Durango, Colorado

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Durango, Colorado, is a vibrant mountain town that offers vanlifers an ideal blend of adventure, history, and natural beauty. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, Durango is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone looking to experience the charm of the American Southwest.

Overview

Durango is known for its stunning landscapes, historic downtown, and a wide range of outdoor activities. Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures or peaceful retreats in nature, Durango has something to offer. The town’s welcoming community and abundance of amenities make it a perfect destination for vanlifers exploring Colorado.

History

Founded in 1880, Durango has a rich history tied to the mining and railroad industries. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway established the town to serve the San Juan mining district. With its preserved Victorian architecture, Durango’s historic downtown offers a glimpse into its storied past. The famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which began operation in 1882, is still in operation today, providing a scenic and historical journey through the mountains.

Attractions

Durango boasts a variety of attractions that cater to different interests:

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: This historic train ride offers breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains and a glimpse into the region’s mining heritage.
  • Mesa Verde National Park: Located about an hour’s drive from Durango, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and archaeological sites.
  • Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa: A perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate in natural hot springs with stunning mountain views.

Hiking

Excellent hiking trails surround Durango, showcasing the region’s natural beauty:

  • Animas River Trail: A scenic, paved trail that follows the Animas River through Durango, ideal for a leisurely walk or bike ride.
  • Colorado Trail: Starting just outside of Durango, this iconic long-distance trail offers challenging hikes and stunning vistas of the San Juan Mountains.
  • Hermosa Creek Trail: A beautiful trail that winds through forests and meadows, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Camping

Durango offers a range of camping options for vanlifers:

  • United Campground of Durango: Located along the Animas River, this campground provides full hookups, showers, and easy access to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
  • Lightner Creek Campground: A peaceful campground with shaded sites, a swimming pool, and modern amenities, located just a few miles from downtown Durango.

Boondocking

For those seeking a more off-grid experience, there are numerous boondocking opportunities in the nearby San Juan National Forest and BLM lands. Areas like Junction Creek and Missionary Ridge offer beautiful, secluded spots to park your van and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Tourist Information

When visiting Durango, be sure to check out the Durango Visitor Center for information on local attractions, events, and outdoor activities. Downtown Durango is filled with charming shops, galleries, and restaurants, offering a delightful mix of local cuisine and crafts. The town also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown and the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

For our enjoyment, it’s a privilege to have Durango, Colorado, so please practice Leave No Trace principles. 

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