Durango Travel Guide

Explore the best things to do, see, eat, and experience in Durango, Colorado, USA with this comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Durango

Nestled in Southwestern Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains region of the United States of America, Durango is a town with a rich history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure options. Dubbed as the “City of Skies,” Durango has over 300 sunny days a year, making it an ideal year-round destination for travelers.

List of Places to Visit in Durango

Durango has a range of attractions that cater to different interests. Here are the top places to visit in Durango, sorted into two categories of culturally important attractions and natural attractions:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Durango has a rich history, which is well-documented through its museums and historical places. Here are the must-visit cultural attractions in Durango:

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum: This iconic train takes you on a ride through the breathtaking San Juan National Forest to the historic mining town of Silverton. The museum at the train depot provides an immersive experience of the region’s steam engine railroad history and its contributions to the area’s tourism industry.

  • Animas Museum: This museum in Durango offers insights into the town’s history, from the indigenous Native American tribes to the mining era and beyond. The exhibits showcase artifacts, old photographs, and preserved buildings to bring the town’s past alive.

  • Henry Strater Theatre: Built-in 1887, the Henry Strater Theatre is a historic venue that has hosted famous performers and shows. It still operates today, offering visitors the chance to catch an excellent live performance or a film.

Natural Attractions of Durango: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Durango’s natural beauty and various outdoor activity options make it an extraordinary destination for nature enthusiasts. The town is located in the San Juan Mountains, providing a stunning natural landscape. Here are some of the best natural attractions to visit in Durango:

  • Mesa Verde National Park: Mesa Verde National Park offers travelers the chance to explore the ancient history of Native American culture. The park features impressive cliff dwellings built-in 600 AD, making it an ideal destination for history enthusiasts.

  • San Juan National Forest: Adventure seekers will love San Juan National Forest, home to numerous well-marked trails for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. The forest, covering two million acres, also has camping, fishing, and hunting options for those interested.

  • Purgatory Resort: This ski resort in Durango transforms into a summer adventure park, offering scenic chairlift rides, alpine slides, mini-golf, and zip-lining. In the winter months, it provides skiing and snowboarding opportunities, making it an exciting destination any time of the year.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Durango

Durango is known for its many hiking and biking trails, catering to different levels of experience and fitness. Here are some of the best hiking and biking routes in Durango:

  • Colorado Trail: This trail runs for 500 miles, through the San Juan Mountains, offering incredible views and challenging terrain for those up for the journey. Sections of the trail near Durango are easily accessible and offer beautiful views.

  • Animas River Trail: With a length of seven miles, this trail follows the Animas River, offering breathtaking views of the town and the surrounding mountains. It’s accessible for hikers, bikers, and runners of all skill levels.

  • Engineer Mountain: This challenging trail is approximately seven miles long and offers stunning views of wildflowers, aspen groves, and scenic vistas. It’s a perfect trail for experienced hikers, with an elevation gain of up to 2,000 feet.

Best Things to Do in Durango: Activities and Tours

Durango is an ideal destination for adventure seekers, history buffs, and individuals looking for relaxation and rejuvenation. Here are the best things to do in Durango:

  • Hot Springs Soaking: Durango is home to several hot springs where visitors can relax and rejuvenate surrounded by natural beauty. Trimble Hot Springs and Durango Hot Springs are popular destinations to enjoy a relaxing soak.

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Ride: The historic train ride from Durango to Silverton offers visitors a glimpse into the past while riding through scenic landscapes. The train ride includes narration about the area’s history, making it a perfect choice for history enthusiasts.

  • Rock Climbing: The San Juan Mountains in Durango offer several rock-climbing options, catering to different levels of expertise. Guides and instructors are available for visitors at a fee.

Week-Long Itinerary for Durango

If you’re planning to spend a week in Durango, here’s a sample itinerary to make the most out of your visit:

Day Activity
Day 1 Explore Durango’s downtown, visit the Animas Museum, and take a guided Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Ride
Day 2 Go hiking or biking on the Animas River Trail, followed by a relaxing soak in one of the hot springs
Day 3 Visit Mesa Verde National Park to explore its ancient cliff dwellings
Day 4 Take a day trip to the historic town of Silverton via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Ride
Day 5 Go on a rock-climbing adventure in the San Juan Mountains
Day 6 Ride the Purgatory Resort chairlift for scenic views or take alpine slides and go zip-lining
Day 7 Relax and rejuvenate with a day at one of Durango’s hot springs, such as Trimble Hot Springs

Food and Drink Scene of Durango

Durango’s cuisine is a mix of western ingredients with local varieties. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages of Durango:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Green Chile: A hallmark of southwestern cuisine, green chiles are used in various dishes, including quesadillas, stews, and soups. This spicy dish is a must-try when in Durango.

  • Bison Burger: Bison is a staple in western cuisine, and Durango offers some of the best bison burgers, served with special sauces, bacon, and melted cheese.

  • Peach Cobbler: Durango’s peach cobbler is a perfect dessert to try, with its juicy peaches and a flaky crust.

Local Beverages

  • Durango Brewing Company beer: Durango Brewing Company is a local brewery that offers several handcrafted beers, including the Railroad Stout, Durango Dark Lager, and Colorado Cologne.

  • Honeyville Honey Wine: Honeyville Honey Wine is made from locally sourced honey from the San Juan Mountains and is a perfect beverage to pair with any meal.

Where to Stay in Durango: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Durango has a variety of accommodation options to choose from, catering to different budgets and tastes. Here are some of the best hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in Durango:

  • The General Palmer Hotel: A historic hotel located in the heart of Durango, The General Palmer Hotel offers a luxurious stay with vintage ambiance and modern amenities.

