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Meet your tour guides

Publisher Richard Ballantine


General Manager, Newspapers Ken Admundson

Vice President of Advertising Paul Hay

Design Manager Brady Sutherlin



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Karla Sluis

Photographer Hal Lott

Advertising Design/Prepress Mitchell Carter Jennifer Dickens Janelle Farnam Laney Peterson Michelle Uhl Tracy Willbanks


Ashley Gonnella, women’s clothing buyer, talks about “functional” fashion Andrew Gulliford, college professor, says local history is alive and well Darla Hill, Victorian Aid Society co-chair, offers insight on history

22 Nikoma Henkels, DHS sophomore, 26

Robbie Jones, FLC student and athlete, describes the cycling scene


Terry Hotz, avid hiker, tells readers about her favorite outdoor areas



The Durango Herald uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special magazine publications. However, all general information comes from a variety of sources and may change at any time for any reason. To verify specific information, refer to the organization or business noted. To see the online version of this guide, click the link at:

A publication of

Christina Rinderle, Mayor of Durango, offers information about local politics

talks about life as a Durango student

Advertising Sales Darryl Hunt Karolann Latimer Shawna Long Rob Lillard Chuck Jillson Corrin Oxnam Adam Adimoolah Cora Younie Ralph Maccarone


Travis Craig, former county planner, describes how Durango might change

Maureen Keilty, wildlife advocate, gives useful tips to living with critters

James, blues musician, offers 36 Kirk insight on variety of local music

ON THE COVER Fort Lewis College student Robbie Jones leans into a turn as he leads the pack in the Squawker Classic criterium, a road cycling race held in downtown Durango on April 23. He placed second in the race. HAL LOTT/Herald

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Getting the of the

Lay Land

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Travis Craig, former chair of the La Plata County Planning Commission, stands at the Lion’s Den structure at Fort Lewis College. In the background is north Durango, the Animas Valley and the snow-covered La Plata Mountains. HAL LOTT/Herald

MEET TRAVIS CRAIG Former Chair of the La Plata County Planning Commission, and current President/Durango Market of Vectra Bank

How do you think Durango will change in 10 years?


am a fifth-generation Durango native and descendent of a homesteading family to the area. I have lived in Durango my entire life, other than two years when I attended school at Montana State University. I later returned to graduate from Fort Lewis College. I stay in Durango not only because of my deep roots in the area, but because Durango has a rare blend of attributes that make it one of the more unique places in the country to live. There are few places that are both a gateway to the mountains as well as to the high desert, and yet have such a moderate climate. Not only is Durango a unique blend of geography, but it also has a diverse mix of demographics. The demographic mix affords an array of activities and events to suit nearly any interest, ranging from the county fair to art shows, live theater, pro-rodeo and even a motorcycle rally. This variety of events combined with the many outdoor recreation opportunities combine to make this a great place to live.

Know your landmarks

Perins Peak

From downtown Durango, this distinctive ridge is the view to the west.

Engineer Mountain A 12,968-foot peak north of Durango Mountain Resort off of Highway 550.

Chimney Rock

The Durango area will face many challenges during the next 10 years, and with those challenges will come many opportunities. The community will struggle to stay grounded by its historic economic drivers, while at the same time it will learn to accept new markets, new businesses and new ideas. The community will no doubt grow, but the direction and speed of that growth will largely depend upon how the community comes together to identify common interests. Without a doubt, many new businesses will emerge south and east of town; and as they come in, housing densities in those areas will continue to increase. Bayfield and Ignacio each have their own identities, and are both successfully establishing their own niche markets that will attract different businesses than Durango, but will ultimately be complementary to the community as a whole. As central services – including water – are available in more and more parts of the county, it is likely that we will see an interest in infill and redevelopment of existing uses. Durango itself is, and will continue to be, a mecca for independent entrepreneurs who have a creative idea, but do not need a lot of core resources to produce or sell their idea. It will be an exciting time to live in this area.

Distinctive land forms frame the lifestyle and the language of locals. This list will help you get oriented to well-known landmarks in Durango and the Four Corners.

West of Pagosa Springs, this is part of an archaeological area of ancient Indian sites.

X Rock

A favorite spot for climbers, this rock is at the northwest edge of Durango.

Sleeping Ute Mountain

Mountains near Towaoc are said to resemble a sleeping Ute chief.

Lizard Head Peak

The 556th highest peak in Colorado is south of the Telluride turnoff on Highway 145.

Missionary Ridge

Above the Animas Valley, it’s known for a distinctive slide, and the wildfire of 2002.

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Navigation for


If you’re new to the area, landmarks can help you find your destination with relative ease. The following is a list of common landmarks in and around Durango. These are names you’ll likely encounter as you settle in.

