Best Day Trips From Durango CO

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Durango, a charming town in southwest Colorado, is famous for its outdoor adventures, quirky attractions, and stunning landscapes. It’s also a perfect base for fantastic day trips, thanks to its prime location.

I lived in Colorado for around two years and traveled all over the state, including many road trips to nearby states. This experience means I know a lot about the top day trips you can take from Durango, and I’m happy to share some fantastic ideas with you.

The Best Day Trips From Durango Colorado

Whether you want to visit national parks, ski resorts, or other cities, there are many great day trips from Durango. Check out my top recommendations below.

Telluride

Telluride is one of my top picks in the whole U.S. and especially in Colorado. It’s famous for its stunning mountain views, great ski slopes, cute downtown, and tons of outdoor fun.

No matter when you go, Telluride has something special to offer. Spring and fall are perfect for hiking, summer is great for fly fishing in the rivers and kayaking in the lakes, and winter is all about top-notch skiing and snowboarding.

Because Telluride is such a top-notch ski resort, it’s important to brush up on your skiing or snowboarding skills beforehand. You don’t want to miss out on the fantastic slopes there, as they’re some of the best worldwide.

It’s just a 2-hour and 10-minute drive from Durango, and it’s worth it. Whether you go in spring, summer, fall, or winter, you’ll love the town, the outdoor activities, and the incredible views.

And if you’re looking for a delicious meal and drinks, don’t hesitate to stop by Telluride Brewing Company for their tasty beers and bar foods. 

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is like a hidden treasure in Colorado. It doesn’t get as much attention as Rocky Mountain National Park or Great Sand Dunes National Park, but it’s worth exploring. One of the cool things about this park is that it’s not as crowded as the others, so you can enjoy a more secluded experience. It’s just a 1 hour and 25-minute drive from Durango, making Mesa Verde an ideal destination for a day trip.

The park is famous for its ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings, archaeological museum, petroglyphs, and rich history. It’s perfect for history buffs who want to learn about ancient civilizations and also offers great hiking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a perfect blend of education and recreation.

For hiking fans like me, I suggest starting your day with the Petroglyph Point Trail, a 2.5-mile hike with stunning views and ancient petroglyphs. Afterward, a visit to the museum provides even more insights into the area’s history and culture.

Purgatory Resort

Purgatory Resort is a nearby ski destination from Durango, just a quick 30-minute drive to the north. It’s one of the top day trips from Durango and an excellent choice for skiing. While it may not have the same fame as other Colorado mountains like Vail, Breckenridge, or Telluride, it still provides a fantastic experience.

The resort boasts an average snowfall of 260 inches annually and offers an impressive 1,600 skiable acres with 107 trails. But what stands out to me about this resort is its family-friendly atmosphere. As a new parent, I appreciate their efforts to make families feel welcome, including free skiing for children under 12, which is a great perk.

In addition to skiing, Purgatory hosts various events year-round, making it a great short road trip destination no matter the season. Some of my favorite events outside of winter include Carve Wars in the summer, where talented artists create impressive wood carvings, and the Motorcycle Hill Climb, where motorcycles race up the mountain.

Overall, Purgatory is a must-visit for its convenient location, stunning mountain views, and diverse range of activities for all ages.

Grand Junction

Grand Junction is a small town in western Colorado, close to the Utah border. It’s about a 3-hour and 40-minute drive from Durango but worth a day trip for its fantastic wine, great dining options, water attractions, scenic views, and as the gateway to the Colorado National Monument.

While a day trip to Grand Junction allows you to enjoy the restaurants and outdoor activities like hiking or kayaking, I suggest spending a weekend there to fully experience everything the town offers.

One of the highlights of Grand Junction is the Colorado National Monument, resembling a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. It’s perfect for hiking, camping, and admiring the stunning red rock formations.

Another reason to stay longer in Grand Junction is its thriving wine scene, with around 30 wineries to explore. It’s ideal for wine enthusiasts looking to hop from one winery to another while enjoying breathtaking views. I recommend heading to Carlson Vineyards Winery while in the area. It’s a great place for wine tasting and appreciating the views, and they have cats that roam the property which is fun to watch. 

And while in town, make sure to try a burger and some drinks at The Feisty Pint. It’s a must-visit spot you won’t regret.

If you’re seeking a getaway to a charming town with a bit of everything, Grand Junction is the place to be.

Crested Butte

Crested Butte, another lovely mountain town in Colorado, is about a 4-hour and 15-minute drive from Durango. It’s famous for its amazing ski slopes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, covering 1,547 acres and getting around 236 inches of snow each year.

What I like about Crested Butte is its quieter atmosphere compared to big names like Vail and Breckenridge. You won’t deal with huge crowds here, and the town maintains a local, small-town feel. There are no chain restaurants, and businesses are limited, which encourages supporting local shops and enjoying the natural beauty around them.

Even in summer, Crested Butte is stunning, especially with its vibrant wildflowers. They even have a wildflower festival every year. Overall, it’s a charming town that’s worth a visit any time of the year for its outdoor activities, local vibe, and beautiful scenery.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park often doesn’t get as much attention as Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s a hidden treasure worth exploring. Here, you’ll find the tallest sand dunes in North America, creating a surreal experience.

