Fall in the San Juan Mountains is an enchanting experience- there are so many things to do in Colorado in the fall. Take advantage of this uniquely spellbinding period of the year by ticking off the best fall activities from your in Durango Bucket List before the season is over. Also, plan to attend the many great events taking place around town in the coming months.
See The Fall Colors
The fall colors in Durango are an incredible sight. Hike in the mountains, zipline above the treetops or take a jeep out exploring. Whatever way you choose, make sure you get out to see the stunning display of red, orange and yellow foliage at this time of year.
Catch A San Juan Trout
Fishing practically has a year-round season in Colorado. In the fall, the usual crowds thin, but the fish sure do not! Brown trout spawn at this time of year along with all the wildlife that thrives upon their eggs. Selecting fly lures is also made simpler thanks to the thinner variety of stream insects at this time of year.
Ride The San Juan Skyway
Along with the Durango Rail, the San Juan Skyway is the perfect way to experience Durango’s scenic mountain ranges. This winding 236 mile highway is perched high atop the San Juans for stunning valley views below, especially during fall foliage season in Durango.
San Juan Skyway
One word of warning: the road can be narrow and hugs close to cliff sides, often without guard rails, so make sure you are comfortable driving in these conditions before you brave the Skyway.
Grab Some Crag
With 595 routes and counting, Durango has enough to keep climbers busy all season. Fall times also mean you stay cool even as your muscles get hot, preventing those embarrassing bail moments when sweat peels you off the rock.
Most of the rock in Durango is geared towards sport climbing or trad, but there are also a handful of boulders at Turtle Lake and Sailing Hawks. You can rent equipment and get guide advice from friendly local spots like the Rock Lounge.
In addition to these activities, there are also plenty of outdoor adventures to be had, including hiking trails, horseback riding and camping out in the San Juan National Forest. Make the most of your time in Durango with all of these things to do in Colorado in the fall. When you need a break, stop by one of the great local restaurants for a bite to eat and a warm drink. Book a cabin for your trip as soon as you can, because fall means places fill up fast!
The autumn leaves create a colorful backdrop for this vibrant art festival held in historic downtown Durango. The long, hot days of summer are slowly coming to an end as September brings a crisp chill to the air. In Durango, that means it’s time to focus on art and culture.
Autumn Art Festival
The Durango Autumn Arts Festival attracts around 6,500 visitors each year to celebrate the creativity and craftsmanship of Durango’s artists. This festival has a reputation throughout the region for superb art as well as great entertainment and welcoming hospitality. If you love admiring art, you’ll have a blast at this festival.
Local & Regional Artists
Organized by the Durango Arts Center, this event is one of the best loved in the region. It is well put together and offers great hospitality and facilities. The festival showcases artwork by local artists as well as artists from all over the region. Exhibiting artists are selected for awards, including “Best of Show for Fine Art” and “Best of Show for Fine Craft.” The artists work in a number of mediums including ceramics, jewelry, mixed media, glass, sculpture, photography, painting and more.
The artists are judged on the quality of their workmanship, the originality of their design and concept and the professional look of their booth display. The starting materials must be significantly enhanced or altered by the craftspeople, and there must be a predominance of handcrafted components in the final piece. The festival does not permit certain items, including prints that are not signed or numbered by the artist, mass produced jewelry and metal or plaster casts from moulds not made by the artist.
2019 Arts Festival
This year's event will take place on Second Avenue in downtown Durango on the weekend of September 21-22. Admission to the festival is free. The festival will include live music, artwork on display by 90 exhibitors, children's art activities, delicious food from local suppliers, and fun for the whole family.
Everyone is welcome, and there is entertainment for visitors of all ages. A table with interactive children’s art activities will be set up, so that your little ones can join in on the fun. Stroll through the exhibitions, and decide which piece of art you like the best. The entries are always impressive and beautiful. They are sure to spark a discussion.
If you are passionate about art, why not come to Durango this September and take part in this fantastic festival? There are so many beautiful pieces of art to admire, as well as great music, food and more. While you are attending the festival, you can also enjoy many of the great attractions that Durango has to offer, such as hiking and mountain biking in the mountains, seeing fall colors on a Jeep tour, and shopping in historic downtown.