Engineer Mountain, located north of Durango and west of Highway 550 is distinguished by its dome shape. HAL LOTT/Herald

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Animas Mountain: Easily recognizable by the green water tower on the northwest end of town. It is also the original location of Durango. Arboles: East of town past Ignacio. Baker’s Bridge: North of town on CR 250. Bodo Park: Just south of town in the industrial area. Buck Highway: Runs south of Bayfield and can be used to get to Ignacio or Navajo Lake, further south. Chimney Rock: Large spire between Durango and Pagosa Springs on Highway 160. Coal Bank Pass: North of town near the base of Engineer Mountain on Highway 550. College Drive: Formerly Sixth Street, running east to west in Durango. Durango Mall: South of town on Highway 550/160. Durango West I and II: Housing developments west of Durango off Highway 160 past Lightner Creek. Electra Lake: Semi-private lake north of Durango. DMR (Durango Mountain Resort): Ski area 20 minutes north of Durango along Highway 550. Elmore’s Corner: Located on Highway 160 East. If you are driving from Durango, a right turn here will take you to the airport. A left turn will take you to CR 234 for a scenic drive through incredible farm and ranch country. Engineer Mountain: North of town, west of Highway 550, distinguished by its dome shape. Farmington Hill: Where Highways 550 and 160 split, with the 550 running south through Aztec and the way to Farmington. The 160 East continues south and east toward Bayfield, Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Pass. Florida Mesa: A region southeast of Durango toward the airport. Folsom Mountain: Northeast corner of Durango. Haviland Lake: Situated north of Durango and south of Electra Lake, this lake is easily accessible, yet retains its secluded atmosphere with many excellent camp sites. Chris Park is located near the same intersection off of Highway 550. The Rapp Corral is at that corner. HD Mountains: A roadless area south of Bayfield, these mountains have the highest quality old-growth ponderosa pines in the San Juans. Hermosa: Small community north of Durango on Highway 550 in the mid-section of the Animas Valley. Hesperus: This community, located along Highway 140, west of Durango and south of Highway 160 West, has a rich agricultural heritage, especially on the mesas. You can access Farmington to the south, or La Plata Canyon to the north. Junction Creek: A tributary of the Animas River north of town, with access to the Colorado Trail and Turtle Lake. Kennebec Pass: Northernmost area of La Plata Canyon. La Plata Highway: Highway 140 south of Hesperus that leads to Farmington, New Mexico. La Plata Canyon: West of town, north of Hesperus. La Plata County Fairgrounds: Located at 25th Street and

M L R L a M M f M A b M S N N P t P R C R R h S a g g g t S L S u S 7 W H t V w p F W 1 K a c w


y t

San Juan Public Lands Center

This center in Durango is a one-stop wilderness shop. The office, located at 15 Burnett Court, offers detailed forest maps, publications, common permits, and information on trails, campgrounds and more. Call (970) 247-4874 or visit Main Avenue in Durango. Lemon Reservoir: Recreation area east of Durango. Take Florida Road to CR 243, bear left to the reservoir. Lightner Creek: Just west of Durango off Highway 160; offers access to Dry Fork. McPhee Reservoir: Large man-made lake just outside of Dolores. Mercy Regional Medical Center: The Southwest’s largest medical facility, southeast of Durango on Highway 160. Mesa Verde National Park: The world-famous 700-year-old Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings found west of Durango and before Cortez. Molas Pass: High alpine pass just before the descent into Silverton. Navajo Reservoir: Southeast of Durango and Ignacio; part of the New Mexico State Park system. Pagosa Hot Springs: Renowned hot springs located in the town of the same name. Pastorius Reservoir: Southeast of Durango on the Florida Mesa. Raider Ridge: Tall ridgeline east of Fort Lewis College and Goeglein Gulch. Red Mesa: South of Hesperus. Red Mountain Pass: Highway 550 pass on the way to Ouray. The high alpine Red Mountain is known for its rust coloration. Santa Rita Park: About a mile south of Downtown Durango along Camino del Rio (Highway 550/160 East), this is a great family recreation area and the terminus for most rafting groups. This is where rafters and floaters can get of out of the water for a return trip to the headwaters for another ride down the river. Skyridge: A housing development above Durango, east of Fort Lewis College. Smelter Mountain: Visible from town, it used to be mined for uranium. Radio towers are visible at the top. Strater Hotel: Historic hotel completed in 1885 on the corner of 7th Street and Main Avenue in historic Downtown Durango. Wildcat Canyon: Also known as Highway 141 just west of town off Highway 160, this is a scenic drive that also attracts touring bicyclists. Vallecito Reservoir: About 25 miles east of Durango and well-known for its fishing, this scenic tourist destination is also popular for its quaint lodging facilities and guest ranches. Take Florida Road north out of Durango and follow the signs. Wolf Creek Pass: Located east of Pagosa Springs on Highway 160 East, Wolf Creek Ski Area is located near the summit. Known for its extremely deep snow accumulations, the ski area is very popular. However, the pass is subject to frequent closures because of the snow accumulations. Check the weather and road conditions before making the drive.

Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 7



Christina Rinderle, mayor of Durango, works as a real estate broker at the Wells Group. Photo courtesy of Illuminarts Photography

voice can

be heard



moved to Durango in 1999 after falling in love with our downtown and all the natural beauty that surrounds it. I chose to make this place my home after making instant connections to people I believe to be lifelong friends. I delight in this lifestyle of living downtown, walking to work along a vibrant Main Avenue, running on trails just a few blocks away from the heart of it all, yet feeling like you are miles away in meadows with mountain views, and of course enjoying the company of my closest friends. There is an entrepreneurial spirit here, as well as a diversity of interests – from ranchers to artists, students to retirees. It is a generous and giving community, as demonstrated by our number of nonprofits and the volunteers who so passionately advocate on their behalf. It is a place where you see friendly and familiar faces each day, and a place I’m honored to call home.

