Take an old mining train in Durango Colorado
It’s out of the way and glad of it,” cracked Will Rogers. Nestled in the Animas River Valley between the desert and the San Juan Mountains, Durango is not all that inaccessible these days and draws lots of people for its irresistible mix of history and activity. This railway town of 17,000 residents, founded in 1881, is known for its wealth of outdoor offerings, its proximity to Mesa Verde National Park and its restored railway through the mountains to Silverton, which you might recognize from the hair-raising robbery scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Students attending Fort Lewis College give Durango an upbeat air and keep dozens of ski, mountain bike and camping stores in business. The Durango Mountain Resort has 1,200 skiable acres and 85 trails on Purgatory Mountain, and bragging rights to more sunshine than any other ski resort in Colorado. Kayakers tackle Class II and III rapids on the Animas River, which flows right through the centre of town (more thrilling rapids are not far away).
To top it off, Durango is known as one of the hottest mountain biking towns in the West, starting with its hosting of the first-ever national mountain bike championships in 1990, now held annually around the country. Hundreds of miles of trails wander through the nearby hills. The 18-mile Dry Fork Loop on the edge of town is part of the statewide Colorado Trail.
Mosey on over to the Strater Hotel and step into a time machine. Wild West legends Bat Masterson and Butch Cassidy both stayed at this handsome four-storey redbrick Victorian hotel, built in 1887. Louis L’Amour wrote a few of his Western novels while checked into room 222 or sitting in the Diamond Belle Saloon, still the town’s hot spot after all these years. Live ragtime music wafts from the bar, decorated with crystal chandeliers and plush velvet curtains.