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Advice for short trip to Durango

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Advice for short trip to Durango

Hi! My boyfriend and I are traveling to Durango in early May. We are flying into Denver and driving to Durango. We will be leaving Denver early Wednesday and must arrive back in Denver by noon on Saturday, so we won't have a lot of time. What do you recommend as "must sees" in such a short time? Neither of us have been to this area before, and we are both adventurous.

From what I have read, we are planning on driving to Durango via 550 (the scenic route) and stopping at Ouray and Silverton (and maybe a detour to Telluride?) on the way. We were then thinking about going to Mesa Verde on Thursday. We would like to ride the train but don't know if it would be the best way to spend such a short time. We also would like to hike and possibly horseback ride or raft (if trips run on the river in early May). My boyfriend is also interested in the hot springs

What would you recommend to someone who only had 3 days to spend in the area?



Cincinnati, OH
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1. Re: Advice for short trip to Durango

You might try the other way, which looks almost about the same distance. Go south on I25 and then over on 160. That's the way we went. In Colorado Springs, you can see the Garden of the Gods (it's free!). Really neat red rock formations. Web site: http://www.gardenofgods.info/default.asp

Then in Alamosa you can stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. http://www.nps.gov/grsa/

Each stop would take about an extra two hours. We did both in a day. It's a full day's drive from Denver to Durango no matter what route you take.

The 160 route is fairly straight (watch out for speed traps near the small towns). I haven't taken the 550 route the whole way up to I-70 but you might ask if it's windy/curvy. If it is and anyone gets car sick, this might influence your decision.

If the rafting is operating by then, then take that. They're inflatable boats and run I think about $20 per person for a 2 hour ride. It was a lot of fun.

We heard some negative reviews of trimble Hot Springs so we decided not to do them.

Other things we did that were fun: horseback riding, Diamond Circle Melodrama, Bar-D Chuckwagon (dinner/singing/comedy show, http://www.bardchuckwagon.com/), the fish hatchery (very close to downtown - great for kids), and Mesa Verde.

It's a LOT of driving for a short time. You won't get back to Denver by noon if you leave Durango in the morning - you'll need to leave Friday. Map web sites say it's about a 7 hour drive. So my recommended itinerary, if you must do Durango, is

Wednesday: drive from Denver, Garden of the Gods, Sand Dunes, arrive in Durango. Diamond Circle Melodrama if you get there in time and they aren't sold out yet.

Thursday: Horseback riding in the morning, rafting in the afternoon, Bar-D in the evening.

Friday: Short stop (less than an hour) at the fish hatchery. Drive back to Denver, maybe stopping in Ouray for lunch. Arrive in Denver (or other nearby city on the route) at night.

Saturday. Breakfast. Be ready for noon flight or whatever else you were required to be there then for.

Because you basically only have one full day in Durango is why I questioned whether it was worth it. Maybe you can try something closer to Denver like Colorado Springs (Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, etc.), Vail, or Aspen

dallas, texas
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2. Re: Advice for short trip to Durango

We were in Durango last year and loved it. There is a company thre called Mild2Wild rafting and they also offer jeep 4x4 trips and other things. Contact them - they were really wonderful and helpful and we ended up doing rafting, jeeping and the train (half day) through them. I would definitely try to go up to Silverton and Ouray - you will love it. Beautiful country.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Advice for short trip to Durango


Durango, Mesa Verde, Ouray, Silverton and Telluride are worth a visit but, as said, it takes a long days drive and a long days drive back. The million dollar highway Ouray-Durango is slow and some call it a white knuckles drive. The area is called little Switserland and that not because it's like the midwest. You'll be driving serious mountain roads which takes lots of time. Much closer to Denver (alse worth a visit) is Colorado Springs with Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods and more. Also I would not skip great Sanddunes NP. Amazing place. I also agree to drive us160 by Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs, one of the best hot springs around. If you want to see some of the most beautiful mountain scenery, Rocky Mountains NP NW of Denver is the place to be. In only three days I would reconsider the long trip to Durango and back, BTW the trainride takes most of the day.


Sarasota, Florida
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4. Re: Advice for short trip to Durango

Emily, you picked a great area to visit but the thought of trying to see it all in three days makes me wince just a little bit. A couple of things for you to consider.

Any chance that you could get a good (and cheap) connection out of Denver that would let you fly into Durango? I know you would miss some terrific things between Denver and Durango, but the extra time would allow you to have more opportunity to explore SW Colorado.

Also, keep in mind that it still snows in the mountains (or even in Denver) in May. In fact Silverton just received 21 inches and the Silverton ski area won't be closing until at least April 29. You could be lucky, but the weather may limit your ability to go over some mountain passes, so keep your planning flexible and stay alert to weather forecasts.

May is generally considered to be "mud season" in the mountains. The good part of this is that rates will be low and it should be very easy to find a place to stay anywhere you go in the high country. The downside is that some of the outdoor activities may not be available -- skiing mostly over, rafting not yet begun. You'll still find plenty of things to do in places like Durango and the scenery will still be gorgeous, but think of it as "off-season".

Prompted by Tet's comment, I wonder if you should perhaps save Durango for another, and longer, visit and instead spend your time entirely along the "Front Range"-- having fun (and acclimatizing to the altitude) in Denver, maybe going up to Estes Park (Rocky Mountain National Park) for a day, and going down to Colorado Springs for a day.

5. Re: Advice for short trip to Durango

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