Announcing 2019 news and story ideas for IPW trade show media and attendees.
Durango, Colo. -- The Durango Area Tourism Office (DATO) is excited to share 2019 news and story ideas with IPW media attendees. Nestled in southwestern Colorado’s Animas River Valley and surrounded by rugged peaks, Durango’s remote location offers unimpeded access to some of the best cultural, historic and outdoor attractions in Colorado. From outdoor pursuits in the surrounding high desert and mountains, to fresh food raised at high-elevation farms, Native American history and Old West heritage, Durango is Southwest Colorado’s premier four-season destination, attracting more than 1.4 million visitors annually.
Old West Heritage
Incorporated in 1881, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad founded Durango to supply miners working in the San Juan Mining District. The narrow gauge railway extension connects the mountain towns of Durango and Silverton, and has traveled the 45-mile route (one way) continuously for over 135 years. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGRR) is a Registered Historical Landmark by the National Park Service serving thousands of travelers every year. Visitors can board the historic 1880’s Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGRR) for breathtaking views of the rugged San Juan National Forest and old-world atmosphere. Offering year-round service to and from Silverton (May through November), or Cascade Canyon in the winter, the D&SNGRR includes specially themed event trains, including Brew Train and the famed Polar Express™.
New for summer 2019, the D&SNGRR introduces the Cascade Canyon Express summer train ride. Perfect for families with small children or anyone with limited time to spare, the diesel-powered train departs from Rockwood Station and takes just two hours round trip. Despite being the shortest, most affordable option, the Cascade Canyon Express offers big payoffs in iconic canyon views along the highline, incredible geological features and pristine wilderness inaccessible by any roads. Use the extra time to explore Durango’s historic district or boundless outdoor recreation with over 300-miles of trails within 30-minutes of downtown.
Archaeological Center of America
Visitors can experience the archeological wonders and ancient cave dwellings at nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Mesa Verde National Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Canyon, all within an easy day trip of Durango. West of Durango, Mesa Verde Country is the archaeological center of America and allows visitors to experience the life of the Ancestral Puebloans. Ancient Pueblo ruins and artifacts dating back over 2500 years were discovered in the San Juan Basin in the 1880’s. Visitors can explore Mesa Verde National Park, the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Hovenweep National Monument, the Anasazi Heritage Center and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, or head east to the newly designated Chimney Rock National Monument.
Mesa Verde ranger-led tour tickets and merchandise are exclusively sold at the Durango Welcome Center in downtown Durango. This newly established partnership provides an incredible value-added service to visitors.
Great American Road Trip
The San Juan Skyway Scenic and Historic Byway travels from Durango and Telluride, to Mesa Verde National Park and back to Durango. The San Juan Byway is a 236-mile loop that winds through dramatic scenery in the shadow of 14,000 foot peaks, including the “Million Dollar Highway” segment from Silverton to Ouray, known as one of the most scenic drives in America.
Colorado’s newest byway, Tracks Across Borders, links over 800 years of Colorado history. From the romance of the rails and authentic Native American culture, to breathtaking scenery and endless outdoor recreation, Tracks Across Borders is a richly layered journey through two states. Spanning southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico, the 125-mile route traces the narrow gauge right-of-way of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, connecting over 800 years of Colorado history.
Arts and Cultural Establishments
Downtown Durango is on the National Register of Historic Districts and overflows with historic hotels, award-winning restaurants, art galleries and boutique shopping. Durango’s thriving art scene touts both local and internationally renowned artists. A walk down historic Main Avenue reveals everything from small, local art cooperatives to galleries hosting work from world-famous artists.
Featuring over a dozen award-winning art galleries, museums and cultural attractions, including the Durango Arts Center, Durango & Silverton Railroad Museum, Animas Museum, Powerhouse Science Center, and the Durango Fish Hatchery & Wildlife Museum. Visit the Southern Ute Museum or the Center for Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College to gain an understanding of the ancient peoples of the region, and the importance of preserving these cultural resources.
New Culinary Offerings
Despite its off the beaten path location and lack of traffic, escaping to Durango’s surrounding high desert and mountains does not mean sacrificing metropolitan tastes and flavors. Farm agritourism tours, craft breweries and local culinary products highlight a visit to Durango. With over 100 award-winning restaurants to choose from, Durango is a culinary hotspot where the food scene is constantly evolving.
New for 2019, Durango welcomes several new and exciting dining options, blending worldly flavors with Southwest Colorado’s abundant local resources. Bird’s rotisserie redefines fast food with a focus on healthy and delicious chicken, prepared using a specialty rotisserie grill from France. Located one half mile south of Purgatory Resort, the Nugget Mountain Bar is the place for après ski, hike and bike enthusiasts, featuring a full bar, gourmet food, incredible views, and a cozy atmosphere. In downtown Durango, Down the Rabbit Hole brings people together for great food, drinks, games, music, and fun with its “Alice and Wonderland” themed decor.
