View of a yellow vintage train along the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad with a view of the mountains and river below, one of the best things to do in Durango Colorado

23 Best Things to Do in Durango, CO (in 2023)

I’m a Colorado local here to share the best things to do in Durango! 

This guide overviews the area’s top attractions, like the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Read about places to ski, local hot springs, and a nearby World Heritage Site. As one of my favorite places to visit in Colorado, I also spill some of Durango’s hidden gems!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

23 Best Things to Do in Durango

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Ride the rails on this National Historic Landmark and enjoy awesome views

A historic steam engine train traveling along Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Take the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad through the breathtaking San Juan Mountains

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-2733 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm daily | Entrance: from $105 adults, from $69 under 12

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the best things to do in all of Colorado! The historic steam-powered train ride will transport you to Silverton and back… but will also transport you back in time for an 1880s experience. Between the train ride and things to do in Silverton, it’s best to reserve an entire day for this activity.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? The Strater Hotel is a 136-year-old hotel just two blocks from the Narrow Gauge Railroad. It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Durango.

Mesa Verde National Park

Experience a glimpse of ancient history at this World Heritage Site

View of the historical cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park
The amazing cliff dwellings are a window into the past

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 529-4465 | Website | Hours: open 24 hours | Entrance: $30 summer (May – Oct), $20 winter (Oct – May) | 👉 Browse Mesa Verde Tours on Viator

Mesa Verde National Park is one of the best national parks in Colorado. By day, you can view the cliff dwellings and other areas once inhabited by the Ancestral Pueblo people. You can also learn about the different tribes and people who lived in the area over the centuries. By night, you can stargaze at this International Dark Sky Park.

👉 Pro Tip: As you’re prepping for your trip, be sure to check out Abigail’s Colorado Packing List! 

San Juan Skyway

Admire the scenery on this all-day drive through the mountains

Scenic view of the mountains along the San Juan Skyway
One of many gorgeous, spine-tingling views!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 525-8855 | Website | 👉 Browse Durango Tours on Viator

The San Juan Skyway loops through Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Cortez, and Mancos. A portion of this drive is also known as the Million Dollar Highway — either referencing the cost to build it or the priceless views, no one can say for sure. 

Pack a picnic and be ready to make plenty of stops by lakes, in the forest, and to admire the San Juan Mountains on your leisurely drive. 

📚 Related Reading: Things to Do in Telluride

Historic Downtown Durango

See historic buildings and enjoy shopping and dining in downtown Durango

View of the historical main avenue of Downtown Durango featuring the oldest bank building in Colorado
(photo: WorldPictures / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 375-5067 | Website 

The historic downtown Durango business district has many shops, galleries, and restaurants. Spend an afternoon window shopping, and grab some dinner in a building that’s been around since the 1800s. You can also take a historic walking tour around downtown.

👉 Pro Tip: Before heading to Durango, be sure to bookmark my Colorado Travel Tips guide!

Purgatory Ski Resort

Hit the slopes at this inexpensive Durango-area resort

View of the stunning snow tipped mountains from a ski resort in Durango, Colorado during winter
Spend an afternoon on the slopes at Purgatory Resort

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-9000 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily | Lift Tickets: from $42 adults, free under 13 

Purgatory Resort is one of the most affordable Colorado ski resorts! Kids 12 and under ski free, and adult lift tickets are very inexpensive. The resort offers lessons as well as snowcat tours for a unique experience. 

San Juan National Forest

Fish, hike, mountain bike, or go horseback riding on the numerous trails throughout the forest

View of the beautiful yellow landscape of San Juan National Forest in Colorado
The forest is beautiful in the fall!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-4874 | Website | Entrance: Free (special activities require a permit) | 👉 La Plata Canyon Jeep Tours from Durango

The San Juan National Forest covers 1.8 million acres of southwest Colorado, so there are lots of options for outdoor activities! Fortunately, the Forest Service has a list of outfitters who are permitted in the area. Whether you want a Jeep tour, a kayak trip, or a horse trail ride, you can find someone to help.