Colorado is well-known for its snowy, cold winters. On the flip side, Durango weather can also be hot and sunny during the summer. Don’t worry- there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and cool off.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
If you’re hoping to cool off while continuing to adventure and see Southwest Colorado, stand up paddle boarding should be your go-to activity. It’s a full-body workout requiring balance and focus, but if you’re in the mood for a swim it’s no big deal to fall off. Some of the best spots for paddle boarding are at Lake Nighthorse and Vallecito Lake.
Thrill seekers will enjoy a trip to Durango’s ABCs. ABC stands for Adrenaline, Baker’s Bridge and Cascade, three cliff jumps near Durango. These jumps are very dangerous and not for the inexperienced. If you choose to cliff jump, know the risks and do your research ahead of time so you are prepared to jump safely. When done properly and in the right conditions, the ABC challenge can be a great experience.
Adrenaline, Baker’s Bridge and Cascade are just three of many waterfalls you can find near Durango. If you’re looking for more, search around and ask locals when you arrive. Many waterfalls are unnamed and harder to find if you don’t know where to look.
Grab An Ice Cold Beer
A foolproof way to cool off from the hot Durango weather is to step inside of one of Durango’s micro-breweries for a drink. With a wide variety of beer offerings available, from lagers to ales to seasonal specialties, you’re sure to find something to enjoy. Not sure what to order? Ask questions at each location- they love to share information about their brews and the process of making each beer!
Enjoy The Animas
The Animas River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Colorado. It is a great location for a wide variety of activities, including kayaking, rafting, and even just dipping your toes in the water. It’s also a great fishing spot, so cast a line and wait for a bite. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Animas River, making it one of the best ways to cool off in Durango.
On your next trip to Durango during the summer months be sure to take advantage of these great ways to cool off. Book your stay today!
Durango is a popular destination for a wide variety of travelers. Families with children are no exception. When traveling with kids, it is important to know where kid friendly Durango restaurants are located and what they offer. While the food offered may be different than what your kids typically eat, there are great options and plenty of new things to encourage them to try.
Nature's Oasis is a natural market in Durango that has a variety of offerings. As a parent, you will love the healthy, organic options available. You'll also be able to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters with groceries, a deli, a juice bar and more to choose from. Nature's Oasis is the perfect option if you are prepping for a picnic, stopping for breakfast, and even for a balanced, healthy dinner.
Located right on Main Avenue in Downtown Durango, Grassburger offers a classic, kid-approved meal: burgers and fries. Grassburger serves 100% grass-fed beef, with gluten free and vegan options available. They have a kid's menu, with the traditional grassburger, vegan black bean burger, turkey burger and turkey hot dogs available. The restaurant is colorful and bright, and a great environment for families with kids.
The Ore House
If you are celebrating a special occasion with your family, the Ore House is a great option. It is full of historical artifacts and intricate murals that will catch the attention of the whole family. As one of Colorado's oldest and finest restaurants, Ore House offers a chance to take your family out for a more formal dinner, with great food options to choose from.
The Mahogany Grille
The award-winning chefs at The Mahogany Grille focus on farm-fresh recipes that represent new styles with old west flavors. Hand-cut steaks, carefully selected foods, and products by local growers fill the menu. Some menu items are created table-side, making the experience even more exciting and stimulating. The Mahogany Grille is a great location inside the historic Strater Hotel to enjoy a meal.
Once your kids know their options and you go over the menus with him, you can try and plan out meals. Also, this will give your children something to look forward to besides being on vacation in Durango! Take advantage of these great kid friendly Durango restaurants, and if you haven’t caught up on the rest of our Kid Friendly Durango series, be sure to check out Part 1: Packing List for Vacation with Kids and Part 3: Where to Stay with Kids in Durango.
