Have you ever wanted to summit a mountain before breakfast? How about ride your bike along a river filled with rafters, kayakers and the occasional surfer? Or maybe just chill out on a sun-filled lawn and drink some delicious wine while staring at gorgeous terrain? Well then, Durango, Colorado might be for you! (And also the reason I didn't blog last week.)
Although this post doesn't necessarily fit the theme, I would say that visiting Colorado for almost two weeks made me feel happy, healthy and free! So I wanted to put on my travel blogger hat and share some tidbits from my stay there. Enjoy!
Where to Stay
So in case you weren't aware, RV parks are now the coolest places to stay when you're traveling anywhere (half-kidding.) But seriously, if you are blessed with a trailer, RV or even #vanlife, I would definitely recommend staying at Alpen Rose RV Park. The mature trees and surrounding red hills was a gorgeous sight to see every day. Also its proximity to the Hot Springs as well as nearby grocery and wine/liquor store was pretty clutch.
If you're in the mood for a hotel, I'd suggest the Holiday Inn Express due to its proximity to both the Animas River Trail and downtown.
What to Do
If you love the outdoors and outdoor activities, Durango cannot be beat. Hiking, biking, rafting, etc. can all be found here. I spent most of my time hiking some of the surrounding trails (see next section) but below are some other activities.
Massage: The Woodhouse Spa It's right on the river and they give you champagne. Need I say more?
Hot Springs: Durango Hot Springs They have several pools at different temperatures and you can even have your own private hot tub if you go when it's not crowded. They also have a bar and food truck as well as the occasional live music. Oh my!
Bicycle rental: 2nd Ave Sports. Located downtown, I rented a shiny red gravel bike for $20. Two thumbs up.
Day Trip: Drive to Silverton! It's a cute mountain town that will make you say "Wow I can't believe people actually live here!".. for multiple reasons :) Stop at Molas Lake (so pretty) on your way there or back and eat a yummy breakfast at the Lone Spur Cafe.
Where to Meander: Downtown Main Ave. is definitely worth a stroll. There's some cute boutiques and the cheesy souvenir shops actually contained a t-shirt I wanted to buy. Try not to buy a super cute pillow at the Durango Rug Company.
Where to Hike
If you only have 1 day to hike, do the Animas Mountain Trail. This has some of the most rewarding views I've ever seen for such a short hike. Do it, you must.
If you have 2 days to hike, I recommend driving out to the Hermosa Creek Trail system north of Durango. We hiked the Hermosa Creek Trail, but I've also heard good things about the Jones Creek Trail which is at the same trailhead. The area endured a fire several years ago, and it's striking to see the charred trees alongside the newly growing wildflowers and underbrush.
If you have more hiking days, download the AllTrails app and pick another trail that strikes your fancy. There's several mountains to climb around Durango, if that's your idea of fun. (I mean if you're not light-headed by the end of the hike, what's the point amiright?) The last section of the Colorado Trail is also nearby.
If you are more into concrete paths, the Animas River Trail offers nice views and several bridges that are fun to cross. Biking this trail is also fun.
Where to Eat
Not so fancy pants: Switchback Tacos. Their house margarita is pre-made and on-tap and frankly I don't give a damn because it's one of the best margs I've ever tasted. (And that's coming from someone who lives in Texas and almost never passes up a marg, if it's on the menu.)
Patio vibes: 11th Street Station is essentially a food truck park made into one cohesive restaurant. Backcountry Gourmet has the yummiest breakfast burrito and Taste has great coffee. The bar there also serves mimosa's. What I'm saying is you should absolutely brunch there.
Best Setting: James Ranch. Move over fancy "farm-to-table" restaurants, it's time to eat at an actual farm, in a cute patch of grass with a picnic table of course. Make sure to order a side of fingerling fries; they are delicious.
Co-working spot: R Space ... Offers strong wifi and the chance to eavesdrop on other people's boring work convo's. #mondaymotivation
Animas Brewery: Good location next to the river... I didn't find a beer here I loved but they did sell me some excellent wine in a can. Huzzuh!
Maybe it's because I'm from the South, but I miss a good diner. You'll find a few in downtown Durango. The Durango Diner serves up pancakes as big as a dinner plate. Yes, I ate it all.
A local delicacy: Breakfast burritos are very much a thing in Colorado. I highly suggest ordering one (or three) while you're in town. If it comes with green chiles, it's probably delicious.
Where the party at? I'm not sure if it was because of Durango's small town-ness, COVID or the fact that it was "shoulder season," but there wasn't really much happening in the evenings from what we could tell. I could see this changing when the tourists come back in full force, most likely summer 2021. We came for the daytime activities, so this wasn't much of a disappointment, moreso an observation.
What about the train!!?? Yes yes I know. The train that Durango is famous for. The #1 tourist attraction. The one thing you must do in Durango! Welp. Sorry to disappoint, but I didn't ride it. This was mainly because rides weren't offered until midway through my stay. But then when I heard locals talking about the train and how it started one of the largest forest fires the area has ever seen and I got to personally hear, see and smell the (still) coal-fired locomotive as it passed thru downtown . . . I said "hard pass." I'm sure the views are amazing but something about riding on a traveling fire hazard, I just couldn't get on board with. Pun absolutely intended.
I liken this feeling of disregard for my own hometown tourist attraction that we are somehow known for. I honestly couldn't tell you anything about this train; I've never been on it. I think I've seen it once?
So there you go. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Durango, you now have some cools spots/things to check out! Go forth and feel happy, healthy and free while summiting a mountain or drinking a Coloradan beer (or both!)