Situated in southwestern Colorado along the banks of the Animas River, Durango is a relatively small city with a modest population of around 15,000 people. First settled by gold prospectors in the 1860s and operating as an industrial center for the Durango and Rio Grande's San Juan Extension, Durango continues to attract visitors with its striking scenery and its many parks and resorts.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Durango's economy is based largely on white-collar employment and the majority of the workforce is employed in office jobs, professional positions and service industries. More than 36 percent of residents work in administrative support, sales and food service jobs. The valley and mountain landscape, along with the many resorts and historic sites, have contributed to a highly successful tourism industry in Durango. In addition, Durango's vibrant college scene has boosted the economy, countering the city's recent population decline.
Durango is also a center for the oil and gas business; the town sits on the edge of the San Juan Basin, the second-biggest natural gas field in the U.S. And it's a center for beer brewing, with four micro-breweries in town.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Some areas to know in Durango include:
- Main Avenue Historic District: Running along Main from 14th Street to 5th Street, downtown is the place to find gift shops, dining and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
- East Third Avenue Historic Residential District: On the bluffs overlooking downtown, this was the neighborhood for Durango's well-to-do in the late 19th and early 20th century.
- Durango Mall: On the south side of town, this is the biggest shopping center in the region.
- Bodo Industrial Park: Two miles southeast of downtown, a 170-acre business center.
More than 42 percent of Durango's adult population has a bachelor's degree or higher, and the area is served by three institutions of higher learning:
- Fort Lewis College is a relatively small liberal arts college situated between the San Juan Mountains and the valley area of Durango. The institution enrolls nearly 4,000 students in such programs as art, athletic training, business administration, music, science, and education.
- Pueblo Community College enrolls more than 5,800 students and grants associate degrees in a number of areas.
- San Juan Basin Technical College offers courses in such areas as automotive technology, electronics technology, emergency medical services, and firefighting.
Durango is situated near Colorado's Four Corners junction with Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Its position in the immense Animas River Valley, with the peaks of the San Juan and Needles Mountains in the background, makes Durango a popular place to explore.
- Secluded in a massive mountain valley and located in the center of the well-preserved San Juan National Forest, Vallecito Lake features a variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, hiking, boating, and fishing.
- Located near Highway 160, Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors the opportunity to glimpse the traces of the vanished Anasazi civilization and explore a series of cliff dwellings during a guided tour.
- Sponsored by the National Historic Preservation Act and the City of Durango, Durango Historic Walking Tours of Main Avenue and Third Avenue offer additional opportunities for exploring Durango's unique geography and history.
- Durango's southwest landscape has been interpreted through a variety of art forms, which are housed in more than a dozen art galleries in both historic buildings and the shops of the more secluded hilly regions.
- The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers visitors the opportunity to ride a coal-fired and steam-powered locomotive and visit the Railroad Museum, which celebrates the area's railroad heritage through memorabilia, full-size locomotives, and rare photos.
Durango supports more than 500 retail stores:
- Specialty shops include boutiques and small stores that feature Native American artwork, Colorado-made items and artwork, stained glass, Colorado-made candy, and many groceries that specialize in organic and locally grown products. Many of the specialty shops are located downtown; while shopping, visitors can rest in any of the unique area restaurants and snack shops.
- Durango is known for its numerous art galleries and jewelry stores, which dot the city, and shoppers can peruse and purchase the works of many local artists in a variety of media.
- For people who are seeking anchor and specialty stores, tenants of the Durango Mall include JCPenney, Sears, and Waldenbooks.
- Additionally, Durango has numerous locally owned bookshops, outdoor sports equipment, and clothing stores.
Located only 25 miles from the city, Durango Mountain Resort presents spectacular views of both the Needles and La Plata Mountain Ranges. The resort offers year-round activities, including 1,200 acres of ski hills and trails as well as trails for snowmobiling and sleigh rides. The resort hosts such events as the Dave Spencer Ski Classic, the Wolverton Telemark Festival, and the Ski Bike America Festival.
Durango offers a wide variety of year-round events:
- Snowdown in Da Nile is a week-long festival in January featuring parades, talent shows, games, and prizes.
- Rocky Mountain Theatre Association Festival, held at Fort Lewis College in February, offers dance workshops, performances, and competitions for all ages.
- Durango Independent Film Festival takes place every March.
- First constructed in the late 19th century, the Historic Strater Hotel hosts an open house in April and provides tours and tales about hotel. The hotel houses a museum that contains the world's biggest collection of American Victorian walnut antiques.
- First begun in 1972 by a group of ambitious cyclists, the Annual Iron Horse Bicycle Race occurs in May.
- Steamworks Animas Valley Half Marathon, which takes place in the second half of June, is a picturesque road race through the remarkable Animas Valley.