Snowplay in Durango, Colorado

Enjoy sunshine and skiing in Colorado's San Juans

Durango ski lift
Photo: Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith

Why go in winter: This outdoors-loving town throws a great winter party―and there are plenty of snowy adventures in the nearby San Juans.

Beat the midwinter blues: Join the annual Snowdown Winter Celebration, with softball games on skis, a parade, and a scavenger hunt (Jan 27–31;

Elevation: 6,512 feet

Annual days of sunshine: More than 300

Population: 16,000

Meet the locals: College students, ranchers, environmentalists, and urban transplants lured by the mountains and the Animas River.

Dress code: Cowboy boots or ski garb

History lesson: The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company founded Durango in 1880 as a mining town to process gold and silver hauls.

Before you hit the slopes: Stop by Bread bakery for maple-oat scones (970/247-5100).

Best-seller list: Louis L’Amour wrote many of his novels in room 222 of the Strater Hotel (from $109, including breakfast;

Wild West happy hour: Stop by Strater’s Diamond Belle Saloon (970/247-4431).

More: What to do in Durango


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