Planning your Fall trip to Durango? Let us help!
Durango is the perfect place to visit during Fall for your next trip. Located in southwestern Colorado, the Durango area comes alive every Fall with tons of things to see and do. The possibilities are endless!
We know how difficult it is to plan the perfect Fall trip!
This is why we’re making it a little easier for you with our list of 50 things to do in and around Durango this Fall:
#1 Take the Train: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a piece of American mining history. Board the train in downtown Durango and see incredible scenery from either a closed or open-air train car. Depending on the weather- make sure you pick the right type of train car!
Breathtaking scenery and mountain views in remote areas of the San Juan National Forest make this a trip you don’t want to miss during Fall.
#2 Take a Roadtrip to See the Fall Colors in the High Country
Take a drive to see some of the best colors of the year. The high country (north of Purgatory Resort on Highway 550) is known for its really spectacular colors.
Drive around and take in all of the fall colors that you can. Stop at any number of the many scenic pull-outs and enjoy! We recommend checking out Molas Pass and Coal Bank Pass along the way for epic views of the aspen-covered landscape.
#3 Take a Ghost Tour of Downtown Durango
Take a guided ghost walking tour to learn about early life in Durango.
While stories of gunfights, feuds, and huge fires may seem more like fiction than fact, all the stories told have been heavily researched for accuracy.
The guides are expert storytellers, and some of them even lived the history themselves!
#4 Take an Art Class with the Durango Arts Center
Explore all the local art that Durango has to offer and make your own too! The Durango Arts Center is a great place to find handmade art and jewelry to their work and add flair to our community. Check out their website for a list of upcoming art classes this Fall.
#5 Tour the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park
See the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived.
These amazing cliff dwellings housed several families and stored crops. Guide yourself through a driving tour or increase the adventure by hiking into the dwellings with a Ranger for a closer view and insight into the daily life of the Ancestral people.
#6 Evening Soak at the Durango Hot Springs
Nestled in the Animas Valley, the Durango Hot Springs were historically used by the Ute tribe and others to heal their tired bodies. Rejuvenate yourself by soaking in the waters that provide over 20 minerals without the smell of sulfur! Explore a variety of pools, private tubs, and a mineral water shower- all with temperatures over 90 degrees (except their one designated “cold plunge” pool).
#7 Go Holiday Shopping on Main Avenue
If you’re not in the mood to deal with the hustle and bustle of regular shopping mall stores, Main Avenue in downtown Durango is a great place to do some local shopping without big crowds. Clothes, candles, books, cards, art, artisan coffee, and more! Many shops have sales during Fall as well. Shop locally for your Holiday gifts this year!
#8 Drink a Cup of Locally Roasted Coffee
Any coffee aficionado knows that small-batch roasting and freshly ground beans are essential to making a perfect cup! Many of the small coffee shops in Durango roast and grind their beans on-site. Enjoy your cup of coffee on one of the outdoor patios with views of the hustle and bustle of downtown Durango in the cool, crisp Fall air.
#9 Listen to Live Music at 11th Street Station
Hear some of Durango’s best music on this historic corner at 11th Street Station! Break out your best moves in this outdoor, industrial-chic atmosphere with a variety of local food trucks and a full bar. Check out the 11th Street Station’s website or our event calendar to see who’s playing each week during the Fall season.
#10 Mountain Bike in the High Country
Explore the high country (north of Purgatory Resort on Highway 550) by mountain bike to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city trails.
Ride the technical Colorado trail, near Molas Pass for the breathtaking scenery of the San Juan Mountains and fall colors. Challenge yourself with steep, rocky climbs and quick descents at elevations over 9,000 feet all while being immersed in golden-yellow aspen groves.
#11 Canoeing on Lemon Reservoir
Paddle a canoe on Lemon Reservoir and spot the blue herons, eagles, and osprey. This picturesque reservoir is also a fabulous spot for fishing during Fall.
#12 See the Golden Aspens on the Aspen Loop Trail
Hike, mountain bike, or gravel bike through nearly 40 miles of golden aspens. The Aspen Loop trail lies just northeast of Mancos and has incredible views of the La Plata Mountains from the trail.
#13 Take the Scenic Chair-Lift at Purgatory Resort
The best way to see the Needles Mountains is from the top of Purgatory Resort. Save your legs for more adventure and ride the chairlift up to the changing Fall colors against the backdrop of the Needle Mountains.
