Durango, Colorado is known for its southwestern charm, its incredible natural settings, and its rich history.
Known to locals as the “Hollywood of Colorado,” Durango is more than just an SUV moniker.
It’s a mecca for culinary creativity, it’s considered one of the happiest winter towns in the state, and it’s served as a muse for many artists.
As such, there are so many beautiful things to do in Durango, CO.
No state is as synonymous with nature and adventure as Colorado.
For this reason, you can expect to find lots of attractions geared toward nature lovers and thrill seekers.
No matter the time of year, there’s always so much to do in Durango.
From incredible hiking trails to amazing ski resorts and aerial adventure courses to thrilling snowmobile tours, there’s something for every whim.
Beyond all of the outdoor action, Durango has great museums, incredible restaurants, creative breweries, and so much more.
Check out some of the many wonderful places you might consider during your visit to Durango.
Things To Do In Durango, CO
1. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Stretching the more than 45 miles between Silverton and Durango in Colorado, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an epic sight and attraction.
Operating out of the original 1882 train depot, this top 10 attraction not only offers a unique transportation activity but is also a great historical site.
Providing visitors with one of the most thrilling train rides, the tracks connecting the two cities are a narrow, 3-foot system that scales a beautiful mountainside.
If you’d like to enjoy this amazing attraction while you’re in town, your best option is the scenic round-trip train ride.
The ride travels through the magnificent San Juan Mountains and the Animas Canyon.
The 3 ½ hour-long ride allows you to unplug from your electronics, observe amazing natural sights, and bask in a leisurely tour of Durango’s surrounding area.
The steam-powered locomotive is a unique way to experience the Durango mountainside.
Address: Durango, CO, United States
2. Purgatory Ski Resort
A beautiful place to visit in both the winter and summer months, Purgatory Ski Resort is a year-round outdoor paradise.
Whether visiting today or this weekend, Purgatory Ski Resort is one of the coolest places to go when you’re in Durango.
During the winter months, the resort is a slopeside mecca.
Carved out by centuries-old glaciers, the resort averages nearly 300 inches of snow annually.
With more than 1,600 acres of terrain, more than 100 trails, 11 lifts, an array of terrain parks, and more, Purgatory Ski Resort is a must-do.
During the summer months, Purgatory Ski Resort is one of the most magnificent places to visit.
In the summer, the resort’s alpine slide and mountain coaster are big draws.
Hiking, mountain biking, and watersports on Twilight Lake are other exciting ways to enjoy the resort.
No matter the time of year you plan to visit, Purgatory Ski Resort is one of Durango’s greatest points of interest.
Address: 1 Skier Pl, Durango, CO 81301, United States
3. Mesa Verde National Park
Situated in southwest Colorado about 56 miles from Durango, Mesa Verde National Park is known for its incredible cliff dwellings.
A historical beacon for ancient pueblo-dwelling civilizations, Mesa Verde National Park is home to ancestral communities carved into the cliffs more than 700 years ago.
These once-thriving communities can be observed and explored during your visit to Mesa Verde National Park.
This incredible view into ancient native history makes Mesa Verde National Park one of the most unique places to go in Durango, Colorado.
In addition to the incredible pueblos, Mesa Verde National Park is also home to more than 1,000 animal species, many of which can only be found in this park.
One of the most popular activities at the park is hiking.
With more than 30 miles of hiking trails, the park allows you to explore the rugged terrain, ancient civilizations, and magnificent vistas.
Whether you plan your visit to Mesa Verde National Park for today or this weekend, you won’t be disappointed by the magnificent sights.
Address: Mesa Verde, CO, United States
4. The Colorado Trail
If you’re looking for things to do in Durango with an outdoor appeal, be sure to check out The Colorado Trail.
One of the most epic places to visit, The Colorado Trail is a nearly 500-mile trail stretching from Colorado’s Waterton Canyon to Durango.
Some of the trail’s highest points stretch more than 13,000 feet above sea level, so you can expect incredible views from many points along the trail system.