Q: What should newcomers know about local politics? Durango is a real and genuine community. We make a lifestyle choice to live here, and at the heart of everyone’s passions and opinions, we share a common value of wanting the best for Durango. It is a small enough city that your voice can be heard, and you can affect policy decisions. You can’t please everyone, which is the most challenging part. Everyone has their own opinion and, more often than not, citizens make it known. It feels good to see people getting involved, as demonstrated by recent public meetings where we had more than 100 people in attendance, and wanting the best for the place we all love.

Get involved

The public is invited to attend many city and county meetings. Visit for more information. City Council meetings can be also be viewed live on City Span 10 Government Access Television. Visit for details. The Durango Herald offers a lively online community forum at Readers will also find a wide diversity of viewpoints in the Herald’s daily Opinion section.

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Colorado at a glance

A few basics on the “ruddy” state i Capital: Denver i Governor: John Hickenlooper i Lieutenant Governor: Joe Garcia i Senators: Michael Bennett and Mark Udall i U.S. Representatives: 7 i Nickname: Centennial State i Origin of name: From Spanish, “ruddy” or “red” i Land area: 103,717 sq mi. i Number of counties: 64 i State forests: 1 (71,000 ac.) i State parks: 44 (160,000 ac.) i Geographic center: Located in Park County, 30 miles northwest of Pikes Peak i 10 largest cities: Denver, 557,917; Colorado Springs, 369,815; Aurora, 297,235; Lakewood, 140,671; Fort Collins, 128,026; Thornton, 105,182; Westminster, 105,084; Arvada, 103,966; Pueblo, 103,495; Centennial, 98,243 i Largest county by population and area: El Paso 565,582 (2005); Las Animas, 4,773 sq mi. i State flower: Rocky Mountain columbine, shown below right i State tree: Colorado blue spruce i State bird: Lark bunting i State animal: Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep i State colors: Blue and white i State motto: “Nil sine Numine,” Nothing without Providence Source:

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A labyrinth walk planted with spring bulbs graces the east lawn of the Smiley Building along East Third Avenue in May 2011.

Put down

roots i The average last frost in spring is May 25 and the first frost is Sept. 22, but weather can be very unpredictable. Be prepared for occasional snow in June or hail in August. Check the forecast for the first week of June. If no frosts are forecasted, then you can put out warm-season crops – with the possibility of having to cover them. i Many prized garden flowers are also deer candy. Before you plant a garden, ask your neighbors about problems with deer and other wildlife, and check with the La Plata County Extension Office for a list of

Gardening in Southwest Colorado can be very challenging. Here are some tips for you to get growing.

local deer-resistant plants. i Tilling our heavy clay-and-loam soils can be a challenge. The best solution is to create raised beds or improve the soil with compost and other amendments. Use a soil test kit before planting, because garden soils in Colorado can be very alkaline. i Plants that cannot survive harsh winters will not make it. Tender perennials can either be treated as annuals, or you can try planting them in pots and bringing them indoors to a greenhouse or sunny room through the cold months.

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i Vegetable growers can have success with cool-season roots and shoots crops. However, large beefsteak-type tomatoes are very challenging to grow here because they thrive in a long, warm growing season. Summers can be dry and cool, and tomatoes thrive in humidity and heat. The best bet for warm-season fruiting crops is a greenhouse. i Gardening here is not for the lazy or faint of heart. If you use a “stick it in the ground and it will grow” approach, you’ll be frustrated. Ask for help from professionals, and learn from their experience.

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Ashley Gonnella, women’s clothing buyer at Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango, shows winter layering options at the store. HAL LOTT/Herald


Women’s Clothing Buyer at Pine Needle Mountaineering


have been in Durango for almost five years. After a brief stint on the beach, I realized I am and always will be a mountain girl. I love living in Durango for the wide range of activities available right out your front door. Durango has an amazing summer season with access to world-class biking, fishing, climbing and boating. In the winter, the La Plata and San Juan mountains offer some of the most diverse and accessible backcountry skiing in the West. These mountains are great for expert skiers, but also have a wide range of terrain for all ability levels. Of course, I can’t forget to mention two of my favorite places in the region: Moab and Silverton. I love being able to escape to the desert and enjoys its beauty any time of the year. Silverton is a great old-school mountain town, and the perfect place to go and get away from it all.

Q: What should newcomers know about fashion in Durango? Fashion in Durango is more about function and less about the latest trends. My best advice to newcomers is to dial in your layering system. The weather here changes very quickly, and you need to be able to change with it. Base layers are as important as outer layers, and picking the right next-to-skin fabric can either keep you either warm and dry, or make you cold and wet. For me, merino wool is an essential part of my wardrobe. The super-soft wool wicks moisture away from your body, keeping you cool when you are generating body heat. When you need some extra insulation, the natural fibers act as tiny little air pockets trapping body heat to keep you warm. Merino wool is also anti-microbial, which means it won’t trap bacteria and start to stink. Let’s face it, even though we live in a mountain town, who wants to stink?

