It just keeps snowing in Durango, Colorado! This winter has brought epic conditions to our southwestern paradise, with a whopping 91% more snow than the historic average. With a base depth of 61” at Purgatory Resort and even more storms in the forecast, it’s proving to be a season for the books.
The conditions are prime for a Colorado vacation, which is why folks everywhere are finding any excuse to squeeze in at least one weekend of snowtime in Durango. With only 48 hours to experience all that winter has to offer, make sure to check our favorite activities off your list.
Dinner at Pop Sushi or Seasons: Aim to arrive in town before nightfall if you can, to enjoy the wonders of a rosy mountain sunset and dinner reservations at either Seasons or Pop Sushi. Both restaurants offer a great kickoff experience for someone exploring town for the first time.
Seasons, with its rotating farm-to-table menu and locally sourced ingredients, share some of the best local flavors of town. Try the fois gras mousse and grilled pork loin chop, and never skip out on dessert.
Pop Sushi, the newest addition to Chef Jimmy Nguyen’s locally owned eateries, offers a creative culinary experience of fresh ingredients, fusions, and flavor. Try the wasabi honey brie with sweet potato chips and the tuna with goat cheese, paired with a lemongrass mojito.
After dinner, take a slow ride back to the hotel and be extra careful on the roads, as winter conditions can be treacherous and the neighborhood deer are always roaming.
Get an Early Start: Make a point to wake up extra early to enjoy the experience of having all of downtown to yourself. A fresh blanket of snow and a hot cup of coffee are best enjoyed in the morning calm, so slip into one of Durango’s many cozy coffee shops to plan the rest of your day. You may want to join the locals at the Sweaty Buddha yoga studio for some morning hot vinyasa or a full day of hard skiing at Purgatory Resort.
Ski at Purgatory Resort: With a 61” snow base and 72” summit, of course you’re here to ski Purgatory! Enjoy 100 different trails winding through more than 1,500 skiable acres and five different terrain parks. Grab a beer or a bloody mary from the Bear Bar or soak in the stunning vista of the San Juan mountains from the backside restaurant Dante’s.
Cross-country ski next door: Downhill skiing isn’t the only snowsport worth trying during your stay. It won’t take much effort to travel across the street from the mountain to the Purgatory Nordic Center. With more than 20 kilometers of groomed trails tucked into a secluded segment of the national forest, you can ventureas little or as far as you’d like.
Settle in for a Sleigh Ride: If your schedule permits and you book in advance, take the opportunity to snuggle up for a winter sleigh ride from the base of Purgatory. The 45-minute tour through the falling snow can be so tranquil, especially after a few hard hours of skiing. Make a point to relax, get warm, and take plenty of pictures! Make the weekend a perfect balance of snow play and self care.
Happy Hour: When the lifts stop running, follow the crowds to the Olde Schoolhouse Saloon for a quick drink. Tucked a few miles south from Purgatory, it’s easy to not notice this local watering hole as you pass, as it’s often buried in snow. After pulling in, you’ll quickly discover what makes the Schoolhouse so special to locals - friendly faces, plenty of story-swapping, bar games, and some dangerously delicious pizza make for some special memories down the line.
Dinner at Himalayan Kitchen: As tempting as it may be, don’t fill up on pizza at the Schoolhouse! After a full day of playing hard and burning calories, there’s nothing more well-deserved than a dinner of Nepalese soul food. The gourmet experience at Himalayan Kitchen is the best way to finish a busy day. Order a round of momos and samosas for the table as you sip a glass of himalayan spiced wine. It’s a secret recipe. Kick back and take your time to dine and visit with the awesome waitstaff. They have plenty of stories to share and are unrivaled in their customer service.
Dessert at the local brewery: There are certain places in town that are just so quintessentially Durango that you can’t pass up an opportunity to visit. After dinner, let your sweet tooth guide you to Steamworks Brewing down the road for a stout bacon brownie or caramel apple skillet cookie. Sit at the bar for a spell and order a second round if it feels right.
Breakfast at Durango Diner: No matter what adventures you hope to include on your last day, you should know that Durango’s Sunday brunch scene is irresistable. In winter, we recommend ordering a big old pile of “christmas style” huevos rancheros or the Cure from Durango Diner. The restaurant itself doesn’t serve alcohol, but you’re more than welcome to seat yourself next door at El Rancho Tavern and have breakfast delivered.
If you’ve never explored Durango in the winter, riding the Durango train to Cascade Canyon is an absolute bucket list experience. Bring your camera, as you’ll discover. breathtaking views accessible only by foot or train. Even if you don’t plan to ride the train, it’s a fun experience to wave the train goodbye as it leaves the depot every morning at 9:45.
Explore the Vallecito Reservoir: If you’re looking for more things to do beyond the train, takea day trip to the local Vallecito Reservoir. At 7,800 feet, it’s the largest body of water in Colorado at that high elevation. Spend the afternoon cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling up Middle Mountain, or hiking the perimeter of the lake.
Lunch: Vallecito Lake Country Market, There’s a reason locals bring their guests here! The options are endless and just when you decide what burger you want, you realize you can have it deep fried if you'd like!
Shop Historic Main Avenue: Back from your lake excursion, take advantage of the last bits of daylight to shop the historic strip. Browse the selection at Maria’s bookshop, hunt for eclectic deals at Animas Trading Company, or shop handcrafted souvenirs at Sticks and Stones.
Dinner: Make your last night a special one at Chimayo, located right on the shopping strip. The warm, cozy atmosphere and proximity to bars and nightlife are just a bonus to the perfectly refined menu you’ll find here. Order the seasonal soup, made with local ingredients, along with the housemade cornbread and braised pork nachos. Go simple with a round of tacos or a big pizza, or enjoy something decadent from the entree menu. Cap off the night with a stop at the Bookcase and a Barber (be sure to find the password before you go).
Let the Evening Take you Away: Clear the schedule and spend your last night without any plans. Walk along Main Avenue, listen to the clopping of carriage horses as they trot through town, enjoy the sweet smells of cooking coming from every restaurant, and the hum of music as nightlife begins. Stay out as long as you’d like and maybe even extend your stay so you can enjoy it all again the next day.