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Durango, Colorado: 30 Insanely Epic Things to do

Durango, Colorado, often considered one of America’s greatest outdoor towns, is home to rugged beauty, wild history, endless adventures, and dozens of epic things to do.

Durango itself is a rad wild west town but what makes it so incredible in my opinion, is its proximity to so many diverse adventures. Check out our blog Things To Do On The Million Dollar Highway.

Its prime location between the desert of Cortez and the massive, jagged San Juan Mountain Range, Durango is a hub for any adventure you could dream up.

Within an hour, you can go hike to an alpine lake, summit 14,000′ peaks, stroll along a river, paddle on a lake, mountain bike a high mountain pass, climb sandstone, or bike endless, smooth, sandy trails.

You don’t have to be a hardcore adventurer to love it here either! Home to the iconic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango draws plenty of people who simply love nature and the outdoors and who look forward to a relaxing day riding the train and enjoying the views.

Things To Do In Durango

Where is Durango, Colorado

Durango, a gem in Colorado’s San Juan Range, offers a blend of rich history, a tight-knit community, and abundant outdoor activities. It’s a prime outdoor destination where mountains meet the desert. In a 15-minute radius, you can explore high peaks, and downtown trails, or head to Cortez for fantastic desert biking.

Starting in Durango, the Million Dollar Highway unveils awe-inspiring landscapes on its journey through Silverton, Ouray, and Ridgeway, earning its name from the priceless vistas it showcases.

Off roading in Silverton, San Juan Mountains

Getting To and Around Durango

Durango is a hugely popular destination for in-state and out-of-state travelers and there’s even a large amount of international tourism in the area. This brings the question of How to get to Durango. This town is, after all, located in amongst rural nature which is what makes it so appealing to visit.

Durango is not located close to any major cities or airports which means no matter where you’re coming from, getting to Durango is a trip in itself.

While it’s most common for people to drive to Durango, if you’re coming a long way, you may want to consider flying to a closer city and renting a car/RV from there. The nearest major cities to Durango are:

  • Albuquerque (3 hours away)
  • Denver (6 hours away)
  • Phoenix (7 hours away)

If you have time to make it a road trip, I’d recommend starting in Denver since there are so many amazing stops on the way to Durango. If you’re coming to Colorado purely for a visit to Durango, look into Albuquerque.

You’ll need a vehicle in Durango to explore everything. It’s a bike-friendly town, but for the full experience, having a car or RV is essential. Don’t miss driving the Million Dollar Highway—it’s a must-do! Check out the top RV rentals in Denver or Albuquerque for convenience.

Use the search box below to search for flights, rental cars, and more.

Before I get started on all the rad things to do in Durango, note that we’ve included everything within an hour of Durango but have excluded Silverton since that town in itself has so many things to do. Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Million Dollar Highway for more adventures near Silverton and Ouray.

Things to do in Durango, Colorado

Ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad

The most popular thing to do in all of Durango is, no doubt, riding the famed Narrow Gauge Railroad from Durango to Silverton. The railroad itself is more than 100 years old and still operates with vintage, coal-fired locomotives. While the history can be exciting for some, what’s more exciting is the 45 miles of scenic mountain views that this ride delivers in an otherwise inaccessible area of the San Juans.

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Fall colors o the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Photo: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

If you’re an avid adventurer, the absolute coolest thing about the train is the wilderness access route they offer.

Since the train goes through areas of the San Juans that can’t be accessed by car, it makes for beautiful hiking and backpacking trips. Click here to see how you can ride the train to access the wilderness.

The train runs all year long and offers a variety of different packages. I’ve included some of the most popular ride options:

  • Roundtrip Summer/Fall Train Ride (Or Wilderness Access Ride): Starting at $114 for adults, $80 for kids
  • Winter/Spring Cascade Canyon Train Ride: Starting at $70 for adults, $42 for kids

Hike the Centennial Nature Trail SkySteps

Looking for a workout? The Centennial Nature Trail, AKA the Sky Steps, is one of the fastest ways to receive amazing views of Durango.