High Desert Meets the Mountains
Nestled in southwestern Colorado’s Animas River Valley and surrounded by rugged peaks, Durango offers more than 300-miles of world-class mountain biking and hiking within 30-minutes of downtown. The San Juan National Forest includes the largest wilderness area in Colorado – the Weminuche Wilderness – and hundreds of miles of singletrack, world class mountain biking, epic rock climbing and backcountry skiing, plus fly fishing and boating on the gold medal waters of the Animas River. West of Durango, discover the spectacular La Plata Canyon and its beautiful U formation created by glaciers with abundant wildlife, wildflowers, high-alpine meadows, and avalanche gullies.
Visitors can go remote backpacking, rafting or enjoy an extensive network of trails within five minutes of downtown Durango, including the Animas River Trail (ART). The centerpiece of the city’s trail system, the ART is a paved multi-use trail stretching nearly 7 miles through Durango’s Animas River Greenway. The ART provides easy access to a variety of parks; open spaces and natural surface trails, the community recreation center, the public library, downtown Durango, neighborhoods and schools. All of Durango's trails are built and maintained by local nonprofit trails group, Trails 2000, which hosts an interactive trail map, trail descriptions and trail conditions report online at Trails2000.org.
Rated a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, Durango will host over 30 cycling events in 2019, including the famed Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, the second longest continuously run cycling event in the United States. Cycling enthusiasts can get in on the action with a variety of events taking place nearly every week throughout the summer, including criteriums, circuit races, road races, tours, BMX races, trials, dual slaloms, team trail rides, training camps, mountain bike races, and more.
A mecca for all forms of cycling and mountain biking, Durango offers some of the best riding in North America. Access to trails, good weather and a bike friendly community are just a few reasons many cycling celebrities call Durango home, including World Champion Ned Overend, Carmen Small and American Olympians, Travis Brown, Ruthie Mathes, Todd Wells, and Howard Grotts.
Gold Medal Waters
With its high mountain creeks, clear streams, lakes, and fantastic rivers, Durango is one of Colorado’s top destinations for fishing and boating. Flowing right through Durango, enjoy rafting, fly-fishing, tubing and kayaking on the Gold Medal Waters of the Animas River. One of the best fly fishing destinations in Colorado, the Animas River is one of the easiest and best places to get some fishing in with minimal effort. Home to both rainbow and brown trout, the Animas has produced state-record fish. Spend an afternoon fly fishing in this beautiful location, or explore the backcountry to catch that next huge rainbow trout.
With the addition of Lake Nighthorse in 2018, visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming and picnicking within just a few miles of downtown Durango and the Animas River. Situated in Ridges Basin surrounded by mountains and ridgelines with dramatic cream-colored cliffs, Lake Nighthorse blends Durango’s picturesque scenery with magnificent multi-sport recreational opportunities. Pedal kayaks, SUPs, canoes and fishing gear available. Vallecito Lake and Lemon Reservoir are stunning mountain lakes, located just 40 minutes from Durango. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, standup paddle boarding, and dining at Vallecito Lake.
World-Class Skiing and Year-Round Family Fun
The 2019 ski season brought historic snowfall with over 30 feet (9 meters) of snow to Durango’s Purgatory Resort, the ideal ski area for family members of all skill levels. All kids ages 10 and younger ski free with the Power Kids Pass, no purchase required. With few crowds, affordable lift tickets, plenty of free parking, and miles and miles of varied terrain and scenic trails, Purgatory offers 92 trails, five terrain parks and 1,360 skiable acres. With 11 chairlifts and rarely any lines, it’s easy to zip around the mountain and enjoy the spectacular scenery amidst the rugged San Juan Mountains. Other winter activities include cat skiing, dog sledding, snow tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowbiking, backcountry skiing, and snowmobiling.
New for fall 2018, Purgatory introduced the Inferno Mountain Coaster, available during both winter and summer seasons. The Inferno is 4,000 feet in length with a 300 foot-vertical, and features nine switchbacks and one loop, giving guests another fun activity snow or shine. In the summer months, Purgatory also provides outdoor fun and adventure, with an exciting zipline, alpine slide, summer tubing, scenic and mountain bike chairlift rides, hiking and mountain bike trails, bungee trampolines, disc golf, UTVs, and paddle boarding.
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. Please visit www.durango.org for more information.
About Visit Durango
Nestled in southwestern Colorado’s Animas River Valley and surrounded by rugged peaks, Durango is home to some of the best outdoor, historic and cultural attractions in the state. Board the historic 1880’s D&SNG Railroad for breathtaking views and old-world atmosphere, or visit archeological wonders and ancient cave dwellings at nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Downtown Durango’s National Historic District overflows with historic hotels, award winning restaurants, breweries, art galleries, museums, and boutiques. The rugged San Juan National Forest offers hundreds of miles of world-class mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and skiing, plus fishing and boating on the Gold Medal Waters of the Animas River. North of Durango, Purgatory Resort features 92 trails, five terrain parks and 1,360 skiable acres.
Durango is easily accessible by US Hwy 550 from the north and south, US Hwy 160 from the east and west, and the Durango-La Plata County Airport. Visit Durango.org to learn more and follow @visitdurango on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.