It seems like every time summer begins, you blink and then it’s nearing over. Luckily, there are still a lot of things to do in late summer in Durango that will top those summer memories off with a bang.
Summer ends when the first yellow leaf falls. But the adventure never ends in Durango!
Float the River
With the Animas River running anywhere from 200-500 CFS (cubic feet per second), it is safe to say that the water is low compared to peak run-off season. However, there is no better time to float the river than at the end of the summer. Hot days are a great excuse to grab a raft, paddleboard or a pool floatie and coast down the Animas River. There are several companies that will rent equipment.
Ride in a helicopter
Driving around the mountains is great. Hiking amongst the peaks is exhilarating. Flying around and through the San Juans is an experience you will never forget. Let Alpine Heli Tours show you the valleys and peaks of the mountains that aren't visible via land transportation. Get a new perspective of the sleeping giants and check this experience off your bucket list.
Watch the sunset from the top of Smelter or Gudy’s Rest
We’ll let you in on a little local secret. Watching the sunset over town is one of our favorite things to do. The calming blue, pink, purple, and orange hues dance over the city in a way that breathes tranquility into your bones. Pack up dinner as a picnic and make the hike up to Gudy’s Rest to watch the sun go down over town and enjoy a scenic view with dinner. If you have a fishing license, you can also hike to the top of Smelter Mountain for more stunning views. This is a Division of Wildlife Area and requires a fishing license to venture into. Make sure to bring your headlamp for the hike down though!
As the nights get cooler and the sun continues to go down earlier, outdoor seating is the way to go! There are numerous outdoor dining options in downtown Durango or outside the city limits. Satisfy every craving with the multiple food trucks at 11th St. Station while you listen to live music. The new bump-outs on Main Ave also offer additional outdoor seating to enjoy the cool nights and your favorite downtown restaurants. Don't feel like dining downtown? Head north to sit on the patio overlooking the farm while enjoying James Ranch Grill. Travel a little further north and you will run into The Nugget. You can find craft beer, a food truck, and regular live music on their extended patio with fire pits scattered throughout along with a stunning view of the Needles Mountains.
Enjoy the summer road trip before it’s too late
Every drive on the Million Dollar Highway seems to be different than the last. In the summer, the big blue skies glow in contrast to the green of the pine trees and red of the mining tailings on the mountain. Winding around the hairpin turns and passing through secluded mountain towns never feels like time simply spent in the car. Rather, it's transportation to a magical place.
Soak in the brand new Hot Springs
Formerly known as Trimble Hot Springs, the new and improved Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa has officially opened to the public and is the hot springs Durango has been waiting for! It features three mineral hot springs pools, saltwater swimming pool, massage & body treatments on-site, lodging and so much more.
Explore SW Colorado’s hut system
San Juan Huts have been developing a remote, backcountry hut system that spans from the mountains of Colorado to the mountains of Utah. The San Juan Hut system is a series of 16 huts that caters to outdoor enthusiasts for hiking, biking in the summer or backcountry skiing in winter months. Ending the summer with one night at a hut will give you a newfound appreciation for backcountry adventurers.
Explore historic Downtown Durango
Durango comes to life in the summer! People are exploring the streets (safely and with social distancing in mind). Wonderful smells fill the entire area with aromas of delicious dinners. Cute boutiques, outdoor shops, book shops, and galleries have their doors flung wide open. Step into any of the local shops to find treasures from local artists.
Ride the train
After five days of hikes with the kids, are you exhausted trying to wear them out? One of the best things to do with families in Durango is to ride the train from Rockwood Station to Cascade and back. The tracks will take you through the Highline Canal and expose you to parts of the San Juans very few ever get to see. The kids will be amazed at the pull of the train and steam billowing through the air. Once you’re off the train, complete the experience at the Roundhouse Museum to learn more about the history of the train.
Indulge in local produce
The end of summer means one thing: harvest season! Farmers and growers from the area have been hard at work in their fields and gardens growing delicious, organic produce. Palisade peaches are a Colorado favorite and can be found all around town and at the farmers market on Saturday mornings. There will be no shortage of fresh produce from the farmers market and it is a great way to support local farmers. Chili roasting season is officially underway as well! You can find boxes of Hatch Green Chili with roasting available on-site at Albertsons and Gazpachos parking lot.
There are many things to do in Durango during the summer and many carry over into activities at the end of summer as well. As summer in the mountains starts to wind down there is a sense of urgency to squeeze all you can out of the next few weeks. Each hike feels more and more precious and each bike ride is remembered in preparation for the months ahead where that trail will be covered in snow. Make it the best summer vacation ever, abandon the typical mundane weekends, and come spend time in Durango.