Though the summit view could easily be accessed by driving up to Fort Lewis College campus, where’s the fun in that? This challenging stairmaster is a great 1-hour adventure that can be accessed right from your accommodation in Downtown Durango.

Getting there:

The start of the Centennial Nature Trail can easily be walked to from anywhere in downtown. The start is located at E 6th St and E 10th St.

Climb in East Animas

Perhaps what drew you to Durango was its popularity in the climbing world. While Durango is filled with crags of all styles and sizes, one of the biggest areas is the trad crag of East Animas, though there are some sports routes too.

east animas climbing, things to do durango
Climbing in the east animals
Photo via

East Animas has more than 100 routes between 1-2 pitches long and has routes varying between 5.6 and 5.12 meaning there’s something for everyone.

Spring and fall are the best times to climb here, and all of Durango for that matter.

The top routes here include:

  • Bush & Dirt Crack aka Pseudo-Cenotaph aka I Need a Shower (5.8, 2 pitch, trad)
  • Simians to the Sun (5.9+, 2 pitch, mixed)
  • Pale Skinned Nebraskan (5.10a, 1 pitch, sport)
  • Yellow Pages (5.6, 1 pitch, trad)
  • Watch Crystal Crack (5.10d, 2 pitch, trad)

The recommended climbing guidebook is Durango Sandstone which can be purchased at the local climbing store in downtown or click here to view the area on Mountain Project.

Stroll or Ride the Animas River Trail

If you’re looking for a pleasant and relaxing outdoor adventure, explore the Animas River Trail. This trail is a paved bike path that runs along the river starting on the north end of town at the Durango Rec Center and ending 7 miles later over by Sal Barn Canyon.

Sure, how about enjoying a sunset riverside walk or turning it up a notch by biking the full path? For a bigger adventure, loop through the Telegraph Canyon Trail system to return to Durango.

Getting there:

One starting point of the Animas River Trail is about a 5-minute drive north of Main Street however, from Main Street, it’s only a few short blocks walk to get to the river.

Summit Castle Rock

Caste Rock has to be one of the best hikes in the entire Durango area.

Castle Rock is located in one of the most beautiful areas on the whole Million Dollar Highway, about 20 minutes north of Durango just before Purgatory Resort. Here the mountains get steeper and there are aspens galore.

Castle Rock Hike on the Million Dollar highway in fall
One of the greatest hikes near Durango, Castle Rock delivers unparalleled views and amazing fall colors

Castle Rock is as you’d imagine, a large towering rock face, and from its summit, you have incredible views of the San Juan mountains to the east, the Million Dollar Highway running to Durango, and beautiful aspen groves below you.

In addition, the hike itself up to Castle Rock’s summit takes you through amazing groves of aspen trees which are especially spectacular in the fall.

Are you a climber? From the top of Castle Rock, you can see many different bolt anchors for top roping however I can’t find any info online about climbing here so if you’re interested, ask about it at the local climbing store.

Getting there:

Elbert Trailhead is in an odd location for a trailhead. Head north from Durango and right across the street from the Olde Schoolhouse Cafe, and park at the Needles Country Store/gas station. From there, walk 100 yards south and you’ll quickly see a wooden fence on your right and the trailhead sign.

Once on the trail, there’s only one junction to keep an eye out for. Just a few minutes after passing the cabin, stay right at a trail fork and follow the wide switchback heading up the mountainside.

Hike the Animas Overlook Trail

The Animas Mountain Trail is one of the easiest hikes in the area and though it’s not the best hike in the Durango area, it’s great to hit if you’re short on time and aren’t a very experienced hiker. The trail brings you to the top of Animas Mountain providing views of Durango and the surrounding mountains.

Animas Mountain Overlook, things to do durango, Colorado
View from Animas Mountain Overlook
Photo via Outdoor Project

The hike is 6 miles roundtrip and can be made into a loop that’s also 6 miles by combining the Animas Mountain East trail with the Animas Mountain (standard) trail.

