-peak locations. Check out our list of “Frugal or Free” things to do in the summer.
- Golf at Hillcrest Golf Club
- Mini golf at Sky Ute Casino Resort and Durango Park
- Vallecito Lake—fishing, hiking, biking, boating, horseback riding, camping and water sports
- Rafting, tubing, wading, or kayaking on the Animas River
- Trimble Natural Hot Springs and Spa—spa soak for total relaxation
- Honeyville Honey—watch bees make honey
- Durango Recreation Center--indoor water park, workout facility climbing wall and complete health center
- Animas River Trail—stroll, run or bike along the river
- Hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing and plenty of other outdoor activities
- Museums – Animas Museum, Railroad Museum, Center of Southwest Studies, Southern Ute Cultural Center and Durango Discovery Museum
- Live Entertainment at numerous venues
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Durango Wildlife Education & Fishing Hatchery --visit the ponds and tanks where stocking fish are raised
- Full Blast Adventure for paint ball and zip-line
23. Cheers: City of Brewerly Love
Self-proclaimed as the “Napa Valley of Beer” and “City of Brewery Love”, Durango is home to four micro breweries/brewpubs. Due to the readily available “first use” water, Durango is ideal for brewing beer. Each brewery is known for their own specialty: Durango Brewing Co.’s wheat beer, Ska’s True Blonde, Steamworks Brewing Co’s lager beers and Carver’s Brewing Co’s Old Oak Amber.
- Three Micro-Breweries: Steamworks Brewing Co, Carvers and Durango Brewing Co
- One Regional Craft Brewery: Ska
- Tasting and brewery tours available: http://bit.ly/fH9kUF
- Awards for beers at competitions:
- Ska: Modus Hoperandi, 2010 North American Beer Awards, Silver Medal, American-style IPA
- Ska Special ESB, 2010 Great American Beer Festival, Bronze Medal, Classic English-style Pale Ale
- Pinstripe Red Ale, 2010 Best Local Beer, Best of Durango Awards
- Steamworks Brewing: Backside Stout and What in the Helles?, 2010 Great American Beer Festival, Gold medals
- Colorado Kölsch, 2010 Great American Beer Festival, Silver
24. Vallecito Lake
“Lake of the Little Valley”—Sheltered in a secluded mountain valley 8,000 feet above sea level, Vallecito Lake is one of the largest and most beautiful bodies of water in all of Colorado. Only 22 miles northeast of Durango, Vallecito Lake lies in a steep and pristine valley surrounded by millions of acres of unspoiled San Juan National Forest. This mountain hamlet promises a secluded getaway for fishing, camping, horseback riding, hiking, relaxing, boating and other water sports.
- Dude Ranches, cabins, camping, world-class resorts, fun eateries
- Breakfast trail rides and horseback riding
- Annual fishing contest
- Tour of Carvings: over 14 carvings by local wood carver is a tribute to the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002.
- Pontoon, boat and jet ski rental
- Winter activities: snowmobiling, ice fishing, nordic skiing, snowshoeing
25. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Sky Ute Casino Resort and Conference Center
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe recently completed their state-of-the-art casino resort. The 45,000 square foot gaming floor including 600+ slots, 20+ poker/blackjack game tables and bingo. Stay in an elegantly appointed luxury hotel room or suite, choose from one of five unique restaurants to dine in, take your shot at striking it rich in the Rolling Thunder Lanes and immerse yourself in the culture of the Southern Utes. Enjoy a great vacation at the Sky Ute Casino Resort:
- Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum
- 140-room luxury hotel featuring an indoor pool with a lazy river, retail stores, fitness center
- 5 restaurants on site
- 24 full-site RV hook-ups
- Full banquet and convention space and services
- 24-lane AMF bowling center
- 45,000 feet of casino floor with 600+ slot machines, 20+ gaming tables, roulette and a Bingo hall
- Guided tours at the new Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum, exploring the 52,000 square foot structure discovering a living culture through dynamic, multi-sensory exhibitory that combines a collection of more than 1,500 artifacts!
- Shuttle service to nearby Durango
26. Welcome to the Wild West
It’s what the Wild West movies tried to capture and they modeled a great deal of their films after the history of Southwestern Colorado. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to City Slickers; you’ll find it in Durango.
