Mesa Verde, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride
Visit the allure of Southwest Colorado! With winter not too far off, now is the time to plan and enjoy your fall get away in some of the most spectacular spots in the US. View the grand vistas of the Rocky Mountains, explore ancient Pueblo ruins, ghost towns and abandoned mines; take a train ride on a narrow gauge railroad and savor the Western frontier spirit. The beauty is spectacular and the weather is perfect!
As you begin your tour of this fantastic area, you may wish to start with Mesa Verde National Park . Perched high in Southwest Colorado, Mesa Verde is world renowned and centrally located on one of the National Scenic Byways — The San Juan Skyway. This park is home to hundreds of Pueblo cliff dwellings and numerous archaeological sites which have been well preserved for over 700 years. This area is richly steeped in history and is full of outdoor adventure making it one of the most premier vacation destinations in America. Go to visitmesaverde.com for more information.
Sixty five miles away from Mesa Verde, near the four corners junction with New Mexico, Arizona and Utah is the city of Durango. Nestled between the red sandstone bluffs in the Animas River Valley and the San Juan and Needles mountains at an elevation of 6,612 feet, this city is a popular tourist destination and is the largest town in southwest Colorado. It is a wonderful place to savor the frontier spirit and enjoy the diverse activities it has to offer such as art galleries, theaters, museums, fishing, rafting, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and shopping. It also offers a unique opportunity to experience the days of yesteryear taking a train ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Established in 1881, this popular tourist attraction offers an authentic steam powered, coal-fired, ride through the mountains between Durango and Silverton. This historic railway adventure is ranked one of the ‘top 10 scenic railroads in the world.’ This train operates May-October and has a 2 hour and 15 minute layover in Silverton where one can use the time to explore this quaint mining town, take a mine tour, shop or grab a meal. For more information, visit durango.org website.
Fifty miles to the west of Durango in the heart of high country, at an elevation of 9,318 feet, is the town of Silverton. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, this old mining town, established in 1874 allows one to step back in the time and relive the Wild West days with Silverton’s gunfighters and old Stage Coach Rides. Take an underground gold mine tour of the Old Hundred Gold Mine or visitand Mayflower Gold Mill. Enjoy a unique visit to the Mining Heritage Center which contains the original town jail complete with 4 block cell, museum, log boarding house, vintage mining artifacts and much more. Visit the Christ of the Mines Shrine which sits atop Anvil Mountain or enjoy eclectic shopping for antiques, art works, pottery, jewelry, clothing and more. For more information on this fascinating location check out silvertoncolorado.com.
From Silverton take a 45 minute drive over the “million dollar highway”, listed as one of the “most beautiful drives in America”, and enjoy panoramic vistas and stunning beauty as you travel to Ouray. Nicknamed the “Switzerland of America”, Ouray is nestled in the heart of the Rockies at an elevation of 7,792 ft and offers superlative beauty such as no other town can boast. View the majestic, rugged mountain peaks, waterfalls, natural mineral hot springs, golden aspens, wild flowers and conifer forests. Alive with color and beauty, no wonder it is described as the “Gem of the Rockies”! You’ll decidedly want to bring your camera and make your own photo memories of this wonderful area and enjoy all the outdoor wonders this area has to offer including the inspiring Box Cannon Falls. You can experience more adventure by taking a horseback trail ride or jeep trail ride. For more detailed information on activities and events, visit ouraycolorado.com.
If time allows, a visit to Telluride will be well worth your time. Nestled in one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Colorado, and boasting a beautiful alpine setting, Telluride is known as a world class ski resort, and as the “Festival Capital of Colorado” and offers great music festivals such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Jazz Celebration, and the Blues and Brews Festival. It also hosts movie festivals such as the Mountain Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival. The city offers gourmet dining, great shopping and wonderful nightlife activities. For more information, telluride.com is your source on the web for everything Telluride.
RV campsites abound in Southwest Colorado and include beautiful US Forest Service Campground, State Park campgrounds and many individually owned campgrounds-many are available with full service. Be sure to visit swcolotravel.org for more information on this unique and wonderful area.