Getting there:

The trailhead for Animas Mountain is close to downtown. Head north on the 550 from Durango and make a left onto W 32th St then turn right on W 4th Ave. This will bring you to the Animas Mtn East trailhead.

Mountain Bike in Telegraph Canyon

Telegraph is the primary network of mountain biking trails in Durango which lie on the east side of town.

There are 2 main sides you can access the network from: The Horse Gulch trailhead, which will bring you to the brutal ascent on Telegraph Trail or there’s the southeast side on Carbon Junction, Big Canyon, or Sale Barn trails.

Telegraph Trail is the start of almost any ride in the Canyon. It’s a steep climb from Horseshoe Gulch Trailhead and it’s a steep, brutal climb to the summit of all the surrounding trails.

Some of the most popular routes for each skill level are:

  • For Beginners: Combine Telegraph Trail with Meadow Loop which can also be combined with Stacey’s Loop
  • For Intermediates: Consider riding the Lunch Route which starts over by the trailheads Big Canyon/Cabron Junction. The route can be ridden either way and goes from Carbon Junction to South Rim to Crete’s Connect, then to Telegraph and Sidewinder, then continues onto Cowboy Upper and Big Canyon
  • For Advanced Riders: The Lunch route is an option but if you want a challenging descent, tackle Anasazi Descent (ride up Telegraph first) and then turn onto Secret.

One of the other great ride options is Raider Ridge (see next number).

Brave the Raider Ridge Trail

Raider Ridge is one of the many trails within the Telegraph trail system however, whether you’re a biker or hiker, this trail is best suited to those looking for great exposure and awesome views.

Much like Animas Overlook Trail, you’ll have views of Durango and the surrounding area, however, this ridge in comparison is sheer and rocky making the bike ride something exclusively for advanced mountain bikers.

Raider Ridge, Durango, Colorado
The gnarly and iconic ridge ride in Durango, Raider Ridge
Photo via MTBR

Getting there:

If you want to bike to Raider Ridge:

  • Start on the East College Drive bike path.
  • At the first trail junction, head right up either the easy Talker trail or the black diamond Shocker trail which both bring you to Powerline Ridge.
  • Go left on Powerline Ridge, loop up to the steep ascent of Skyline, and then finally the trail merges onto the black diamond trail Raider Ridge.
  • This 3-mile section is all downhill, pretty exposed, and has plenty of lines to choose from.
  • When you hit Powerline Ridge again, head right to get back to where you started.

If you want to explore Raider Ridge by foot:

  • Start at the Horse Gulch Trailhead the make 2 lefts at the junction for the Zipline trail.
  • When you hit Powerline Ridge make a right before making another right onto Raider Ridge.
  • You can make it a loop and combine it with Rocky Road or you can just hike out as far as you want then go back the way you came.
  • Tip: Keep an eye out for bikes.

Mountain Bike Junction Creek, Seg 28 of the Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail (AKA the CT) is a 567-mile trail that travels from Denver to Durango and is commonly praised as one of the best bike-packing rides in the world due to its stunning beauty in jagged mountain landscapes and alpine lakes.

As the final segment of the iconic long-distance trail, this black diamond trail is a weaving ride of downhill broken up by an occasionally steep uphill. The trail consists of switchbacks, valley views, and waterfalls.

Section 28 of the Colorado Trail in Durango Colorado
Switchbacks on section 28 of the Colorado Trail in Durango, Colorado
Photo via MTB Project

This section of the Colorado Trail can be done a few different ways:

The first is if you want to ride the entire 22-mile (one-way) segment. You’ll head up to the end of the road in La Plata Canyon.

If you don’t have time or energy to ride out and back on such a long trail, you can opt to shuttle it but you’ll need 2 vehicles.

Getting there:

To start from the La Plata Canyon side at Kennebec Trailhead, you’ll head west on Hwy 160 from Durango then turn right onto Country Road 124. This road goes for 14 miles, 5 of of which you will need 4X4 to drive. The road dead ends at the trailhead and junction of the Colorado Trail.