If you’re looking for stuff to do that will envelop you in the magnificent beauty inherent to Colorado, the trail is a must-do.
The Colorado Trail is uniquely composed of one continuous trail making it easy to navigate.
The trail is open to foot traffic, biking, and horseback riding.
It passes through several national forests, many wilderness preserves, and runs adjacent to five rivers.
One of many wonderful free things to do when you’re in Durango, The Colorado Trail is highly recommended.
Address: Durango, CO, United States
5. San Juan National Forest
One of the best things to do in Colorado is visiting the San Juan National Forest.
Spanning nearly many miles in the state’s western region, the forest is the perfect destination for adventure-seeking, nature lovers.
The forest consists of towering alpine peaks as well as desert mesas, and the San Juan National Forest has a unique ecosystem that sets the stage for year-round fun.
Speaking of fun, the San Juan National Forest sets the scene for exciting activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding.
During the summer months, there are loads of cool water activities, and in the winter, the forest gives way to several winter sports.
Finally, the San Juan National Forest is a great place to spend a few days camping too.
The park’s primitive, cabin, and RV campgrounds set the stage for outdoor learning, picnicking, and beyond.
With so many free things to do in one magnificent setting, visiting the San Juan National Forest is a no-brainer.
Address: Colorado, United States
Visiting other parts of Colorado? Why not check out some of the best things to do in Denver & some of the best things to do in Colorado Springs?
6. Animas River Trail
This 126-mile Animas River, which is set in the heart of Durango, Colorado has so many beautiful things to see.
A tributary of the San Juan River and part of the greater Colorado River system, the Animas River is surrounded by the beauty of nature.
The river runs adjacent to an awesome trail system that links downtown Durango to the northern and southern parts of the city.
The Animas River Trail is characterized by paved paths that are suitable for all skill levels.
Perfect for biking, hiking, and e-biking, the trail system stretches more than 7 miles through Durango.
It provides convenient access to parks, a public recreation center, a public library, and the downtown area.
The trail traverses through tunnels, under overpasses, and over bridges which makes for dynamic navigation.
A great place to explore and one of the coolest Durango attractions, the Animas River Trail is a must-do.
Address: Durango, CO, United States
7. D&SNG Museum
This museum pays homage to the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
D&SNG Museum is loaded with amazing things to see concerning the history of the local locomotive industry.
In addition to railroading, the museum explores local transportation and mining as well.
The museum is a 12,000-square-foot mecca that was established in 1998.
Within the museum, there are very cool installations of artifacts, many of which have been donated by retired railroad workers.
The museum is also home to a large collection of railroad history books and rail cars.
One of the best tourist attractions for history buffs, the D&SNG Museum is a must-see.
Admission to the museum is free, so you’re encouraged to come back frequently.
Address: 479 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
8. Hogback Ridge Trail
This loop trail, set near beautiful Durango, Colorado, is a nearly 2-mile trail that’s suitable for both hikers and horses.
While horses and hikers are permitted on the trail, dogs and bicycles are not.
Situated on the western part of the Foothills Trail, the Hogback Ridge Trail is set amid scenic sights such as springs, a ponderosa pine savannah, and through the dregs of an infamous 1990 fire.
The trail is peaceful and perfectly suitable for beginner-level hikers.
On average, the trail takes about an hour and a half to navigate.
It’s open year-round and is popular with both locals and visitors.
With each new season, the beautiful setting for the Hogback Ridge Trail changes.
It’s characterized by rolling mountains, lush open spaces, gorgeous trees, and colorful wildflowers.
One of the greatest points of interest near Durango, the Hogback Ridge Trail is highly recommended.
Address: CO, United States
9. Dalla Mountain Park
One of the most amazing tourist attractions for nature lovers, Dalla Mountain Park is popular for climbing, hiking, and biking.
Surrounded by dense, lush forestry as well as incredible sandstone boulders, Dalla Mountain Park is a perfect place for exploring.
Those sandstone boulders, some measuring taller than some commercial buildings, are a great attraction, especially for climbers.