Looking for the best Halloween events in Durango? The spooky season has come around and it’s time to carve a pumpkin for your doorstep and hang some fake cobwebs in your window. Halloween is a fun time of year, as it is a chance to get dressed up and play make believe that you are a scary skeleton, a gruesome vampire or a rotting zombie. Scare your friends, collect lots of candy, watch spooky movies and celebrate this creepy and playful holiday.
Rocky Horror Show
Seeing this outrageous horror musical in the theatre is a classic Halloween tradition, so strap on your corset, dust on some glitter and get ready to sing, shout, dance and throw toast at the screen. Buy your tickets early as this event always sells out. Visit the Henry Strater Theatre's website for tickets.
Children's Halloween Trick-or-Treat
The annual Children’s Halloween Trick-or-Treat in Downtown Durango provides a safe trick-or-treat opportunity for children 10 and younger. All merchants are encouraged to distribute candy to the costumed little ghosts and goblins who (with an adult/parent) visit their stores between 4 and 6 p.m. on Halloween.
The Great Pumpkin Patch Express
Hop aboard PEANUTS The Great Pumpkin Patch Express during the month of October and head to the Pumpkin Patch, where children will enjoy trick-or-treating, a reading of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," a costume contest, photos with Snoopy & Charlie Brown, and more. Adults can enjoy wine & beer tasting and various treats from Fuzziwig's Candy Factory will be sold as well. There will be prizes for best costumes- so come in spirit.
Festival De Los Muertos
The Durango Arts Center will host the 2nd Annual Festival De Los Muertos on November 1st, affirming and celebrating the Latin American holiday Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Visit the Durango Arts Center for an evening fiesta with artists, performances, food vendors and family friendly activities and the opening of the Day of the Dead altars. Following the festival, the altars will remain on display unitl November 15th.
These are just our top picks for the best Halloween events in Durango, but there are plenty more great activities to look forward to. Follow us on Facebook for more updates.
The mountains are alive with the sound of music this summer when this classical festival comes to Durango from July 6th through July 28th, 2019. For the last three decades, the Music in the Mountains Festival has brought the sounds of classical music to the scenic town of Durango, Colorado. This exciting musical event features a number of high caliber performances, including orchestra, chamber and conservatory performances of classical and world music.
History of the Festival
The Music in the Mountains Festival was originally founded in 1987 by conductor Mischa Semanitzky. It was created with the support of The Durango Herald, Fort Lewis College, the Bank of Colorado, Morley Ballantine and Durango Mountain Resort. In 2008 the principal horn player for the Dallas Symphony, Gregory Hustis, became the new Artistic Director – succeeding Semanitzky. Members of the Dallas Symphony were very important in the original formation of the festival and the event maintains a lot of strong ties to the Dallas Music Community.
There are a number of fantastic events to look forward to throughout the festival. Some of the highlights this year include Chocolate Indulgence, where guests will sample artisan desserts while listening to music from Boyd Meets Girl. Also, Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, including performances by Philippe Quint and Marta Aznavoorian, will showcase Chaplin’s most beautiful and well-known music. Don’t forget a visitor favorite, the Dinner & Family Concert, for a family friendly picnic and concert perfect for all ages.
Enjoy views of the Twilight Peaks while indulging in a variety of artisan desserts. Animas Chocolate Company and the Ore House restaurant will create numerous “duets” that pair handcrafted chocolate desserts with a specialty cocktail, beer, or wine as a prelude to a magical musical evening.
Tips for Visiting the Festival
If you are planning on taking part in the festival this year, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Many performances are held within a tent which can be cool in the evenings, so bring along a coat or a sweater.
- Comfortable shoes are recommended, as walking to the festival tent requires walking up a set of stairs and down a paved footpath.
- Tickets for the concerts can be purchased online up until noon on the day of the concert.
- It is also possible to purchase a “Grass Pass” so that you can sit outside on the grass and listen. The musicians on stage will not be visible, but the tickets are only $5 so it is a nice way to enjoy the music on a budget while admiring the sights of the San Juan Mountains.
- It’s a good idea to plan for lodging nearby the event. Silverpick Lodge is a good choice for a conveniently located mountain spot close to the festival activities. You should also check out our campgrounds page if you’re looking to do something a little different.