Durangoans show off stylish layers, from left: Carol Burnham and George Usinowicz, Ivie O’Nan and Aaron Peterson. HAL LOTT/Herald

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Durangoans are multimodal – with flair. TOP PHOTO: Sweet rides are on display at the Durango Motor Expo classic car show on Main Avenue on June 18. LEFT: Four-year-old Kalia Robertson (front seat), gets a ride on a four-wheeled cycle available for rent from the Durango Discovery Museum. ABOVE: Bike commuter Glen Shoemaker rides to work. HAL LOTT/Herald

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Put the in Durango Durango-area residents can get around by foot, car, bike, plane or train. Public transportation in town is easy: The Durango Trolley serves locations throughout the municipal limits. Look for the “T” logo at bus stops. Important Colorado Driving Laws i Carry proof of insurance. If you don’t have a motor vehicle insurance card or are not listed in the statewide database, your license is subject to confiscation and suspension. The minimum insurance you must have in addition to personal injury protection is: $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in any one accident; $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more persons in any one accident; and $15,000 property damage coverage. i Wear a seat belt. It’s required for the driver, every front seat passenger and every child between the ages of 8 and 16 seated anywhere in the vehicle. i Use a car seat for infants and children. An appropriate child-restraint system is required by law. Children under one year and less than 20 pounds must be in a system in a rear seat; children under 8 must be in a child-restraint system, preferably in the back seat; children between 8 and 16 years of age can wear a seat belt or be in a child-restraint system, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. i No text-messaging. Colorado law prohibits drivers under 18 years age from using a cell or mobile phone while driving unless it is to contact the police or fire department, or if it is an emergency. Drivers 18 and older may not use a cell or mobile telephone for text messaging while driving unless it is to contact the police or fire department, or it is an emergency. i Get a license within 30 days. If you are moving into Colorado, you must obtain new license plates within 30 days of establishing Colorado residency.

Need a ride? The Durango Transit Center, located at 250 W. Eighth St., serves as the regional transit facility for all of Southwest Colorado, including Ignacio Road Runner and Greyhound. Visit http://www. durango-transit-center.

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Marie Archuleta and her dog, Brandi, enjoy a walk along the Animas River Trail in the fall. Dogs must be kept on a leash within Durango’s city limits. HAL LOTT/Herald



path well-traveled

Animas River Trail links pets, walkers and cyclists

he Animas River Trail runs along the beautiful Animas River, and attractive bridges cross over at several points. The popular, hard-surface trail is approximately 7 miles long, with 2.5 additional miles planned for the future. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train tracks follow the trail along the northern section, and if you time it right, you’ll hear the whistle blast and see the train pass right next to you. The north end of this popular trail is the intersection of 32nd Street and East Second Avenue, and the south end extends beyond Santa Rita Park. The development of the Animas River Trail in Durango has occurred over several decades, beginning in the 1970s and continuing today, with ongoing planning for new segments to the north and south. The trail is popular with locals year-round and it’s also used by many bike commuters. Keep your ride safe and pleasant by following these tips: Wear a helmet; stay to the right, and ride in single file; when passing, use a bell or say “on your left” to avoid startling walkers and joggers. The weather can change quickly, so

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it’s smart to dress in layers, and bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and a water bottle. A brown-bag lunch is great idea for a picnic at one of the many parks along the way. Be cautious crossing intersections without traffic lights, such as East Second Avenue and 15th Street. Most drivers don’t stop at the crossing, so you must wait for traffic to clear. The trail is easy to navigate and can be accessed at many places from downtown Durango. (On the Internet, you can print out a map to take with you at http://www.durangogov. org/parks/ART-Orientation.pdf.) Depending on where you begin, you can go south and see the Discovery Museum, fish hatchery and wildlife museum, the Durango Public Library and the Durango Community Recreation Center. Or you can head north to Santa Rita Park and Smelter Rapids, where you’ll see rafts and kayaks bobbing in the whitewater in spring and summer. The trail is a great place to walk dogs, but be sure to keep them on a leash and pick up any waste. Watch for wildlife along the trail. You might see ducks, geese, hawks and bald eagles, along with deer, beavers and plenty of jumping fish.

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‘History MEET ANDREW GULLIFORD Professor of history & environmental studies at Fort Lewis College


moved to Durango in July 2000. My job was to finish fundraising for the $8 million Center of Southwest Studies on the Fort Lewis College campus and to move all our collections into the new building. Coming to Fort Lewis to direct the Center and to teach history was like coming home. My wife, Stephanie Moran, and I started our teaching career on the Western Slope in 1976, and the opportunity to work at a small, public, liberal arts college was a dream come true. Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners is a very special place. I call it a “community of choice” because with limited job options, a couple really has to work hard to stay here; but once here, who would ever leave? Durango is one of the those rare small towns in America that is 3½ hours from an interstate highway, yet in only two hours drive you can change your ecosystem and be in the desert. What a place!

