Established in 1881 as a frontier mining town, Durango's Wild West aura lives on. Cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans are as ubiquitous in this Southern Colorado college town as the trout in the river that skirts it. Travel back in time with a visit to the century-old Strater Hotel for live ragtime in the Diamond Belle Saloon. Or ride the D&S Railroad through the Animas River Canyon to historic Silverton.
Between sightseeing trips, explore Durango's unequivocal specialty¿its landscape. Located in the Animas River Valley, Durango is surrounded by red-rock cliffs and alpine forests. Trails that wind through the San Juan Forest offer endless hiking opportunities. And, at the town's namesake ski resort, 25 miles north, there's lift-served biking on 50 miles of trails. For the vertically inclined, there's excellent rock climbing at Mission Ridge and X Rock, as well as a climbing wall in the main Village Plaza: The kids will love it. They will also love the Alpine Slide, the Human Maze, mini-golf and the new disc golf course. Those who prefer the traditional 18 must play Dalton and Tamarron, two semi-private courses winding around red cliffs and pines.
After golf, cool off in the Animas or Vallecito Lake. And when temperatures drop, soothe spent muscles at the Trimble Hot Springs, a few miles southwest of the resort, and discover what the Anasazi knew a thousand years ago: Durango is worth the visit for its healing waters alone. ¿Maureen Drummey
DON'T MISS Music in the Mountains, with nightly concerts June 14-July 8, including the Festival Chamber Concert at the Purgatory Village Tent.
best deal For $99, receive a night's lodging at the Purgatory Village Hotel and a guided activity of your choice, including bike tours, flyfishing and more. 800-525-0892; www.durangomountainresort.com.