Established in 2005, Dalla Mountain Park comprises more than 175 acres rife with adventure-seeking opportunities.
A unique facet of the park is that it butts up to the Animas River Trail which makes for a great opportunity to further explore Durango’s vast landscape.
The park has a great trail system that traverses rocky landscapes, miles of rolling hills, and several spurs connecting to climbing zones.
These trails are not for the faint of heart because of their technical terrain.
Of the many Durango attractions to choose from, Dalla Mountain Park should make your list.
Address: Durango, CO 81301, United States
10. Powerhouse Science Center
The Powerhouse Science Center is an interactive museum that’s one of the best things to do in Durango.
Established in 2011, the center is set in the city’s old power company building, thus its name.
Situated adjacent to the Animas River, the center’s building was once a coal-fired, steam power AC generating plant.
The center’s unique setting adds to its charm and history-rich vibe.
The Powerhouse Science Center is home to interesting exhibits, educational programs, and loads of hands-on activities.
Some of the many wonderful programs the center institutes include a LEGO League and Tiny Tuesdays (aimed at the center’s youngest visitors).
The Powerhouse Science Center’s exhibits delve into subjects such as the evolution of the guitar, life with wolves, the science of bicycles, and female inventors.
In addition to the awesome exhibits and cool programs, the center also hosts occasional special events.
Address: 1295 Camino Del Rio, Durango, CO 81301, United States
Exploring other areas of Colorado? Why not check out some of the best things to do in Estes Park & some of the things to do in Breckenridge, CO?
11. Fish Hatchery & Wildlife Museum
If you’re looking for amazing Durango attractions, be sure to visit the Fish Hatchery & Wildlife Museum.
This state wildlife space is situated on 18 acres and sits at just over a 6,500-foot elevation.
The focal point of the hatchery is a coldwater stream that’s perfect for fishing so long as you have the necessary permits.
The fishery is known for raising several species of trout as well as kokanee salmon.
The state’s oldest fishery, it stocks more than 1.5 million catchable fish each year.
Another fun thing to do around the fishery is to visit the wildlife museum.
The museum, which opened in 2022, is small but mighty.
Its three rooms exhibit incredible taxidermy displays, mounted fish, fishing artifacts, and aquariums with fish you can feed during your visit.
The museum takes under an hour to navigate and is a great spot to visit with children.
Address: 151 E 16th St, Durango, CO 81301, United States
12. Strater Hotel
One of the top vacation spots in Durango, Colorado, Strater Hotel should be on your short list of places to stay.
The Strater Hotel is an iconic historic hotel situated in downtown Durango.
Known for its historical charm, incredible accommodations, and central locale, Strater Hotel is a must-do.
Known as the city’s living history museum, Strater Hotel is so much more than a hotel.
Throughout the hotel, shadow boxes depicting western and mining stories as well as unparalleled, original architecture, make this hotel a true showstopper.
As for the accommodations, guest rooms feature the perfect balance of historic charm and modern luxury.
The 88 rooms within the hotel feature Victorian furnishings and decor but with modern amenities such as flatscreen televisions, wi-fi, and more.
The hotel has three awesome restaurants serving lunch, dinner, and late-night entertainment.
Besides the excellent accommodations, Strater Hotel is one of the best Durango attractions in general.
Address: 699 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
13. James Ranch Market & Grill
Not only is James Ranch Market & Grill a farm-to-table establishment, but it prides itself on being a “table on a farm.”
An immersive food experience, James Ranch Market & Grill is one of the greatest restaurants around.
The grill’s menu is packed with selections crafted from the produce of the more-than-400-acre farm.
Flavorful beef, pasture-raised chickens, tender pork, and succulent vegetables all make their way from the farm to the grill.
The grill is open for indoor and outdoor seating and serves organic beer, wine, and cider all of which are locally produced.
Outdoor fireplaces, picture windows, and the surrounding red rock cliffs all add to the rustic charm of James Ranch Market & Grill.
