Every fall, Southwest Colorado makes a colorful transformation: the shades of green so typical of a mountain summer are exchanged for the rich reds, yellows and oranges that signify the arrival of a new season. Whether the splendor of fall colors are documented in your memory hiking, biking or riding, or you catalogue the vibrant, seasonal hues using a paintbrush or a camera, the spectacular colors that make up fall’s palate in Southwest Colorado are sure to leave their mark. The question is: how will you experience the colors of the fall season?
Taste of Fall
Autumn is a sensory season that can be experienced through the abundance of flavors from Durango restaurants, breweries and distilleries. SKA Brewing Company’s Autumnal Molé Stout is an aromatic and layered tribute to the season. Fight off fall’s brisk chill with warming, seasonal spirits from Honey House Distillery. Farm-to-table restaurants embrace meats, cheeses and produce locally grown and specific to the season’s harvest. From the rainbow of produce grown at local farms to the bright personalities that grace the stands, every Saturday the Durango Farmer’s Market showcases the finest local products from the field and the farmhouse.
Crisp air and vibrant colors of fall heighten the fun at fall festivals. Harkening back to the rich and treasured heritage of the Southwest, the Durango Cowboy Gathering employs poetry, performance, parades, music, art and train rides to recall our Western heritage. For a boisterous weekend that embodies the seasonal sense of revelry, locals and tourists alike take to the streets to celebrate Oktoberfest with brews, brauts and beautiful fall views. If family-focused fall festivities sound enticing, enjoy the annual Three Springs Fall Festival, featuring games, music, day time trick-or-treating and costumes as colorful and attention grabbing as the surrounding landscape. Apple Days celebrates a fruity staple of the season through pies, presses and other tantalizing demonstrations of the snack’s versatility. Purgatory’s Muck and Mire Mud Adventure Race features the swampier side of fall, coupling outrageous and challenging obstacles with family fun and entertainment.
Follow Fall Pathways
Durango is a haven for all things outdoors, and what better way to capture the essence and excitement of the changing leaves than a thrilling hike, bike or horseback ride? Cyclists take in the colorful landscape at Durango Fall Blaze Bicycle Tour with a variety of distances and views, both in town and in the surrounding valleys. Whether you follow paths maintained by Trails 2000, wind through the splendor of the San Juan National Forest on horseback or trek across the majestic spread of the Weminuche Wilderness, memories made against the backdrop of a Durango autumn aren’t soon to be forgotten.
Flying through Fall
Catalogue the spectacular fall colors from high above the ground. During autumn, the airline flight into Durango offers stunning views of the seasonal splendor. Enjoy the freedom and wonder of flight as you zip line through miles of astounding aspens and picturesque ponderosas with Soaring Treetop Adventures, a unique adventure accessible by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. If watching our feathered friends fly through the foliage sounds more appealing, gather with fellow avian enthusiasts for a bird walk along the Animas River Trail or relax on an overnight stay at Willowtail Springs B&B.
Artistic renderings of the seasonal glory are available at Durango’s art galleries, providing opportunities to not only experience autumn through a new perspective, but also to take home a souvenir of the season. The First Thursday Art Walk showcases the offerings in the town, highlighting up-and-coming artists and seasonal specials. Capture your own experience on canvas at Cocktails and Creations, capitalizing on your individual interactions with fall colors and creating a personalized memento to the season.
The Sounds of the Season
The spirit of the season and the culture of Durango are displayed in the town’s live entertainment. Enjoy music amidst the crisp air and pastoral colors at Friday Nights at Foxfire Farms. Spend an engaging evening exploring the triumph of the human spirit at “Rent,” or relive many seasons of Western history through a vibrant and comedic lens at the authentic and ambient Henry Strater Theatre. Durango’s artistic offerings channel the vitality and vibrancy of the season with live music at downtown restaurant patios, ragtime at the Diamond Belle Saloon or local bluegrass paired with the fresh produce of the Farmer’s Market.
Fall-tastic Family Fun
Adults and children alike revel in the splendor of fall. Walk the Animas River Trail for easily accessible fall views and stop by the Durango Discovery Museum for activities to engage fall fans of every age. Purgatory Resort is an adventure packed destination that boasts peaceful mountain tours, intricate and varied trails and adrenaline-packed activities like the Alpine Slide and Purgatory Plunge-- all against the backdrop of fall’s most vibrant mountain colors.
Highways, Railways and Colorful Days
For some, the magnificence of the changing leaves is best viewed from the comfort of a cozy car seat or open-air gondola. By car or motorcycle, wind through scenic foliage views and stunning mountain passes on the 236-mile San Juan Skyway, stopping to stretch your legs at one of many picturesque viewpoints. Relish in the splendor of the season on the rails of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This Durango highlight provides stunning views of more remote mountain landscapes and pulls from years of storied and engaging Colorado history. For lasting mementos of nature’s annual color-swap, the Photography Train hosted by the D&SNGRR encourages both professionals and passionate enthusiasts to capture the unique views from the tracks.
Southwest Colorado’s spectacular color display inspires you to experience the magnificence of the season: through numerous outdoor activities, festive events, in the creative galleries, and in the taste of seasonal dishes and brews. The question remains, how will you remember the colors this fall?
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
Like us at “visitdurango” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.