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Durango and the Train

  • Durango, Colorado sounded like a town we would like. Don’t ask me why, because I knew nothing about the town before arriving. I guess I just liked the name. However our camping options were limited because all of the BLM land in the area seemed to be closed until mid-month or later. Tom found us a Passport America special (half price) for seven days  at a casino campground outside of Durango on the Ute Reservation. 

    It was further from town than we would have liked, actually in a town called Ignacio. But the park and the casino (Sky Ute) were lovely. We were greeted by the nicest camp hosts ever, and they even gave us a golf cart tour of the casino and even helped us get checked in there. We had “room” keys and full access to everything including laundry and pool and hot tub. The indoor pools were awesome and we enjoyed a couple of evenings of warm soaks while there.IMG_2741

    It was supposed to rain the first couple of days we were there, but we only got some afternoon sprinkles. Almost a disappointment to me because I think of rainy days as times to get caught up on computer work. But I can’t complain about the weather. It was great for our whole week.

    It’s also great anytime we get money back from the casino – which Tom did! His playing also earned us a free night’s stay!IMG_3396

    We also took advantage of the “senior” day at the casino’s  bowling alley. That was fun even if Tom beat me two games out of three!

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    There is a big river that runs through Durango called the Animas, and it was really flowing fast. They have a greenway and paved trail along the river and Tom thought it would be fun to bike it. It was, and we learned a lot about the town along the way. Durango started out as a coal mining town, and later mined uranium for the infamous Manhattan Project.

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    The whole trip was right along the river which is a popular rafting destination, although it was too early in the season to see rafters.  We did see some people surfing in one spot which was totally surprising and very cool to watch.

    Along the trail there was this interesting pile of rocks, which I later found out was a slag pile left over from the smelting days, although I wasn’t able to find out what type of material it was from. Hopefully not the uranium they mined for the Manhattan Project because of course I collected some samples of the cool “rocks”.

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    The highlight of our time in Durango was a narrow gage train ride Tom booked before we even got there. We got to go on the first weekend it was opened (for the season). It was a bit of a splurge, but I called it an anniversary present. (We celebrated  twelve years the day before!) We arrived early to watch the train preparations and tour the museum there.

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    The Durango-Silverton Railway is a big deal and an all day event. Four hours on the train each way. Some people choose to do a bus trip either there or back, cutting down on their time. We decided to enjoy both ways on the train and have a lunch while in Silverton, making for a long but enjoyable day.

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    We were able to move throughout the train, but I’m glad we booked an indoor car because it was very chilly!

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    Above, on the left is a picture of a picture of the train in the snow. On the right is the train we were on. That was the most dramatic portion as we were highest above the river below and along a cliff edge.

    Mostly the train ran alongside the river and the scenery was incredible.

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    Here is another snippet of the ride:

    Before the train ride though, we decided to take a drive up to Silverton, and I’m so glad we did. The up and over route gave us such a different perspective. There was SO much snow, and most of the side roads were closed.

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    We stopped to have lunch at one beautiful lake, but the lakes were still frozen as we went higher and higher.

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    It was such a beautiful drive. And seeing Silverton spread out as we dropped down into that valley was pretty cool.

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    It’s a charming town at an elevation of 9,300′ and we had fun driving around.

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    When looking up things to do in Durango, I came across this oddity called Pinkerton Hot Springs  and it was right on the highway going up to Silverton. What an amazing roadside attraction right there by the road!

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    We tasted the “healing” waters and it was disgusting. Which probably meant that it was true that it could cure anything! So of course I had to walk around it in my bare feet.

    Our time in Durango (Ignacio) was wonderful. The weather was great, our campsite was awesome, and there were so many things to do in the area that we just ran out of time. Now, in continuing with our 4-corners area plan, we are dipping down into the New Mexico corner.

    Happy Travels,

    Peace & Love, Joy

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    Ignacio, CO 81137, US