  • Durango Lodge: This centrally located hotel offers comfortable and affordable lodging with amenities such as free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.

  • Foothills Lodge & Cabins: Located in the San Juan Mountains, Foothills Lodge & Cabins offers beautiful cabins and lodge rooms with scenic views, making it an ideal choice for nature lovers.

What to Buy in Durango: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Durango is known for its western-themed souvenirs and locally made products. Here are some things to buy in Durango:

  • Cowboy boots and hats: Durango is home to several western-style and cowboy-themed stores, offering quality cowboy boots and hats in various styles and sizes.

  • Native American art and handicrafts: Jewelry, pottery, and other handicrafts made by the local Native American tribes are widely sold in Durango and make for excellent souvenirs.

  • Honey and honey products: Durango’s Honeyville offers locally sourced honey and honey products, such as lip balms and soaps, making it a perfect souvenir to bring home.

Local Culture and Customs of Durango

Durango has a rich western culture, and its customs reflect this history. Here are some cultural customs of Durango:

  • Western Attire: Due to Durango’s western history, it’s common to see locals and visitors wearing cowboy hats, boots, and other western-style clothing.

  • Rodeo Events: Rodeo events such as bull riding, barrel racing, and team roping are widely popular in Durango, with several events being held throughout the year.

  • Native American Culture: Durango has a rich history of Native American culture, with several tribes, such as the Ute, Navajo, and Hopi, still present in the region.

Best Time to Visit Durango

Durango is an ideal year-round destination, with each season offering different experiences. Summer is the peak tourist season, and with warmer weather, visitors can enjoy hiking and biking, while winters are ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Spring and fall offer milder weather and foliage views, making it a perfect time for sightseeing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Durango

When visiting Durango, it’s essential to follow some basic etiquettes to respect the local culture. Here are some do’s and don’ts of Durango:


  • Shop at local stores: Support the local economy by shopping at local stores and buying locally made products.

  • Respect nature: When hiking or biking in Durango’s nature, leave no trace, and respect the environment.

  • Be polite: Durango’s western culture places importance on politeness, so being polite and courteous is appreciated and welcomed.


  • Litter: It’s essential to respect nature and the environment in Durango by not littering and keeping public areas clean.

  • Wear inappropriate attire: When visiting cultural sites, such as museums and historical places, it’s essential to dress appropriately and avoid wearing revealing clothes.

  • Be loud: Durango’s peaceful environment means that loud noises and music can be intrusive to the locals’ private lives.

Safety and Health

Durango is a safe destination, with low rates of crime. However, as with any travel destination, it’s essential to take precautions and stay aware of surroundings. Here are some safety and health tips to follow when in Durango:

Safety in Durango

  • Carry identification: It’s important to carry identification at all times when traveling in Durango, in case of emergencies.

  • Avoid isolated areas: Stay in well-lit and populated areas at all times. Avoid isolated or unfamiliar areas at night.

  • Lock up your valuables: Keep your personal belongings securely locked up in your room or car to prevent theft.

Health in Durango

  • Stay hydrated: The altitude in Durango can lead to dehydration, so it’s essential to stay hydrated when traveling.

  • Protect yourself from the sun: The high altitude and sunny climate of Durango can cause sunburn, so it’s important to use sunscreen and wear hats.

  • Check for ticks: Durango is home to ticks, which can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. So, it’s essential to do a tick check and use insect repellent when hiking or exploring woodland areas.

Getting to Durango: Transportation Options and Logistics

Durango is easily accessible by air, road, and rail, with several transportation options to choose from. Here’s what you need to know about getting to Durango:

Airports Near Durango

  • Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO): This airport is just 18 miles south of Durango and offers several daily flights to and from major US cities.

  • Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ): Located 215 miles south of Durango, Albuquerque International Sunport is an international airport that has several connecting flights to Durango.

Bus Stations Near Durango

  • Durango Transit Center: Durango Transit Center is located in the heart of downtown Durango and is serviced by regional and local bus lines.

  • Greyhound Bus Station: Greyhound Bus Station is located just five miles north of Durango’s downtown.

Other Options

  • Car Rental: Car rentals are available at the Durango-La Plata County Airport and other locations throughout town.

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Ride: This scenic train takes visitors from Durango to Silverton, making it a perfect transportation option for history enthusiasts.

How to Get Around in Durango

Durango is a small town that is easy to explore by foot or bike. There are several transportation options available for visitors who prefer not to walk or bike, such as buses, taxis, and ride-sharing apps.

Where to Go Next from Durango: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Durango is a gateway to several nearby destinations and excursions, making it an ideal destination to plan a longer trip. Here are some popular destinations to consider:

  • Mesa Verde National Park: Mesa Verde National Park is located just a 45-minute drive from Durango, and offers visitors an immersive experience of Native American history and culture.

  • Telluride: A historic town located just over two hours away from Durango, Telluride offers visitors a unique experience of skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and festivals, making it an excellent destination for all seasons.

  • Pagosa Springs: A picturesque town located just 65 miles east of Durango, Pagosa Springs is famous for its hot springs and offers visitors a chance to soak in relaxing pools while enjoying the scenery.


Durango, Colorado is a must-visit destination, offering visitors a blend of history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure. From soaking in the hot springs to taking scenic train rides, hiking through the San Juan forests, and exploring ancient history in Mesa Verde National Park, Durango has something for everyone. With this comprehensive tour guide, you’re ready to plan your ultimate trip to Durango.