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The Wild West Lives in Durango

Take a trip into history in this Colorado town

Take the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado in the winter for what’s said to be the most dramatic seasonal scenery the route has to offer.

Even if you’ve never heard of the town of Durango, Colorado, you might recognize it. This town in the southwestern part of the state has a claim to fame – it’s been in some 30 films, dating all the way back to 1925, including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “City Slickers,” and “The Prestige.”

But Hollywood fame hasn’t gone to Durango’s head. The town maintains a friendly, welcoming vibe from the locals, as well as an authentic focus on its Wild West heritage to give visitors a sense of the real deal. 

The steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a great opportunity for visitors to be transported on a 46-mile route through the San Juan National Forest along the Animas River. Though the ride is sometimes abbreviated in the winter, this season offers the most dramatic scenery from the train.

Downtown Durango is a Nationally Registered Historic District, but its offerings are certainly not outdated. Visit restaurants, microbreweries, art galleries, a half-dozen museums, eclectic shopping and historic hotels. Stay at – or at least pop into – the Strater Hotel, a National Historic Landmarks that dates back more than 125 years. The hotel’s claims to fames include patrons like Western author Louis L’Amour, and its Diamond Belle Saloon, which is one of the most famous original ragtime piano bars in the West. 

For outdoor offerings, Ski Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort – located 25 miles north of Durango – gives guests access to 1,360 acres of skiable terrain, 85 trails and 11 lifts. Winter activities at the resort include showshoeing, snowboarding, snow-cat trips, snowmobiling, Nordic and cross-country skiing, sleigh rides and the Purgatory Plunge Zipline. From June through September, warm-weather activities range from charlift rides to mountain biking, hiking, alpine slides, a climbing wall, horseback riding, disc golf and mountain scooters. 

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