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Where Are the Best Outdoor Activities in Durango, CO?

By Ryan Poppe - Last Updated: Wednesday, May 20th, 2020.

Best Outdoor Activities in Durango, ColoradoColorado is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife. With mountains and lakes, mesas and plateaus, canyons and rivers, Colorado boasts some unforgettable skylines and natural features. Durango, Colorado, is no exception, offering a whole array of outdoor activities that showcase the incredible scenery and natural landscapes. Here are some of the best outdoor activities to explore—whether you're a local or a visitor to this beautiful city.

Purgatory Ski Resort

Address: Purgatory Ski Resort, 1 Skier Pl, Durango, CO 81301

Purgatory Ski Resort may be a ski resort, but they are open year-round with activities for every season on top of skiing. Whether you want to make a day trip or stay a weekend, Purgatory has a variety of options available for you and your family or friends. They have resort lodging at a variety of price points and amenities, a day spa, heated outdoor tube and water slide, and were recognized as the #10 Best Ski Resort in the U.S. and Canada by Condé Nast in 2019.

The event calendar at Purgatory is also impressive. Summer activities include archery festivals, mud races, wine festivals, and more. In the winter, there are options for snowshoeing, winter tubing, sleigh rides, and snowmobile adventures. For the skiers and ski attempters, there are 105 different trails on 1,635 acres at varying altitudes and levels of difficulty. Purgatory also has its own ski school, so those new to the sport are just as welcome as seasoned skiers.

Molas Lake Park & Campground

Address: Molas Lake Park & Campground, U.S. Highway 550, Silverton, CO 81433

Less than an hour from downtown Durango in Silverton lies Molas Lake Campground Park. Rated the "Most Scenic Campground in Colorado," this absolutely gorgeous park embraces the Colorado landscape along the San Juan mountains for all to enjoy. The mountain lake contains wonderful hiking and biking trails, and the lake itself has the potential for even more fun. You can relax on the lake catching rainbow trout and brown trout (though you will have to get a Colorado fishing license), go paddle boarding, or just sit back and enjoy the scenery by the lake. No motorized boats are allowed, making it a perfect spot for fishing and relaxing on smooth waters.

Day hike or make a full camping trip out of your visit; Molas has over 50 campsites for tents, campers, and RVs as well as updated showers and bathrooms. If you do decide to stay the night, make sure to soak in the immense, starry skies.

Lake Nighthorse

Just 2 miles from downtown Durango, Lake Nighthorse is practically a next door neighbor. Although the possibility of the lake has been discussed since the 60s, it just opened recently to the public to enjoy. It's a great fishing spot, and is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and sockeye salmon (one of just 26 spots in Colorado where you can catch sockeye salmon). If fishing isn't your jam, you can still enjoy the sandy beaches of the lake or bring out canoes and kayaks for gentle paddling on the lake.

Vallecito Lake

Vallecito Lake is located 18 miles from downtown Durango, but feels worlds away from the city. At 8,000 feet above sea level, Vallecito Lake is a high-altitude getaway perched in the San Juan mountains. Vallecito Lake offers 12 miles of shoreline and sparkling waters perfect for boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, or just enjoying a hike by the waters. Because it's located in the center of the San Juan National Forest, the surrounding areas are carefully protected to preserve the natural beauty of the area.

No matter the season, there are endless outdoor activities in Durango. For visitors, you may not be able to cram everything into a weekend trip, but that's all the more reason to come back or stay for good.

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