Local Tips

Our Favorite Events

No matter the season, there are always events that Durangoans anticipate. Whether it’s Snowdown in the winter, Taste of Durango in the spring, Fiesta Days and the Fair in the summer, or Oktoberfest in the fall, each season brings locals together to enjoy the wonderful town of Durango. No matter what time of year you visit, you will find an event that suits you!


Polar Express During the Winter

The Polar Express Train ride is fun for the entire family and kids of all ages. Everyone is encouraged to dress in PJs, sing their favorite carols, and bring the story to life. Enjoy cookies, hot cocoa, and the novel written by Chris Van Allsburg, narrated by Santa's helpers, all while on a magical journey to see Santa aboard a historic steam train. The Polar Express generally runs from mid-November to early January. Visit the Durango & Silverton Train's website for more information.

Snowdown, the original “Cabin Fever Reliever,” is a mainstay winter event and the locals’ way to beat those winter blues! Each year features a new and different crazy theme. For a true local experience, don your favorite costume, partake in the hilarious weekday events, and don't miss the light parade, held on the Friday evening of Snowdown. With many events throughout the week, both adult-only and family-friendly, everyone is bound to find something that suits them. Typically held the last weekend of January or the first weekend of February. Visit snowdown.org for more information.


A favorite spring event of both locals and visitors alike, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown features a full weekend of world-class bluegrass music. With a full line-up of different events, including many family-friendly ones, downtown Durango comes alive with music in mid-April. Experience the Meltdown in true local fashion by grabbing a drink at the Diamond Belle Saloon and listening to the impromtu jam sessions taking place in the lobby of the Strater Hotel. 

The Iron Horse Bike Race, which has been running every Memorial Day weekend since 1972, is a true Durango event you won't find anywhere else. You can watch other bikers or you yourself can race the train all the way to Silverton! Take a day trip to greet the cyclists at the finish line in Silverton and enjoy this historic mining town for an afternoon.


River Surfing During Animas River Days During Spring

Durango has long been a water town, and our locals love nothing more than a good day on the river! Animas River Days is a full celebration of our community’s love and appreciation for our local river. Watch as pro and amateur kayakers and rafters alike take on the rapids, or give them a ride yourself! Even if you aren’t into water sports you can watch from the river trail and cheer on your favorite team(s) or person(s) in surf/SUP competitions, raft rodeos, kayak slaloms, and more. Plus don’t miss a true local favorite: the Boat Parade. Typically held in early June; click here for more information.

For a true taste of Durango's Western heritage, don't miss Fiesta Days. This celebration features rodeos and a parade. For over 80 years, Fiesta Days has been an important element of Durango that celebrates Durango's past, while providing fun and entertainment during Durango's present! Generally held in mid-July.

Featuring a carnival, demolition derby, animal and craft exhibits, rodeos, and more, the La Plata County Fair, is a quintessential summer event like none other. The fair takes place for an entire week in mid-August, giving you plenty of time to see all you want (and maybe enough to circle back around for another peak at the bunnies)!

As the kids get ready to head back to school in late August, San Juan Brewfest gives the adults something else to look forward to! This adults-only event showcases the many local breweries in and around Durango. Paired with live local music, this is the perfect chance to try new brews or have more of your favorites!


Oktoberfest serves up all of your favorite local brews from six local breweries. With food and activities for all ages, this is a great family-friendly event. Stop by and enjoy your favorite brews or non-alcoholic beverages while enjoying live music and games. Typically held in mid-October. Click here for more information. 

Celebrate the culture and heritage of the American cowboy at an event unlike any other. The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. This multi-day event held in early October features evening performances by cowboy poets and songwriters. Plus, take in Durango’s only completely non-motorized parade.


Our Favorite Trails

Fall on the Colorado Trail

Hiking, biking, and even horseback riding are more than just forms of transportation in Durango; they’re lifestyles! Enjoy these favorite activities of locals on any one of our number of trails.

Durango offers many stores to buy or rent gear, as well as designated places for bikers and trails filled with beautiful scenery. Even if something mellow is more your speed, the river trail is an easy, paved trail stretching seven miles right through town.

For other local trails, check out any of these options or visit Durango Trails for interactive maps and more information.

Animas River Trail

  • Easy
  • Spanning nearly 7 miles, this paved trail provides easy access to a variety of places in Durango.


Colorado Trail

  • Easy to Difficult
  • Stretching almost 500 miles from Denver to Durango, the local section of this trail allows hikers to experience the beautiful scenery in a different way.


Engineer Mountain Trail

  • Moderate
  • A popular hiking spot in the summertime, this trail is around 4 and a half miles round trip. Offering spectacular views of the Needles Mountains and Animas Valley, this trail has long been a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Fort Lewis/Rim Drive Trail

  • Easy to Moderate
  • Extending around 6 miles, this trail offers a great view of Durango, and is easy to access from right downtown.


Horse Gulch/Telegraph Trail

  • Easy to Difficult
  • Varying in length, this trail system is great for people of all levels of experience. Users can also enjoy 360 views and open spaces at the top of the mesa.