Ride the Colorado Trail + Dry Creek + Log Chutes Loop

If you want a short ride just to get a taste of the CT, start at the Colorado Trail’s terminus at Junction Creek trailhead and ride the CT as a loop with Dry Fork trail and Hoffeheins Connecter.

This ride is suitable for intermediates but more advanced riders can extend the ride and combine it with one of the best downhill trails in Durango, Log Chutes.

Getting there:

To start from the Junction Creek trailhead, which is closer to town, and ride the Dry Creek Loop, head north on the 550 from Durango, and make a left onto W 25th St which turns into Junction Creek Road. This road is dirt but is accessible by most 2WD vehicles up to the campground. After 3.5 miles you’ll reach the CT trailhead or after 5 miles, you’ll reach the campground where you can also access the CT.

Tip: If you’re camping and want to ride the CT, stay at Junction Creek National Forest Campground and start the ride from your back door.

Explore La Plata Canyon

La Plata Canyon is just one region of Durango and is filled with multiple adventures.

For one, the road is scenic enough that the drive itself is an adventure but you need a 4X4. If you don’t have 4X4 you can opt to mountain bike the road starting from the second dirt parking lot.

Exploring Kennebac Pass, La Plata Canyon, Durango, Colorado
Exploring Kennebec Pass, One of the many adventures in La Plata Canyon.
Photo by Derek Fall via Beer Bikes and Campfires

You can ride out to the Colorado Trail junction and downhill back the way you came making for a nice 19-mile ride or you could even combine it with the Colorado Trail and downhill to Durango (you’ll need a car shuttle for this).

Some great hikes in the Canyon include Tomahawk Mine, climbing 13er Mt Moss, Silver Mountain, Columbus Basin Trail, and many more 13k ft summits of the La Plata Range.

Climb at Lemon Reservoir

Lemon Reservoir can be found just 50 minutes northeast of town. Being located in a small canyon makes it a very scenic place to climb in its prime season of fall.

Rock climbing in Lemon Reservoir, Durango, Colorado, things to do
The steep, scenic canyon of Lemon Reservoir is filled with dozens of sports routes.
Photo via Mountain Project

Compared to the other two climbing areas on this list, Lemon Reservoir is far less accessible and family-friendly but home to one of the only granite climbing areas in the region, it can be appealing to those who prefer secluded, single-pitch, sports routes.

The top routes here include:

  • Hotness – 5.8+ sport
  • Vertical Alluvium – 5.10a mixed
  • Bonsai – 5.10a sport
  • Chucky Bill – 5.10 mixed
  • Via Manalo – 5.11b sport
  • Holy Grail – 5.11d sport
  • Brady’s Route – 5.12a sport

Just like East Animas, the recommended climbing guidebook is Durango Sandstone and can be purchased at the local climbing store.

Click here for more details on Lemon Reservoir on Mountain Project.

Summit Engineer Mountain

Not to be confused with the Engineer Pass off-roading trail in Ouray, Engineer Mountain is located about 45 minutes north of Durango and holds a variety of different trail options to reach its summit.

Engineer Mountain is the most commonly known epic day hike in the Durango area and unlike some of the adventures on this list, the Engineer Pass hike is easy to find and easily located at a National Forest trailhead along the highway.

Coal Bank Pass, Million Dollar highway
Engineer Mountain Seen from Coal Bank Pass, elevation 10,610

The shortest way to reach the summit of this mountain starts from Coal Bank Pass on the Highway. The 6 mile roundtrip trail that lies on the west side of the highway, ascends Pass Creek trail, gains 2,300 feet, and involves a bit of exposed scrambling at the end.

See hike details here.

If exposure isn’t your thing, you can still opt to hike the Engineer Mountain Trail which could accessed from the Coal Bank Pass but could also be accessed from the proper Engineer Mountain Trailhead further south. The trail itself goes on for a very long time so it’s your choice on where to turn around. This trail travels through meadows, forests, and along the base of Engineer Mountain, still providing nice views.

