Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Durango, CO

  • Published 2022/10/28

Durango is a city located in La Plata County in the southwestern portion of Colorado.

It is near the Animas River, just below the La Plata Mountains, with an elevation of 6,512 feet.

The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad founded the city in 1880 and named it after Durango, Mexico.

Later, it became a shipping point for farm products and local natural resources like timber, gold, silver, and lead.

Beverages production was also already present during that time.

According to the 2020 United States Census, the population in this picturesque city has reached 19,071.

And as per the same census, Durango’s land area is 10,946 acres, including 1,533 acres of water.

Durango is known for its San Juan National Forest, which attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists from different parts of the world.

But this city has so much more to offer!

Here are some of the best things to do in Durango, Colorado, that you and your loved ones should try:

Ride a Train at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Sherry Talbot /

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is located on Main Ave.

Is has started operations in 1881.

This attraction features vintage stream and diesel-powered trains that will take you into the astonishing mountains of the San Juan National Forest up to the mining town of Silverton.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will give you the experience of traveling the exact paths where cowboys, track miners, and settlers of the Old West took over a hundred years ago.

View Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Nick Fox /

Hotel packages, guided ATV rides, Jeep Tour & Train Package, rail and raft adventures, ziplines rides, and snowmobile adventure packages are also available.

Make sure to seize every moment and relive the city’s rich history while on board.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad received the Number One North American Train Trip award by National Geographic Traveler in August 2010 and the 5 Star Award for Best Attraction award from the National Association of Travel Journalists.

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad View

Layne V. Naylor /

Revisit the Past at Animas Museum

Animas Museum on West 2nd Ave. is owned and operated by the La Plata County Historical Society.

It was previously the 1904 Animas City School building before becoming a local history museum.

Inside, you can take a trip down memory lane with its exciting exhibits and collections.

Animas Museum is home to a restored 1905 classroom with high ceilings, double-hung windows, and slate blackboards.

Also located inside is the Law and Disorder collection, which was opened in 2012.

It tells the true story of what it’s like to live in the Wild West.

There is also a native American gallery in Animas Museum where you will learn about the Basketmaker population that lived in the Animas Valley.

Be Fascinated with Science inside the Powerhouse – Science Center/Tinkerlab

The Powerhouse – Science Center/TinkerLab is an interactive science center in Camino Del Rio.

It was opened to the public on Fer. 23, 2011.

It offers a variety of exhibits, programs, and activities that aim to give you an entertaining and mind-blowing look into the past, present, and future of science.

The Powerhouse – Science Center/TinkerLab is a popular destination for students on a field trip for its engaging science experiments and demonstrations.

You may also enroll your children in its Powerhouse Internship, where they can get innovative education that will be useful in their future careers.

Other fun activities offered in The Powerhouse – Science Center/TinkerLab are homeschool free visits, camp discovery, early education, and volunteer activities.

Show Your Artistic Side at Durango Arts Center

Front view of Durango Arts Center

Trever Gearhart /

Durango Arts Center is a multi-faceted hub on East 2nd Ave.

If you’re into arts, then this place is definitely for you.

This community arts center aims to boost the city’s contemporary visual and performing arts.

Durango Arts Center also promotes arts education for all with the yearly Durango Autumn Arts Festival.

Here, you can watch fantastic theater performances produced by talented and professional people in the theater industry.

Durango Arts Center is also the best place where you can enroll your little one in some visual and performing arts education.

Aside from that, you may also enjoy its exhibits featuring the works of local, national, and international artists.

You can also experience special activities like art lectures, film screenings, demonstrations, and workshops here.

Challenge Yourself for an Adventure at Durango Trails

Durango Trails is located on Main Ave.

It is composed of more than 300 miles of trails that you and your loved ones will enjoy.

These trails are also easily accessible within 30 minutes of downtown Durango.

Durango Trails is the right spot if you’re looking for some hiking, biking, walking, and trail-running adventure.

Other outdoor activities you may enjoy here at Durango Trails are backpacking, climbing, and even horseback riding.

This picture-perfect spot becomes a haven for fat biking, snowshoeing, and ski touring enthusiasts during winter.

Taste Delicious Wines at Four Leaves Winery

Four Leaves Winery is situated in a historic building on Main Ave.

You’ll be welcomed by the overwhelming aroma of delicious and imported wines as you enter the place.

All of the wines sold at Four Leaves Winery are made on-site and the grapes used are imported from all parts of the globe.

The fermentation, blending, and bottling processes are done at Four Leaves Winery, so you can assure of its high quality and satisfying taste.

You’ll never run out of options here, from white, red, fruit, and dessert wines.

What’s more exciting is that Four Leaves Winery will let you create your wine that also comes with a custom-designed label.

Be One with Nature at San Juan National Forest

Nature at San Juan National Forest

Nina B /

San Juan National Forest is located on the northern side of the city.

You will pass this national forest through the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

It covers 1.8 million acres in the southwestern part of the state.

This forest is home to fast-flowing rivers, towering trees, and snow-capped mountains.

Nature at San Juan National Forest

James Orndorf /

San Juan National Forest is a top-choice destination for locals and tourists who love hiking, cycling, and camping.