- Jeep tour to old mining ghost towns
- Enjoy the Diamond Belle Saloon and an action-packed gun fight during the summer months
- Travel back in time on the historic steam train: the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Visit our museums—Animas Museum, D&SNGRR Museum, Southern Ute Cultural Center, Center of Southwest Studies
- Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Main Avenue
- Stage coach ride, horseback rides, hayrides
- Professional rodeos at the La Plata County Fairgrounds
- Carriage ride and sleigh ride on Main Avenue
- Bar D Wrangler Chuck Wagon dinner and show
- Cowboy and Heritage celebrations throughout the year
- Melodrama at the Henry Strater Theatre
- Gunfight at the Strater Hotel (seasonal)
- Historic hotels: Strater Hotel, Rochester Inn, General Palmer
- Dude and guest ranch vacations: Wilderness Trails Ranch, Colorado Trails Ranch
27. Biking Mecca
- Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists
- Durango and Trails 2000 hosted Lance Armstrong movie premiere “Race Across the Sky”, October, 2009
- The FLC mountain bike team won nine National Collegiate Cycling Association Championships in ’94, ‘95, ‘97, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ’06, ’07 and ‘09. In the spring of 2000, the FLC road cyclists took the Division II National Championship title for the first time and moved up to Division I never finishing worse than 4th. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 the Men’s Team Time Trial Team won the title and Road Nationals. In 2007, the Women’s Team Time Trial Team won.
- The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Citizens and professionals race the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad on its 50-mile trip from Durango to Silverton. This event pits man and woman against machine for an impressive ride over two-10,000 foot mountain passes and changing weather conditions.
- More than 1,000 miles of trails surrounding Durango
- Durango DEVO began as a men’s high school race team and quickly added programs. There are three age group cycling development platforms. Durango DEVO's mission is to teach riders that cycling is a healthy activity that can last a lifetime in numerous different ways.
- Exercise physiology lab and performance center in Durango, Colorado. Helping athletes and aspiring athletes to achieve peak performance in sport and life. The Durango Performance Center, along with the assistance of Performance Cardiology and Colorado Premier Training, and other coaches, will be a world class, state-of-the art physiology lab for all levels of athletes.
- The Discovery Museum at the Powerhouse runs a pedal-powered shuttle in the summer to get people from the Farmer’s Market and the Buckley Craft Fair to the Powerhouse for our Playdays. Powerhouse Playdays will offer a free pedal-powered wifi café and pedal-powered open-air movie nights.
- The Durango Wheel Club has been a cycling institution in Durango since 1895! The Durango Wheel Club was originally formed as an advocacy group for better roads.
28. Historic Downtown
Durango boasts a vibrant and active downtown. With well-preserved historic buildings and historic hotels that date back to the late 1800s when our city was founded. In 2007, the city received the prestigous "America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations,” from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Boutique shopping, museums, galleries, dining, shows and a historic steam train depot are just some of the reasons our Main Avenue is thriving. The community hub hosts farmers markets, festivals, parades and events year-round.
29. Take on the curves--Motorcycle Country
- Enjoy the thrills of riding a bike on the winding roads that lead in and out of Durango. The San Juan Skyway along the Million Dollar Highway is a favorite cruise for motorcyclists. Durango remains a destination for motorcycle groups—HOG Rally, Kyle Petty Charity Ride, Four Corners Bike Rally to name a few. For your bike needs visit Durango Harley-Davidson and Handlebar Motorsports.
- There are plenty of rides that take you from the tops of spectacular mountain passes of Southwestern Colorado to the desert mesa of Northern New Mexico. These rides are guaranteed to provide scenic beauty and plenty of curves: The Loop on the San Juan Skyway, Mesa Verde National Park, Vallecito, Chama Loop, Chimney Rock Loop.
