Get to Know Durango, CO, One of the Coolest Small Towns in America

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Million Dollar Highway
Strater Hotel
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Fuel up at 11th Street Station, a former gas station in the heart of downtown Durango that combines a bar, coffee shop, outdoor seating, plus food trucks and other vendors.

Explore the natural landscape of the Durango area with scenic Jeep tours out of nearby Silverton. See jaw-dropping vistas, historic mining sites, waterfalls, and seasonal wildflowers and technicolor fall foliage.

After a day exploring, head to El Moro Spirits and Tavern for "modern rustic" fare. Fresh, local ingredients grab the spotlight in dishes that blend classic traditions with modern touches.

We love every word in the phrase “old west music and comedy show with barbecue supper,” and so will you, at Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers, where the food and the fun are all family-friendly.

Fall colors don’t get any more Instagrammable than those on display here in the San Juan Mountains.

If you’re hungry for a taste of the Southwest, Durango has over 100 restaurants specializing in everything from steaks to seafood.

You can experience Durango’s diverse art scene, ranging from traditional native and Southwestern traditions to contemporary design, any day of the week. But annual spring and fall gallery walks are an especially good time to mingle with artists and fellow art lovers.

Get truly wild with a guided horseback tour of San Juan National Forest, or a more laid-back (but no less beautiful) carriage ride that begins right at the front steps of the iconic Strater Hotel in downtown Durango.

No visit to Durango is complete without a trip to Mesa Verde National Park, about 35 miles west of town. We recommend a ranger-led tour of the Ancestral Pueblo people’s cliff dwellings and other must-see sights.

Dirt Road Travels

River rafting can be fun for the whole family when you navigate manageable class II and III rapids on the lower Animas River. Guided tours range from an hour to most of the day, and can also include local history mixed with the whitewater experience.

Dirt Road Travels

Sit back and relax as you enjoy spectacular mountain scenery on the coal-fired, steam-driven Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad through San Juan National Forest, just as cowboys and miners did. (Note that recent wildfires have made some route adjustments necessary, but the heart of the ride remains as gorgeous as ever.)

Courtesy Durango

Wet your whistle - and chow down, too - at Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango’s biggest restaurant. Be prepared for a fun-loving crowd, great food, and ask about the delicious Cajun Boil and the Prescribed Burn ale made with roasted hot chile peppers.

Durango in winter becomes an absolute wonderland for those who like their cold-weather activities warmed by the southern Colorado sun. Take your pick of skiing (at resorts such as Purgatory, pictured here), snowshoeing, tubing, ice climbing, and even dog sledding.

Hit Carver Brewing Company (folks around here just call it “Carver’s”) for a blend of New American and Southwest cuisine, and try a flight of craft beer ranging from lightly refreshing to rich and caramely.

Take a drive on the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Ouray. With hairpin turns, unbelievable scenery, and abandoned mines along the way, it lives up to its million dollar name.

The Strater Hotel is a local classic delivering the spirit of the old west with distinctive touches of contemporary style.

Adrenaline junkies will savor the miles of trails perfect for mountain biking adventures.

From the mountains to the river rafting, from the gallery walks to the breweries and so much more, Durango is truly a small town where you can have it all.

We named Durango, CO, one of the 10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2018 because we love the way visitors to Durango can take their pick from a vast array of natural, cultural, historical, and culinary wonders. Check out our photo gallery (above) and get ready to discover Durango.


When it comes to hiking, rafting, horseback riding, or chilling in a horse-drawn carriage or narrow-gauge railroad car, the San Juan Mountains provide a spectacular four-season backdrop to your Durango stay.


Whether you crave a traditional burger or something more Southwestern, Durango has got it on the menu. The town’s craft breweries are some of the most creative - and tastiest - in the U.S.. And a relaxed, family-friendly vibe can be found at just about every eatery downtown.


Visit to start planning your cool town escape.

Budget Travel has produced this article for Durango, Colorado. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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