One of my favorite things about the park is standing on top of the dunes and seeing the large mountains Colorado is famous for in the distance.

Summer adds a special charm as the melting snow from nearby mountains forms a creek at the dunes’ base, making it feel like a beach. You can sunbathe on the sand and cool off in the creek, a unique experience in Colorado.

Even outside of summer, the park offers great camping and stargazing opportunities year-round. Just remember to bundle up if you visit in winter, as it can get quite chilly.

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs is a quaint town in southwestern Colorado, located about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Durango. It’s a perfect short road trip destination for a day of relaxation and exploration. 

Pagosa Springs is renowned for its natural hot springs, where you can indulge in warm, mineral-rich waters for a rejuvenating experience. There are several hot springs to choose from, including Healing Waters, Overlook Hot Springs, and The Springs Resort. 

I highly recommend The Springs Resort & Spa for an exceptional experience. If you want to extend your visit, you can book a room at the resort for a few nights and fully enjoy the hot springs and the charming hotel atmosphere.

On top of the hot springs, Pagosa Springs offers a picturesque setting for various outdoor activities. You can go hiking and kayaking during the warmer months, while winter brings opportunities for sledding, skiing, and ice climbing. It’s an excellent option if you prefer a short drive and want to explore a small town with plenty of recreational options.

Moab, Utah

Moab is another fantastic spot close to Durango, just a 2-hour and 45-minute drive away. It’s perfect for outdoor lovers and exploring national parks. Moab is famous for its bright and distinct red rock formations and is home to Arches National Park, while Canyonlands National Park is also nearby.

I enjoy Moab because it’s great for camping and hiking, and it’s also popular for exciting activities like rafting and ATV rides.

When you visit, I suggest staying in Moab and camping to fully soak in the unique scenery over a weekend. But if you can only visit for a day trip, that’s perfectly fine too. Just make sure not to miss Arches National Park, famous for its red rocks and amazing arch formations.

Overall, Moab offers a wonderful mix of outdoor adventures, lasting memories, and fantastic photo opportunities that you won’t want to miss.

Taos, New Mexico

Taos is home to New Mexico’s top ski resort, known for its excellent slopes. I love Taos for its great winter conditions and amazing snowfall, with about 300 inches every year. With 1,294 acres of skiable terrain, it may not be the biggest in the U.S., but it’s perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

While winter is best for skiing, you can also visit in spring, summer, and fall for hiking, biking, climbing, and fishing.

Taos is a fantastic destination year-round for outdoor activities and a chance to explore a charming New Mexican town. It’s located about 3 hours and 50 minutes from Durango, making it a great option to escape Colorado and discover a small mountain town in a neighboring state.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of my top cities in the United States because of its amazing food, sunny weather, charming downtown, and unique architecture.

Every time I visit Santa Fe, I’m amazed by the lively atmosphere, cool shops, great restaurants, and vibrant art scene. While it’s awesome year-round, I suggest going in October for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta nearby. Seeing all those hot air balloons is like being in a movie!

But even if you can’t make it in October, Santa Fe is still awesome. You can hike, check out art, or hit the ski resorts in winter.

And you can’t miss out on the food! Don’t miss La Choza for their tasty sangria and New Mexican dishes, and The Shed for their drinks and green chili.

It’s a 4-hour drive from Durango, but Santa Fe has so much to offer it’s totally worth it.

Page, Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon (Page, AZ)

Page, a small town in Arizona, is famous for its amazing red and orange rock formations that look straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. It’s an outdoor paradise, perfect for year-round visits, especially during warmer months when you can fully enjoy hiking and water activities.

The town is particularly known for its stunning antelope canyons and is home to Lake Powell, one of the most beautiful lakes in the U.S. If you love exploring red rock landscapes, hiking, and spending time on the water, Page is a fantastic destination.

It takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes to get from Durango to Page but it’s totally worth it. I’ve been lucky to visit Page twice, and each time, it felt like stepping into a fairy tale. It’s such a unique landscape, and the memories and photos you’ll have from here will be cherished forever.

FAQs About Day Trips From Durango 

Continue reading below as I answer a few frequently asked questions about the best day trips from Durango, Colorado. 

What is Durango close to?

Durango is close to Cortez and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 

What is the closest big city to Durango Colorado?

The closest big city to Durango, Colorado is Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s just a 3 hour and 40 minute drive away.

What is between Durango and Colorado Springs?

The towns of Pueblo, Alamosa, and Pagosa Springs are in between Durango and Colorado Springs. 

Final Thoughts On The Best Day Trips From Durango 

There are numerous day trip possibilities from Durango. Whether you’re interested in exploring national parks, bustling cities, quaint towns, or ski resorts, the options are plentiful. 

While all these choices are fantastic, my top picks are Telluride and Santa Fe. They have different vibes, but I love them both. 

So, whether you prefer staying within Colorado (our Denver guide will keep you busy) or are open to venturing slightly out of state, these destinations promise enjoyable day trips.