Most tourists who come to Durango take a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, but we watched it from our RV park instead. The train whistle blew in the morning and again in the evening as it passed Alpen Rose RV, just ten minutes north of town. We came for the mountain biking, fall colours, and craft breweries and we were not disappointed.
We rode trails in Horse Gulch that are accessed from town. If you looked in one direction, you might think you were in wilderness, yet just around the corner the trail overlooks the highway.
We’d heard about a great bike ride in Aztec, New Mexico (45 minutes south of Durango) called Alien Run. It was a great trail in its own right, but was made more interesting by being located right by a suspected UFO landing site. The developers have used the alien theme throughout their signage. There’s even a plaque at the site explaining the 1948 event.
The trail had lots of nice “flowy” bits on dirt, some interesting slickrock and a “hike-a-bike” section.
While we were in Aztec, we went to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. The ruins were misnamed when they were first discovered by the Anglo settlers. They were not built by the Aztecs, but by ancestral Pueblo people, from the late 1000s to the late 1200s. It was amazing to us to see the size of the great kiva and the number of other kivas and rooms. Here is a view of a portion of the ruin and one of Doug standing below a doorway that was built on a corner, something we had never seen in other ruins.
Between our mountain biking days, we took a road tour north on Highway 550, “the million dollar highway.” The passes on the highway north to Silverton are over 10,000 feet, and the aspen were just beginning to turn yellow. (We took the featured image on the website version of this blog at Molas Pass, about half an hour north of Durango.)
Although there isn’t a lot of fall colour in the photo below, we loved the contrast that Red Mountain gives to the scene.
Silverton was founded in 1874 and has kept its historic feel. It reminded us a bit of Dawson City, Yukon with its paved main street and gravel side streets.
After an amazing pizza and excellent beers at the Golden Block Brewery in Silverton, we continued north to Ouray, which is known as the “Switzerland of America.” Most of the buildings were built between 1880 and 1900. We tasted some brews on the upper deck of Ouray Brewery and took in the view. The photo on the right is of Ouray from the overlook above town.
And of course, we visited craft breweries in Durango. Our favourite was Animas. We had a very tasty appetizer there that they call ABC nachos, which was described as “crispy river chips topped with fresh corned beef, beer kraut, scallions and topped with cheddar sauce.”
At the end of the week, Wendy took her sewing machine and projects to Durango Quilt Company’s “Open Sew Friday.” She couldn’t believe it when an “almost local” fabric and pattern designer and former owner of the quilt shop in Delores, Virginia Robertson walked in. Virginia had a new pattern that she wanted to field test before final publication and offered it to any takers. So of course, Wendy put away what she was working on and jumped right in. She learned a new way of doing hand applique and had good conversations with fellow quilters.
Doug had no problem finding things to do on his own, which included another bike ride in the Sale Barn Canyon and Big Canyon area. We had a day for shopping, lunch and a brewpub stop, before we left for Taos, New Mexico. New adventures next post!