The "Great House" at Chimney Rock National Monument. (Source: Chimney Rock National Monument)

The “Great House” at Chimney Rock National Monument. (Source: Chimney Rock National Monument)

Southwestern Colorado is a mesa mecca peppered with rad ruins of Puebloan and regional Native American societies. We know a lot of kids would probably rather go to Disneyland than somewhere they might, you know, learn something, but those “educational vacations” are often the ones that stick with you as you get older.

Chimney Rock National Monument is about an hour’s drive east of Durango, a straight shot on U.S. 160. President Obama just designated the 4,700-acre park a national monument in September 2012, which is pretty cool. The park includes ancient Puebloan ruins such as kivas, pit houses and great houses.

There’s also the Life at Chimney Rock Festival this weekend, June 29 and 30, that will feature interactive demonstrations of Puebloan crafts and skills such as basket weaving, flute making and flint knapping as well as grinding grain, making pottery and pounding yucca to make rope. You can also shop in the Indian market for some awesome and meaningful souvenirs. The festival, which will be in the Visitor Center parking area, is free (free things!) and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Guided and self-guided tours of the archeological sites are available for a fee.

So, while you’re busy making your kids learn stuff on their summer vacation, you can stay at the Durango Quality Inn. We have a pool, and we’re only a block from the Durango Recreation Center. You can tell them it’s SeaWorld.

If you’re going to be in the Durango area this Independence Day, there’s gonna be a whole lotta red-white-and-blue happening in the city.

I hope this guy shows up to the parade again this year. (Copyright DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald)

I hope this guy shows up to the parade again this year. (Copyright DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald)

  • Durango will be hopping during its annual Fourth of July celebration, Salute to America. Events kick off at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in Rotary Park, followed by a 5K Freedom Fun Run at 9 a.m. Over in Buckley Park, there will be a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at 11 a.m., followed by a Kids Flea Market and family picnic that both start at noon. The day includes a barbecue fest in downtown with a beer garden and live music and a patriotic parade that starts at 6 p.m., followed by a good, ol’-fashioned street dance at 6:30 p.m.
  • After you dance till you drop, the city’s Fourth festivities will wrap up with a fireworks display that starts at 9:15 p.m. in downtown.
  • You can get your fix of both fine art and fireworks this Fourth of July during the First Thursdays Art Walk in downtown Durango. Venues (both art galleries and alternative art spaces) open to the public at 5 p.m. and will host activities until 7 p.m.
  • If you’re looking for something a bit more mellow, musical theater might be the ticket. Catch the musical “They’re Playing Our Song” during the Durango Art Center’s A Neil Simon Summer. The show runs Saturday and Thursday nights (including Independence Day) through August.

One last thing, before you hop on the Durango & Silverton train, be sure to jump on the Fourth of July specials. The railroad is offering Independence Day weekend specials July 4-7, including discounts for veterans, free rides for kids and a chance to take a bus from Durango to Silverton then ride the train back to Durango for a discounted price. All specials require online booking, so book your trip beforehand.

Speaking of booking, be sure to book your room at the Durango Quality Inn for your Fourth of July weekend!

The record summertime low of 29 degrees was set in July 1995. What the..?! (Source: Weather.com)

The record summertime low of 29 degrees was set in July 1995. What the..?! (Source: Weather.com)

Summer in Durango, Colorado, is really kind of perfect. Forget the Mile High City’s measly 5,280 feet (no offense, Denver). Durango sits at an elevation of 6,500 feet surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, which usually* keeps the city’s summertime temperatures in the 80s.

Durango’s average high temperature is 75 degrees in June, 80 degrees in July and 77 degrees in August, which is pretty darn close to perfect weather for all that hiking, biking, fishing and rafting you may be doing. Who needs 72 degrees anyway? That’s, like, almost chilly.

*We cannot guarantee that the temperature won’t soar to 102 degrees, Durango’s all-time record high, which was set in 1973.

Make your summer stay even more perfect by booking your room at the Quality Inn Durango today.

Whoa. Dinosaurs. Trains. Dinosaurs and trains? We need to be 4-year-olds again, stat, because we just heard that the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is bringing back the Jim Henson Dinosaur Train in June for the second year.

A T-rex and train walk into a bar... (Copyright Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.)

A T-rex and train walk into a bar… (Source: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.)

The event is based on the PBS KIDS television show, Dinosaur Train, and young passengers will get to meet Buddy, the show’s bright orange Tyrannosaurus rex.

The 2.5-hour ride starts at the Durango depot, where passengers board the train (pulled by an authentic steam locomotive), which takes them to the Nature Trackers Adventure Area. During the trip, kids will enjoy music, stories and, duh, the ride itself. When they arrive at the adventure area, children will have 1.5 hours to play in the “fossil” dig site, track dinosaurs and take a photo with Buddy before they board the train to head back to the Durango depot.

The Dinosaur Train departs two or three times daily June 8-10 and June 14-16. You can make reservations on the Durango & Silverton website, and, if you’re staying in the area, be sure to make reservations at the Durango Quality Inn.