Population = 15,362, latitude 37º16’, longitude 107º52’, elevation 6,595 feet, average January low temperature = 10.2, Average July high temperature = 85, average sunny days = 266, annual snowfall = 68.8”, annual rainfall = 19.1”
The approach to Durango winds through more desert country, sparsely speckled with tough little bushes and tumbleweeds. Towns are few and far between so we are sure to keep the tank full. Eventually we get to the really steep mountain passes and climb up to the valley that contains Durango.
We are still recovering from the flu we got in Albuquerque, so we soon discover that congestion and high altitude is not a good combination. Our heads feel inflated and bobbling, our breath runs out after very little effort, our butts are dragging. A lot of our stay in Durango is spent resting and reading and generally recovering. We do manage to get out and about and explore a little.
One of everyone’s favorite features of Durango is the Riverwalk. The Animas River runs through the valley, through the heart of the city. Alongside the rushing river are over 7 miles of walking/biking trails with lots of benches, playgrounds, and parks. The stroll through the city part is an easy walk for us older folk, while the hilly part South of the city looked to be a good challenge for the bicycle and spandex crowd.
Our rental is at 10th Street and Main Avenue, right in the heart of downtown. Even in our depleted condition, we can easily walk to lots of good restaurants and taprooms. We sample tacos, curry, burgers, kung pao, scallops, and wings, all just a few minutes totter from our front door. We sample porters, stouts, pale ales, lagers, red lagers, brown lagers, and Belgians, all just a few minutes stagger from our front door.
Due to our limited time and energy, we skip the highly recommended narrow gauge Durango & Silverton Railroad. During the winter months they offer a shortened ride from Durango to Cascade Canyon, climbing through scenic mountain passes and spectacular valleys. Twice a day, the steam engine chugs past our window, chuffing out coal smoke and blasting the steam whistle. We did make it to their museum, which features many antique locomotives and train cars, some automobiles, Civil War uniforms, and a massive model train diorama.
The people that we talked to in Durango love their little town. It is big enough to have everything, but small enough to have a small town feeling. The compact, walkable little downtown contains lots of little Mom-N-Pop shops, restaurants, and taverns. There is a Walmart and a big enclosed mall, but those are well outside of the downtown area. There are 6 breweries in town, 5 of which have taprooms. There is a nice little liberal arts college. Winter skiing is nearby. Summer mountain biking and hiking trails abound. Campers, hunters, and fishermen all have their favorite spots nearby. The most common complaint we heard is that people love it so much, property values are rising rapidly and it is becoming less affordable.
Next stop: Sun City West, AZ