The Durango Area Tourism Office staff has compiled answers to what we believe to be a pretty comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions about Durango. Have a question not answered below? Contact the Durango Area Tourism Office by phone 1-800-525-8855 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and stop by the Durango Visitor Center at 111 S. Camino del Rio (in Santa Rita Park) when you’re in town!
Find answers to frequently asked questions about...
- Getting to Durango
- General Durango Information and Statistics
- Durango Special Events
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Durango History, Mesa Verde National Park, Regional Archaeology
- Nearby Towns and Attractions
- Durango Outdoor Recreation
Durango is located in southwest Colorado near the Four Corners, where the borders of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting to Durango:
- Which major highways run through Durango?
Durango is accessible by US Hwy 550 from the north and south, and US Hwy 160 from the east and west.
- Where is the Durango Visitor Center Located?
In Santa Rita Park, one half mile south of the US Hwy 160/550 intersection. During the summer months there is also a Visitor Center Information Kiosk located in downtown Durango.
- Does Durango have an airport?
Yes! Durango is easily and conveniently accessible by air. The Durango-La Plata County Airport (Airport Code: DRO) is currently serviced by Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and US Air.
- What is the closest International Airport?
The closest international airport to Durango is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is approximately a three and a half hour drive south of Durango.
- How far is Durango from Denver?
Approximately 340 miles or 6 hours.
Durango is a real Colorado town with endless recreational opportunities, a rich history, a bright future, and countless stories to tell. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions about the Durango area below.
- What is Durango’s population?
- What is Durango’s elevation?
- What are Durango’s major industries?
Tourism and Agriculture
- Who is the largest employer in La Plata County?
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Ignacio
- How many days of sunshine does Durango average per year?
- What is Durango’s average snowfall?
- What is Durango’s Sales Tax?
Retail sales in City Limits are taxed a total of 7.9%* (includes a 2.9% state tax, 2% county tax, and 3% city tax). *Data current as of June 2009
- When is Durango’s “High Season” for tourism?
Memorial Day through Labor Day and the week after Christmas are typically the busiest times of year for Durango.
Durango hosts a variety of events, year-round. Following are a few commonly asked questions about some of our signature annual events. Visit the Durango special events calendar for a complete list of special events.
- Which October event celebrates the western/cowboy culture?
The Durango Cowboy Gathering
- What is the name of the Durango bicycle race where bicyclists race the train to Silverton?
The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which is held each year over Memorial Day Weekend
- What winter celebration takes place in late January/early February?
Durango was founded in 1880 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. By July of 1882, tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began transporting both freight and passengers. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was originally constructed to haul silver and gold ore, but passengers soon realized that it was the view that was truly precious.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Be sure to also check out Durango’s Traveler Tips for additional information on planning your trip back in time!
- Does the Durango & Silverton Train run year round?
Yes, however it only runs to Cascade Canyon in the winter months.
- How long is the train ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in the summer?
9 hours round trip
- How long do you spend in Silverton when riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad?
About 2 hours
- What is the difference between taking the train and driving to Silverton, in terms of scenery?
The road climbs over two mountain passes, while the train follows the river canyon. Both routes include spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains.
- How far apart are the narrow gauge rails?
Durango has a long and rich history that both history buffs and curious folks of all ages will enjoy. From local history and railroad museums of historic downtown Durango to the ancient cliff dwellings of nearby Mesa Verde National Park, Durango is truly where the old west survived and where the new west thrives. Check out the list below for some frequently asked questions or read more about Durango’s history.
- How did the town of Durango get its name?
It was named after Durango, Mexico. "Durango" comes from the Basque word “urango” that means "water town."
- How can I get to in Mesa Verde National Park from Durango and how far is it?
Drive 38 miles west on Hwy 160 to reach the entrance gates of Mesa Verde National Park. The drive takes about 45 minutes from downtown Durango.
- Is Mesa Verde National Park open in the winter?
Yes, weather permitting.
- Which of the Mesa Verde National Park cliff dwellings is the largest?
- What are some other regional archeological areas of interest?