#14 Bouldering at the Turtle Lake Bouldering Area
Try your hand at climbing without getting far off the ground. Bouldering is rock climbing on short routes with hard moves that are close to the ground, eliminating the need for ropes. Easy access next to the road and routes of all difficulty make this the bouldering spot in Durango.
Enjoy views of Animas City Mountain to the north and scrub oak and juniper trees while bouldering at this spot.
#15 Fly Fishing at Dallabetta Park
Fish for rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout with easy access to the river. Located along the Animas River Trail, Dallabetta Park is an excellent place to hang out with the family for a day with handicap access to bathrooms and a picnic shelter.
#16 Have a Picnic Off the Rim Trail
Pack a lunch for a scenic picnic along the rim trail. Pick any spot and you’ll have an amazing view of the city of Durango and the surrounding beautiful mountains without having to venture far from downtown. There are plenty of benches along the rim and stunning sunsets in the evenings during Fall.
#17 Go Thrift Shopping for a Winter Book
#18 Bike the Animas River Trail
Bike from one end of town to the other on this paved trail that follows the winding Animas River. Bike along the entire beginner-friendly trail to see the popular whitewater rafting section and fishing spots. Stop along the way to skate park, Animas Brewing, or see the fish hatchery.
The Animas River Trail is lined with color-changing trees like oak, willow, and aspen all with a backdrop of the gorgeous Animas River.
#19 Drink Hot Chocolate and Play Board Games
Some of the best hot chocolate and game shops in Durango are found on Main Avenue.
Stop in at Guild House Games in the Main Avenue Mall for a spectacular selection of games of all kinds, then swing by Animas Chocolate for a steaming cup of indulgence while playing your favorite board game.
#20 Take a Sunset Drive to La Plata Canyon
Drive a short way west of town to La Plata Canyon and make your way up the 9.5-mile dirt road. Steep canyon walls, occasional waterfalls, and acres and acres of golden aspen trees make this drive a popular spot to visit during Fall.
#21 Play at the Powerhouse Science Center
Learn about all things science with hands-on exhibits. While the Powerhouse Science Center makes an excellent field trip for kids, it will keep people of all ages interested. Get more information about the current exhibits via the Powerhouse Science Center’s website.
#22 Take a Scenic Drive to Vallecito Reservoir
Drive from Durango to Vallecito Reservoir through winding roads that travel through open meadows, forests, and areas with lots of wildlife. Scattered aspen trees make this drive especially pretty in the Fall. Make it a loop by driving back through Bayfield.
#23 Find the Queen Bee at Honeyville
Search for the queen bee in the honeycomb at Honeyville and snap a photo with your group! She is the largest and stays inside the hive while the workers protect her from outside danger. Honeyville also has incredible honey-themed goodies (besides honey) including jams, jellies, and even mead.
#24 Enjoy an Outdoor Brunch in the Crisp Fall Air
Outdoor air and the sharp smells of fall always make food taste better. Get brunch to go and find a spot with views that look as good as your food tastes! If you prefer a proper table, Durango is filled with restaurants with outdoor seating!
#25 Play Frisbee Golf at Fort Lewis
Play up to 18 baskets on two different courses on the Fort Lewis College campus and enjoy the view looking over Durango’s Fall colors.
#26 Happy Hour at the Diamond Belle Saloon
Visit the historic Diamond Belle Saloon for a drink during happy hour. Bartenders and Saloon Girls and traditionally dressed at this ragtime bar. Order the Diamond Belle Smash for a super refreshing cocktail made from local honey vodka, or one of the many other locally-made cocktails, beers on tap, and wines.
#27 Play at the Waterpark at the Durango Community Recreation Center
Ride down the slide, float through the lazy river, and splash in the fountains at the Durango Recreation Center. This is a great place for families and adults. Once you have tired yourself out, relax in the hot tub!
#28 Hike to the Top of Smelter Mountain
Durango’s closest mountain, Smelter Mountain overlooks the entire Animas Valley including downtown.
Climb to the top of this historic mountain where ore minings used to be heated up to extract silver, copper, gold, and uranium. This short, moderate hike is popular among Durango residents and provides expansive views of the City of Durango and the whole Animas River Valley.