What’s interesting about our region’s history? Durango’s history is at least 2,000 years old, with ancient Basketmaker occupations both north and south of town. The Ancestral Puebloan presence includes the Cliff Dwelling era at Mesa Verde National Park from 1,150 A.D. to 1300. Then there’s the rich history of the town itself, beginning in 1881 with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, Hispanic families, cowboys, ranchers, miners, Ute Indian neighbors, and businessmen who worked on Main Street and lived on East Third Avenue. History is alive and well throughout La Plata County, and we are blessed with numerous archaeological and historical sites that can be studied and explored. In their first year here, newcomers should visit the Center of Southwest Studies on the FLC campus, tour Mesa Verde, see the new Southern Ute Museum, sit in the old school desks at the Animas Museum, and hike Animas Mountain. Newcomers might enjoy joining the San Juan Basin Archaeological Society, and if they are old enough (over 50), Seniors Outdoors.

LEFT: Andrew Gulliford, professor of history & environmental studies at Fort Lewis College, encourages newcomers to visit the Center of Southwest Studies on the campus to learn more about the region’s history. HAL LOTT/Herald photos OPPOSITE PAGE: A photographer works to capture the glow of luminarias inside Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde during the park’s annual Holiday Open House event in early December. 18 • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • Southwest Colorado Resource Guide


y is alive & well’ RIGHT: An artist shows her work to visitors at the Festival of Crafts and Culture at Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs on June 25.

A plethora of powwows & pottery Native American culture is celebrated throughout the year in the Durango area. Here’s a sample of annual events.

HAL LOTT/Herald photos

i Held every Memorial Day weekend, the Mesa Verde Country Indian Arts & Culture Festival includes a juried Indian art market, Indian dances, a Navajo rug auction, special archaeological tours and a Native American concert. i Chimney Rock Archaeological Area near Pagosa Springs holds a Festival of Arts & Culture in late June, which includes interactive demonstrations of crafts and skills of Ancestral Puebloan culture and regional Native American

cultures. At past festivals, there have been free demonstrations of basket-making, flint knapping, flute making and playing and grinding grain. i Hozhoni Days, or “Days of Beauty,” is one of the oldest and biggest events at Fort Lewis College. Held in late March, it highlights the cultures of many of the over 120 tribes represented by Fort Lewis College’s Native American students. The event includes the Hozhoni Days Powwow and the Miss Hozhoni Pageant.

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Tales to tell

Photo courtesy of Bob Foisel

Members of the Victorian Aid Society celebrate an event at Rotary Park in Durango. The group makes history fun with activities that take you back in time with historically accurate, reproduction-vintage costumes and events.

MEET DARLA HILL Pictured in the second row with red hair and a black and white hat Co-director of the Victorian Aid Society


have known Durango since I was very little, when my grandparents lived here. My family moved here in 1972. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Durango has been a great place to raise my kids, and is a beautiful, unique town that has much to offer to everyone.

What should newcomers do or see to begin to understand the history of our area? Durango was an instant town platted out by the railroad, which brought in carpenters, masons and skilled workers to help build

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the town. All classes of people were here – from bankers to blacksmiths – from the beginning. We even had a number of women holding unconventional roles in the early years. Durango has three wonderful museums to get people started to learn about the history: the Animas Museum, the Durango and Silverton Railroad Museum, and the Center for Southwest Studies. Our group, the Victorian Aid Society, does extensive research and brings Durango’s rich history to life through several different programs. For a calendar of events and information please visit our website,

l Durango’s modern red trolleys were modeled after historic railway trolleys like this one, shown in 1895.

Ice skaters enjoy a day in the Durango area in 1898.

ABOVE: Durango’s Main Avenue is shown circa 1910s. BELOW: Miners prepare to travel in 1881.

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Nikoma Henkels, 15, stands outside Durango High School on a January afternoon. Students in District 9-R begin classes in late August and finish in late May. HAL LOTT/Herald

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A great place to

grow up MEET NIKOMA HENKELS 15-year-old sophomore at Durango High School, and a writer for El Diablo, the school newspaper


’ve lived in Durango since I was 4, so it’s pretty much all I remember. Before Durango, my family and I lived in Breckenridge, Colo., which is very much the same atmosphere. I would live in Durango after college if I didn’t find somewhere that feels more like home. I love living here, but I don’t plan on going to college here, so who knows? Durango’s fun, but small, and the opportunities, though present, are somewhat limited. It’s a great place to grow up, but I think I could use some more room to grow. Durango’s a family town and I have a few years before I’ll need to think of that.

What should teenagers know about going to school at DHS? Going to Durango High School can be a challenge. It’s not the biggest school, but there’s enough people – and definitely enough hallways – for a person to get lost. However, most of the teachers are “chill” and really care about helping the kids get to where they want to go. It’s the other students that can be a bit bothersome. DHS is small enough that the gossip moves around at what seems like lightning speed. It’s easy to ignore all that though. There are a lot of crazy classes to take such as yoga and cardio, woodshop, theater, philosophy and even psychology. There’s lots of sports, too, like football and basketball. DHS also offers golf, swimming and even tennis. For a high school, DHS is quite well rounded and a good choice for any student.


Escalante Middle School is at the south end of Durango, next to the Animas River.

