In Any Direction
Mancos, just 28 miles west of Durango, is situated in the midst of the San Juan Mountains, a picturesque town with views of the mountains and proximity to trails and wildlife viewing. At 7,000 feet, Mancos lies just east of one of the most celebrated World Heritage sites—Mesa Verde National Park. The town’s charming inns and restaurants provide an opportunity for visitors to spend time in a historic Western town but also offer a staging area to the world-renowned cultural center that is Mesa Verde. Mancos is perhaps best known for its dedication to the preservation of Western culture. Strolling through downtown, you’ll see this fidelity to the past: Each building represents a historic flavor of its own, including the well-known Mancos Opera House, with small shops and galleries interspersed. Beyond the town’s historic characteristics there are the surrounding natural ones, like Jackson Gulch Reservoir, where locals and visitors enjoy kayaking, swimming, and canoeing. Take US Hwy. 160W from Durango to Mancos for the quickest, easiest drive.
Silverton is roughly 48 miles north of Durango, which makes for a scenic hourlong drive through the San Juan Mountains. Perhaps the most popular way to travel from Durango to Silverton and back, though, is onboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which provides a memorable trip through the surrounding mountains and forests on its steam-powered locomotives. In Silverton, preservation of the past is evident in its historic buildings. Along with the town’s historic nature, Silverton is central to many natural wonders: The trailhead for one of the most iconic hikes in Colorado, Ice Lakes, is about 20 minutes west. For a similar taste of the otherworldly blue of Ice Lakes, the Columbine Lake trailhead, northwest of Silverton, provides equally dramatic views. For the most stunning route from Durango to Silverton, take US Hwy. 550N.
Pagosa Springs, 60 miles east of Durango, is an easy hourlong drive to a place once frequented by many Native American tribes. The most alluring feature of Pagosa Springs is the very thing the town was named for—its natural hot springs. The Springs Resort & Spa is the world’s deepest geothermal hot springs, with 24 mineral hot springs pools. Nestled along the San Juan River, the resort makes for a healing and completely relaxing vacation, a much-needed respite for both locals and visitors. The spa is in the heart of downtown Pagosa Springs, with its blocks of restaurants and shops. A few miles north of Pagosa Springs, at the base of Wolf Creek Pass, is the Treasure Falls trailhead. At about 100 feet high, Treasure Falls is said to hide a pot of gold beneath its ravines of rushing mountain runoff. It is the ideal hike for both families and adventure-seekers. Take US Hwy. 160E from Durango to Pagosa Springs.
Farmington, New Mexico, about 50 miles south of Durango, offers a getaway to a modern and exciting town. The Farmington community has selected a list of “jolts,” or truly sensational activities, that define their town. The Piñon Hills Golf Course figures prominently on this list; as one of the most stunning public golf courses in New Mexico, golfing here is a fun, scenic, and affordable experience for anyone. Adding to the possibilities for family and individual fun are the Fly High Adventure Park, an indoor trampoline park, and Bisti Bay at Brookside Park, a waterpark and pool. Beyond these outdoor adventures, Farmington’s Native American culture is proudly preserved and in evidence at the Fifth Generation Trading Company, which includes artwork, jewelry, and pottery from a collection of Native artists. The Farmington Civic Center continues its dedication to arts and culture with year-round theater productions. From Durango, take US Hwy. 550S to NM 516 via Aztec.