See hike details here.

This 12-mile round-trip hike gains nearly 3000 feet and does take you to the summit of Engineer Mountain at nearly 13,000 feet.

Engineer Pass Trail isn’t just a hike though. There are actually a few different ascents of this mountain all of which can be mountain biked and sometimes, they’re combined for a long thru-ride.

Mountain bike up the Jones/Dutch Creek loop

Though a large portion of the forest was burned during a recent wildfire, this is still a great ride for the sake of the ride itself.

This route is best ridden as a big ol 19-mile loop starting on Hermosa Creek, turning onto Dutch Creek, making a right on Pinkerton-Flagstaff, and finishing on Jones Creek

At the same time, you can also choose to just ride Jones Creek as an out-and-back ride. Jones Creek is known to be fast, flowy, and fun. It ranges between the blue and black diamond in difficulty and if you ride just this trail, it’s an 8-mile ride roundtrip.

Getting there:

Start this mountain biking adventure from Lower Hermosa Campground.

Head north from Durango on Hwy 550 then make a left off the highway, and quick right for County Road 201, signed for Lower Hermosa campground. Follow the road for 12 miles to the campground.

About 6 miles in, the road turns to dirt but it’s drivable by most 2WD vehicles (we took out a 30-foot motorhome up it).

Climb X-Rock

Looking for an easy access climbing area with a little bit of everything? X-Rock is the place to go and being located so close to town makes this possibly the most popular crag in the Durango area.

Here there are dozens of top rope routes, trad routes, sport routes, and boulder problems in everything from 5.4 to 5.11 range.

Click here for details on the climbing area.

If you’re not a climber, you can also opt to pay for guided climbing, and more than likely, this is the place they’ll take you. Check out local climbing guides like Kling Mountain Guides or San Juan Mountain Guides.

Hike Purgatory Flats

Located right across the street from Purgatory Resort, the Flats trail is commonly used as an access to Chicago Basin however Purgatory Flats trail is also known to be one of the best fall hikes in Durango.

Purgatory Flats Trail Durango things to do
Hiking through aspens on Purgatory Flats Trail, Durango
Photo credit: Territory Supply

Don’t let the name fool you, this trail is not flat and has quite a bit of elevation change and since it starts by descending into a valley, the way back is the hard part.

While it’s not required to hike the entire trail, the whole trek to Cascade Creek is 10 10-mile roundtrip with 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

From this same trail, you can opt to extend this into the Chicago Basin (see below).

Explore Chicago Basin

Chicago Basin is home to some of to the most stunning mountain adventures in Durango due its secluded location deep in the San Juans, east of Purgatory Resort.

Chicago Basin is not accessible by car so you have 2 options to reach the adventures that lie beyond.

The first is via the Silverton & Durango Train as mentioned before in #1. With a $80 roundtrip train ticket from Silverton, you can get off at the Needleton train station cutting out a significant 10 miles (each way) of hiking on Purgatory Trail. This is great for more convenience and more time spent enjoying the really spectacular parts of the Chicago Basin.

Chicago Basin, things to do in Durango, Colorado
Chicago Basin and the Adventure that lie beyond
Photo credit: Miss Adventure Pants
The second option was just mentioned. You can take the Purgatory trail from Purgatory Trailhead along Hwy 550 then hike 10 miles to the start of Chicago Basin at Needleton Train Station.

Click here for more details on how to hike into Chicago Basin.

Once in the Chicago Basin, you can make camp and the possibilities are endless.

Chicago Basin 14ers, things to do in Durango, Colorado
Home to 3 major 14,000-foot peaks, Chicago Basin’s summit hike is not of the best in all of Colorado
Photo credit: San Juan Mountain Guides

There are three 14ers you can summit from here: Mt Eolus, Windom Peak, and Sunlight Peak, due to their convenient locations right next to one another, you can summit all three of these 14ers in 1 day. The trek of summiting these 3 peaks in a day is no doubt on the list of the best hikes in all of Colorado. Combined with the hike in Purgatory Flats, it’s a 37-mile roundtrip trek whereas if you ride the train it’s 17 miles, which is still a lot.

