When looking for a place to stay, we often will look into county fairgrounds. That is where we decided to stay in Durango at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, because 1) the price was $25 p/night vs. $35-50; 2) the location was perfect! It is situation right on the Animas River Trail (bicycle) and close to downtown so once we parked the truck and unhooked, we rode bicycles 95% of the time around town. Craig had to refill a propane tank so that is the only reason we used the truck in Durango.
When we pulled into the camping lot, it has 6 spaces and there were only our camper and another. By the time we left, there were 5 other campers. Our neighbors on either side of us were really great and we all shared best practices on rv'ing, where to stay and boondock, and more.
You can see a riding arena in front of our trailer. There was also another riding arena close by that had daily activity.
When we were in Colorado Springs, we knew we wanted to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, so we booked tickets for September 26. So as soon as got the trailer unhooked, we unloaded the bicycles, hopped on the Animas River Trail (access to it was about 500 feet away from our trailer) and rode downtown so we would know where to catch the train the next day at...7:30am.
Downtown Durango is really cool! The old buildings are really neat and filled with amazing restaurants and shopping. We ate dinner downtown the stopped at Animas Chocolate Company. I had read the story about the history of the company and was fascinated by it, so...luckily for us we met the owner Carlie and chatted with her about her shop, the Grand Canyon, and other topics. If you ever in Durango, make sure you stop and try their chocolate = YUM! Of course we bought some to eat there and to take home.
And...yes...we had an ice cream shop recommended so...we visited Cream Bean Berry. While there we meet two really nice local gals and chatted with them for a while.
Craig stayed at this hotel back in the 80's while on a ski trip with his Dad, Michele, and Corbin
As a side note, all of the time we've been in Colorado we have not seen on recreational dispensary. Or maybe we were not looking for them. During our time in Durango, we saw about 4-5 of them. They are easy to spot with the green medical plus sign.
September 25-28, 2018: Durango, Colorado
As we drove on Highway 160 from Walensburg to Durango, we definitely got into more high desert and then all of the sudden we were in mountains, pine trees, and it reminded us a lot of Idaho. The fall colors as we drove through these canyons were beautiful!
Chimney Rock along Highway 160
6:00am comes really early when you need to get up, get ready, eat breakfast, and ride the bicycles to pick up your train boarding pass at 7:30am and catch the train by 8:00am. And...although the days are warm, the nights are getting chilly so it was a chilly 47f when we headed out on our bicycles.
When we bought the tickets for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, there are different classes and cars you can purchase. We opted for the standard non-narrated coach tickets at $95.00 US p/person. In hindsight, we should have purchased the standard narrated coach tickets for $135.00 US p/person. Although the price was quiet different, we think we missed a lot by not having it narrated. And...the narration is done by a person dressed in period clothing and speaking in the first person. It would have been really cool and added to the experience.
Overall, the train ride was really really cool. The train cars are actually ones from back in the 1880's that have been restored. So you really are riding in history on a narrow gauge train track which is only 36" wide vs. the standard 56 1/2" wide. The train runs on coal and water.
Before boarding, this is Car #3 and the seats we sat in. Notice our clothes, we each have 4 layers on top and 2 layers on the bottom. As the day progesses, you'll see us shedding our layers.
This is the engine of our train
All aboard...This is Car #3 that we rode in, we soon became friends with the other passengers around us and actually chatted most of the way back from Silverton. Great people that we met on the train!
Old rail cars from the 1880's that are on a secondary track that we passed
Front of the train...
Craig hanging off the back of the train
Back of the train...
As we crossed this bridge, the steam from the engine created a rainbow along with the shadow of the train on the bridge makes this a great pic!
The train traveled along to Animas River from Durango to Silverton. The further North towards Silverton we got, the rocks in the river were a copper color. In 2015, the shuttered Gold King Mine had an accidental spill that contaminated the water and turned all of the rocks a copper color. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing. Notice the old mining mill in the background.
Now Craig is hanging out the window vs. the back of the train...
One of the old railroad bridges
Umm...ya...aren't we a little bit close to the edge of the cliff?
Ummm....ya.....aren't we a little close to the rock walls? This was one of many 'close rock walls' occurrences
I guess you have to get close to see the river below and view : )
Close to the edge again. The arm hanging out the window taking pictures...that would be me, Holly
Along the route, we stopped for water 2 times each way. The train can hold 5,000 gallons of water, but took on 3,500 gallons each refill.
Once we got to Silverton, we ate lunch at Thee Pits Again which has been featured on Guy Fieri. It was really good BBQ!
Craig playing a little after lunch music
Downtown Silverton really old buildings. There are about 600 permanent residents in the town, swelling to 2000+ in the summer.
Who is that good looking couple? Hee..hee...
One of the couples we meet on the train, Lindy and Brian, recommended Fired Up Pizzeria back in downtown Durango. So after we finished with the train ride, we enjoyed a GREAT stone fired pizza on the rooftop patio.
The next day we decided to ride the entire length of the Animas River Trail. It is about 9 miles each way and meanders along the Animas River. What a great trail. We stopped along the route and read all of the information signs which gave us even more history about the area. Did you know that the Animas River is one of the last free flowing rivers in the State of Colorado? Now...you do : )
Along the trail, we saw these tiny houses so we stopped and peaked inside the windows. Some of the floorplans were actually really cool, we liked the 5th one in (closest to Craig)
Durango also has a whitewater park. Notice the gates for the competitions when the water is high
Overall, we had a great time in Durango. The town has a good vibe to it, a neat little downtown, really nice people, and...some interesting people also. We decided to stay an extra day so we could catch up on laundry, visit the library, ride bicycles and hang out more downtown.