Colorado Trail

Hike a portion of the Colorado Trail for breathtaking views

Scenic overlooking view from the view point of "Gudy's Rest" at Colorado Trail
Gudy’s Rest is a day hike along the Colorado Trail near Durango

📍 Google Maps | Website

Gudy’s Rest is a great day hike near Durango. It follows a portion of the Colorado Trail, which stretches 567 miles from Denver to Durango. On this moderately-challenging, 9-mile hike, you’ll trek Colorado Trail Segment 28, the western end of the trail. Maybe you’ll meet a thru-hiker starting or finishing their journey!

Purgatory Bike Park

Zip down a mountain biking trail at the ski area

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-9000 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm summer weekends | Tickets: from $19 adults, free under 13 

During the summer, Purgatory Ski Resort transforms into a bike park. There are mountain biking trails that are suitable for everyone from beginners to advanced riders, and lessons are available as well. 

Raft the Animas River

Get your adrenaline pumping with a rafting trip down the Animas River

Tourists enjoying the water rafting on a red boat and swimming at the Animas River
(photo: Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 624-2186 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 7 pm daily | Pricing: From $65 adults, $55 under 12 | 👉 Browse Rafting Tours on Viator

One way to get great views of the Animas River is to get down into it and raft! There are a variety of options, from 90-minute trips to all-day river rafting adventures. No experience is required to take part in this thrilling summer activity. 

Still Life Coffee & Botanicals

Relax and sip coffee amongst the plants

View of a barista's hands serving a paper cup filled with coffee
Coffee and plants — two of life’s joys!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 501-0960 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 6 pm weekdays, 7:30 am – 2 pm weekends

Start or end your day with a coffee or tea in this bright coffee and plant shop! You’ll find succulents, cut flowers, and jewelry for sale in the shop as well.

Bike the Animas River Trail

Ride this neighborhood trail along the Animas River

View of the yellow trees from the railing of a footbridge on the Animas River during autumn
Stop along the bridge to admire the view!

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Sunrise – sunset daily

If you prefer a paved trail to mountain biking, the Animas River Trail is a great spot for a ride. Cover the 9 miles from the north to the south end of town. You’ll cross bridges, get a great view of the train, and pass Durango’s Whitewater Park along the way.

Art Gallery Hopping

Admire southwestern Colorado art in many forms

Exterior view of the Strater Hotel from the street of downtown Durango, Colorado
(photo: WorldPictures / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 375-7742 | Website

There are many art galleries downtown, and you can spend a pleasant day browsing art in many forms! You’ll find jewelry, pottery, paintings, and lots of other art available for sale if you want to take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir. 

Inferno Mountain Coaster

Whiz along on a mountain coaster at Purgatory Resort

A cyclist riding the bike down the rock mountain at sunrise

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-9000 | Website | Hours: Winter, 11 am – 4 pm, Summer, 9 am – 4 pm | Tickets: from $29, must be 8 or older

The Inferno Mountain Coaster is located at Purgatory Resort. It’s open year-round for riders ages 8 and up. You control the speed of the car with a hand brake, so more cautious riders can take it slow. 

Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Relax at one of Colorado’s best hot springs resorts

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 517-3326 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: $39, adults, $15 under 16

Spend a day relaxing and soaking at the Durango Hot Springs, one of the best hot springs in Colorado. The resort features 15 natural hot spring pools. There’s also a swimming pool, a dry Finnish sauna, a cold plunge, and spa services. 

11th Street Station

Choose your culinary adventure from a variety of food trucks

People crossing the empty 11th Street in downtown Durango
Find this popular eatery on 11th and Main in downtown Durango

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 422-8482 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 12 am daily

This collective eatery features seven food truck options, plus a bar. It’s a great spot for a group with a variety of tastes. Grab a small bite from several spots to sample different types of food. 

👉 Pro Tip: Though this spot stays open until midnight, note that food service stops earlier.

Paddling on Lake Nighthorse

Enjoy a quiet day on the water

View of a man's feet riding a paddleboard on the lake at sunset
A calm way to spend an afternoon!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 946-6410 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily, May – Sept | Rentals: From $30

Paddleboard, kayak, or fish on this lake nestled in the mountains and just 2 miles from downtown Durango. During the summer, kids can also enjoy the Wibit Aqua Park at the lake for no extra charge. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you plan to paddle here, call ahead, as rental availability varies depending on demand and weather conditions.

Fishing at Andrews Lake

Throw in a line at this lake near Silverton

A closeup look at a man's hands holding a fishing rod during sunrise
Reel in a big one!

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Sunrise – sunset daily

You can hike, snowshoe, and fish at this lake, which is stocked with trout. You’ll find a pier, and many people fish from shore. In winter, ice fishing is permitted when conditions allow. 

The Powerhouse – Science Center/TinkerLab

Learn about power and other scientific ideas at this hands-on museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 259-9234 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily, closed M, W, F | Entrance: $9 adults & children

The Powerhouse Science Center is along the Animas River and teaches visitors about electricity and steam power. It features hands-on activities that cover a range of scientific areas. The interactive science center is a great place to spend the day with kids when you visit Durango. 

The Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum

Visit the oldest state-owned fish hatchery in Colorado

Rainbow trouts at the Durango Fish Hatchery in Durango
So many fish!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 247-4755 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm daily

At this hatchery, you can see a variety of trout including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat, along with Kokanee salmon. The wildlife museum is also on-site and makes an interesting visit to learn more about local flora and fauna.

Steamworks Brewing Company

Enjoy a local craft beer and a burger

Closeup look to a flight of beers on a serving rack

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 259-9200 | Website | Hours:11 am – 10 pm Sun – Thurs, 11 am – 11 pm Fri & Sat 

Steamworks has 22 medals from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery prides itself on having servers who can select the right beer for you, and who can tell you how it’s brewed. Be sure to check out the seasonal offerings for new, unique tastes each time you visit.

Animas Forks Ghost Town

See an abandoned mining town that’s off the beaten path

Aerial view of the ghost town of Animas Forks along the Alpine Loop in Colorado
A picturesque abandoned town

📍 Google Maps | Website

Animas Forks is one of the Colorado ghost towns that invokes the spirit of the Wild West. It’s along the Alpine Loop, one of the best Colorado road trips. This route connects Silverton to Ouray and Lake City. 

You’ll need an off-road vehicle to get to Animas Forks. These extreme travel conditions are what led to the town’s abandonment. You’ll find brochures and maps at the site.

Get Fused! Studio

Create your own epic art piece

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 259-2229 | Website | Hours:11 am – 5 pm Mon – Sat, 12 pm – 5 pm Sun | Cost: from $15

Learn the art of glass fusing and make a mosaic plate, bowl, or hanging to take home. The studio offers free classes to teach you how to create your masterpiece. You just pay for the materials you’re using. 

The Rim Trail

Mountain biking with views of the Animas River Valley 

Overlooking view of the downtown from the Rim Trail
Views of downtown along the Rim Trail

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Sunrise – sunset

You can hike and mountain bike the Rim Trail near Fort Lewis College. You’ll get great views of downtown Durango, the mountains, and the river valley. The trail is a good one for beginners and is just under 3 miles long. 

FAQs About Durango Attractions

What is Durango best known for?

Durango is best known for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train has run continuously since 1881 and is a popular tourist attraction. In fact, it’s one of the best train rides in Colorado.

Durango is also the closest large town to Mesa Verde National Park. It makes a great home base to explore the park and other nearby areas. 

How do I spend a day in Durango, CO?

Spend a day in Durango by grabbing coffee along the historic Main Street. Then, head to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for an unforgettable train ride — note that you will need to make reservations ahead of time. End your day with dinner and a visit to one of Durango’s craft breweries.

***

Hopefully, this has given you plenty of ideas for things to do in Durango! It’s a wonderful town to visit, and one of the best mountain towns in Colorado. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

(Featured Image Credit: PT Hamilton / Shutterstock)

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