Remember that while you don’t need a hiking permit for Smelter Mountain, you do need a permit to hike through Colorado Parks and Wildlife areas. Those permits are available at a number of gear shops in town as well as online.
#29 Go Rollerskating at the Chapman Hill Rink
See how fast you can skate around the floor or groove to music while you skate at Disco Night at the Chapman Hill Rink! The feeling of flying around is bound to make everyone smile!
#30 Grab a Deal on Winter Gear on Main Avenue
Fall is the perfect time to get ready for winter activities! Find clothing, footwear, skis, snowboards, or anything else you need at the many sporting goods stores on Main Avenue.
#31 Ride the Inferno Mountain Coaster at Purgatory through the Fall Colors
Zoom down the mountain through a whirlwind of Fall colors via the Inferno Mountain Coaster at Purgatory Resort. You can control your speed with the hand brake and take your time enjoying the views or twist and turn as fast as gravity will allow!
#32 Mountain Bike the Twin Buttes Trails
Incredibly close to downtown, the Twin Buttes Trails quickly give the feeling of being farther away. Medium inclines and tight banked turns and make these trails tons of fun. A variety of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails make this a great place for people of all ability levels. Along the trail, you’ll be greeted with views of the ponderosa pines and the juniper-cover buttes.
#33 Climb the 500 Steps of the Sky Steps
Experience the commute many Fort Lewis students take to class. The Sky Steps start walking distance from downtown and take you to the top of the rim on the Fort Lewis College Campus via 500+ wooden steps. While the climb can be intense for some, the views from the top of the rim are legendary. You’ll get a nearly 180-degree view of the whole Animas Valley from the top.
#34 Cheer on the Fort Lewis Skyhawks During an Afternoon Football Game
Watch on as the Fort Lewis Skyhawks play against other colleges at the natural grass Ray Dennison Memorial Field. Bring your best cheer game to help the team soar to the win! Check their schedule for start times and tickets.
#35 Go Horseback Riding in the Animas Valley
One of the best ways to see southwestern Colorado is doing it like the cowboys! Choose from several different horseback riding outfitters and see the Fall colors from the saddle.
Horseback riding is a great way to see the peaks - mountain peaks and peak fall colors!
#36 Go Country Line Dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon
Line dancing is a fun way to get in touch with your countryside even if you’re from the big city. Break out your boots, moves, and grooves at this old-school dancehall. Located in downtown Durango, the Wild Horse Saloon has live music on weekends and a full bar; an essential part of Durango’s western experience!
#37 Take a Walk on the Beach at Mancos State Park
Enjoy the serene waters of the Jackson Gulch Reservoir from the beach in this small and secluded state park: Mancos State Park. Gorgeous views of the La Plata Mountains and the aspen forest creates the perfect mountain paradise during Fall.
#38 See the Cows at James Ranch
Take a guided tour around the ranch to see the cattle grazing and watch the action at the milking parlor. These are very happy cows! James Ranch uses regenerative agriculture techniques. For their cattle, they are 100% grass-fed and rotate to a new pasture every one to three days.
Check with the crew at the James Ranch or call ahead to schedule a tour of the ranch.
#39 Hike the Riverfront Trails at Oxbow Park and Preserve
Play at the Oxbow Park and Preserve and follow the river on the mellow dirt trails for views of the calm water and wildlife. These scenic trails at the north end of town offer fantastic views of mountains to the north of town and the flat valley that the river has carved through. Beavers are sometimes seen in this area! You’ll enjoy views of the winding Animas River with a backdrop of tall oaks and willows- red and orange in color.
#40 Watch the Climbers at X-Rock
Take a short hike into the most popular climbing crag in town!
Watch as climbers scale the sandstone on climbs with varying difficulty. A large X in the rock is visible from the road. The middle of the X is also a great rest spot for people climbing the cracks in the rock.
The climbing area is full of oaks that change bright orange and red during the Fall season.
#41 Attend a Fall-Themed Event
Autumn Arts Festival - September 18th and 19th
Showcases fine arts and crafts just one block away from Main Avenue.
Visit 90 exhibits and try to guess the winning piece of art!
Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering - September 30th thru October 3rd
Listen to music, poetry, and storytelling from musicians and storytellers that will make you appreciate the cowboy lifestyle and laugh until your stomach hurts.
