Before I left Colorado for at least a year for grad school, I wanted to visit a friend in Durango and visit the southwestern part of the state for the first time. I took the scenic route to Durango, going through Gunnison, Montrose, Ouray, and Silverton. Below are a few photos, with labels, of the drive. Keep reading to see what I did in Durango and the surrounding areas!
Ouray is known as the "Switzerland of America" and with the gorgeous mountainside town, it was easy to see why it earned that name!
I have done a lot of gorgeous mountain drives, but Red Mountain Pass is probably the most beautiful of them all! As the pass winds around, drivers pass the iron-rich soil giving it the red color that Colorado is named after and abandoned mines.
After about 7.5 hours of driving, I made it to Durango! The town of Durango has a great main street area with historic hotels, the many craft breweries that Durango is known for, adorable shops, the first Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location, and many themed restaurants, including a literary-themed speakeasy!
The first full day in Durango, we ventured to the Four Corners. I remember learning about the Four Corners when I was little and deciding that it was somewhere I would like to visit. It is on reservation property and there is maybe one gas station in the vicinity. Aside from a few stands selling Native American pottery and jewelry, there isn't a lot at the monument either. However, it provides the opportunity to stand in four states at once, while providing historical information about each of the four states.
There were signs saying only three photos per person! It must get crowded during peak hours, but early in the morning there weren't a lot of other tourists.
The next stop was Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has ancient dwellings and petroglyphs. It takes about an hour to drive from the entrance to the nearest cliff dwelling. We were able to see a lot in a few hours, but you could easily spend the whole day here!
That night, we went to Pagosa Springs Hot Springs, which reminded me a lot of the hot springs in Iceland. There are different pools of different temperatures, plus it is right along the river, which provides a great place to cool off if the hot springs got too warm. I did not venture in the river though, as it is mostly snow-melt and I knew I would be freezing!
Another side trip out of Durango was Telluride, a mountain town I have wanted to visit for at least eight years! The gondola is free in the summer and provided great views of the town and ski area. I hope to come back in the winter sometime! Once I leave in August for Glasgow, it will be goodbye for now Colorado, but I have a feeling I'll be back!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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