Hiking and mountain biking adventures abound in a top Colorado outdoor playground.
Durango is a beautiful mountain town tucked into the southwestern part of Colorado near Mesa Verde National Park. It’s one of Colorado’s largest mountain towns and it has the perfect combination of natural attractions, historic sites, and lively, big city entertainment. Durango offers easy access to hiking and mountain biking trails, ski runs, and whitewater fun as well as a happening downtown with shops, unique restaurants, and a lively arts scene. Campers will find plenty of convenient options near town, including glamping spots right in town, and more secluded spots in the surrounding San Juan National Forest.
The town of Durango is a destination in itself. There are more trails running through Durango than any other city in Colorado and the Animas River flows right through town offering a range of water sports including a downtown whitewater park. Fishing is also great on several sections of the river including the seven mile stretch that flows right through town. The historic narrow-gauge railroad also runs daily from Durango to Silverton and offers stunning views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains.
La Plata Canyon
Located just west of Durrango, the La Plata Canyon Recreational Area is a popular hiking destination. The La Plata’s are an exceptionally beautiful range of the San Juan Mountains and are known to put on quite the wildflower show in early summer. The area offers numerous trails for the serious hiker including trails to several peaks above 12,000 feet. Campers will find plenty of established campgrounds and dispersed areas in La Plata Canyon.
The old mining community of Silverton, Colorado is located about an hour north of Durango. Along the way, you’ll pass by Purgatory Resort and several trailheads including the Molas Pass section of the Colorado Trail and the popular Engineer Mountain Trail. Near Silverton, you’ll find plenty of jeep roads and hiking trails leading into the high country and several National Forest campgrounds.
Mesa Verde National Park
Located just 45 minutes west of Durango, Mesa Verde National Park preserved thousands of archeological sites including the famous multi-story dwellings built into the sides of cliffs. Visitors can tour the cliff dwellings on ranger-led tours and hike to rock art left behind by the Ancestral Puebloan people. Campers can almost always find a site at the Morefield Campground located inside the park.
The best time to hike, mountain bike, and camp in the mountains around Durango is between May and early October. Late July and early August are especially nice when the high country is blanketed with Indian paintbrush and Colorado columbine. Fall colors are typically the best during the latter half of September. Ski season typically opens in early December and runs through early April, although backcountry skiers can often visit until June.