Nestled at the edge of the mountains and desert in southwest Colorado, Durango can seem like a world away from the sharp peaks of the San Juan Mountains to its north. This college town is known for an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities and world-class cuisine. It is also perfectly positioned to explore the rest of southwest Colorado. Here are five of our favorite day trips from Durango.

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1. Ice Lakes — Silverton, Colorado

The Ice Lakes trail passes through both Lower Ice Lake and Upper Ice Lake and is only a short drive from the old mining town of Silverton. This beautiful trail offers incredible mountain views as well as lots of camping spots for backpackers.

2. Mesa Verde National Park — Durango, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park

This incredible national park is often touted as being the “best cultural attraction in the West”. The park protects more than 5,000 archeological sites and cliff dwellings. Take a ranger guided tour of the incredible Cliff Palace and other cliff dwellings in the park.

3. Animas River Rafting — Durango, Colorado

Try a trip with Mountain Waters Rafting based out of Durango. This rafting company offers day trips along the Animas River for families all the way to experienced adventure rafting hitting some class IV and V sections of river.

4. Purgatory Resort — Durango, Colorado

Purgatory Ski OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: Purgatory Resort.

Familiar to most Durango locals, Purgatory Resort is a great day trip for winter visitors to Durango. Due to Durango being so high in the Rockies, snow is plentiful, and powder days are truly incredible.

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5. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

D&SNGRR - OutThere Colorado
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado.

A list of day trips would not be complete without the Durango and Silverton Railroad. This iconic railroad dates back to the late 1800s and offers travelers an experience that is unforgettable. The trek passes through over 40 miles of wilderness and is the best way to experience the surrounding backcountry.

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