After visiting the grill, be sure to take a spin around the market where you’ll find fresh products and specialty foods all of which are locally and organically produced.
Address: 33846 US-550, Durango, CO 81301, United States
14. Mountain Waters Rafting
If you’re looking for things to do in Durango that hones in on water activities, be sure to schedule an outing with Mountain Waters Rafting.
Whether you’re looking for a mellow, family-friendly excursion or a thrill-seeking, wild time, Mountain Waters Rafting has you covered.
Established in 1982, this company thrives on providing super fun, river experiences for all.
Their family rafting tours are some of the greatest in Colorado; they can navigate the Animas River or venture to Telluride and can be booked for quarter-day or full-day experiences.
If you’re in the market for something a bit more exciting, the adventure rafting trips range from full-day to three-day experiences.
In addition to all the water fun, Mountain Waters Rafting also does 4×4 tours, ziplining, and offers train packages too.
With so many exciting activities available in one enterprise, it’s no wonder Mountain Waters Rafting is such a popular attraction.
Address: 303 W College Dr, Durango, CO 81301, United States
15. Emerald Lake
This gorgeous alpine lake is set between two towering mountains in the Weminuche Wilderness of Durango, Colorado.
Situated just 10 miles from the Pine River Trailhead, Emerald Lake is a great setting for a day of outdoor adventure.
If you’re looking for fun and natural beauty during your visit to Durango, be sure to add this incredible attraction to your itinerary.
The hike to Emerald Lake is approximately 20 miles roundtrip, so it’s not meant for beginner hikers.
Some hikers even turn their visit to Emerald Lake into an overnight stay, camping along the trail.
During your hike of Emerald Lake, you’ll reach elevations of up to 2,000 feet and experience some truly inspiring sights.
Emerald Lake is best hiked during the spring and summer months and dogs are permitted on the trail.
Once you’ve reached the lake, you can enjoy swimming and non-motorized water sports.
Address: Colorado, United States
Going on a road trip around Colorado? Why not check out some of the things to do in Boulder, CO & some of the best things to do in Fort Collins?
16. Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventures
If you’re looking for inherently Colorado things to do in Durango, be sure to book a tour with Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventures.
Providing two-hour guided tours of the San Juan Mountains, a tour with Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventures is the best way to see Colorado for its true beauty.
Zipping around on brand-new Polaris snowmobiles, you’ll ride in style.
A winter adventure like no other, Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventures are a must-do.
Exploring more than 55,000 acres of the untouched natural landscape, an Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventure traverses up to 12,000 feet up the mountain.
The cold, winter air whipping against your face as you weave in and out of mountainous terrain is an exhilarating experience.
Tours are available for all snowmobiling skill levels and are guided by experts.
With 2- and 3-hour as well as full-day tours available, you can tailor your experience to your preferences.
Address: Molas Lake/Molas Trailhead Molas Pass, Silverton, CO 81433, United States
17. Pinkerton Hot Springs
Situated just 20 minutes north of Durango, Colorado is one of the coolest places in the US.
Easy to find and situated just off the side of a road, the Pinkerton Hot Springs is an unassuming sight.
But get a little closer, and you’ll come face to face with this landmark of sorts.
Established as a hot spring in 1875, it was settled by one James Pinkerton who turned it into a natural spa and resort.
When the resort burned down, it was left in disrepair for many years but was re-established as just the hot spring in 2001.
Today, visitors come from far and wide to experience the joy of Pinkerton Hot Springs.
Although the spring was originally surrounded by man-made cement steps, years of mineral deposits have made it falsely look like a natural rock structure.
Nevertheless, the Pinkerton Hot Springs is a great place to spend an hour soaking in this wonder of Colorado.
Address: 35554 Highway 550, Durango, CO 81301, United States
18. Ska Brewing
Ska Brewing is a super fun place to check out in Durango.
Brewing incredible craft beers since its establishment in 1995, it’s something of a local institution.
Brewing flagship and seasonal beers as well as unexpected blends, this place is a great choice for the beer lovers in your group.