9-R schools at a glance i Animas Valley Elementary: 272 students, 24 teachers i Durango High School: 1,322 students, 92 teachers i Escalante Middle School: 501 students, 36 teachers i Florida Mesa Elementary: 312 students, 19 teachers i Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary: 170 students; 16 teachers i Miller Middle School: 500 students, 34 teachers i Needham Elementary: 375 students, 30 teachers i Park Elementary: 450 students, 30 teachers

School District 9-R’s mission statement The mission of Durango School District 9-R, an innovative educational system committed to excellence, is to ensure each student develops the skills and attributes for lifelong learning and has the ability to compete and contribute in the global community by guaranteeing equitable educational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment.

i Sunnyside Elementary: 163 students, 14 teachers i Riverview Elementary: 440 students, 34 teachers

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La Plata County Schools

A late-summer storm soaks the landscape around the distinctive clock tower on the Fort Lewis College campus.

Durango School District 9-R


Kindergarten-12th Grade

Serves the Durango community through 11 schools: one high school, two middle schools and seven elementary schools. Durango Big Picture High School (formerly, The Durango Academy) operates at 215 East 12th Street. For more information, visit or call (970) 247-5411.

Bayfield School District District 10 consists of one high school, one middle school, one elementary school and one primary. For information, visit or call (970) 884-2496.

Ignacio School District District 11 consists of one high school, one junior high, one intermediate and one elementary school. For more information, visit or call (970) 563-0500.

Animas High School This is a public, free charter school in Durango offering a rigorous, personalized college preparatory curriculum that is engaging and meaningful. For more information, call 247-2474 or visit

Mountain Middle School This free, public, state chartered school opened in August 2011. The school provides education to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, with a focus on integrating technology into project-based learning in a safe environment. MMS offers a lottery enrollment for students. For more information, visit:; read the blog at www.mms-durango.; or call (970) 335-8070.

Colleges Fort Lewis College FLC is a four-year, fully accredited, liberal arts institution overlooking Durango and the Animas Valley. For more information on current statistics and enrollment, call (970) 247-7010 or visit

Fort Lewis College Continuing Education This program serves our community with exciting noncredit local and online classes. Local classes are held on campus in the evenings and on weekends. Online classes can be taken any time from the convenience of your own home. For more information, call (970) 247-7385 or go to:

Southwest Colorado Community College Located in Mancos and Durango, this school offers area residents a community college education, including several degree programs, evening classes and transferable credits to


Teachers play a game with children in the new building of the Bayfield Early Education Center. four-year schools. For more information for the Durango campus, call (970) 247-2929. For the Mancos campus, call (970) 564-6200 or visit

Adult Education Center, Inc. Durango’s Adult Education Center offers a comfortable learning environment with friendly teachers for individual needs. Classes are available in GED, math, reading and English as a Second language (ESL). Free childcare is available. For more information call (970) 385-4354.

Pine River Community Learning Center With classrooms in Ignacio and Bayfield, the Center provides instruction in adult education, GED preparation and English as a Second Language. Also available is a resource program for families who homeschool, an early literacy family activity program and community computer, finance and work skills classes. Free childcare is also available. For more information, call (970) 563-0681 or visit

Head Start Programs Durango Four C Council Tri-County Head Start This program serves low-income, at-risk children in Archuleta, La Plata and Montezuma counties. For more information, call (970) 247-5960.

Southern Ute Head Start This program serves children up to age 5, along with their families. For additional information, call (970) 563-4566. For complete information on schools in La Plata County visit

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Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 25


FLC student Robbie Jones competes in the Squawker Classic criterium, a road cycling race held in downtown Durango on April 23. HAL LOTT/Herald

26 • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • Southwest Colorado Resource Guide

Community of


seekers MEET ROBBIE JONES Fort Lewis College student and competitive cyclist


began school at Fort Lewis College in the fall of 2008, primarily because it’s a small town, healthy, outdoorsstyle community filled with many pro-athletes – like Boulder, but without being too big. I have spent the past three summers in Durango because there is an abundance of activities, including cycling, climbing, hiking, rafting and tubing. With such a thrill-seeking community, finding friends with similar interests came easy.

What should new residents know about cycling here? I didn’t know cycling was such a huge deal in college. Ever since I started mountain biking and road biking in my freshmen year in 2008, I haven’t been able to stop. The coaches at Fort Lewis College, especially Dave Hagen, have helped me excel at a sport I knew nothing about. Now I get to travel across the state of Colorado to compete with other Division 1 and 2 schools. Most recently, I was privileged to go to my first Nationals for Cyclocross in lovely Madison, Wisconsin. Durango’s trail systems are unique, ranging from beginners, who should start in what the locals call the Gulch trail system, steadily advancing for those willing to brave more advanced trails like The Colorado Trail and world-famous Hermosa. With so much riding available for all disciplines, it’s no wonder I stumbled upon the Best Division 1 cycling program in the country. With a team picture published yearly in Velo News, tons of support from local businesses, and freshmen arriving all the time, FLC cycling is a powerhouse with coaches for each discipline and a full-time women’s coach.

Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 27


Children compete in the Iron Horse Kids Criterium in downtown Durango over Memorial Day Weekend.