Chaco Canyon, Crow Canyon, Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins, Anasazi Heritage Center, Canyon of the Ancients, Chimney Rock, Lowry Ruin, and Hovenweep.
- How did the wilderness area near Durango get a name like "Weminuche"?
It was named for a band of Ute Indians that once inhabited the area.
- In which nearby town did Butch Cassidy rob his first bank?
Telluride, CO, located about 120 miles from Durango.
- Where are the nearest ghost towns?
Parrot City and La Plata City, both of which are in La Plata Canyon just outsde Durango. Silverton is home to Animas Forks, a turn-of-the-century mining town with excellent off-roading opportunities nearby.
Southwest Colorado and the San Juan Mountains are dotted with old mining towns as well as historical and cultural attractions, many of which are located within a short drive of Durango. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions about these towns and nearby attractions below!
- Isn’t there a nearby town nicknamed the “Switzerland of America”?
Yes: Ouray, Colorado – located 72 miles north of Durango
- Where is the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park?
60 miles east of Durango, near Pagosa Springs
- Is there an Indian Reservation nearby?
Yes, there are two. The Southern Ute Indian Reservation is just over 20 miles southeast of Durango in Ignacio and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation is located 60 miles west of Durango in Towaoc, CO.
- How do I get to the Four Corners National Monument?
Take Highway 160 west. It is a 2 hour drive from downtown Durango.
- What is the San Juan Skyway?
The San Juan Skyway is an incredibly scenic 236-mile loop of paved highway that runs through several historic towns including Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride, Dolores, Cortez and Mancos. The entire trip takes approximately 6-8 hours.
- Where is the Million Dollar Highway?
The Million Dollar Highway is a steep and narrow stretch of Hwy 550 approximately 60 miles north of Durango, between Silverton and Ouray. Legend has it the highway was named either after the amount it cost to construct each mile, or the priceless views along the way.
- Is there a casino nearby?
Yes, the Sky Ute Lodge and Casino is located 45 minutes southeast of Durango in Ignacio.
Durango offers an endless variety of year round activities and world-class experiences for the entire family. Check out the list below for some frequently asked questions about popular Durango outdoor recreation.
- Are there any Colorado State Parks near Durango?
Yes, there are three: Mancos, Navajo Lake and Ridgeway State Parks.
- How far is Vallecito Lake from Durango?
Vallecito Lake is located 22 miles northeast of Durango along County Road 240, which is also called Florida Road (pronounced flor-ee-dah).
- What is the closest Forest Service Campground to Durango?
Junction Creek, 5 miles northwest of Durango. Check out the San Juan National Forest list of campgrounds for a complete list of forest service campgrounds and their status.
- Where can I get a map of hiking trails for the Durango area?
Visit the San Juan National Forest Office at 15 Burnett Court off of Hwy 160 west in Durango, or stop by the Durango Visitor Center at Santa Rita Park.
- Are there any 14,000 foot mountains in the Durango area?
Indeed! Mt. Eolus, Sunlight Peak, and Windom Peak, are all located in the Weminuche Wilderness Area north of Durango. Learn more about these and other Colorado 14'ers!
- Do I need a fishing license, and if so where can I get one?
Yes, if you plan to fish the Animas River or at Vallecito Lake you will need a fishing license. Pick one up at the Division of Wildlife office located at 151 E. 16th, or at local retail fishing stores.
- Where is the best place in Durango to watch kayakers?
Smelter Rapid at the kayak course on the Animas River – near the Durango Visitor Center.
- What type of fish is most common in the Animas River?
- How many Durango golf courses are there?
There are two public Durango golf courses. Dalton Ranch is an 18-hole championship golf course located 6 miles north of downtown. Hillcrest Golf Club, also 18-holes, sits atop the mesa near Fort Lewis College.
- Does the Durango & Silverton Train stop for backpackers?
Yes, the train stops at Needleton and Elk Park to pick up/drop off backpackers. Check out the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s schedule and rates.
- Where can I find a handicap-accessible trail in Durango?
The Animas River Trail is a paved trail which runs along the Animas River through Durango