Animas Balloon Rally - October 15th, 16th, and 17th
Take a free tethered balloon ride all day on October 15th, then watch the balloons glow in the evening light from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Watch the sky fill with hot air balloons each morning during the mass ascension from 8 am to 9 am.
Search for the perfect pumpkin and pick it straight from the vine.
Great activity for couples, families, and groups of kids.
Pick your own pumpkins every weekend in October.
Visit the country store with fresh produce, pastries, and canned goods from this family-owned farm.
Hatch Green Chili Roasting
Stop by Albertsons to watch Hatch Green Chilis being roasted in the parking lot.
Hatch green chilis are a Durango favorite and only found fresh in the southwest.
#42 Take a Self-Guided Tour of Durango’s Residential and Business Historic District
Pick up a guide from the Durango Welcome Center and learn all about the history of many of the buildings on Main Avenue and all over downtown. Many buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s are still standing today. Learn about their fascinating history as you wander the streets of Durango.
#43 Take Selfies in Front of North Twilight Peak Off of Coal Bank Pass
Pull off Highway 550 at Coal Bank Pass for views of the jagged North Twilight Peak, standing at 13,075 feet. These mountains are nicknamed “The American Alps” because of their steepness and grandeur. Plenty of pull-off areas from the road provides easy access for incredible selfies against the golden aspen forests and towering mountain peaks.
During the later months of Fall, the mountains will be covered with snow!
#44 Take a Scenic Drive to Silverton
Experience the incredible San Juan Mountains on this drive so scenic, it is part of The Million Dollar Highway scenic loop! A full parking lot and restrooms at the top of Molas Pass, which is the highest point at nearly 11,000 feet. Stunning views and photo opportunities abound around every corner.
#45 See the Waterfalls at Cascade Creek
Hike a short way down into Cascade Creek canyon and follow the river upstream the narrow canyon. Take photos of the waterfall that ends in a boiling pool with the canyon walls just several feet apart. Dip your feet into the cold mountain water and watch climbers ascend the rock wall over the water.
#46 Take a Driving Tour of the “Tour of Carvings” at Vallecito
After a devastating fire on Missionary Ridge in 2002, local artist Chad Haspels made 13 wood carvings showing scenes of the community recovering from the fire. Make sure to take note of the flames at the top of each carving. Placed intermittently around Vallecito, the "Tour of Carvings" is a very unique art and history tour of southwestern Colorado!
#47 Beer Tasting at One of Durango’s Microbreweries
Belly up to the bar at one of Durango’s many microbreweries. Many of the breweries make their beer on sight! Ska Brewing, Steamworks, and Animas Brewing are just a few of the local microbreweries. At Steamworks, all the beer is named after something local, making it a fun way to test your local knowledge!
#48 Cozy Up in a Cabin with a Movie Filmed in Durango
Book yourself a cabin for a true western feel while watching a movie. Across Wide Missouri, Around the World in 80 Days, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are just a few of the movies filmed in or near Durango.
#49 Sit and Stare at the Needle Mountains
The Needle Mountains are a series of 13,000 mountains directly across from Purgatory Resort. During Fall, these mountains are covered in golden aspens and tend to even get snow as early as mid-October.
As the crow flies, the summit of the peaks is as close as five miles away. This fact alone allows these mountains to towering over you in the distance.
The Needle Mountains are an incredible sight to see during Fall. We recommend taking some time to sit and stare at the peaks from the Durango Nordic Center or from a scenic viewpoint somewhere on the grounds of Purgatory Resort.
#50 Sign the Care for Durango Pledge and Win a Trip
Currently, Visit Durango is offering a Durango dream vacation through our Care for Durango pledge. During your visit, read our resources on being a safe and responsible visitor and you could be rewarded with a return trip to Durango!
Learn how to be a responsible visitor and sign the pledge today!
While Durango is known for its Summer-based activities and adventures, Fall in Durango is a special time of the year. As the trees change and the weather cools, the incredible scenery and things to do other gets more enticing and exciting.
While you can’t do everything on our list, we hope that we’ve provided you with some off-the-beaten-path and unique experiences for your upcoming Fall visit to Durango.
Learn more and find more things to do with our Fall planning guide.