Best Time To Visit Durango
What to Expect Each Season
When Is the Best Time to Visit Durango?
When is the best time to visit Durango? Luckily, this corner of southwest Colorado is a natural theme park no matter the season, but our beloved activities do vary during time of year of course. So check out this list of the best things to do when you find yourself in Durango, along with what won’t be offered during your visit.
We’ve broken down each season below to give you an idea of what to expect.
Sprung daffodils signal that it’s time to flop into whatever floats on the Animas River. As freshly melted snowpack fills the Animas, paddle boarding, kayaking and rafting are pretty much obligatory for springtime. Because the river gets pretty rowdy with runoff this time of year, fishing folks may want to take to high country streams, nearby lakes, or cast out earlier in the day to catch something on the Animas. Early spring is also still a great time for skiing as Colorado usually gets snow until April. And because there’s still some white stuff in the mountains, jeep tours and the train will usually start later in the season once the bulk of it is melted. Tourists will start to mosey into town, but this season tends to be “somewhat” calm before the storm of visitors.
This is Durango’s most popular time to visit. Rafting, kayaking, and SUPing are go-to excursions that offer fun and mellow rides on the Animas River as the snowmelt tapers off, which also means it’s a great time to go fishing. Jeep tours are in full swing, taking to the La Plata and Silverton mountains for wildflower mania and perfect alpine temperatures. This time of year is also stupendous for Mesa Verde National Park, where visitors can thoroughly explore the shaded cliff dwellings left behind by the ancient Puebloans 700 years ago. It might go without saying, but, the only thing you can’t really do during this season is ski. Unless it’s over rocks or dirt or something else unpleasant if you are so determined.
Tourism season continues to go strong this time of year as “leafers” fill the San Juan Skyway and the Million Dollar Highway for snapshots of golden aspen glory. It’s the perfect time of year to hope on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge train, or take a jeep tour through Colorado’s glowing wilderness. Romance fills the air for the alpine residents, as elk take to the valleys to bugle their hearts out, and moose battle for the moose-ladies. The mountain biking and backcountry trails are more beautiful than ever, and most will actually see less traffic than summertime. Rafting is also possible in September before the river drops down for hibernation season. And while it is getting cooler, skiing is usually not a possibility until December.
Winter gives Durango back to the locals, who per usual become powder-crazed evangelists upon sight of the first snowflake. Purgatory Ski Resort is the obvious go-to. For the more adventurous snow bunnies, the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains offers world-class slopes for experienced shredders of the gnar-gnar (fresh snow that is deep enough to fully engulf oneself in). Or give ice climbing a try in Cascade Creek or Ouray if you’re down for another kind of adrenaline rush. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are also exceptional— and far less hardcore— ways to enjoy the winter wonderland. There’s also good old fashioned ice skating offered at Chapman Hill while you’re in town. Every other activity in Durango is pretty much on hold under the white blanket, but visitors can ride the train’s “Polar Express” during the holidays with the kiddos.