Founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Durango has a long and rich history. Durango comes from the Basque word “urango”, which means “water town” and is an appropriate name because the Animas River runs through the town.
The railroad built tracks to Silverton, which were completed in 1882 and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was started. It was called the narrow gauge railroad because the rails were only 36 inches wide and the standard gauge is 56 inches apart. This railroad was constructed to haul gold and silver ore, but soon it was realized that the view between Durango and Silverton was breathtaking – so they also hauled passengers so that the view could be experienced by all.
In 2006 the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad celebrated its 125th year of continuous operation. The trip on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will take you through the beautiful canyons of the San Juan National Forest. It is a favorite attraction when you take a Colorado sightseeing vacation. The train uses 10,000 gallons of water per round trip and 12,000 pounds of coal, shoveled in one shovel full at a time.
Durango offers many year round activities for the whole family. Some of the activities you can participate in are:
- Take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to see the beautiful fall foliage of Colorado’s famous aspen forest, or in the spring when they are just starting to bud out. You can just take the ride to take a trip back in time.
- Hiking and mountain biking
- All types of water sports such as white water rafting, kayaking, paddle surfing
- Climbing activities such as rock and mountain climbing
- Archeological attractions
- Jeep, motorcycle, and ATV activities and tours
- Glider and balloon rentals plus soaring and zip line adventures
- Eating from the back of a chuck wagon, horseback riding, stage coach and hay rides
- Fishing – regular and fly fishing
- Hot springs and spas
At the Durango Recreation Center the kids can have fun swimming, splashing, or rock climbing. There is also the Durango Discovery Kid’s Museum. Durango offers more local restaurants per capita than San Francisco. Some of their restaurants include French dining, Mexican dining, seafood, family friendly brewpubs where you can throw your peanut shells on the floor, and many sidewalk cafes.
Durango offers many travel packages according to the season, plus hotel discounts and special offers. They even have a Durango & Silverton Railroad package. The lodging in Durango ranges from luxury resorts to rustic Colorado cabins. There are even campgrounds where you can sleep under the stars and experience an authentic western adventure at many of their local ranches and rustic lodges.