If admiring dramatic landscapes, enjoying whitewater rafting, and experiencing dynamic art sound like something you might be into, a visit to Durango might just be what you need. One of Colorado’s best-kept secrets, Durango is a historic mining town well-known for its authentic Western heritage and tons of natural attractions. Whether you wish to enjoy outdoorsy activities such as mountain biking and ice climbing, experience the town’s vibrant nightlife, or discover the downtown area which is home to many shops and restaurants, there are many interesting things to do in Durango CO all year long.
1. Durango and Silverton Railroad
Hop aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge, a historic steam-operated train that takes passengers on a scenic journey through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. You might even recognize the train from the popular Hollywood movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. The views during the train ride are breathtaking, so it comes as no surprise that this extraordinary experience was voted “One of the top 10 most exciting train rides in the world” by the Society of American Travel Writers.
2. Historic Downtown Durango
Looking for things to do in Durango with kids? Visit the incredible Powerhouse Science Center, an interactive maker and science center that offers numerous hands-on exhibits, a wide range of programs, and challenges for the little ones. Opened in 2011, the center is situated inside an old power plant and allows children to make their rockets, admire 3D models, and much more. Open all year long, the Powerhouse Science Center is definitely a place worth visiting if you are traveling with children.
3. The Powerhouse – Science Center
If you wish to learn more about the history of this lovely town, pay a visit to the Animas Museum. Here, you will find a variety of photo archives, as well as a section that is dedicated to pottery, weavings, and basketry. One of the most famous exhibits at the museum is a replica of a classroom from the early 20th century which boasts those old-school slate blackboards, high ceilings, and ornate desks. If you are interested, the Animas Museum also offers guided tours of downtown Durango, CO.
4. Mesa Verde National Park
There is no shortage of fun things to do in downtown Durango. With a mixture of historic buildings and modern amenities, the downtown area is a great place to spend a whole day. You will find many art galleries and fine dining establishments on the main streets, as well as numerous brewpubs, shops, and saloons. If you wish to go shopping in Durango CO, in the downtown area there is everything from clothing and furniture to jewelry and souvenirs.
5. Animas Museum
Mesa Verde National Park is a Native American site and a must-visit place while staying in Durango. Located just a short drive from the city, this fantastic national park used to be a native settlement and many ruins from that time can be found in the area. A guided tour such as the popular Full-day Mesa Verde Discovery Tour from Durango is the best way to experience this amazing site and it also allows travelers to hear unique stories about the settlement and skip long lines in the busy season.
6. Four Leaves Winery
Wine lovers can head out to the Four Leaves Winery. Located just across the street from the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad station, this boutique winery offers wine tasting and they can even teach you how to make your own wine. Everything here is made from scratch. They blend and ferment all of their wines in front of visitors and it’s also a great place to purchase a bottle of local wine to take back home with you.
7. Durango Arts Center
Do you wish to participate in diverse arts experiences? Welcome to the Durango arts center, a multi-faceted center for community arts that offers everything from dynamics exhibits and arts education to contemporary visual and performing arts. All of their programs are suitable for all ages and abilities and their annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival is one of the most anticipated events in Durango.
8. Purgatory Ski Resort
Travelers looking for things to do in Durango Colorado in November should pay a visit to the Purgatory Ski Resort. Attracting thousands of boarders and skiers from the country, this extraordinary ski resort is home to both beginner and intermediate runs and features 10 lifts and 85 well-maintained trails that span over nearly 45 miles. If you are not a fan of busy skiing resorts, you’ll be happy to hear that Purgatory has been named as the second least crowded ski destination in the United States. Vacationers can also stay at the Purgatory Lodge which offers a wide range of facilities including spacious rooms, restaurants, hot tub, and a swimming pool.
9. Colorado Trail
Stretching more than 450 miles from Denver to Durango, Colorado Trail is one of the best long-distance trails in the country. Whether you wish to go hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, this trail offers something for every traveler. It also boasts spectacular views of lakes, creeks, and other wilderness areas. The Colorado trail starts at Junction Creek and one of the most popular lookout spots is Gudy’s Rest which offers magnificent views of the mountains.
10. San Juan National Forest
With nearly 2 million acres of wilderness, San Juan National Forest is a must-visit destination for all nature lovers staying in Durango. The natural beauty of Southwest Colorado is breathtaking and this lush forest is one of the best places in the country to enjoy scenic views and high desert plains. Some of the most popular outdoor activities here include hunting, hiking, horseback riding, river rafting, and even skiing and snowmobiling during the winter season.
11. Animas River
One of Durango’s most popular sites, Animas River offers plenty of opportunities for activities such as kayaking, rafting, and tubing. It is believed that the river offers the best conditions for kayaking and rafting in the entire state, which means that thousands of people from nearby towns come here in early summer to enjoy these water activities. If you wish to go tubing, we recommend paying a visit to the Lower Animas which is gentler and offers good conditions for tubing in summer.
12. Durango Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum
Open during the summer season, Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum is a fun outing for the entire family. Informative volunteers take visitors on a tour of the grounds and tell them stories about the local wildlife. From fish feeding to viewing of 4 different species of trout, there is plenty to look forward to when visiting the Fish Hatchery. Don’t forget to stop by the adjacent Wildlife Museum where you will find numerous exhibits showcasing the animals in Colorado. The entrance to both museums is free of charge.
13. James Ranch
Located just 10 miles from Durango, James Ranch is a place where you will find everything from artisan cheese, grass-fed beef, and raw milk to whey-fed pork. All of the foods here are produced locally on their ranch and a guided tour of the grounds is available. The tour takes you through lush green pastures, inside the dairy and cheese making facilities, and to the gardens where you will have an opportunity to see ethically treated animals. Reservations for the tours are required.
14. Pinkerton Hot Springs
The last on our list is the incredible natural wonder also known as Pinkerton Hot Springs. These unique hot springs create a cool geological formation that looks like something from out of this world. An interesting fact is that this fascinating spot started as just a flow of water from a hillside. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular attractions in the region and a must-stop destination while visiting Durango.