Our Favorite Restaurants

Dinner Plates at Seven Rivers Restaurant in the Sky Ute Casino Resort

To visit like a local, you’ll have to eat like a local! Which, in Durango, means enjoying delicious, unique food at any of our amazing restaurants. Not to mention all of the coffee shops in town. It's like the town runs on it (spoiler- it does!).

Most local favorites can be found on Main Avenue and even in the most hidden places, like the Steaming Bean Coffee Shop, tucked below the Irish Embassy bar. So when in Durango, make sure to visit some local restaurants and taste some really great, award-winning food.

Look for locals’ favorites specials, such as Burger Nights at Olde Tymers, or Taco Tuesday at Gazpachos, or any number of daily happy hour specials throughout town. See our tips of how and where to dine like a local in Durango, our most celebrated brunch destinations, or even our own Durango cocktail bucket list.


Our Favorite Lakes and Rivers

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Haviland Lake During Spring

Durango locals spend a lot of time outside, particularly on the river and the various lakes that surround the area. In the late spring/early summer you’ll find locals readying their rafts and kayaks for spring runoff-- the time of year when the snow melts and makes the river surge. Rafting at this time of year is fast and adrenaline-pumping, with exciting whitewater rapids. As the summer continues on, days will get hotter and the water will get lower, making for perfect tubing conditions! Look for many tubers and stand-up paddle boarders to dot the river in late July and early August; rent your own equipment and join in!

Our large number of flat water lakes also provide great avenues to enjoy the sun and water. Rent a boat or paddleboard at Vallecito Lake, Lemon Reservoir, or Durango's newest body of water, Lake Nighthorse, for a day on the water, or hike to any number of high-altitude lakes for clear, blue water and unparalleled views!


Our Favorite Winter Activities

Alpine Glow Skiing and Snowboarding Shoot at Purgatory During Winter

Besides all of the fun spring, summer, and fall bring to Durango, winter season is a perfect time to break out your skis and snowboards and head up to the mountains.

Durango has several different options for winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or sledding. If you don’t have gear or can’t bring it along, you can rent or buy gear from several stores in town. You can go to Purgatory Resort (or Purg, as the locals affectionately call it!), Ski Hesperus, Wolf Creek, or Chapman Hill.


Follow These Local Tips

Mind the Parking Meters

  • Parking meters are enforced Monday-Friday, from 8am to 6pm

  • Parking is free at meters on weekends and on most holidays

  • Failure to pay your meter will result in a $25 parking ticket

  • No on-street parking is allowed in the Central Business District (downtown Durango) between 2am and 5am, and vehicles parked there between those hours will be towed at the owner's expense

  • Overnight parking is available at any of the municipal parking lots (Transit Center or along 2nd Avenue). Day parking passes are also available for these lots, and can be purchased at the Durango Transit Center.


Local Lingo

Things are pronounced a little differently around here. Speak like the locals speak by following these easy guidelines!

  • We pronounce Florida (as in the river or road) as “Flor-EE-da,” not “Flor-id-UH”
  • Vallecito is pronounced  “Vigh-SEE-do,” not “VAL-uh-sit-oh”
  • The Strater Hotel is pronounced “STRAY-tuhr,” not “Strah-DER” or “STRAT-Ler”
  • Our neighbor to the north, Ouray, is pronounced “YOUR-ray” not “OO-ray”


Dress Like a Local

  • Be prepared for drastic changes in weather. Always, and during any month.
  • Dress in layers and no matter what month or season it is, and always pack for both warm and cold weather (this applies to all outdoor activities you plan on doing).
  • It’s not unusual for us to have 70 degree days in March and 40 degree days in late May. Even in the summer, when things are predictably warm everyday, temperatures can dip 20-30 degrees at night.
  • Be prepared to see locals wearing shorts, flip flops, and a heavy fleece sweater!



  • Don’t use your phone while driving. The law prohibits texting and driving in Colorado.
  • If you do need to use your phone, pull over, have a passenger use the phone, or use a hands-free system (available in most newer vehicles)
  • Respect cyclists by giving them 3 feet of space between them and your car. Remember that in Colorado, cyclists sometimes have designated bike zones near car lanes.
  • During bad weather conditions, slow down or pull over.
  • If you’re driving over a mountain pass, remember proper etiquette requires that those going slower stay in the right lane to allow other cars to pass.
  • If you need to take a mountain descent much slower than the speed limit, turn on your hazard lights while you descend.
  • If you see something interesting, pull completely over on the side of the road before stopping to take pictures.
  • Be prepared! Many areas around Durango might have limited or patchy cell phone service.
  • Durango is a small town, and as such can become congested with limited parking. Commute the Durango way, and walk, ride a bike, or ride the trolley to get from place to place in town.



  • Be prepared for getting stuck or emergencies
  • Pack for overnight (just in case), and make sure to have an emergency kit in the car.
  • A lot of Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management roads don’t have cell service
  • Learn what roads are open or closed for what activity you plan on doing


Travel and Lodging

  • When booking your hotel, make sure to look up events during your stay. During some of the bigger events it can be a little harder to book the room or hotel of your choice.
  • Try traveling during the shoulder seasons (November-April) for the best rooms at the cheapest rates (plus, you'll get to see a new season of Durango!)