San Juan National Forest
In the frontier mining town of Durango, visitors can hop aboard the coal-fired, steam-powered Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which snakes its way upward through the Animas River Canyon for 45 miles until it reaches Silverton and an elevation exceeding 11,000 feet. Downtown Durango boasts a variety of restaurants, galleries, and lodging including the Strater Hotela classic landmark of the Victorian era completed in 1887. Just outside Durango, hikers can embark on the 469-mile journey to Denver along the Colorado Trail. At the southern end of the National Forest, the twin-stone spires of Chimney Rock rise high above the architectural ruins of the Anasazi Indians. Anasazi is a Navajo Indian word meaning "ancient ones"—it is used to describe the Ancestral Puebloans who first inhabited the site one thousand years ago, but who subsequently and mysteriously vanished.
To the southwest, visitors can also explore the Anasazi cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. These dwellings, inhabited from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300, melt seamlessly into the cliff's sheer rock face. The Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores is an archaeological museum that provides an excellent historical overview of the Anasazi culture and other Native cultures in the Four Corners region.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication