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!
Table of Contents
- 23 Best Things to Do in Durango
- Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Mesa Verde National Park
- San Juan Skyway
- Historic Downtown Durango
- Purgatory Ski Resort
- San Juan National Forest
- Colorado Trail
- Purgatory Bike Park
- Raft the Animas River
- Still Life Coffee & Botanicals
- Bike the Animas River Trail
- Art Gallery Hopping
- Inferno Mountain Coaster
- Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa
- 11th Street Station
- Paddling on Lake Nighthorse
- Fishing at Andrews Lake
- The Powerhouse – Science Center/TinkerLab
- The Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum
- Steamworks Brewing Company
- Animas Forks Ghost Town
- Get Fused! Studio
- The Rim Trail
- FAQs About Durango Attractions
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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
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.
Mesa Verde National Park
Experience a glimpse of ancient history at this World Heritage Site
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
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
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
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
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.
Hike a portion of the Colorado Trail for breathtaking views
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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