Durango

Durango was founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, when they extended their line from the town to Silverton in order to haul precious metals from high-country mines. Today, when the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad blows its whistle, tourists climb aboard for a 45-mile trip through the still-wild San Juan Mountains to Silverton where they can lunch and shop before re-boarding for the trip home.

If it can be done outdoors, it can be done here. This is a huge mountain biking community, and the Iron Horse Classic race draws cyclists from all over the country each Memorial Day weekend to race the steam train. Animas River Days celebrates top-notch whitewater rafting on the nearby rivers. If you like fishing, bring your pole! Backpacking and camping are prime activities in the San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness Area. Not far away is Vallecito Lake reservoir where you can rent a cabin, fish, hike and spend lazy days on a high-mountain lake.

Every autumn, people head to the town for a lavish display of fall colors, to partake in foliage-related activities and celebrate the Western culture and traditions of the area. They also play golf on one of several local courses in summer and ski at the nearby Durango Mountain Resort in winter. Then soak those weary bones at Trimble Spa & Natural Hot Springs, where you’ll watch the moonrise over the cliffs while relaxing in the steamy waters. The town also can be a starting or ending point on one of the state's most dramatic drives, the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

Lodging ranges from traditional hotels and comfortable cabins to unique bed and breakfasts and memorable guest ranches. And the city boasts more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. You will find something to satisfy every taste bud. A trip wouldn't be complete without a pint from one of several microbreweries and brewpubs.

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