Best Winter Activities in Durango

Durango, Colorado is a hidden gem in the southwestern United States, and is easily one of our favorite places in the country. The town is known for its stunning natural beauty, historic charm, and a wide range of outdoor activities, and it’s easy to see why it’s a popular summer destination. That said, when the temperatures drop and the snow blankets the region, Durango transforms into a winter wonderland that is equally worth checking out. 

No matter how you like to enjoy the beauty of winter, Durango has something for everyone during the cold season. In this article, we’ll explore the best winter activities in Durango that will help you make the most of this snowy season.

Skiing and Snowboarding

One of the best things about the little town of Durango? It’s home to some of the very best skiing and snowboarding conditions in the entire country. The light, dry powder that covers the mountains is ideal for snow sports, and the frequent bright, sunny days that happen in spite of the snow make perfect skiing and snowboarding weather. 

Wondering where to go skiing and snowboarding while in Durango? This area is home to several awesome ski areas, including one of Colorado’s most beloved ski resorts: Purgatory Resort

With over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and a diverse range of slopes suitable for all skill levels, Purgatory is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you can take advantage of lessons and rentals to make the most of your skiing or snowboarding experience. The resort’s stunning mountain vistas and excellent powder conditions make it a must-visit destination for winter sports lovers.

Other great ski areas include Hesperus Ski Area about 15 minutes outside of town, and if you’re a beginner, Chapman Hill in the heart of Durango.

Snow shoeing

Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking

For those looking for a quieter, more contemplative winter activity, snowshoeing or winter hiking in the Durango backcountry is a fantastic option. Snowshoeing and winter hiking provide a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the snowy wilderness while enjoying the crisp, clean mountain air.

Several local outfitters offer guided snowshoe tours that take you through serene forests and pristine meadows. One of our favorites is Purgatory Resort (yes, the same one mentioned above). Of course, you can also choose to hit the trail on your own. Purgatory Nordic Center and Vallecito Reservoir offer lovely, maintained snowshoeing trails. We also enjoy the easy Falls Creek Loop trail as well as the slightly more difficult Smelter Mountain Trail.

Don’t want to don snowshoes? That doesn’t mean you have to let the snow stop you from exploring Durango’s breathtaking trails. Try winter hiking instead! A number of local trails remain accessible during the winter, and with the right gear, you can enjoy hiking amid the snow-covered landscapes. Animas Mountain, for example, offers a challenging winter hike with rewarding panoramic views of the area.

Need to rent snowshoes and winter hiking gear? Purgatory Resort does have rental gear. Additionally, Pine Needle Mountaineering is a great place to pick up the things you need so you can hit the trails as soon as possible. 

Sleigh Rides

Experience the magic of a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the enchanting landscapes surrounding Durango. Several outfitters in the area offer sleigh rides that are perfect for couples or families. Snuggle under a warm blanket as you glide through snowy fields listening to the gentle jingling of bells. It’s a romantic and nostalgic winter activity that will create cherished memories.

One of our favorite places to go for Durango sleigh rides is Buck’s Livery, located 20 miles outside of Durango. This spot offers nightly sleigh rides beginning in mid-December. The rides are a full three miles long and last around 45 minutes, with views of both Engineer Mountain and Haviland Lake. To top it all off, riders will also receive hot cocoa and holiday treats. 

Other companies that offer sleigh rides include the aforementioned Purgatory Resort, as well as Rimrock Outfitters

Hot Springs

Be sure to take a swimsuit, because after a day of outdoor adventure in the cold, there’s nothing better than warming up in Durango’s famous hot springs. Durango boasts an excellent hot spring: Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa. There are also a number of hot springs in the area surrounding Durango, leaving you plenty of options to choose from. 

Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa features 30 unique pools, all filled with natural mineral water of varying temperatures. Despite the minerals, the water does not smell of sulfur—a huge bonus when you’re trying to relax. In addition to the large number of soaking options, there are also over 17 massage, facial, and body treatments available in the spa.

Other great hot springs in the area include The Springs Resort & Spa and Overlook Hot Springs Spa in Pagosa Springs, as well as Orvis Hot Springs and Wiesbaden Hot Springs & Lodge in Ouray. 

No matter which hot spring you choose, you’re sure to enjoy a rejuvenating experience. Soak your cares away as you take in the snowy vistas and enjoy the soothing, mineral-rich waters.

Ice skating

Ice Skating

We mentioned Chapman Hill earlier as a good place for beginner skiers to give the sport a try. That said, a ski slope isn’t the only thing this spot has to offer; it’s also the place to go for ice skating in Durango. 

The community ice rink at Chapman Hill is open to the public and offers a delightful winter activity for people of all ages. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, you can enjoy gliding across the ice under the open sky. We find this is especially enjoyable in the charming town of Durango, where you are surrounded by wintery beauty on all sides.

Concessions and a sitting area are available onsite, and while public open skating happens daily, the rink also hosts special events, some of which are open to drop-in participants. 

Festivals and Events

Nothing makes the winter season brighter than a community event or festival. Fortunately, Durango hosts various winter festivals and events that celebrate the season and visitors are more than welcome to join in the wintertime fun!

Holiday Station is the town’s month-long holiday celebration, which includes a Parade of Gingerbread Homes, Christmas concerts, and other special events. One of our favorites is “Noel Night” at the Durango Botanic Gardens, an evening of lights, carols, and Santa Claus. 

Another highlight is the Durango Winter Train, which offers a unique experience of traveling through the snow-covered wilderness aboard a historic steam locomotive. For the kids, there is the Polar Express train ride, a magical journey complete with a Christmas story time, hot cocoa, and a visit from Santa himself. 

Lastly, we must mention Snowdown. This event takes place in January and February and features a light parade, a chili cookoff, performances, and a lot more. 

As you can see, Durango is a winter wonderland just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re seeking adventure on the slopes, relaxation in hot springs, or a serene snowshoeing experience, this place has something for everyone during the winter months. 

Ready to experience it all for yourself? Book your lodging at Outdoorsy Bayfield, pack your winter gear, and head out for an unforgettable winter adventure!