Click here for details on how to hike the three 14ers of Chicago Basin.

If you want a more chill backcountry experience, there are some smaller explorations you could tackle from basecamp. Click here for details.

Mountain Bike Blackhawk Pass, Seg 26 of the Colorado Trail

If you want to get really far out into the San Juans, ride the rural and rugged black diamond section of the Colorado Trail, Blackhawk Pass.

As mentioned earlier, the Colorado Trail is a famous 567 mile trail running from Denver to Durango and is arguably the best long distance mountain bike ride in the world. It’s especially true for the stunning section 26 where riders are entirely above tree line.

The 26 mile out and back route travels through beautiful meadows, delivers constantly stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and brings you to the top of Blackhawk Pass.

Blackhawk Pass, Colorado Trail, Durango
Views on top of Blackhawk Pass on the Colorado Trail
Photo credit: Singletracks

Though incredibly strenuous on the uphill, the descent back down from the pass is known as one of the best downhill sections of the whole long-distance Colorado Trail due to its flowy and fun technical sections.

Be warned that these views are reserved only for highly experienced mountain bikers and the route is located in remote wilderness. Come fully prepared with emergency supplies.

Getting there:

While this trail lies closer to the Telluride side of the mountains, the trail can still be accessed from Durango from Upper Hermosa Creek Trailhead. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle to get there as it lies deep down forest roads from Purgatory Ski Resort.

Boulder at the Sailing Hawks

Sailing Hawks is the largest bouldering area in Durango and is the hub when it comes to un-roped climbing.

With nearly 100 routes, easy access, well-maintained trail systems, and problems ranging from V1 to V10, it’s an all-star bouldering destination.

Sailing Hawks Bouldering, Things to do Durango, Colorado
The Sailing Hawks bouldering area is one of Durango’s most popular crags.
Photo via Mountain Project

Some of the best routes include:

  • Petrified Jugs – V1
  • Pocket Change – V4
  • Dr Dyno – V4
  • Skully – V5
  • 3 Finger Pocket – V5
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes – V6
  • Bleeding Lip Traverse – V6
  • Legacy of the Kid – V9

While I earlier recommended the Durango Sandstone climbing book, if you plan on mostly bouldering, check out the Durango Bouldering instead. It can be purchased at the local climbing store downtown.

Click here to learn more about the Sailing Hawks climbing area on Mountain Project.

Camp at Little Molas Lake

As you venture further north from Durango, the road ascends to the high elevation pass of Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass at nearly 11k feet. Just after these passes is an upper plateau filled with lakes, trees, rivers, flowers, and mountains.

It feels like a wonderland and one of the most pristine areas of that wonderland is at the small campground on Little Molas Lake, not to be confused with the privately owned Molas Lake Campground on the other side of the highway.

Little Molas Lake Campground north of Durango
The stunning little gem of Little Molas Lake Campground.
Photo via

Little Molas Lake isn’t a fully scale campground but rather an area of the National Forest that allows free dispersed camping. As we explain in our guide to camping on the Million Dollar Highway, you can camp here for free for up to 14 days and this location even has pit toilets available (seasonally). Here you can go on epic hikes from your front door including the Colorado Trail (see below).

Getting there:

About 40 miles north of Durango on the 550, make a left onto Forest Road 584, which is just a half mile past the summit of Molas Pass. The road is dirt but lasts less than a mile before you reach the camping area.

Hike Molas Pass, Seg 25 of the Colorado Trail

Molas Pass is yet another stunning section of the Colorado Trail. What makes this section stand out is that most of the trail is above the treeline, delivering panoramic views of mountains nearby and of the horizon.

You’ll have views of peaks like Twilight Peak, Engineer Mountain, the Grenadier Mountains, and the Snowden Mountains.

