Whether you’re a snow-bunny, a fine-dining connoisseur, or you just plain love majestic mountain scenery, Durango, Colorado is the ultimate vacation spot in the winter months. With average temperatures in the 30’s, it is just cold enough to dump snow on one of the four local ski slopes, but still warm enough to tour around historic downtown or cast a fly in a mountain stream. In Durango, there are plentiful options for all winter vacationers ranging from award winning restaurants to gold medal fishing water, and of course, what was recently recognized by Outside Magazine as one of the best Winter Carnivals in North America– the month of January’s Snowdown Festival!
Durango sits at 6,512 feet and is known for its ideal winter skiing and snowboarding conditions, with its most popular slopes located at the Durango Mountain Resort, just 25 miles North of town. The Ski resort has been recognized by Tripadvisor as the top value ski resort in North America. And if you spend a few days carving up the resort and want to try some other slopes, there’s Wolf Creek in Pagosa Springs, Hesperus Ski Area only 12 miles away, which has night skiing, and Kendall Mountain and Silverton Mountain in Silverton. Kendall Mountain is perfect for beginners, while Silverton Mountain, with an elevation of 13,000 feet, is recognized as one of the most challenging in North America. It’s no wonder Durango is recognized as a top ten ski town in America!
There’s other great snow adventure for those not looking for downhill action as well. Mesa Verde National Park sits just 35 miles outside of town and offers great cross-country trails, snowshoeing, and exploring by foot or car. Ice Climbers can challenge themselves at Cascade Canyon, and if you’re looking for adventure without the workout, the Durango Dog Ranch has sled tours through the San Juan Mountains. You can also rent snowmobiles and tours from numerous outlets in town! For kids, there’s ample sledding and tubing opportunities right in town at Chapman Ski Hill or downtown in Buckley Park. You can rent a tube right at the front desk of the Quality Inn!
There are tons of other things to do in Durango in the months of January and February that have nothing to do with snow as well. Historic Main Avenue downtown and the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are year-round attractions that are great in the winter! At the Train Station you can either ride the historic steam engine or just tour the railroad museum. Downtown features a variety of clothing boutiques, gift shops, and a mall as well as award-winning restaurants ranging from American and Mexican to Thai and Japanese. There’s a bike and walking path that runs along the Animas River which cuts through town if you feel like exploring by foot. Another year-round attraction is the fishing. The Animas River right is recognized as having Gold-Medal waters for Trout fishing and within a short drive you lake fish at Lake Vallecito, Lemon Lake, Pastorias Lake, or the McPhee reservoir just to name a few. Kids love the Durango Discovery museum where they can build their own rockets, program a computer robot, or just climb the indoor tree! If you are traveling with children, it’s a must stop.
If that’s not enough to get you to Durango, then the Annual Snowdown Festival should be. Snowdown is an annual Winter Celebration in Durango that the whole town takes part in! This year’s theme is “Safari So Good.” Activities include parades, fireworks, costume parties and competitions between local businesses. The annual celebration is one of the special events that got Durango recognized by Outside Magazine as one of the best places to live and most definitely makes it one of the best places to visit for the family.
The great thing about Durango is that while Durango’s highly elevated location in the San Juan Mountains provides for majestic scenery, and a winter wonderland, its moderate temperature makes for clear roads and easy exploring by car or afoot. And the great thing about Durango is that even if there’s snow on the ground, it’s almost always sunny outside! Average lows at night are in the teens in January, but the average highs are in the 40’s. This makes for an enjoyable trip downtown to explore the shops and award winning restaurants without having to put on your heavy snow gear. While ski slopes such as Durango Mountain Resort, just 25miles out of town get an average of 260 inches of snowfall per year, in town there is only an average of 71 inches of snowfall per year. And because Durango sits in the sunny Animas River Valley, snow in town usually doesn’t stick on roads and sidewalks.
Winter is a very special time in Durango and there’s something for everyone. Risk taking adventurers and Families with children alike can enjoy the beauty of Durango and the winter events.
Be sure to book a room at the Quality Inn in Durango and stay just minutes away from all the fun!