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First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

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St. Joseph, Mo
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First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

We usually go to Estes Park but are considering a trip to Durango this year as we have never been to this part of the state. We will be flying in Sun and leaving Fri. Any suggestions on where to stay, itinerary, etc? Should we just base out of Durange and make day trips to see the area?? We have an 15 and 18 yr old. LIke to do short hikes, fish, just explore the outdoors. Also what is the weather like the first week of August??

WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

Many visitors to the area choose Mesa Verde National Park and the Durango Silverton narrow gauge train as their "musts." There are a couple of zip lines, too, that your family would love, I'm sure. You may want to drive to Ouray over the Million Dollar Highway or to Telluride one day. There's rafting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, hot springs, horseback riding, jeep tours aplenty.

The weather will usually be cool to chilly in the mornings and evenings and warm to warmer to hot-ish in the day, with afternoon showers common. (it's been very dry, so we hope and pray for afternoon showers!)

I often recommend taking one of the train rides that combines a one way train ride with another activity. I like the train/jeep combo because you get to go to Animas Forks ghost town and up even higher into the mountains, but there are other combos, as well. Many people think that one way on the train is enough.

I often recommend staying in a couple of places along the San Juan Skyway, but with the time you have, I think you should just base in Durango, especially if you decide to include Mesa Verde and the train, because those will each take most of a day. If your family likes more of a "road trip" style so you can cover more territory, you could do the train on Monday, drive to Ouray for the night on Tuesday, head for Telluride for part of the day on Wednesday and then spend the night at Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde, visit Mesa Verde Thursday and spend the night in Durango Thursday night.

Edited: 25 June 2012, 17:11
Columbia, Maryland
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2. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

From the perspective of a once in a lifetime trip to the area: the Durango and Silverton RR, Mesa Verde, and a jeep trip to the mountains above Silverton are must do's.

Base in Durango. Look up Condos and cabins in Durango on Homeaway or VRBO. We stayed in Ferringway Condos above Durango. It's about a 5 minute drive down to Durango. Depending on which way the condo faces, you get a great mountain view.

Mesa Verde is an easy day trip from Durango. It's about 45 minute to the park entrance, then another half hour to the visitors' center. You can easily take a ranger guided tour and drive the loop and stop at sites on one of the 2 mesas in a day.

Check out the Mesa Verde website for information.

http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

Here's the Durango and Silverton site:

http://www.durangotrain.com/

There are combination train/jeep, but the train is from Silverton to Durango. I personally think the ride from Durango to Silverton is better. You can also schedule one of the jeep tours separate from the train.

Going from Durango to Silverton, select seats on the right side of the train; on the left if going from Silverton to Durango. All seats are reserved, but you can freely walk around the train. There are open cars where you sit facing outward, vintage coaches and premium cars. You can hang out in an open car for awhile if there is room to sit or stand. The vintage coaches have large windows that can open, so the view is good and you are protected if it rains. Sit are far back as possible. I think the lower numbered cars are farther back. You can call to verify. A typical train has 3 vintage coaches, 2 open cars, and a couple of premium cars. It's a 3.5 hour ride each way. The first (and last hour on the way back) follow route 550. Not much to see there. After that it heads off into the mountains following the Animas River through the valley through scenery you will not see any other way.

St. Joseph, Mo
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3. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

Thank you so much for the info. Any suggestions on where to stay?? Looking at several options on VRBO, but not familiar enough with area as to where to stay.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

We are going to the area for 2 weeks this September. We are staying in a hotel in town for part of our trip and in the mountains in a condo for the rest of our trip. I found condos in the mountains are very affordable during the summer compared to many of the hotels in town. We are renting thru VRBO.

Good luck with your search!!

Columbia, Maryland
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5. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

In or close to Durango is the best. You will be able to find a number of condos in town. We stayed in Ferringway Condos just above town. They actually have their own web site, but we found a unit via Homeaway. I'm not shilling for Ferringway, but we found it to be a nice quiet location a bit away from the hubub of downtown, but yet very convenient. There is a pool and hot tub, and gas grills available for use at the clubhouse.

You will also see many condos listed for Durango Mountain Resort. This is actually a ski area. In my opionion, this is too far north. Its about 25 miles north of Durango. Another area north of Durango with a lot of condos is Tamaron. It is about 17 miles north of Durango. Again IMO, too far.

If you are in for a bit (just a bit, many are very nice with the same amenities as a condo) of rustic living, look for cabins. We found cabins are a popular lodging option out west.

The added bonus of a cond is saving on food as you don't have to eat all you meals out as they have fully equipped kitchens. Linens are provided and usually towels. You are also free to do you laundry whenever as most are equipped with washers and dryers.

Edited: 26 June 2012, 13:23
WestSlope,CO
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6. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

What kind of accomodations do you prefer?

Sometimes on vacation I would rather stay in a nice hotel so I can enjoy daily maid service and avoid cooking! Sometimes I like a cabin or bed and breakfast, too. We have stayed in condos a couple of times, too, but usually find that with just two of us, when we figure in the cleaning fees, we may as well stay in a hotel or B&B.

Cabins, condos, and rental homes can be found in a variety of sizes and prices to suit your family.

Have you looked at the Durango lodging reviews? Doubletree is the top rated hotel at this time, and is also the lodging recommended by one of the Trip Advisor DEs for Mesa Verde. It is right in town but along the river, so both convenient and scenic. There are several other choices, too, such as Residence Inn or Hampton.

The Strater Hotel would be the choice if you are a fan of historic hotels. (or maybe the General Palmer)

Edited: 26 June 2012, 14:19
St. Joseph, Mo
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7. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

We are thinking of adding Arches to our trip, so may stay one night there either the beginning or end of our trip. So any suggestions as we head up that way from Durango??? Still need help with lodging??

WestSlope,CO
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8. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

What kind of accomodations? Condo, cabin, hotel, B&B? Did you look at any of the reviews yet?

If you are looking at specific VRBO or Homeaway properties, you might tell us which ones and maybe someone could help with where they're located. You'll need to decide if you want to be in town or further up into the mountains (lots of condos near the ski area and more of a pine-tree, mountain-y feel), or maybe around Vallecito Reservoir.

St. Joseph, Mo
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9. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

Considering Blue Lake Ranch or Lightner Creek B & B ..... Any thoughts???

10. Re: First time visit to Durango...any suggestions

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