The main attraction at Ska Brewing is the tasting room wherein you can sample all the tasty libations.
The beer menu is packed with housemade beer varieties, non-alcoholic selections, and hard seltzers.
In addition to the awesome drinks, Ska Brewing also has an onsite kitchen serving up casual fare with selections such as brick oven pizzas, wildly delicious sandwiches, salads, and kids’ options.
In addition to imbibing and chowing, be sure to check out Ska Brewing’s events calendar; there are always fun things going on.
Lastly, the swag store is a great place to pick up some apparel to commemorate your visit.
Address: 225 Girard St, Durango, CO 81303, United States
19. Soaring Tree Top Adventures
If you’re into thrill-seeking adventure, you’re guaranteed a fun time when you book with Soaring Tree Top Adventures.
Situated right in the heart of Durango, Soaring Tree Top Adventures is famed as the largest zipline course in the country.
This company offers a variety of tour options available for ages.
Set in the treetops of the gorgeous San Juan Mountains, Soaring Tree Top Adventures is both adventurous and scenic.
With super-long lines that weave in and out of more than 150 acres, Soaring Tree Top Adventures provides an unforgettable experience.
The remote part of the mountain from where the tours begin is only accessible by train, so every tour begins with a scenic train ride upon the D&SNG.
After traversing the canyon and arriving for your tour, the fun begins.
Each Soaring Tree Top Adventures tour is a whopping 5.5 hours in length; it’ll be a day you won’t soon forget.
Address: 964 Co Rd 200, Durango, CO 81301, United States
20. Animas Museum
If you’re looking for fun and educational things to enjoy while you’re in Durango, check out the Animas Museum.
Owned and operated by the local historical society, the museum is set in the 1904 Animas School Building; in addition to its incredible contents, the historical building is also fun to explore.
Preserving and sharing local history, the Animas Museum houses such artifacts as Durango yearbooks, a permanent exhibit depicting a 1905 classroom, and exhibits on law and disorder in the wild west.
Additionally, the museum has an extensive collection of digitized documents, Native American relics, and an interesting collection of artifacts yielded from local fires.
All tours of the Animas Museum are self-guided walking tours, and the museum is only open during short, selected hours midweek, so check out the schedule before your visit.
A fun and unique way to learn about Durango’s rich history, the Animas Museum is a nice way to spend an hour in town.
Address: 3065 W 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
21. Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company
This Durango institution is a small-batch chocolate maker that uses the finest ingredients and methods.
Established just over 10 years ago, Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company is a purveyor of delectable, chocolate confections that can be enjoyed at their onsite cafe or carried out.
Specializing in handcrafted bites, barks, and bars, Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company is the perfect Durango pitstop for the sweet tooth in your group.
Some of the company’s amazing bestsellers include an incredible 16-piece build-your-own truffle box, the River Bottom-Dark Chocolate Toffee, and the ever-so-unique milk chocolate-covered potato chips.
Besides their delightful confections, Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company is also known for its smelter hot chocolate and Desert Sun organic coffee.
Situated on the banks of the Animas River, the setting, which is depicted in all the company’s packaging, is just as inviting as the Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company.
There’s no place better to warm up after a cold day in the mountains than with a cup of hot chocolate.
Address: 920 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
22. Durango Craft Spirits
Best known as the city’s first grain-to-bottle distillery since Prohibition, Durango Craft Spirits is a must-do.
Specializing in bourbon, vodka, and moonshine, each variety is hand-crafted right in the downtown Durango distillery.
Using only local ingredients, any bottle crafted here is an awesome reflection of Colorado’s nature and simplicity.
All of the corn used in their products are sourced from the local Ute Mountains while grains are sourced from a local malting company.
When visiting Durango Craft Spirits, you can enjoy the establishment’s inviting Tasting Room or simply carry out packaged goods.
If you’re looking for recommendations, the distillery’s most popular varieties include the award-winning Cinder Dick Bourbon, the Mayday Moonshine, and Soiled Doves Vodka.
Each label has its unique story which you can learn all about during your visit to Durango Craft Spirits.
Address: 1120 Main Ave #2, Durango, CO 81301, United States
23. Ore House
This old-west-themed steakhouse is a must-do when you’re in Durango.
Serving fresh, eco-friendly meats and fish, Ore House is a delicious spot for dinner.
Established in 1972, it’s popular with both locals and travelers. The menu at Ore House is jam-packed with tasty mountain-town fare, a full bar, and a quaint wine cellar.
The menu is also packed with local, sustainable ingredients that contribute to a flourishing local ecosystem.
If you’d like to dine at Ore House, reservations are highly recommended.
Once you arrive, plan to indulge in house specialties such as the Alaskan King Crab Cake, hand-cut steaks, and must-have sauces and sides.
The spirits and wine list are out of this world at Ore House, so plan to imbibe.
Finally, insiders know to ask about the secret menu for surprises that won’t be ruined here.
Ore House is a Durango mainstay that you have to experience to appreciate, so book your reservations as soon as possible.
Address: 147 E College Dr, Durango, CO 81301, United States
24. Dalton Ranch Golf Club
The Dalton Ranch Golf Club is a scenic 18-hole golf course situated in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains.
One of the area’s most elegant golf courses, the views and the golf are truly splendid.
Each hole reveals a majestic new setting on 250 acres of sprawling green landscape.
But there’s more to Dalton Ranch Golf Club than golf.
The ranch’s world-class restaurant, Alce’ Restaurant at Dalton Ranch, is a must-do too.
Located in the clubhouse, this sophisticated dining experience is all you’d expect and more of such an incredible club.
With patio seating that overlooks the incredible Hermosa Cliffs, dinner always comes with a view.
With exquisite culinary creations matched by a comprehensive cocktail list, local brews, and a vast wine list, Alce’ is the place to be after a long day on the golf course.
Address: 589 Co Rd 252, Durango, CO 81301, United States
25. Durango Botanic Gardens
These incredible botanic gardens are a place where the public can enjoy, browse, and learn all about botanics.
One of the loveliest attractions in town, the Durango Botanic Gardens surrounds the local public library.
Tours of the gardens are open daily to the public and can be self-guided or guided but either way, admission is always free.
With several riveting garden showcases, every turn is something more beautiful and colorful than the last.
Some of the beautiful displays include an elevation grass collection, a quaint crevice garden, a whimsical wind garden, and an arboretum.
Other special features found at the Durango Botanic Gardens include the literary garden which is a great place to settle in with a book and the Art in the Gardens program where visitors can observe local artists at work.
A highly recommended way to spend a few hours in Durango, be sure the Durango Botanic Gardens makes your shortlist.
Address: Animas River Trail, 1900 E 3rd Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
26. General Palmer Hotel
If you’re looking for wonderful accommodations during your stay in Durango, consider a stay at General Palmer Hotel.
Centrally positioned in the heart of downtown Durango, the hotel is set on prime real estate; it’s within walking distance of many great restaurants, awesome attractions, and local haunts.
Another great feature of this hotel is that it’s adjacent to the train depot.
The hotel itself is packed with elegant, Victorian-style rooms.
Though the historic architecture and decor permeate the General Palmer Hotel, it’s a modernized, luxury hotel nonetheless.
The hotel provides southwestern charm, impeccable service, and delightful rooms.
Although the hotel doesn’t have a full-service restaurant, it does serve breakfast each morning; however, you’re only a stone’s throw away from many local restaurants.
A great place to stay when you’re in Durango, the General Palmer Hotel is a local gem.
Address: 567 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Durango, CO
Without a doubt, Durango is one of the most incredible mountain towns in Colorado.
With tons of local charm, unique adventure opportunities, amazing restaurants, an inspirational art scene, history by the mile, and nature aplenty, it’s no wonder visitors flock from far and wide to Durango.
There are tons of things to do in Durango to pack your itinerary with some of the most fun and culturally immersive attractions you’ll encounter in one place.