San Juan National Forest is also a perfect destination for river rafting and various snow activities.

It has district offices in Bayfield, Dolores, and Pagosa Springs.

Nature at San Juan National Forest

Nina B /

Prepare for an Action-Packed Adventure at Durango Adventures and Zipline Tours

Durango Adventures and Zipline Tours is located on Highway 160.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you shouldn’t miss out on their world-class zipline adventure.

Durango Adventures and Zipline Tours has 12 long and fast zip lines built on gigantic timber towers seated in towering Ponderosa Pines.

Aside from the adrenaline rush, the breathtaking view of the mountains in all directions will make your zipline adventure a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You and your adventure-driven friends may also try climbing on their 45 feet tall tower.

Other activities offered at Durango Adventures and Zipline Tours are laser tagging, mountain biking, hiking, and axe throwing.

Enjoy Snow Activities in Chapman Hill Ice Rink and Ski Area

Chapman Hill Ice Rink and Ski Area is a winter wonderland situated on Florida Rd.

It is Durango City’s seasonal ice rink and ski hill, where you can enjoy snow activities like drop-in ice skating and skiing.

If you’re feeling a little more sporty, you can also play hockey with your friends and family.

Ice skating and roller skating lessons are also available here.

Chapman Hill Ice Rink and Ski Area also has snowmaking equipment that assures quality conditions during winter.

This place turns into a nice hiking, biking, and roller-blading spot during summer.

Enjoy the views of the mountains and luscious trees in Chapman Hill Ice Rink and Ski Area at any season.

Book Your Stay at Purgatory Resort

View of Purgatory Resort

Kara Grubis /

Purgatory Resort is a famous winter destination in Skier Pl.

Both locals and tourists await the annual snowfall in the area of 260 inches that covers the surrounding mountains, giving a serene and relaxing view for everybody to enjoy.

Purgatory Resort also has an array of slopes and trails perfect for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and even other activities like biking, hiking, and wall climbing.

View of Purgatory Resort

Kara Grubis /

You may also try their zip lines, disc golf, trampolines, and Alpine Slide rides.

Purgatory Resort has on-site lodging.

You may choose from their luxury ski-in and ski-out resort, townhomes, and spacious condos.

This all-in-one destination is perfect if you dream of a cozy staycation and an adventure-filled time away from your everyday stress.

View of Purgatory Resort

Kara Grubis /

Buy Fresh Produce at James Ranch

James Ranch is located on Durango’s northern side, just within the Animas River Valley.

This is where you can buy 100% grass-fed beef and whey-fed pork.

It is also home to top-quality artisan cheese and raw milk from grass-fed Jersey cows.

Fresh eggs from pastured hens are also available here at James Ranch.

This ranch also offers tours, including an estimated three-mile walking tour from the barn to the flower garden.

This flower garden boasts beautiful and colorful flowers of Mountain Belle and the famous James Ranch sugar snap peas.

You may also avail of their bike tours, where you can explore the area using your bike.

James Ranch also has a grill where you can buy “table to farm” dishes and organic non-alcoholic beverages.

Beers, wines, and ciders produced locally are also available.

Spend the Day at Durango Community Recreation Center

Durango Community Recreation Center is a 71,557-square-foot establishment located on Main Ave.

Here, you and your loved ones may spend the day swimming in their lap and leisure pool or being extra adventurous with their water slides and outdoor splash pads.

You may also use Durango Community Recreation Center’s indoor track, gymnasium, racquetball courts, and aerobic studio.

The center is the best place if you want to spend quality time with friends and family, aside from being a place to exercise.

Durango Community Recreation Center’s gymnasium offers cardiovascular and weight equipment.

Climbing walls, outdoor playgrounds, and even meeting and babysitting areas are available here.

Destress and Recharge at Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa is situated on Co Rd 203.

Conde Nast Traveler readers voted it the #1 Historic Monument in the World.

Similarly, the National Geographic Traveler selected it as “One of the 50 places of a lifetime – the World’s Greatest Destinations.”

You’ll be mesmerized by the picture-perfect views of the mountains while soaking in their natural mineral hot springs.

Don’t miss the reflexology walking path, mineral hot spring rain tower, and resort-style swimming pools.

Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa also offers traditional and relaxing Swedish massage.

Try their massage therapy which will surely take all your stress away and will improve your flexibility.

Facial massages are also best to try here.

Dance the Night Away at Wild Horse Saloon

Wild Horse Saloon is Durango’s favorite dance hall and western bar located on East 2nd Ave.

A day full of hiking and museum visits is best capped with a bottle or two of beer here at Wild Horse Saloon.

Let live music entertain you, perfect for a night of dancing with friends.

A full bar and karaoke are also available.

You may also rent out Wild Horse Saloon for your next birthday celebration.

It is also suited for corporate events, bachelorette parties, non-profits, and exercise classes.

Final Thoughts

Offering breathtaking mountain views, exciting galleries and museums, and a relaxing spa and resort, Durango is truly a destination that every local ad tourist shouldn’t miss.

This city is jampacked with activities, which will surely leave a spot in your heart.

On your next vacation trip with friends and family (even alone), take your time exploring this city.

For more convenient navigation, check out this list of the best things to do in Durango, Colorado.

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