From classic cowboy culture to Southwestern heritage to authentic Victorian flair, Durango’s diverse history forms the foundation of the charming mountain town. Travel back in time with a captivating combination that pairs the best of Colorado’s local legacy with contemporary culture and flair. Rest your head and feast until you are full at historic hotels and cutting-edge restaurants or explore ancient monuments and trails traveled by generations of Native Americans, miners and settlers. Make new memories in the Old West when you visit Durango, Colorado.
For the ultimate combination of Old West heritage and contemporary culture, stroll the streets of downtown Durango, a Nationally Registered Historic District. From galleries that pay tribute to the area’s Southwestern heritage to authentic Victorian hotels like the Strater Hotel, Rochester Hotel or the General Palmer, you'll step into the west. Witness a cowboy showdown at the live gunfight at the Diamond Belle Saloon. Step back in time with a walking tour of historic downtown Durango, led by a Victorian guide who knows all the secrets of the town’s architecture, history and Wild West past. For a self-led stroll, pick up a tour book from local favorite Maria’s Bookshop. For information on everything going on in present-day Durango, stop by the Welcome Center to assist with your travel plans.
Historic Steam Train
Ride the rails on the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Take in stunning views of the San Juan National Forest from the tracks on a genuine coal-fired, steam-powered train that transported miners, cowboys and pioneers. Enjoy extra-special expeditions, like the Durango Wine and Rails Train featuring Colorado vineyards or local pints aboard the Durango Brew Train. For behind-the-scenes secrets of the history of the locomotive, take a family friendly yard tour and visit the train museum.
All of Durango’s historic happenings featured the majestic backdrop of the San Juan Mountains, and the same spectacular scenes provide exciting outdoor opportunities today. Channel your inner cowboy while astraddle a saddle with a traditional trail ride at a local ranch, like the Rapp Corral or San Juan Sky Outfitters. Explore gorgeous natural views of the San Juan National Forest and Weminuche Wilderness that have stunned hikers, bikers, climbers and off-roaders for generations. Follow the footsteps of the Ancients and explore historic sites at National Parks and Monuments, like Mesa Verde National Park, Chimney Rock Monument, and Four Corners Monument. Durango’s name comes from the Basque word “urango,” meaning “water town,” and the town’s treasured Animas River lives up to its label with adrenaline-filled watersports and a peaceful, paved walking trail. Enjoy bronc busting, roping and wrangling at the weekly True West Rodeo at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
Arts and Culture
Put your Wild West knowledge to the test at one of Durango’s cultural museums, like the Animas Museum or the Center for Southwest Studies. Visit art galleries, like Sorrel Sky and Toh-Atin that celebrate the spirit of the Southwest, from Native American art and jewelry to contemporary cowboy creations. For Western music and a vaudeville show as authentic as the theatre it’s performed in, enjoy live theatre in the Victorian atmosphere of the Henry Strater Theatre or live country music and dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon.
Taste of the Old West
Durango boasts an incredible culinary scene that features tried-and-true Old West flavors alongside modern techniques and tastes. Sample classic cocktails, seasonal spirits and contemporary cuisine at historic El Moro Spirits and Tavern. Tap your tin cup along to the country-western styling of local legends the Bar D Wranglers while you dig in to a genuine on-the-range supper at the Bar D Chuckwagon. Taste your way back in time at the Diamond Belle Saloon, a Victorian bar and eatery featuring live ragtime music and costumed saloon girls. For food as authentically Southwest Colorado as Durango’s history, feast on farm-to-table flavors grown in-house at the Harvest Grill at James Ranch or pile up your plate at the town’s favorite barbeque joint, Serious Texas Bar-B-Q.
Pulling from the diverse influences of Southwest heritage, cowboy culture and Victorian legacy, Durango, Colorado, boasts a rich and storied past that mingles captivatingly with contemporary flair. From the historic buildings lining the streets to authentic artistic, culinary and outdoor experiences, a visit to the quintessential mountain town guarantees exciting opportunities for the whole family. Make new memories in the Old West when you visit Durango, Colorado.
About the Durango Area Tourism Office
The Durango Area Tourism Office is a not-for-profit organization operating with the mission to promote Durango and La Plata County’s multitude of tourism attractions, events and services. 1-800-525-8855, www.durango.org