- Every Labor Day weekend, the Durango area welcomes the Four Corners Bikers Rally a full weekend of events, rides, games and more. www.fourcornersbikerrally.com
30. Movies Shot in Durango—“Hollywood of the Rockies”
- Colorado Territory (1949)
- Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)
- Denver and Rio Grande (1952)
- Viva Zapata (1952)
- Three Young Texans (1954)
- Run for Cover (1955)
- Maverick Queen (1956)
- Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
- Night Passage (1957)
- How the West Was Won (1963)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- Support Your Local Gunfighter (1970)
- National Lampoons Vacation (1983)
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (1984)
- The Tracker (1987)
- City Slickers (1991)
- Rebirth of a Locomotive (1992)
- Cliffhanger (1993)
- Durango Kid (1999)
- The Claim (2000)
- Nurse Betty (2000)
- The Prestige (2004)
31. Did someone say Festivals?
We have plenty of reasons to celebrate with festivals, parades and celebrations including: Coffee Fest, San Juan Brew Fest and Iron Horse Chef at the Durango Farmer’s Market. Snowdown, Durango Independent Film Festival, Bluegrass Meltdown, Wine Experience, Taste of Durango, Narrow Gauge Day, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Animas River Days, Music in the Mountains, Fiesta Days, La Plata County Fair, Coffeefest, San Juan Brew Fest, Showcase of the Arts, Oktober Fest, Four Corners Bikers Rally, Salute to America, Autumn Arts Festival, Ignacio Bike Week, Cowboy Gathering, Heritage Celebration, Apple Days, Polar Express, Noel Night. Visit www.durango.org for a complete list.
Durango Area Awards
- 2012 “Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community,” League of American Bicyclists
- 2012 “Ten All-American Road Trips off the Beaten Path,” Yahoo.com
- 2012 “BeerCity USA,” Examiner.com, Finalist City
- 2012 “The 20 Best Small Towns in America,” Smithsonian.com
- 2012 “Best New Adventure Hub: Runner -up,” Outside Magazine
- 2012 “Dream Town: Durango,” Skiingmag.com
- 2012 “Best of the West, Best Historic Hotel,” True West Magazine, General Palmer
- 2012 “Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2012,” Lonely Planet
- 2012 “Distinctive Dozen,” NTA Courier, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Gold Medal
- 2012 “Ten Great Races in Amazing Places,” National Geographic, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
- 2011 “Retire Here Not There: Four less-known havens for living the Rocky Mountain high life,” SmartMoney
- 2011 "Top Ten Western Towns,” True West Magazine
- 2011 “Top 200 Towns,” Outdoor Life
- 2011 “Best Places to Live,” Men’s Journal
- 2011 “Top 'micropolitan' area in U.S.” Policom
- 2011 “Award of Merit,” American Association for State and Local History, La Plata County Historical Society
- 2011 “Life is Better Here,” Outside Magazine, Finest places you’d ever like to call home
- 2011 “An international foodie's annual list of the year's best (and worst) food,” Denver Post, Ore House
- 2010 “Town to Watch,” True West Magazine
- 2010 “The Top 20 Ski Resorts in America,” Aroundme.com
- 2010 “Top Ten Ski Resorts to Down a Local Beer,” Away.com
- 2010 “Governor’s Award,”
- 2010 “Top Small Town for Meetings & Events,” Meetings & Events
- 2010 “Green Power Community” – Environmental Protection Agency
- 2009 “Top 20 Romantic Getaways,” Sunset Magazine
- 2009 “America’s 200 best Hunting and Fishing Towns,” Outdoor Life
- 2009 "The West's 20 Best Small Towns,” Sunset Magazine
- 2009 “Top Ten Train Rides,” Society of American Travel Writers
- 2009 “Best Places to Live in Rural America,” Progressive Farmer
- 2009 “Top 10 Places to Raise an Outdoor Child,” Backpacker Magazine, CBS news
- 2008 "Top Ten Western Towns,” True West Magazine
- 2008 "7 Great Mountains to Ski with Your Kids,” Ski Magazine
- 2008 "Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation,” Colorado Historical Society
- 2008 "Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community,” The League of American Bicyclists
- 2008 "Colorful Colorado Award,” Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence
- 2008 "Top 10 Christmas Towns,”HGTV
- 2008 "Top 20 Resort,” Conde Nast Traveler
- 2007 "America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations,” National Trust for Historic Preservation
- 2007 "Next Best Places to Ski, Live, Invest and Retire,” Ski Magazine
Self- Appointed Titles
- City of Brewerly Love
- Napa Valley of Beer
- Most coffee houses per capita
- Top Telecommuting Town