Colorado is known for its winter fun on the slopes of mountain ski resorts, but the state ain’t too shabby in other seasons — especially autumn. Colorado fall foliage is a sight to behind, especially the state’s famed aspen groves that paoint mountainsides varying shades of bright yellow and gold. There are many ways to experience Durango fall foliage, but we’ve narrowed it down to three: plane, train and automobile.
So, uh, you’re not really on a plane, but you are flying — sort of. That’s because one amazing way to see the fall colors in Durango is via zip line. During a zip line tour, you’re not just passing the blazing-gold aspens; you’re flying through them. Soaring Tree Top Adventures is one of the best zip lining experiences around. Before becoming a Durango zip line course, the Beggrow family ran a luxury resort on their property about 20 miles north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest that guests could reach only by helicopter or on the Durango train. The family closed the remote resort in 2004 and opened the nation’s first zip line course, which guests can still only reach by rail. The daylong tour starts with a two-hour ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the property. The Durango train stops in the middle of nowhere where Soaring staff greets disembarking guests. The course features 27 zip lines (including one that stretches 1,400 feet through ponderosa pines and aspen groves and over the Animas River). The excursion lasts five hours and includes a three-course lunch as well as the return trip on the Durango train. Soaring Tree Top Adventures is offering specials this month — only $299.99 per person on Sept. 14th, 15th, 19th, and 27th — and may offer more specials until they close for the season on Oct. 16. Give ’em a call to find out when you should book your trip for optimal fall foliage viewing!
Well, we sort of covered the train, but not the many options it provides passengers to soak up fall colors in Durango. The Durango train offers a variety of ways to take in the wonder of fall foliage near Durango. One of the best ways is by simply booking a seat on one of the train’s daily departures. The train runs to Silverton through Oct. 29 before shortening its route for the winter season. Passengers can opt for a roundtrip train ride to and from Silverton or choose to the “Skyway Tour” option, a faster excursion that means one leg of the journey to Silverton is on the train while the other is via a motorcoach bus on U.S. Highway 550’s scenic San Juan Skyway. The Skyway tour offers a different perspective of Durango fall foliage! For those who are really serious about capturing Durango’s fall colors, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railway also offers its annual Fall Photographer’s Train, this year on Sept. 24 and 25. The outing allows passengers to get off the train at pre-determined locations to set up their cameras and equipment before the train does several “drive-bys” to allow everyong to get the perfect shot with the golden aspens shining in the scenery.
You don’t have to do anything fancy (or spendy) to enjoy the San Juan Mountains’ fall colors. All you have to do is drive. Start with the San Juan Skyway, 236-mile loop through southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Along the way, visitors can take in
breathtaking views, stunning scenery and an amazing array of fall colors. The scenic route also includes the Million Dollar Highway, a narrow, winding, 70-mile stretch of road that was built in the late 1880s and clings to the side of the mountain. You don’t have to do the whole loop, either. Another Durango fall foliage favorite is simply driving on the stretch of U.S. Highway 550 from Durango north through Silverton and Ouray to Ridgway.
While you’re visiting to experience Durango fall colors, be sure to stay with us at the Durango Quality Inn. Our hotel is conventiently located just two miles from the downtown Durango train depot, and we sit right on Main Avenue (i.e. Highway 550), so your Durango fall foliage trip can start the second you pull out of our parking lot. Book your room at the Quality Inn Durango today!