I’ve just recently returned from an enjoyable long weekend in Durango, Colorado. Located in the southwest corner of the state, it’s a small town that is easily defined as ‘quirky’, yet has a lot of appeal compared to many of the state’s other reputable winter travel destinations. Perhaps number one on my list is Durango’s 300+ days a year of sunshine. That means you can enjoy a day of skiing in pristine conditions, and get views like this:

Gorgeous, eh? Unlike other ski towns in Colorado, Durango’s ski resort is about a 20 minute drive out of town. Called Purgatory, it is a full-service ski area, with ski, snowboarding, cabins and lodges, ski school, and other miscellany. On my ski day I opted for snowshoeing, which turned out to be a great choice given the sunny conditions and 16 inches of fresh powder that had arrived earlier in the week.

Purgatory isn’t Colorado’s largest resort area, but it’s certainly got plenty of trails, and the lift tickets are less than $100, which you can’t say for most resorts in the state. What I also like about Purgatory is it’s low key and low hassle; everyone is friendly, and most people here aren’t here to show off the latest ski fashions, they’re here for good ski and perhaps a refreshing local beer after a good run. What’s not to like?

Other Attractions

If you’ve got time on your hands and not feeling like a day on the slopes, Durango has plenty of other attractions to suit your holiday temptations, such as:

  • Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge:  Pictured above, this is an incredible train ride. I love trains, but even if you’re just up for a scenic ride, you’ll enjoy it. Bonus: the on board concessions car has nice snacks, coffee, alcoholic drinks served up at reasonable prices. Be sure to spend some time in the outdoor car taking pics!
  • Brews and Good Cuisine: Durango is home to four breweries, and you’ll find a couple of them downtown (Carver’s and Steamworks), both worthy of a visit. Topping that offer are the multitude of fantastic, reasonably-priced restaurants in Durango, many of which that use local ingredients. You will not go hungry in these parts, for certain.
  • Shopping: Downtown Durango has a number of shops with a variety of goods, from your classic T-shirt shops, to spa shops, and of course, the first Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop!

Getting There

Durango has its own airport with regular service to larger area airports such as Phoenix or Denver.  Sometimes that final leg of air travel can increase the flight price, so be sure to check fares early and often – though Durango is less expensive that other Colorado ski towns once you get here.

While here, you should consider either a daytrip or spending the night at the Sky Ute Casino Resort, just half an hour out of town. It’s got a wonderful museum highlighting the culture of the Sky Ute Indian tribe, and also from here you can do some driving daytrips, such as exploring the Mesa Verde National Park or taking your photo at the famous Four Corners Monument.

Photo copyright: Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, March 8th, 2012 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
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One Response to “Spotlight: Snow and Sun in Durango, Colorado”

  1. […] love Durango for it’s quirky nature, the fantastic Durango-Silverton train, and the easy/budget-friendly […]

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