Being healthy isn’t just about eating our vegetables and brushing our teeth – it’s about more than that. The organizers of the WholeExpo in Durango, Colorado believe that health is a holistic pursuit that involves mind, body and spirit. The expo brings together many different services, businesses and individuals that promote healthy and holistic living as well as ecological awareness.
This event takes place in Durango on the weekend after Labor Day – September 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and September 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is $5, which is good for both days. This fee covers admittance to the entire expo as well as the basic seminars and workshops. If you have a valid student ID, you can get in for $2. Admission is free for children 12 and under, and seniors 65 and over.
About The Event
A History Of Healing
The Four Corners region has a long history of holistic healing, reaching back to over two thousand years ago when the ancient Pueblo Indians lived on this land. They used natural and spiritual healing practices that were connected to the earth and the world around them. We can still see the way that they lived in the area's architecture, most notibly in the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.
These days, Durango is still considered a destination of holistic healing- a place to rejuvenate and transform yourself. Many people come to this region for relaxation and recuperation so that they can heal themselves while surrounded by the stunning mountain scenery. Durango and the surrounding region is home to many who practice spiritual healing arts and are passionate about these alternative medicines.
What To Expect
There will be many exhibits at the Whole Expo in 2019. Some of these include information about essential oils, cryotheraphy and sound healing. Visitors will also have a chance to sample superfoods, have a tarot reading, browse through many different spiritual products and pieces, such as teeshirts, jewelery, carvings, crystals and more.
WholeExpo 2019 Exhibitors
We’ve done some digging through our archeological archives to come up with 12 interesting facts you might not know about Mesa Verde National Park. The southwestern Colorado national park is known for its extremely well preserved Puebloan cliff dwellings, where the Native Americans that lived there carved their homes into the earth. It’s an incredible sight to see and certainly worth the short drive on your next visit to Durango.
12 Facts About Mesa Verde
- Mesa Verde became a national park in 1906. President Theodore Roosevelt created the park to preserve the iconic cliff dwellings. It remains the only cultural park in the National Park System.
- The Mesa Verde National Park is home to numerous ruins of villages and dwellings built by the Ancient Pueblo peoples, sometimes called the Anasazi. The lived in the dwellings at Mesa Verde from approximately 600 to 1300 AD.
- There are over 4000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people at the site.
- Descendants of Mesa Verde Ancestral Pueblo people spread out far and wide, and include the Hopi in Arizona and the T19 Rio Grande pueblos of New Mexico: aos, Picuris, Sandia, Isleta, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Tesuque, Jemez, Cochiti, Pojoaque, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, Laguna, Acoma and Zuni.
- The most famous Mesa Verde dwelling is the Cliff Palace. It dates back more than 700 years and was likely once painted with bright colors. It is constructed from sandstone, wooden beams and mortar.
- Henry William Jackson first photographed Mesa Verde and the cliff dwellings in 1874. He later went on to create “Uncle Sam.”
- What’s in a name? “Mesa Verde” is Spanish for “green table.” The name comes from the juniper trees and other foliage in the area.
- Mesa Verde became a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in 1978.
- Scientists once thought the “Mummy Lake” at Mesa Verde was a reservoir. However, more recent research suggests that the body was actually used as a ceremonial structure. Guess that means the old theory no longer holds water.
- Mesa Verde was likely deserted by 1300. No one is quite sure why. Some researchers blame crop failures.
- In addition to building their dwellings, the Pueblo people who lived at Mesa Verde made high-quality baskets and pottery. These items were likely passed down from mother to daughter.
- The people of Mesa Verde were farmers who grew beans, corn and squash. They supplemented their diet by gathering other edible plants and hunting deer, squirrels, rabbits and other animals.
Bear safety is important to remember when visiting the mountain town of Durango. Durango is surrounded the San Juan National Forest and as a result, the lines between civilization and nature are blurred. It is not uncommon to see deer walking down residential streets or mountain songbirds flying overhead. This also means that other animals such as bears will sometimes come in contact with humans too.