Durango and the surrounding area is a haven for great rides. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on two wheels.

Horse Gulch: This is probably the most accessible and used trail system around town, and after riding the area you’ll see why. The trails stay dry for much of the year, and there are many options. Horse Gulch is accessible from downtown Durango at the corner of 8th Avenue and 3rd Street. The jeep road climbs from the southeastern corner of town and eventually tapers off with views of a rugged, juniper-forested valley to the east, and a hill on the opposite side.


Baker’s Bridge: There are a couple of different routes to do this scenic loop. The most popular is to take Animas View Drive to CR 203. Once you reach the intersection before Trimble Hot Springs, take a right on CR 252, crossing Highway 550. Keep going until you reach CR 250, shortly after crossing the Animas River. Take a left and keep following the road until it reaches Baker’s Bridge. From there, head west until reaching Highway 550 again, then turn left, following the highway back into town.


Animas River Trail: This popular trail has approximately 5 miles of hard-surface trail running through town along the beautiful Animas River, with 2.7 additional miles planned for the future. The north end of this trail is the intersection of 32nd Avenue and East 2nd Avenue. It travels south through several city parks and across five bridges to the south end. In the summer, you can cruise alongside the train, or watch people in the river on rafts, kayaks and inner tubes.


San Juan Skyway: This ride will take you through some of the most beautiful sections of the Rocky Mountains as you follow a circular path through Southwest Colorado. You will pass through historic mining towns, national parks and forests and world-class ski resort areas. On this trip, you will see the San Juan Mountains, home to many of Colorado’s elite group of 14,000-foot mountain peaks. For a detailed map, visit

28 • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • Southwest Colorado Resource Guide

Two kinds of ‘iron horses’

One event is for road bikers, and the other is a round-up of motorcyclists

i Iron Horse Bicycle Classic: More than 2,000 cyclists enter this race, which is one of the largest bike races held in the United States. The 47-mile, 5,550-foot climb from Durango to Silverton is scheduled each year during Memorial Day weekend. Several races are held for all levels – from top pros to kids. For more information, visit i Sugar Pine Ranch Rally and Ignacio Bike Week (formerly Iron Horse Motorcycle Rally): Thousands of cyclists converge on the Durango area for events during Labor Day weekend. In 2011, festivities included a parade down Main Avenue. Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 29


30 • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • Southwest Colorado Resource Guide

Terry Hotz hikes the high-county trail that leads to the Mt. Sneffels trailhead.

San Juans



Avid hiker and part-time Ouray resident


have lived on the Western Slope, Cedaredge, since 1976. My husband, Perry, and I bought a home in Ouray in 2006. He was born in the Ouray hospital, now the museum, on March 3, 1950. His father worked at Idarado Mine on Red Mountain. We love Ouray because of the incredible mountains and close proximity to great hikes and Jeep rides. The San Juans renew my soul – corny, but true!

What would you tell a newcomer about hiking opportunities in our area? There are so many incredible hikes. They are so close to Ouray. Red Mountain hikes are awesome, as is the crosscounty skiing at Ironton Park. Are there any must-do trails? Absolutely! Box Canyon in Ouray is a great mini-hike with a great waterfall view. Right out the west window of our Ouray home is Twin Peaks. I love to do it at least once a year. It is a difficult climb with incredible views, and the trailhead is 5 minutes from our front door. There is also a quick hike, Ouray Look Out, that is an hour hike up with an incredible view of Ouray. We always take guests there. The big one that is our challenge hike is Mt. Sneffels, a fourteener. It is a tough climb but incredible! If you continue on the trail without heading up Sneffels you will hit Blue Lakes Pass. As you head down the other side of the pass, you will find the Blue Lakes. They are worth seeing. You can also access them through Ridgeway.

Wilderness rescues are costly

Colorado residents and visitors are well served by dedicated volunteer search and rescue teams, but mission costs are often in the thousands of dollars. Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) cards will help reimburse many rescue expenses. The card costs for $3 for one year and $12 for five years, and can be purchased at the San Juan Public Lands Center in Durango or online at CBON/1251592090523. Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 31


Suzette Collard gets crazy on the tree-to-tree zipline at Full Blast Adventure Center in Durango. HAL LOTT/Herald

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Common Ground

Follow this etiquette on the trail

i Stay on the trail. Do not cut switchbacks or take shortcuts. i Stay to the right on wider paths. Pass on the left. i When overtaking someone, let them know you are approaching and will be passing on their left. i Whenever you stop for a view, a rest or to yield, move off the trail so it is free for others. i Hikers or bikers going uphill are working hard and should be given the right of way over people going downhill. i When meeting a horse: Get off the trail on the downhill side. Horses will tend to bolt uphill when spooked. Also, you waiting on the uphill side looks more like a predator waiting to pounce. Quietly greet the rider and ask if you are OK where you are. Stand quietly while the horses pass. i Hike quietly. i Don’t leave any markers when hiking off-trail. i Read trailhead guidelines. There may be specific rules for the trail you are on. i If you pack it in, pack it out. Don’t litter. i Take a picture. A pretty rock or a bunch of flowers deserve to remain where they are. We have a need for mementos of our adventures, but picture in your mind what the place would look like if the group before you had taken what you are about to put in your pocket. i Report vandalism. If there is contact information at the trailhead, tell the managing agency about any destruction or management needs you notice.