Molas Pass, Million Dollar highway
Northbound views from Molas Pass

While this entire 20-mile (one-way) segment of the CT to Bolam Pass is not possible to do in a day, you can choose to do this as a 1-night backpacking trip or preferably, you can do it as a day hike. You can turn around whenever you want but a recommended turn-around point to make this an even 10 miles is at Lime Creek, the first major creek crossing at mile 5.

This hike isn’t particularly steep or strenuous and since you get to choose how far out to go, it’s great for all hikers.

For more details click here.

Getting there:

Start this hike at Little Molas Lake Campground which is just a few minute’s drive past Molas Pass. (More details in the previous section)

Climb a hidden crag

Durango isn’t just filled with major climbing areas, but it’s scattered with dozens of tiny crags throughout the region, some catered to beginners, while others are more for advanced climbers.

Our favorite easy climbing area was Fume Wall, home to 25 routes primarily between 5.7 and 5.10. Looking for hard bouldering? Check out Turtle Lake. Long, easy, multi-pitch, trad climbs? Pine River is the place.

The possibilities for climbing here are endless no matter what you’re looking for.

Where to Eat in Durango

James Ranch Harvest Grill

James Ranch Harvest Grill is without a doubt one of the best (if not the best) restaurants in all of Durango.

Home to the best burgers I’ve ever tasted, James Ranch Harvest Grill is an eatery we will forever talk about.

This restaurant isn’t your typical burger joint. Being a ranch, this grill produces its very own grass-fed beef and all the remaining ingredients are local and organic.

When we first visited James Ranch in 2015 on our Colorado Road Trip, it was just a small, seasonal food truck located on a farm but now, James Ranch Harvest Grill is a full-blown restaurant open year round with a cozy interior, an outdoor patio, and a large market where you can buy local, organic, artisan products, grass-fed beef and pork, fresh eggs, house-made cheese, and more.

Getting there:

James Ranch Grill is the only eatery on this list that isn’t located in downtown Durango. James Ranch lies about 20 minutes north of Durango on the east side of the highway. It’s a bit hidden and unless you know where to look, you’d probably miss it.

Cream Bean Berry

While you could do the touristy thing and go hit up the Cold Stone, Cream Bean Berry is by far the most delicious ice cream spot in town and is definitely more suited to the foodies.

Downtown Durango, Colorado
Enjoying artisan flavors and good vibes at the Cream Bean Berry

This artisan ice cream shop uses local ingredients in all their unique flavors like Orange Blossom Pistachio, Honey Whiskey, and Pear Sorbet. The shop also has some delicious vegan ice cream options.

Animas Brewing Company

If you’re just looking for the local to hang out for food and drinks, head over to Animas Brewing Company on the north side of town right by the Animas River Trail. This is one of the best breweries in town and if you love craft brews, you’ll love it here.

The brewery has a family-friendly atmosphere as well and with its outdoor patio, it’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.

11th Street Station

For those who have just spent the day adventuring and are looking for good vibes, good food, and a great location, look no further than 11th Street Station.

11th St Station is not a restaurant but rather an outdoor patio filled with food trucks and bars. Any sort of food can be found here from warm coffee to cold cocktails to burgers to Thai food.

11th Street Station, Durango, Colorado, Things to do
11th Street Station is a rad commune of good, good vibes, and good people.
Photo via Visit Durango

This place is appealing at all times of day but at night, it is especially lively with music and people all around. There is indoor and outdoor seating making it a great place no matter the weather.

Switchback Taco Bar

Love tacos? (I mean seriously…who doesn’t love tacos?) If you do, head to the Switchback Taco Bar. Located in a prime spot along Main Street, Switchback Taco Bar not only serves up delicious tacos but also provides a lively atmosphere.

