Durango, Colorado is a great place to take a winter vacation. There are many things to do, including exciting events in Downtown Durango and outdoor activities in the San Juan Mountains and Mesa Verde National Park. Be sure to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast or award-winning hotel to rest up, then head out for a day of adventure with these exciting winter activities. When you're ready for a break, spend some time downtown warming up over dinner and drinks. There is something for everyone this season in Durango.
Durango Skiing & Winter Sports
Purgatory Resort is located just a short drive from Durango and will satisfy your need for winter adventure. Purgatory boasts 11 lifts, 99 groomed trails, five terrain parks and an annual 260 inches of snow. In total, it has 1,605 acres of skiable terrain. Everyone is bound to have fun- from the first-time skier to the lifelong ski fanatic, winter lovers will enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Durango.
Whether you bring your own equipment or rent from one of the outfitters in town, visitors can also enjoy the thrills of Chapman Hill, El Diablo Alpine Guides, Hillcrest Golf Club, Pine River Valley, Southwest Adventure Guides, Silverton Mountain, Purgatory Nordic Club and Purgatory Mountain.
Mesa Verde Cross Country Skiing
Mesa Verde National Park is an exciting destination year-round, transforming during the winter to offer activities such as cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are groomed trails for those looking for classic skiing, as well as backcountry trails that allow for more solitude and self-sufficiency. The trails for snowshoeing vary in length and difficulty, and allow for peaceful views of nature and wildlife.
Ice climbing is a sport of concentration, strength and determination. Many popular areas for winter rock and ice climbing are near Durango, making it the ideal place to stay for all of your climbing adventures. Beginners can head to a local outfitter to learn the sport and work on technique. Experienced climbers can get right on the advanced routes that Durango boasts, such as “The Seven Year Itch” at Cascade Canyon and “Stairway to Heaven” at Eureka Canyon in Silverton.
No matter what you are looking for, the Durango Historic Downtown and central business district area boasts literally hundreds of boutiques and restaurants. Choose from unique specialty shops, or for the more ambitious, seek out an outdoor outfitter shop for gear to help you manage the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
Snowdown is Colorado’s Premier Winter Celebration. Each year, a theme is chosen and attendees are encouraged to dress in costume to enjoy the week-long mid-winter party. From the costume ball to the zany street parade, Durango plays host to some eye-popping shenanigans, and people flock to the Snowdown event. Be sure to follow the theme, and have a crazy good time. It is worth the trip.
The Polar Express
Let the story of The Polar Express come to life as you ride to the North Pole to visit Santa. This trip on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will feature chefs, hobo, conductor, the Hero Boy, Billy, Santa and the elves. Passengers enjoy hot chocolate and a treat while they listen to a reading of the book on the way to the North Pole. Once you pick up Santa, he will visit each car and give each child a special gift.
Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair
The Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair takes place at the beginning of December at the LaPlata County Fairgrounds. Discover unique holiday gifts, Christmas decor, food, wines, barrel art, ornaments, jewelry, art, quilts and more. Spend the afternoon exploring the displays and picking out the perfect gifts for your loved ones.
Hop on board the Cascade Canyon Train with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and be prepared to cut down your own Christmas Tree to be hauled back to Durango on the steam train. Saws are provided, and you will be helping reduce wildfire danger along the railroad. Passengers should bring warm clothes and a tree permit will cost $8, in addition to the regular winter train fare.
The Nutcracker Ballet
This winter, enjoy a tradition at the Community Concert Hall and see the “Nutcracker” performed by the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbra, accompanied by The San Juan Symphony. Set in Victorian times, this production holds true to the original classical ballet and is a visitor favorite show suitable for all ages.
Winter Solstice Artisans' Market
The Durango Arts Center's annual Winter Solstice Artisans' Market is a signature community event. It provides artists and craftspeople an opportunity to sell their work through the DAC to eager holiday shoppers. The event runs for four weeks and is a great place to find holiday gifts and art for both locals and visitors.
Singing With Santa
Kick off the holiday season in Durango with the annual tree lighting. Meet Santa downtown and sing Christmas carols with him as you walk to Buckley Park. Join in on the count down to the lighting of the Christmas Tree, then enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies.
It's no surprise that HGTV named Durango among their "Top 10 Christmas Towns." Head to Durango this winter to enjoy these great activities and events, and take advantage of the many other things to do in the area.