The Durango Summer Checklist
By Molly • July 22, 2014
Summer is in full swing here in Durango! Every morning the sky is clear and bright blue, as the crisp desert air cools the town before the afternoon heat sets in! Here are our top things to do in Durango before the summer comes to an end!
1. Raft the Lower Animas River.
With over a million dollars in improvements and additions, new thrills await you in the new Smelter whitewater park. Splash through “Smelter”, “Santa Rita”, “Sawmill” and “Pinball” rapids as you raft through the heart of Durango on the Animas River! Your guide will share the history of the region and stories on local traditions. Experience all the fun rapids of the Lower Animas on a half-day trip. Stop for a riverside snack and a chance to swim. The perfect addition to a Durango visit!
2. Enjoy the Animas River Trail.
The Animas River Trail (ART), a hard surface shared-use path, is the centerpiece of the city’s trail system. It stretches nearly 7 miles through Durango’s Animas River Greenway. The ART serves as the spine of the city’s overall trail network, winding past shops, restaurants, parks and neighborhoods.
2. See the La Plata Mountains.
Discover the spectacular La Plata Canyon and its beautiful U formation created by glaciers on a jeep trail trip. Following the La Plata River (meaning “Silver” in Spanish) to La Plata City, an old mining town established in 1875, you’ll discover the remnants of old mining claims. These include a tall intact chimney left from the crew quarters, the framework of old cabins, and tailing piles from actual mining areas. Then, you’ll continue to the peak of Kennebec Pass at 12,000 feet above sea level (also above tree-line). Several small waterfalls and cascading rivers follow the jeep trails in the springtime along with lots of wildlife such as marmots, mule deer, elk herds, juncos, kingfishers, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles. Grand mountain vistas can be seen all the way to Cortez and Telluride from the top of the pass!
4. Discover Mesa Verde National Park.
A short drive from Telluride, take a guided tour to Mesa Verde National Park. The first national park of its kind, Mesa Verde was established in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt “to preserve the works of man.” Save on car entrance fees, gas and environmental impact by taking a tour. Visit the famous Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde and in North America – we’ll reserve your ticket in advance.
5. Ride the Durango-Silverton Train.
Enjoy a day on the famous Narrow Gauge Railroad. Shuttle to historic Silverton on the striking Million Dollar Sky Way (rated 1 of the 10 most breathtaking drives in the U.S.), enjoy lunch and shopping in Silverton, and ride the Durango Narrow Gauge back inside the canyon and along the Animas River to Durango! If you’re looking for a little more adventure, embark on a Jeep Trail Tour to the mining ghost town of Animas Forks, above Silverton.