Fired Up Pizzeria

Right next door to Switchback is a delicious wood-fired, locally sourced pizza restaurant, Fired Up Pizzeria. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, Fired Up’s sandwiches are great as well.

fired up pizzeria, Durango, Colorado, things to do
The Up pizzeria in downtown Durango has delicious food and a lively atmosphere

The coolest part about dining here isn’t the pizza though. It’s the rooftop patio. On a sunny evening, there’s no better place to grab dinner.

Carver Brewing Co

If you find yourself in downtown Durango craving a burger and beer, head to CarverBrewing Co. While this isn’t my top pick for dinner in Durango, it’s a popular, lively dinner spot with solid burgers and craft beer.

Animas Chocolate + Coffee Company

While chocolate shops tend to be a little tourist, if you love all things chocolate, you can’t miss the delightful chocolate bars, truffles, hot chocolate, and desserts here.

Coffee Shops

There are 3 amazing coffee shops in Durango so I can’t recommend just one:

If you’re an ultimate coffee connoisseur, head to Taste Coffee and savor some of their local, organically roasted coffee in the form of a latte, French press, espresso, and more. No matter what you get, you’re sure to be served a creamy, flavorful coffee drink.

Besides the delicious seasonal lattes and top-of-the-line drink menu, Taste Coffe is located in 11th St Station making it awesome to grab coffee and hang out on the lively outdoor community patio.

Photos shown above via Taste Coffee Durango

If you’re looking for a spacious, cozy, and lively atmosphere to socialize at over a cup of coffee, head to Durango Coffee Co. on Main Street.

This coffee shop has a newly re-designed, antique interior design and as a coffee roaster, they provide delicious drinks and high-quality, small-batch coffee.

Durango Coffee Co in Durango, Things to do, Colorado
The newly redesigned space of Durango Coffee Co. makes the place more lively and inviting than ever. Photo via Durango Coffee

Looking for more of a local vibe? Check out the coffee shop + roaster next door, Hermosa Coffee Co. Hermosa Coffee has a very similar style to its neighboring coffee shop but with some cozier corners, this is coffee shop draws quieter, more chill vibes.

Hermosa Coffee Roasters in Durango, Things to do, Colorado
Hermosa Coffee Roasters delivers great coffee and a chill place to hang out.
Photo via Hermosa Coffee Roasters

Live Music at Balcony Bar & Grill

If you’re looking for nightlife, there’s no better place to head to than Balcony Bar & Grill. Known to host the best dancing and live music in downtown Durango, the upstairs terrace provides a fun time and awesome views to go with it.

Find upcoming events on their Facebook page.

Jean Pierre Bakery & Wine Bar or Bread Shop

Jean Pierre’s pastries are delightful, although not quite as authentic as French croissants.

Eclairs at Jean Pierre Bakery in Durango
Jean Pierre Bakery in Durango bakes up French pastries that rival the real deal in France. Photo via Jean Pierre Bakery

Skip breakfast there; it’s a bit flashy for my taste. But check out Thursday’s flight nights for a cool experience—try three wine and cheese pairings!

The Living Tree

To all the health gurus, you may never go to any other restaurant than The Living Tree. This restaurant and specialty food store serves up all things fermented, delicious salads, well-sourced meats, kombucha on tap, and more.

Photos shown above via The Living Tree Salad Bar

As a bonus, this place isn’t a wildly expensive health food store. It’s known as one of the cheapest places to grab a bite in Durango.

Where to Stay in Durango

Explore Durango, but don’t miss out on the San Juans. Spend a week in Durango and take a night to see Silverton or Ouray along the Million Dollar Highway.

If you want to our recommended accommodation + camping options in Durango, click here and check out our related blog on the Million Dollar Highway.

You can also just use the search box below to find accommodation on (our favorite hotel/vacation rental search engine).

Hope this gave you plenty of ideas of things to do in Durango! If you have any questions about visiting Durango and all its adventures, let us know in the comments section below!

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Jason Lum

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Wow Gabi, nice work. As a Durango local of over 30 years and a backcountry guide on Molas pass, I have to say you really nailed it. Great job on my home town and mountain stomping ground!


Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Thank you so much, this comment made my day!

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