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Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 33


Critter cohabitation

LEFT: Maureen Keilty walks with her dog, Ruby, along the Animas River on Jan. 25. RIGHT: Kielty wraps a tree with hardware cloth to protect it from gnawing beavers. Teeth marks are evident near the base of the tree. She encourages newcomers to landscape with wildlife in mind, and says it’s smart to use deer-resistant plants and clear brush around a home. HAL LOTT/Herald

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n D

Chair of the La Plata County Living with Wildlife Advisory Board

urango has been my home since 1976, and I see no reason to leave. I love exploring the region’s desert to mountain landscapes, and Durango’s diverse art, music and cultural happenings keep me returning to town. Plus, Durango people are friendly, health-minded and creative – I can’t ask for more!

What should new residents know about wildlife? Part of Durango’s allure is its abundant wildlife. However, living with wildlife means to simply never feed wildlife – purposely or unintentionally. We wouldn’t have the “bears in trash” problem if everyone correctly used bear-resistant containers or set their trash out only on the morning of collection. If you don’t want mountain lions prowling around your yard, don’t feed the birds or store your pet food near the door. Any kind of food attracts raccoons and deer, which are perfect prey for mountain lions (also known as cougars, pumas and wildcats). Barbecue grills can be tasty treats for bears, so keep the grill clean or inside the garage. Clear landscape of excess brush, thereby eliminating the cover for mountains lions. And use “deer-resistant” plants when planting around the home. Living in Durango also requires driving in deer country. Be especially alert during low-light hours, when deer frequently cross roadways. If you see one deer, slow down for more. Most collisions occur during spring and fall migration – May 15 to 30 and Oct.15 to Nov. 30 – but many deer populations remain in one area, so be alert year round. Call Colorado State Patrol at *277 to report dead or injured deer or elk on the roadway. For more information about living with wildlife, visit

Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 35


Kirk James performs at the Gateway Blues Festival on Aug. 29, 2009. For the schedule of the Kirk James Blues Band, visit www.kirk MARIE ARCHULETA/Herald

36 • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • Southwest Colorado Resource Guide

MEET KIRK JAMES Durango blues band leader


t’s been 25 years since I moved to Durango. I had visited Southwest Colorado many times as a kid. Then when my older brother Terry moved here, I came to visit even more. In 1984, I graduated art school and moved here for just the winter, like many of my friends here who visited Durango on the weekend years ago and never left. Though I’ve been to a lot of different cities and towns, Durango has a presence that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. No place is perfect, but many are much less than Durango.

What should people know about the local music scene? For years, Durango had been predominantly a country and bluegrass audience. And in the late 1980s, I started playing night after night of blues – trying to add another dimension to the local music. Blues is roots music, and there are many blues roots in this region, but that’s another story. I’ve heard many tourists to Durango say that they had no idea there were so many talented musicians here. Now you hear most any style of music in Durango.

Southwest Colorado Resource Guide • Sunday, February 12, 2012 • 37

FUN FOR KIDS Things that make you go

‘Weeee!’ i Durango Nature Studies, 1309 East Third Ave. Durango Nature Studies has been bringing hands-on, outdoor nature education to the Four Corners community since 1994. DNS offers school field trips, afterschool enrichment, an excellent summer camp, workshops, hikes and more. Call (970) 382-9244 or visit www.durango i Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Avenue

A girl enjoys a giant slide during Daddyfest, a Father’s Day event held in downtown Durango. HAL LOTT/Herald

The center offers many opportunities for children to get involved with the arts and is a great way to build lasting friendships. While the emphasis is on education, it is a fun-filled environment. There are dance classes, as well as afterschool art programs that inspire and motivate children. They get to express their feelings through the arts with song, drama and other media. For more information, contact the Durango Arts Center at (970) 259-2606 or visit www.durango

i Durango Discovery Museum, 1333 Camino del Rio A wide range of programs, exhibits and activities

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Durango-area children have access to wilderness activities, but there are also many programs geared to their interests. Here is just a sample of the options.

provide an entertaining and inspiring look at “energy – past, present, and future.” DDM is a hands-on science center for all ages. Open year-round, the museum is a dynamic new place for family adventures, school field trips, early childhood learning and special events. Visit www. or call (970) 259-9234.

i Durango Recreation Center, 2700 Main Avenue With 71,557 square feet, the Durango Community Recreation Center is a facility boasting an aquatic area with a lap pool, leisure pool and hot tub; a fitness area with cardio equipment, a room for aerobics/dance classes, gymnasium with basketball courts, indoor track, climbing wall, racquetball courts, café, daycare center and more. Call (970) 375-7300 for more information.

i Durango Skate Park, off Roosa Avenue The facility offers varied terrain that will challenge all skaters and abilities. Located on the west side of the river on Roosa Avenue, friendly locals share a common passion for all things skate, making it a must for both resident skaters and visitors.

2012 Durango Area Resource Guide  

A welcome for newcomers in Durango, Colorado

2012 Durango Area Resource Guide  

A welcome for newcomers in Durango, Colorado