8 Epic Daytrips from Durango, Colorado

The best excursions in the San Juans.

8 Epic Day Trips from Durango, Colorado

While there’s a wealth of food, drink, and fun to be had right in Durango, a day trip just outside the city might be just the adventure you’re craving. Whether you’re down for an afternoon of 4x4ing in the mountains or a shopping and dining jaunt, these are some of the most epic day trips from Durango, Colorado, as told by notable locals.

Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton

Recommended by: Jenna Black

Silverton, an adorable town that’s a favorite of tourists and locals alike and a throwback to the Old West, is one of The Bookcase & Barber owner Jenna Black’s favorite spots for a day trip or even a one-night stay. “The Grand Imperial Hotel is so worth getting up there--it’s a 45-minute drive or so--and staying the night. They have a brewery up there, and their food is so good. In that community, it's about the experience, and they care about their guests so much.”

Vallecito Lake

Recommended by: Jenna Black

Eighteen miles from Durango is the camping, boating, and fishing destination of Vallecito Lake. Jenna Black also recommends the local shopping and eateries, like Pura Vida Cafe: “There are some really neat mom and pop shops in the area that have been around forever, like Pura Vida.”

Alpine Loop at Silverton

Recommended by: Alex Mickel, Bryant AuCoin

Alex Mickel of Mild to Wild Rafting recommends 4x4ing the scenic 65-mile Alpine Loop Silverton for an adventurous afternoon: “The Alpine Loop has endless opportunities to explore, what to me, is the most spectacular part of the Rocky Mountains.”

Turtle Lake Refuge

Recommended by: Elizabeth Kinahan

Elizabeth Kinahan of Studio & Gallery loves the local food at Turtle Lake Refuge, a sprawling park and organic farm that hosts educational programs about sustainable living. “Turtle Lake does an amazing lunch right there on 3rd Avenue on Tuesdays and Fridays.”

Andrews Lake

Recommended by: Jen LaCroix

Jen LaCroix, one of the owners of Durango Outdoor Exchange, frequents Andrews Lake near Molas Pass: “Andrews Lake makes for a great day trip from Durango for hiking and fishing.”

Crater Lake

Recommended by: Jen LaCroix

Crater Lake, nestled in the West Needle Mountains, is another favorite spot for LaCroix and her equally adventurous husband, Durango Outdoor Exchange co-owner Chase. “To get up to Crater Lake, you can make it a day hike or you can backpack and hike up there. That's a wonderful spot, probably 45 minutes from town.”

Mesa Verde

Recommended by: Al Harper, Marcus Garcia

For a mix of history and adventure, Marcus Garcia of The Rock Lounge recommends Mesa Verde National Park, known for its well-preserved Ancient Puebloan cave dwellings. “I’ve lived here for 20 years,” says Garcia, “and I have yet to see everything in Mesa Verde. It’s a great place to explore and see how people used to live in the area. It’s full of historical sites and colorful trails. You can take a drive through, bike, or even take a train to explore.”

La Plata Canyon

Recommended by: Alex Mickel, Elizabeth Kinahan, Sage Anderson

Alex Mickel recommends a canyon west of Durango for a day of exploring alpine scenery: “La Plata Canyon is quickly accessible from town. You can get up to 12,000-plus feet in no time. There’s a nice cascading creek the whole way and tons of mining history. You can get up in the tundra to see alpine meadows full of flowers.”