The best time to visit Durango depends largely on what you want to do there. It’s located at 6,512 feet, so in-town summer temps rarely peak higher than the mid-80s. And year-round sunshine promises mellow fall days before the winter storms start to pound the surrounding mountains with snow.
Durango Mountain Resort boasts some of the best skiing in southwestern Colorado. To ski or ride, go between mid-December and the end of March; expect crowds during the peak holiday season and spring break. But it’s telling that the resort has expanded warm-weather offerings to include fair-weather sports such as disc golf, horseback rides, and the “Purge Plunge,” a 100-yard zip above the mountain village. Elsewhere, biking, trout fishing, and various levels of whitewater rafting are easily accessible from Durango. From mid-June through July, the Upper Animas River starts broiling with some serious, world-class whitewater.
Fall offers dappled aspens and a chance to sample the harvest from area farms, while late spring delivers sunny skies and rivers swollen with snowmelt. But if the occasional chilly weather or rain causes consternation, don’t forget that historic downtown promises shopping, art galleries, and the like. You’ll also find old-timey entertainment (and possibly a shoot-out) at the Diamond Belle Saloon in the historic Strater Hotel, an establishment frequented by the late Western genre writer Louis L’Amour. Railway buffs and families will also want to check out the free, well-appointed Durango and Silverton depot museums.
Annual festivals include Music in the Mountains in July and the San Juan Brewfest in August. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is a road race from Durango to Silverton in May and draws national-caliber cyclists. If that sounds too arduous, the historic and scenic Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad runs all year.