Visiting Durango this Fall?
When Fall envelops Durango, the entire town takes on a new, magical look. Smells around town change with new seasonal menus being released at our local restaurants around Downtown.
The mornings are slow to welcome light and make for a cost setting to watch the morning frost glisten against the rising sun. The crispness in the air comforts the mad heat of the summer rush and promises glowing, crisp adventures.
For you to get the full Fall experience, we've created a simple four-day itinerary:
Sitting at 6,500 ft., Durango puts on quite a show with the turning of the leaves. When you get to town, spend the first day getting a feel for the town. Crisp Fall mornings are best spent strolling downtown and smelling the fresh baked goods and espresso coming from the local bakeries. Stop by any of our favorite breakfast spots to fill up before a full day of exploring.
After breakfast, stroll down the Animal River Trail on foot or rent a bike to see the aspens lining the trail along the water. The entire Animal River Trail spans all the way through town and is best traveled on a set of wheels.
On your way back to return your bike, stop in the art galleries downtown and pick up some local art. Our art galleries have a wide variety of different types of art to appeal to everyone. If you’re in town on a Saturday, be sure to stop at the Farmers Market as well!
After you return the bike and pick up a new painting or jewelry, hop in the car and head north. Grab a snack and all you need for a picnic from James Ranch on your way out of town. They have fresh produce delivered and picked daily from local suppliers and premade meals or the makings for a picnic charcuterie board.
Afterward, drive north over Coal Bank Pass and up Molas Pass to the turnoff for Andrews Lake. The lake sits at 10,744 feet with stunning views of the surrounding peaks and a great place to unwind and watch the sun go down.
On your way home, stop at The Nugget for a drink and a cool evening spent by the fire before heading back into Durango for the night.
Another day of exploring is on the agenda! Begin your day with breakfast at Doughworks. You are able to dine in or get a doughnut or a breakfast burrito to go. Take The Train from Rockwood Station to Cascade Canyon in an excursion lasting just over two hours with unforgettable views that are inaccessible by any roads.
After views of the canyon, it’ll be time for lunch. The Old Schoolhouse is a small ski shack normally home to mountain dwellers with its cozy environment and incredible pizza.
Continue the day of good views with a ride on Purgatory’s scenic chairlift. However, Purgatory is only operating on the weekends during the Fall. A good back-up plan is to hike to the cabin on Castle Rock trail or go for a short trail ride with Rapp Corral.
After a long day of sightseeing, treat yourself to dinner at El Moro or the Ore House. Both are busy in the Fall, so be sure to make reservations ahead of time. End the evening with an ice cream cone from Cream Bean Berry.
A full day yesterday calls for a long, beautiful drive today!
Grab breakfast at a local favorite: Oscar’s Cafe. Stop and pick up some freshly-made sandwiches and a Zuberfizz for lunch from 2nd Street Deli before heading out.
Head north of Durango on Highway 550, also known as The San Juan Skyway-one of the most beautiful drives in the United States. Starting in Durango, you will see the colors of the Animas Valley and the heart of the San Juan Mountains as you work your way to Silverton, along the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray, over to Ridgeway and Telluride, and back towards Durango through Rico and Mancos. The drive will take your breath away and showcase the glow of the Fall colors amongst the hillsides.
Stop for lunch in Silverton and coffee in Ouray. Depending on the time, grab dinner in Telluride or wait until you return to Durango. To stretch your legs, grab frozen yogurt at Top That in downtown Durango.
One day on the paved road calls for another day on a dirt road. While everyone loves to drive north on Highway 550, La Plata Canyon is overlooked more often than not and a local favorite! Grab a big breakfast at Lone Spur Cafe before heading to rent some toys for the day. Rent a Jeep from a local outfitter like Durango Rivertrippers, Colorado Outback Adventures, or Southwest Raft and Jeep.
Head west of Durango on Highway 160 and make the turnoff on CO Rd 124. Drive north on the dirt road for 10+ miles as you make your way up La Plata Canyon.
Top out on Kennebec Pass and take in the views of the San Juan Mountains to the north and the La Plata Mountains in every other direction. From there, make the mile-long road up to “The Notch,” a tunnel cut between two mountains.
Once back in town, drop the Jeep off, and spend the rest of the evening strolling through town, listening to live music, and grabbing dinner at 11th Street Station or one of the local breweries.
Nothing will top your trip off better than a carriage ride around historic downtown as the sun dips below the horizon.
The perfect end to your perfect Fall trip in Durango!