Durango Lifestyle – Durango Downtown Community Profile
Lifestyle and Recreational Activities
Most people in Durango enjoy outdoor activities such as running, mountain bike and racing bike events (the annual Iron Horse Classic is in Durango), skiing, fishing, big game hunting and golfing. We have two ballet schools, a fine arts council and arts center, numerous theater companies, the Four Corners Opera and, to top off these cultural and physical attractions, we have the state’s only four-year, truly liberal arts college (Fort Lewis College) located high atop a mesa overlooking the city. This institution, with its AACSB accredited School of Business (one of only five state-supported Business schools accredited in Colorado), its fully-accredited Chemistry department, Music department and its excellent Schools of Arts and Sciences and Education attracts an even more culturally oriented populace. Many people settle in Durango to retire and enjoy the “good life.” In fact, over 20% of incomes earned by citizens of Durango comes from dividends and interest. This is a significantly higher percentage than in the state of Colorado as a whole or in the United States as a whole. And, these people lend a great deal of intellect, interest and diversity to our knowledge base.
Most people, when they think of Colorado, develop an image of a state filled with snow peaked mountains covered by rich green Pine trees and the gleaming white bark of the Aspen. The image of Colorado familiar to most people comes from towns like Durango which is nestled at the warm southern foot of the Rocky Mountains. Durango is Colorado like you dreamed it was! This is in contrast with much of the state which actually forms the westernmost part of the Great Plains. The eastern half of Colorado is mostly flat, agriculturally oriented countryside. Eastern Colorado is also more humid and more heavily populated which accounts for some problems with smog. La Plata County has a dry, comfortable climate and some of the cleanest air and purest water in our country. Durango and other towns among the Rockies like Silverton, are the Colorado most often remembered from motion pictures, photographs and adventurous fun-filled vacations of years past.
Yes, Durango is Colorado like you dreamed it was. Flying into Durango-La Plata County Airport, visitors can’t help being overcome by the majesty of the snowcapped San Juan Mountains rising to 14,000 feet above the high plains desert of New Mexico stretching to the south. On a mesa above the city rests the beautiful campus of Fort Lewis College and in the valley, the sparkling Animas River flows through the heart of Durango. Durango is a progressive college town and Fort Lewis College is a four-year liberal arts college which contributes greatly to the special quality of life to be found here.
Durango is also an international tourism destination where people come to ride the world famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in the summer and ski the challenging slopes of Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort in winter. The train is a remnant of the time when Durango was a mining town where silver and gold flowed from the mines of the La Plata Mountains. This is also where mountain men hunted the Grizzly bear, elk and mule deer – where they fished for trout, and where they trapped for furs.
The mystery of the ancient Ancestral Puebloans who lived upon this land 1,300 years ago also lures large numbers of tourists who visit Mesa Verde National Park and the many other excavations found throughout the Four Corners region. Modern Indian tribes live in this area today, too. The Ute, Navajo and Jicarilla Apache are a part of the very special culture here and still retain many of their old ways.
The image of Colorado is alive in Durango! Many fine homes and buildings from the turn of the century are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To the north of Durango lie Molas Pass and Red Mountain Pass with scenery that claims the title “Switzerland of America,” along the Million Dollar Highway where folklore tells us the construction of a mile of highway also removed a million dollars of gold ore.
Durango, Colorado is located in the southwest corner of Colorado, nestled at the base of the famous San Juan Mountains. To the southwest are the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Albuquerque, New Mexico and Dallas, Texas lie to the southeast.
Durango is on the western slope when viewed from the eyes of fellow Colorado citizens. However, there are no passes to cross if one is interested in marketing products to cities from southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas and on to the remainder of the southeastern states.
Further, we have a jet-capable airport and trucking lines which connect us with these markets. America West Airlines, headquartered in Phoenix, is our main jet carrier to the southwest. United Express provides turboprop flights to Denver. North American Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines have local offices and provide transportation services across the United States. Durango is much closer and more convenient than Denver, if one is moving goods to the southwest.
Durango is one of the most scenic towns in the United States and is a favorite vacation spot both in the winter and summer. The area abounds with mountain and high desert hiking areas, high country trout fishing and some of the best big game hunting in the United States.
Source: Business Opportunities in Durango and La Plata County, 2000
Sponsored by: Durango Industrial Development Foundation, Durango Area Chamber Resort Association & La Plata Electric Association
Research: Fort Lewis College Office of Economic Analysis & Business Research