The residents of Durango have coexisted for a long time with the black bears in the area and when these wild animals are treated with respect the relationship isn’t troubled. However, when humans invade too much of the bear’s territory, both parties can be put in serious danger. It is very important to be aware of bear safety when living in or visiting Durango.
Be Bear Aware
When visiting bear country, there is always a possibility that you will encounter a bear. Because of this, it is important that you are educated on ways to reduce risk. The trail heads will often have signs posted about the recent bear activity. In addition to looking for signs the park has posted, also keep an eye out for signs the bears leave, including droppings, footprints, or marks on trees.
Hike In A Group
Hiking in a group is better than hiking alone. When you hike with a group, you are able to make plenty of noise, so the bears hear you coming and leave the area. If you see a black bear, it is best to change your course of direction to avoid confrontation. If the bear starts approaching you, one key thing to remember about bear safety is never to run. Make yourself as big as possible and make loud noises.
Bear Proof Your Campsite
Bears can be attracted to your campsite by the smell of food, so never leave it out when it is not in use. A key bear safety measure is to store your food in a bear-proof locker or in your vehicle, or you can hang it in the trees. There are bear-proof garbage cans in Durango where you should throw away all of your garbage and food waste. Change your clothes after cooking, so that you are not sleeping in clothes with food odors on them.
When choosing your campsite, try to avoid anywhere near salmon streams, garbage, animal carcasses or back country metal fire pits that may have food remnants left behind. Even if you do your best to keep one of these areas clean of your own food and trash, it will still easily attract bears to your space.
Keep these important bear safety tips in mind when you are hiking and camping in the beautiful mountains of Durango, so that you can stay safe and avoid any situations that could be harmful to you or these beautiful creatures.
This October cowboy poets from all across the USA will gather in Durango for the annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. This literary event takes place from October 3rd through 7th and celebrates poems and songs that capture the spirit of the American West and the people who live and work there. The gathering takes place in the Strater Hotel, where many free performances of cowboy poetry and music are held. Events are also at the DSNGRR, the Durango Arts Center, Rapp Corral and in many local galleries throughout the city.
Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering
The festival includes several events that take place all across the city. Many of the daytime performances are free and tickets for the other shows and music range from $15 to $40 depending on the performer. Poets and musicians will perform spoken word poems and songs that will make you laugh, cry and appreciate the traditions of the cowboy lifestyle. If you love poetry and the Wild West lifestyle, come to Durango this October and let yourself be charmed by the romantic, nostalgic, sweet and funny poems of some of the best cowboy poets in the country.
What Is Cowboy Poetry?
When the cowboys and ranchers of the old west would sit down around the campfire at the end of a hard day’s work, they would entertain each other with folk songs and tall tales. These stories would usually be in poetic form, as this would help them to be more easily remembered and passed along by cowboys who might not know how to read or write.
About The Event
These poems would be stories about life on the ranch, descriptions of the landscape of the west, & humorous tales and memories of times gone by. Some of the most famous cowboy poets include S. Omar Barker, Curley Fletcher, Bruce Kiskaddon, Joel Nelson and Wally McRae.
The Cowboy Poet Train
One of the most exciting events in this annual gathering is the Durango Cowboy Poetry Train. On this special journey to Cascade Canyon you can enjoy entertainment from cowboy poets and musicians while you glide through the beautiful and rugged autumn countryside. The train makes a stop along the scenic banks of the Animas River where you can relax and enjoy your lunch. Be sure to book early, as seats will fill up fast!
The Motorless Cowboy Parade
One of the highlights of the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the motorless cowboy parade on Main Street. The parade doesn’t involve any vehicles – everything is horse drawn. The colourful event includes historic wagons, Mediterranean donkeys, Native American Dancers, coaches and carriages, the Color Guard, the US Forest Service Pack Mule Team and many locals dressed in period costumes.
Prizes are given for the most impressive parade entries, including Best Horse Entry and Best Mule or Donkey Entry. Anyone is welcome to enter the parade, so why not get dressed up and join in the fun?