The Ultimate Durango Colorado Bucket List

While Durango may be thought as a sleepy Western town, its location nestled among the beautiful San Juan Mountains make it anything but. Coupled with a rich history and vibrant community, a visit here should be on everyone’s agenda. Read on for the ultimate Durango Colorado Bucket List!
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Did you know that Durango, Colorado, has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco? What about the fact that it was named the “least fashion conscious” city by USA Today in the late 1980s? I bet you also didn’t know that boxer Jack Dempsey’s sister, Stella, lived and died as a prostitute in this southwest Colorado town. Or how about that author Louis L’Amour wrote the Sackett Series, a set of western novels, while staying at Durango’s Strater Hotel? While Durango may be thought as a sleepy Western town, its location nestled among the beautiful San Juan Mountains make it anything but. Coupled with a rich history and vibrant community, a visit here should be on everyone’s agenda. Read on for the ultimate Durango Colorado Bucket List!

1. Snowdown

Billed as “the original cabin fever reliever,” this annual event brings out locals and visitors alike for a long weekend of goofy events (usually with alcohol involved), family fun, a parade, hot air balloons and fireworks. Tied around a theme to encourage costumes and frivolity, past themes have been “A Black Tie Affair,” steampunk, 80’s style and safari. The event is usually held between the end of January and early February.

2. Beer Trail

Durango is definitely one to watch on the craft beer scene, boasting six breweries to get your suds up. You can spend the day bellying up to the bar or pace yourself over a weekend hitting up Ska Brewing, Carver Brewing Company, Steamworks Brewing Company, Brew Pub & Kitchen, Animas Brewing and Durango Brewing Company. Kick your grand tour up a notch and do a trail-to-tavern pairing.

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3. Greenmount Cemetery

In this cemetery lies the remains of Stella Dempsey, sister of boxing legend Jack Dempsey. Stella was a prostitute in Durango at the turn of the 20th century. Her tale is a sad one, however. She killed herself at age 25. Jack chose the stone that marks her burial place.

4. Cascade Canyon

A beautiful waterfall and unbelievable views, it’s no wonder Cascade Canyon has often been described as “Narnia.” While amazing in any season, during the winter, it turns into a magical ice castle.

4. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

More than 135 years old, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad transports passengers on a historic train ride, featuring 1923-25 vintage, coal-fired and steam-operated locomotives. Offering year-round service, the train also hosts special trips, including Wine and Rails, the Blues Train and the Polar Express.

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6. Skiing at Purgatory

Voted as having the best “Ski Weather in America” more than 10 times by SKI Magazine, Purgatory Resort boasts more than 90 trails and six terrain parks over 1,605 acres. Whether you’re a beginner or expert skier or boarder, the mountain has something for everyone, including a year-round calendar of fun events. Lessons? Check. Snowbikes and Tubing? You got it. Snowmobile and dog sledding tours? Absolutely – add this to the Durango Colorado bucket list.

7. Rafting the Animas River

The Animas is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire Western United States. In the heart of Durango, the river even boasts a Class III+ rapid sure to get your heart pumping. With several raft guide outfitters in town to choose from, white water adventurists are in for a good time — average yearly peak flows are measured around 5,000 cubic feet per second.

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8. Take a Tour of the Strater Hotel 

Durango’s elegant landmark hotel was built in 1887 and has a storied history. Jack Dempsey’s sister, Stella, worked here as a prostitute during the early 1900s. Author Louis L’Amour wrote a series of western novels while staying in Room 222. The hotel offers historical tours for guests and visitors alike. Make sure to ask about all the secret compartments!

9. Drive the Million Dollar Highway

Built in the late 1880s, the Million Dollar Highway is considered one of the most dangerous roads in America – and one of the most beautiful. From Durango, you’ll head to Silverton and enjoy about 25 miles of beautiful vista after vista to Ridgway. While beautiful mountains and valleys are de rigueur, take the drive during the fall to enjoy the changing of the season and the “quaking aspens.”

10. Wolfwood Refuge 

While technically in Ignacio, Wolfwood is only a 15-minute drive from town and offers the opportunity to view and learn about wolves and wolf-dogs. Wolfwood is first and foremost a working, active animal rescue site. But it also offers free tours and educational programs, including the opportunity to interact with the animals. A non-profit organization, all proceeds and donations support the rescue, rehabilitation and support of the animals.

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 Anything you want to add to this Durango Colorado bucket list?! Let us know!
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