Brimming with over 18,000 residents, Durango is officially the most populated town in southwestern Colorado — and one of the happiest! Locals are known to brag about the outstanding quality of life here. With over 300 days of sunshine per year (more than the state of Florida) surrounded by large, picturesque mountains, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re visiting Durango, you’ll find numerous entertainment and lodging opportunities that make it an ideal destination for a romantic getaway, business trip, family vacation, or group outing. Gorgeous campgrounds, rustic cabins, large luxury hotels, a secluded yurt, or a cozy bed & breakfast are some of the many types of lodging you can expect to find here. With seemingly unlimited sightseeing opportunities and outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing & snowboarding, rafting, and rock climbing, it’s no secret why we consider this corner of Colorado such a paradise!
This is why we wanted to compile a list of our top 10 favorite things to do and share it with you — so get your bags packed and let’s begin!
Top 10 Activities To Do In Durango
1. Take a Ride on The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Before you sarcastically think “a train ride sounds boring”, hear us out first. We promise this train ride is nothing like you’re imagining and it’s nothing like you’ve experienced. This bad boy operates on an original coal-fired steam engine and restored antique carriages that trek through an awe-inspiring mountain canyon and alongside the Animas River — year-round.
In the wintertime, the train doesn’t stop at Silverton due to avalanche risks, but during summer, spring, and fall months you can opt for a nine-hour trip with a two-hour break in Silverton; giving you ample time to stretch your legs and explore the old mining town. If you want something a little more expedited, you can take the train one way, then take the bus from Silverton back to Durango, or you could always take the train up, spend a night, then hop on the train heading back the following day.
2. Soaring® Tree Top Zip Line Adventures
This isn’t your everyday zip line attraction, folks. This course is remotely located on 180 private acres in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado, and can only be accessed by the Durango & Silverton Railroad.
Soaring® Tree Top Adventures provides a thrilling all-day adventure that will surely create lasting memories for the entire family!
3. Explore Mesa Verde National Park
History lovers and explorers will fall in love with Mesa Verde National Park — one of the most extensive ancient Native American sites you’ll find in the SouthWest. Located just a little over an hour from Durango, this native settlement is about 800 – 1000 years old and spans over 52,000 acres. The park protects almost 5,000 different archeological sites, 600 cliff dwellings, and more than 3 million artifacts.
Be sure to drop by the visitors center before you head up to the site to get information about weather and road conditions. If you’re staying with us during one of our All-Inclusive week-long stays, a guided tour of Mesa Verde is included!
4. Explore Historic Downtown
Historic Downtown Durango dates back to the 1880s and is a healthy mix of our past and present that includes old historic buildings, museums, trendy art galleries, and contemporary restaurants. Take a stroll downtown in the later afternoon or early evening to enjoy a glass of local craft beer or wine with the locals before dinner.
Be sure to check out any of the seasonal festivals like Snowdown or Taste of Durango or enjoy plenty of live entertainment found year-round at the Strater Hotel that had both Gerald Ford and JFK as visitors. The General Palmer Hotel and El Moro Spirits & Tavern are other historical landmarks you can visit in downtown Durango— the latter of which was the site of one of the strangest gun fights in the Old West.
5. Raft Down the Animas River
During the spring and summer months, rafting down the Animas River is a fun way to enjoy the mountains, water, and sunshine! There are five different rapid levels or classes you can choose from (1 thru 5); the lower part of the river has the calmest rapids and the upper part of the river is the most intense.
There are several options you can choose from — depending on the size of raft you’ll need, how far you want to go, and how much you’re willing to spend. Our All-Inclusive guests will enjoy a guided trip with Mountain Waters Rafting as part of their package, but even if you’re only staying with us for a few days, or not staying with us at all, they are one of Durango’s Top 3 rated outfitters for a reason!
6. Learn to Ride a Horse
Colorado Trails Ranch has extensive experience teaching beginners how to ride a horse. Under the supervision of our trained wranglers, you’ll learn the basics of horseback riding with any of our all-inclusive options that are now available or “á la carte” rides we are introducing in the 2021 Season!
For the health and safety of our horses, there is a 240-pound weight restriction for all guests wanting to ride. If you have any questions about our staff, facilities, or lessons — feel free to give us a call!
7. Guided Fly Fishing
If you’re an avid fisherman or woman (or would like to become one) then Colorado Trails Ranch has your name all over it. We have over two miles of private water and fishing spots to choose from, including a fully stocked fly shop, private ponds, and a passionate, professional fly fishing staff that loves to teach and share with both beginners and veterans.
We are excited to announce our partnership with the seasoned experts at Heads Up Fly Fishing for the 2021 season! You can choose between a half or full day of fishing and we recommend the half-day for our novices and a full-day for sportsmen or seasonal fly fishing excursions. To learn more about our fishing rates, or to make reservations — contact us!
8. Powerhouse Science Center
Located on Camino Del Rio, Durango’s Powerhouse Science Center was created for kids 10 and under in mind. This would be a great option for families wanting a little break from the great outdoors, or for days when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside with young children.
This Powerhouse provides hours of entertainment for little ones with its extensive and interactive exhibitions about nature, animals, space, and technology — but it also provides a much-needed break for parents. Be sure to call ahead in case of any unexpected closures or notifications.
9. Durango Hot Springs
Photo courtesy of Durango Hot Springs
Durango Hot Springs is a relaxing destination for people looking to ease weary muscles while enjoying the breathtaking views just 8 miles north of Downtown Durango. Whether you’re just here with friends, enjoying a romantic trip with your partner, or looking for a break from the family, this newly renovated and notably upgraded resort & spa is the perfect place to pamper yourself and recharge during your Durango trip.
10. Visit The Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum
The Fish Hatchery is a summer-only attraction located off 16th Street near the Animas River. A trip down to the hatchery will make for a very fun and family-friendly outing where you have the opportunity to feed four different trout species (Brown, Rainbow, Colorado River Cutthroat, and Snake River Cutthroat) and learn first-hand how the 1.25 million Colorado raised fish are raised and released into the wild.
The Wildlife Museum located next door showcases various animals that are native to the Southwestern Colorado region. Admission for both the Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum is free — but donations are always appreciated.
The long list of indoor and outdoor adventures that can be had — along with the extensive historical and cultural attractions make Durango one of the most entertaining towns you can visit in Colorado. People from all over the world come here for a relaxing getaway and to enjoy the scenery, outdoor recreation, and rich history, and you should too!
At Colorado Trails Ranch, you’ll be a short ride away from all the activities we have listed and more. We offer all-inclusive vacation packages that offer a full-week of accommodations, on-site entertainment, meals, and other activities. Beginning in 2021, we will be offering a la carte pricing on all our horseback riding, lodging, and other activities — so make sure to stop by and check it out!
If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about our rates, services, or facilities, please feel free to call or email anytime, and we’ll be happy to help.