Fun Facts About Durango

For those looking to explore and learn a little more about Durango- we've compiled a huge list of some fun facts about our amazing community:

  • Durango’s name comes from the Basque word “Urango” meaning “water town.” Colorado Governor A.G. Hunt gave our town its name after Durango, Mexico.
  • The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company founded the town of Durango in 1880.
  • Durango is located in the Animas River Valley at the intersection of US Highways 160 and 550. It is surrounded by the gorgeous San Juan Mountains in La Plata County, Colorado.
  • Durango has over 300 days of sunshine a year.
  • The elevation of Durango is 6,512 feet above sea level.
  • The City of Durango comprises 5.6 square miles.
  • The word, “Hermosa” means beautiful in Spanish. Hermosa Cliffs are located north of Durango.
  • The Ancestral Puebloans Native Americans were the first settlers in the area but vacated the four corners around 1300.
  • Mesa Verde National Park was established as a National Park in 1906.
  • There are more than 1,000 archaeological sites within Durango city limits.
  • The train celebrated 120 years of service in 2002.
  • The narrow-gauge rails are thirty-six inches apart, standard gauge rails are fifty-six inches.
  • The D&SNGRR Gauge Railroad carries approximately 200,000 passengers a year.
  • Between 1880 and 1920, 12 different banks operated in Durango.
  • The Powerhouse Science Museum opened in the restored Durango Power House—the oldest known steam-powered AC power plant surviving today.
  • The Animas River’s official name is El Rio de las Animas Perdidas, roughly translated, this means, “The River of Lost Souls.” The Spanish explorers named the river after several explorers who traveled on the river and were lost. Their bodies were never found, and last rites could not be administered, being devoted Catholics, they believed the dead men’s souls could not enter heaven and would be relegated to Purgatory.
  • There are over 40 miles of groomed terrain at Purgatory Resort.
  • There are over 260 inches of snowfall each year.
  • Purgatory Resort was voted as having the best "Ski Weather in America" more than 10 times by SKI Magazine.
  • The Animas River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire Western United States.
  • There is a two-mile stretch on the Animas River that is “gold medal” water. “Gold Medal” water has the highest quality of fishing for large trout. Lures and flies only are allowed on this stretch of water.
  • Average yearly peak flows are measured in Durango at around 5,000 cubic feet per second. During years of high runoff, the volume reaches 7,000 cubic feet per second.
  • The Strater Hotel, Durango’s elegant landmark was built in 1887. Celebrated 125 years in 2012!
  • Jack Dempsey fought Andy Malloy on October 7, 1915, in the Jarvis Suites Hotel. Dempsey, born in southern Colorado, became the heavyweight champion in 1919.
  • The Iron Horse Bike Classic began in 1972. The road bikers race the D&SNGRR to Silverton on Memorial Day weekend. It is the longest continuously run cycling event in the United States.
  • Fort Lewis College was originally a Native American school located on the Ute Reservation.
  • The local newspaper, The Durango Herald was originally The Durango Democrat in the 1880s.
  • The honeybees in Honeyville live for 6 weeks working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also fly at speeds as fast as 14 miles an hour.
  • The Diamond Belle Saloon opened its doors in 1957 and has a bullet hole in the far-east drawer behind the bar.
  • Durango Hot Springs' mineral water contains the following minerals: zinc, sulfate, sodium, potassium, phosphate, nitrogen, manganese, magnesium, lithium, iron, fluoride, chloride, calcium, and boron.
  • Louis L’Amour wrote the Sackett Series, a set of western novels while staying at The Strater Hotel.
  • Durango has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco (2006, Denver Post)!