After Mesa Verde, the next logical place to go was Durango, CO. Durango was right up the road and we needed some work done on the RV. We went into Durango with some high expectations as a town we’d really enjoy and while it was fine, we were pretty disappointed overall. I think our impression can best be summed up by a quote we got on Facebook when asking for leads on places to stay: “all the best places in Durango are at least 12 miles outside town.”
It started when we were trying to find a place to stay. When we’re visiting a town (especially one we might be scouting for possibly living there in the future) we like to stay in the middle of town. Durango has the Fairgrounds which would have been cheap and pretty centrally located but there are only seven sites and all seven were booked out over a month. Usually in cases where all of the ‘RV’ spots are booked, we say “oh we don’t need any hookups, can we just pay to park in the lot?” and it’s fine because we bring our own solar panels and water and it’s just like boondocking. Unfortunately, that wasn’t allowed here. So next was checking the local rules for parking on the street. We called the non-emergency police number and were told we could leave an RV on a street overnight for one night but we couldn’t stay in it (I guess they expect you to pay for a hotel room?). So that’s out. Next up, all the other campgrounds were either full for weeks or 12 miles out. We thought about the Walmart but that was the busiest Walmart parking lot we’d ever seen and they had a one night limit. We ended up settling on a very reasonable free campsite on BLM land, about 12 miles outside town.
We also got a feeling of just being unwanted. Almost everyone we met seemed to do this “you don’t live here, so I’m going to treat you like tourist and not bother trying to get to know you” thing. It was different than almost everywhere else we’d been. Everyone seemed to have their own group and didn’t want to be inviting to new people. This applied to the kayakers, the people at the breweries we went to, and even the people at a class Allison went to on urban food foraging.
We did get to see an old friend, Sasha, who was the opposite of everything I said above though. She was welcoming, friendly, and helpful. She came over to dinner once which was really nice and I got to go kayaking three times including once with Sasha.
We did really like the hike we did up Vallecito Creek and the town of Vallecito and it’s campgrounds looked like an amazing place to spend the summer, but again, it was about 20 miles outside town. The beer was pretty good, the trail system was decent (once you got out of town), and the size felt about right, but overall we’re not dying to go back to the town. We’ll probably be back to climb mountains or kayak the Animus or go camping in the San Juan mountains, but I doubt we’ll be headed back for Durango itself.
7 thoughts on “Durango, CO”
I felt the same way about Durango, I was there 3 summers ago and went back the next summer and was treated the same way. I asked a server if it was me and she said no it was the way a lot of Colorado is getting because of so many folks coming from back east. The summer crowds in Colorado keep me away any more. I enjoy your blog, thanks
Glad we aren’t the only ones! Though we have never run into this attitude anywhere else in Colorado, even tourist towns. Step it up, Durango.
Sorry to hear about the bad taste in the mouth Durango left you. It happens sometimes, I guess.
Yep, luckily it’s not too often. People are generally welcoming, thankfully.
I used to live south of Durango and would go there when we had company. If camping, we would boondock it in the San Juan NF and not go near the town. With the train and ski area, it was usually too hard to get around with all the tourist. Off season was great.
Good to know. Looking forward to checking out Ouray, 🙂 Keep up the great posts.
We were lucky enough to stay at the fairgrounds twice. Both times were very nice. It is a great spot for exploring. We had a positive experience though and enjoyed our time there both times. If it weren’t for the lack of Verizon connectivity (husband still works) we’d have loved to also camp further out along some of the rivers.