Durango, Colorado


Picture the perfect western mountain town, and it would probably look a lot like Durango, Colorado.  Durango is the biggest and busiest city in these parts, and it’s slightly more refined than its northern neighbor Silverton (our next stop).  Yet, the city holds onto its turn-of-the-20th-century charm with a great downtown filled with brick-front stores and restaurants.

Strater Hotel, Downtown Durango, Colorado

Another shot down Durango’s Main Avenue.  The building in the center of the picture is the historic Strater Hotel, a fixture in downtown Durango since 1887.  Each of the hotel’s 93 rooms are decorated in the Victorian style, and filled with fine antiques.

You can check prices at the Strater Hotel’s website.  While the smallest room during the busy summer season will probably cost you at least $150, that’s not much more expensive than the run-of-the-mill chain motels nearby.

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Station

Most visitors who visit Durango plan their visit around a ride on the incredibly scenic D&SNGRR, or Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  The old steam engines chug through the San Juan Mountains, departing as many as four times daily during the busy season.  Winter trips are available as well, but they don’t go all the way to Silverton.

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Station

While a train ride to Silverton will probably cost you $60 or more, access to the train station, the rail yard, and of course the gift shops, is free.

“Narrow Gauge” means the train’s tracks are closer together than a standard railroad.  The narrower width made the railroad easier to construct, as it navigated sharp turns in the mountains.  Among other facts you’ll find on the train’s website:
-The train is coal-fired
-The engines can reach a top speed of 18 mph
-The locomotives used on a daily basis were built in 1923 and 1925.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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