Durango is….My Kinda Town!

My original intent is to spend only a couple of nights in Durango, long enough to ride the train. I end up doubling that. The little town has just the kind of “vibe” that I enjoy, which I often find to be the case in “river towns.”

There is much to do in Durango, a lot which centers around the Animas River. There is a beautiful walk/bike path that runs parallel for seven miles. Paddling and float trips are popular here also.  Thankfully, little evidence remains of the recent tragedy of the toxic Gold King mine spill where the EPA dumped three million gallons of mine waste, which essentially closed the river.

Hiking abounds, as Durango is the southern terminus of the Colorado Trail, a 483 mile trail that goes from Durango to Denver. This popular trail originates just 3.5 miles up Junction Creek Road from 25th and Main Street. It passes through six National Forests, six Wilderness areas, and five major river systems. I hiked 4.2 miles OW from the lower trailhead to “Gudy’s Rest,” named for Gudy Caskill, trail builder, volunteer organizer and female mountaineer, also known as “The Mother of the Colorado Trail.” It was a beautiful hike through forest along the Junction Creek, but 1,000 ft elevation through “switchback central” soon had the trail rising for some beautiful views of the surrounding peaks and valley below.

The southern terminus of the Colorado Trail.

The southern terminus of the Colorado Trail.

Train runs 483 miles from Durango to Denver.

Train runs 483 miles from Durango to Denver.

Durango is also home to at least five breweries (at my count.) One is even right across the street from the laudromat. Have a cold brew while you wait out the spin cycle! And I could almost convert to vegetarian for Steamworks Brewery’s Quinoa Burger!

Christmas along the trail.

Christmas along the trail.

I had a hard time finding any boondocking near Durango, and all the RV Parks were pricey. The nearest Forest Service Campground was Junction Creek, a beautiful, wooded, spacious campground. Though only a little over five miles out of town, it seemed like a long, steep, bumpy commute. Given that I only planned on staying long enough to ride the Blues Train, the remote location didn’t seem worth it.

Trail follows Junction Creek.

Trail follows Junction Creek.

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So I consult my trusty All Stays App, and see the La Plata Fairgrounds has RV Parking with water and electricity for only $16.50 per night! Just off Main Street / Hwy 550, this price js a great deal for such a location! The fairgrounds has only six sites, but they are very well spread out. (A note of caution, I do not believe Site #6 has water.) An added bonus, I meet a nice neighbor, and get a new friend out of the deal, the very kind Juliette and her Pack from Tails from the Road.

Gudy's Rest, 4.2 miles up the Colorado Trail.

Gudy’s Rest, 4.2 miles up the Colorado Trail.

View from Gudy's Rest

View from Gudy’s Rest

Though the campground is little more than six spaces on a gravel lot lined up along a fence, it’s very quiet here, and unbelievably convenient. I am sure if there were some rodeo or event taking place, it would be dust bowl hell. But instead, it is a peaceful, hidden gem. There are no sewer facilities availabe, but Durango has a free pull-through dump station located in Santa Rita Park, just outside of town.

Views above "switchback central."

Views above “switchback central.”

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And finally, I can’t talk about “my kinda town” without a little “food porn” thrown in. I can only go so long without an Asian fix, and Rice Monkeys in downtown Durango was so good it was worthy of a second visit. Don’t miss this place if you’re like me, a fan of all flavors Asian.

Rice Monkey's Pho, or Vietnamese beef soup.

Rice Monkey’s Pho, or Vietnamese beef soup.

Fried pork rolls, and Main Street Sushi Roll

Fried pork rolls, and Main Street Sushi Roll

Durango is one of those places that seems hip without being pretentious. They hold their big box stores at bay on the outskirts of town, without marring the quaint ambiance of the historical center of town. Street musicians, great eateries, breweries, local sporting goods stores, hiking trails, biking paths, and a river runs through it. Yep! My kinda town!

16 thoughts on “Durango is….My Kinda Town!

    • Pam, you guys probably went further than Gudy’s Rest, but the thunder was rolling, so I decided to turn around at 4 miles. I loved the trail, though!

  1. Durango felt a lot like Flagstaff to me, except the Animas was very exciting, even just to watch the activities. I’m so glad it has recovered. It made me feel ill to imagine all that whitewater being orange.

    • Roxi — Thanks for stopping by! I haven’t spent much time in “Flag,” but would like to one day soon…and yes, I agree about the ill feeling. Water should not be Cheeto-colored!

  2. We thoroughly enjoyed Durango a few years back and also stayed at the fairgrounds. Great cycling there and fun to watch the river activity. We did the train ride and will have to do a hike on a future visit!

    • Hi, Reta, and hi to Pat! Yes, the General Palmer is still there, and looking quite lovely, I might add. So Pat has been there, it sounds like?

  3. We love Durango and go up there often……….we always end up at the Steamworks Brewery. Two years ago we took the train from Silverton to Elk Park………got off for 5 days of backpacking and got back on the train down the tracks (can’t remember the name). That Southern area of the Rockies is just awesome. If you have not been to Mesa Verde it is just down the road…………we love going there as well and usually stay in the Park campground but there are lots of other options towards Cortez.

    • Oh, Ami, what great fun that must have been, backpacking and then getting back on the train! I admit to being a bit envious of all those hikers there waiting for the train, knowing they had seen beauty I wouldn’t see without hiking it. Yes, Mesa Verde post coming up next! Thanks!

  4. Hi, please stop to say hello while you are in Colorado. I can meet you if it is more convenient. I’ve loved keeping up with your posts but miss talking. So glad to see you enjoying your adventures.

    • My Dear Heather. How often I have thought of you while in Colorado! My plan was to come visit you, but I am running out of time. I am going to send you a private email…

  5. On the day we hiked to Gudy’s Rest a wedding party of about 30 mountain bikers passed us going up the hill…crazy! Good to hear the river seems to be doing okay (at least on the surface. The library has nice seating (indoors and out) overlooking the river.

    • Lisa, the thought of a mountain biking wedding party just cracks me up! What a fun idea! I did appreciate the courteous nature of the bikers here, always telling me how many more were behind them, or “It’s just me.” Nice to peacefully co-exist on the trail! Sorry I missed that library! Sounds like I would have loved it…

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