Best Places to Live Near Durango, CO
Durango is a city in southwest Colorado. Well-known as a tourist destination, the city has a year-round population of about 19,097 people. While skiing and other winter sports are passions of residents and visitors alike, the city's height of the tourism season is during the summer. Visitors come to this area of Colorado to join residents in enjoying a multitude of activities, with the mountains and stately Ponderosa pines as backdrops. Popular activities during warm weather months include hiking, biking, river rafting, camping, and horseback riding, among others.
In addition to being a tourist destination, Durango is a city dedicated to preserving its Western heritage, as evidenced by its museums and historic attractions. The city is also focused on arts and culture, fostering a thriving arts community and a number of galleries in Historic Downtown Durango. Those planning a move to the area should consider the following five best places near Durango to call home.
- RV park
- Highway access
- Lakes nearby
Bayfield is located in Colorado's La Plata County and is home to 2,640 residents. It is located 18 miles east of Durango. The community was named for its founder, W.A. Bay. The town is adjacent to two million acres of San Juan National Forest.
Bayfield was established in 1898 and is known locally as the "Heart of the Pine River Valley." The community was built on a foundation of agriculture, developing as a hub for local farms to get supplies and come to market.
Today, Bayfield serves as a suburb of Durango, where residents are attracted to its lower cost of living compared to the more urban setting. Bayfield includes a small historic district featuring buildings from its past, as well as a few boutiques and eateries.
Popular recreational pursuits in the Bayfield area include camping, horseback riding, and fishing. It is a favorite of fly-fishing enthusiasts.
Ignacio is located in La Plata County and has a population is 1,259. It covers less than 0.3 square miles, all of it land.
The town serves as the headquarters of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. It is home to the Navajo State Park as well as the Sky Ute Casino and Sky Ute Fairgrounds.
The Navajo State Park contains the Navajo Reservoir, which extends 20 miles south into the state of New Mexico. The park opened in 1964 and is enjoyed by boaters and campers all year long. The massive reservoir offers 15,000 surface acres of water recreation for sailors, power boaters, and houseboat owners. About 3,000 acres of the lake are on the Colorado side, with the remaining in New Mexico. Visitors are able to rent boats at the park's marina.
The park's campgrounds consist of 138 individual campsites, most open year-round. Anglers can expect to catch large- and small-mouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, trout, and catfish from the reservoir.
The community has preserved its history with the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum.
- Artist community
- Community festivals
Mancos is situated in southwestern Colorado, at the base of Mesa Verde National Park. It lies within Montezuma County, about 28 miles west of Durango. Mancos is surrounded by mountains, making it a perfect site for outdoor recreational enthusiasts.
Founded in 1894, the community was developed not far from where early Spanish explorers first navigated the crossing of the Mancos River. Once considered to be in the running for county seat of Montezuma County, it continues to serve as a commercial center for the eastern portion of the county.
The area is dotted with archeological sites, including small village remains. It is thought that the earliest Mancos Valley residents withdrew to the cliff dwellings on Mesa Verde. Several Mancos buildings from the turn of the century are listed on the state or national register of historic places, including the 1909 Mancos High School and the 1910 Mancos Opera House.
Despite the distance, the growth of Durango has spread to Mancos, creating the city's art colony. The community also holds several festivals or events each year.
- Rivers nearby
- Mountains nearby
- Skiing nearby
Hesperus is an unincorporated community of about 2,203 residents, located on State Highway 160 in La Plata County, about 11 miles west of Durango. It is located on the way to Cortez and Mesa Verde. Hesperus lies about 17 miles east of Mancos.
Hesperus takes its name from nearby Hesperus Mountain, both namesake and local attraction. A U.S. post office has been in operation in Hesperus since 1891.
The Hesperus Ski Area is a favorite resort among locals, offering the largest night skiing in all of Southwest Colorado. Its popularity is driven as well by its affordable lift tickets and variety of terrain, catering to the beginner as well as the expert. Also in the area for ski enthusiasts is the Chapman Hill Ski Area, about 12 mile away, and Purgatory Mountain Resort, about 38 miles from Hesperus.
- RV camping grounds
- Skiing nearby
- Historic District
- Rafting nearby
The tiny town of Silverton serves as the county seat of San Juan County. It derives its name from its former status as a silver mining camp, an area that is now almost entirely designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
Silverton was historically linked to Durango through the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, now a National Historic Landmark. Because it is no longer a mining area, the town's economy now relies heavily on tourism, local construction, and pollution remediation.
The community's appeal as a tourist destination took a leap in 2002, when Silverton Mountain opened near the town. Due to its draw as a tourist spot, the small town is home to several tour companies and guides, focused on adventures such as zip lining and river rafting. Additionally, the town is home to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Museum, housing historic rail and railway equipment.
Discover Durango's Best Places to Live
Despite their size, many of the communities outside of Durango have successfully reinvented their economies based on year-round tourism. Most got their start by depending on such industries as the railway, agriculture, or mining. Today, these same communities have built new economies that are tied to the natural beauty of the area, including mountains, lakes, and rivers.
Residents and tourists alike are drawn to the area for the multitude of outdoor activities available, from horseback riding and river rafting to skiing and hiking. These destinations are also often rich in history and the region's Western heritage, with several containing historic districts and museums to preserve the community's history.