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5 Summer Activities in and Around Durango Main Photo

5 Summer Activities in and Around Durango


Written By April Bates
Posted: July 21, 2021 by Georgiana Rose Hallock

What’s that? Only 5? Impossible! Durango is full of outdoor adventure and activities; how do I narrow
my list down to “5 Summer Activities Not to be Missed in Durango”? The jig is up, Durango was founded
and known for our local railroad, the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and both visitors and
locals love our train. But apart from riding the rail, let me dive into other activities our town offers in
the summer months. In no particular order, here it goes!

1. Lake Nighthorse Day Pass
Fork over a Hamilton face card ($10 bill) for a day full of fun in the
sun! Lake Nighthorse is conveniently located two miles southwest of downtown Durango,
making it easy to get away after a short workday. Grab your paddleboard, canoe or kayak and
enjoy the crystal-clear water that is naturally fed by Animas River. If you don’t have a
watercraft, rent one there. Bring the kids and watch as they enjoy the Wibit Aqua Park at the
Swim Beach, which is brand new this year! (Disclaimer: mature adults have been known to
enjoy this water park as well.) Pack a picnic, bring an umbrella, make a day of it. You won’t be
disappointed.

2. Bar D Chuckwagon
Throw on your cowboy boots and mosey on over to the Bar D! This ‘ol
west mini-town is tucked away in the Animas Red Cliffs and has been the source of family
entertainment for years in the summer months. Ya’ll better get there before chow time! Ride
the Bar D Train, leisurely stroll through the numerous shops, grab some sweet treats at the
Chocolate Shop, tap into your inner Annie Oakley and shoot an ol’ west revolver at the Shooting
Gallery. Park gates open at 4:30pm and supper is served promptly at 6:30pm. Experience a
traditional chuckwagon supper with BBQ chicken or beef, beans, biscuit, applesauce, and a slice
of cake. If you’re still hungry, there’s always extra! The Bar D Wranglers wrap up the evening
with some pickin, fiddlin, and comedy. Get your tickets online, cowboy!

3. Purgatory Half Day Pass
Head on up to Purgatory at 9am for a half-day thrill ride! Jump on the
Inferno Mountain Coaster, float on Twilight Lake, pan for gold, Alpine Slide, or ride the chair lift.
Or maybe mountain biking is more your thing? Rent a mountain bike and take the chairlift up,
just to ride down, tail spinning in dirt and mud! But before you head home, grab some lunch at
the Bear Bar or Paradise Pizza. Adult tickets are $49, and kids are $25. Don’t forget sunscreen!
A half-day in the sun will leave you exhausted.

4. Day Hike Potato Lake Trail aka Spud Lake
A 1 mile one way hike, easy for kids, just north on US
550 to Lime Creek Road. Drive a few miles on a gravel road until you see a lily pond. The
parking area and trailhead are just past the lily pond. Experience the Colorado mountains and
all it has to offer on this hike – Engineer Mountain, Graysill and Grizzly Peaks, West Needle
Mountains, and Potato Mountain. The starting elevation is 9,360 feet and the high point is
9,800 feet. Skip rocks on Spud Lake, witness the gnawed aspen trees where beavers keep their
teeth trimmed, pick and eat natural raspberries that grow along the shore, or put your toes in
the refreshing water at the lake’s beach entrance. Sure to be an easy family-friendly day of
beauty and relaxation. If you’re really feeling adventurous, pack an overnight bag and stay at
one of the campsites near the lake. But promise me you’ll abide by good Colorado camping
etiquette, so it remains an enjoyable spot for visitors all summer long!

5. Movies in the Park at Buckley
Movies in the park are free because Durango has some amazing
local business sponsors every year! Grab a camping chair or blanket, pack an ice chest of
munchies and drinks, and head to the park to watch a classic movie. July 2 nd is The Sandlot,
“You’re killin me, Smalls!” Movies begin after sunset. Popcorn and drinks are also sold at the
park. Friends, family, fun, and FREE!

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