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Pagosa Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan National Forest.

JEFF LAYDON/Pagosa Photography

Contents Winter in Southwest Colorado ... Introduction 4 Section 1: Going Outside 6 Downhill/Resort Skiing 8 Backcountry Skiing 12 Hut Skiing 13 Ice Climbing 15 Cross-country/Skate Skiing 16 Snowshoeing 17 Ice Skating 19 Ice Fishing 20 Dog Sledding 23 Sleigh Rides 24 Sledding 26 Calendar of Events 28 Community Maps 32 Snowmobiling 36 Winter Safety 40 Hot Springs 42 Communities: Telluride 10, Silverton 14, Vallecito Lake 22, Ouray 30, Rico 30, Bayfield 32, Farmington/Aztec N.M. 33, Dolores 37, Pagosa Springs 42, Mesa Verde 47, Mancos 51, Durango 54, Cortez 57, Ignacio 60





Section 2: Staying Inside 44 Museums 45 Art Galleries 49 Train 52 Swimming/Indoor Climbing 56 Theater 58 Casinos 60

V.P. of Newspaper Advertising PAUL C. HAY Director of Sales & Marketing MARK DRUDGE


Advertising Assistant SCOTT BURTON





Circulation Manager PAT IVEY The Southwest Colorado Winter Guide is published once a year by The Durango Herald, Inc. Publication date: Oct. 14, 2012

Publisher RICHARD BALLANTINE General Manager KEN AMUNDSON Chief Financial Officer ROBERT WHITSON All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Cover photo of skiers at Molas Pass by Kennan Harvey.

Published in the United States by The Durango Herald, Inc., 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Copyright 2012. The Durango Herald uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special publications. Details are subject to change, so please check ahead. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of this guide. We welcome suggestions from readers. Please write to Winter Guide Editor at the address above.

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 3

Welcome to our snow-flocked winter snuggery


The comforts of home in a mountain paradise!

Pagosa Inn & Suites Amenities include: Ÿ Jacuzzi tub and non-stocked wet bar in all suites Ÿ Refrigerator, hair dryer, iron, ironing board Ÿ Free High-Speed Internet Ÿ Free Hot Breakfast Ÿ Game Room with pool table, ping-pong and more Ÿ Pool and Jacuzzi Ÿ Exercise Room

888-221-8088 • 970-731-3400 e-mail:

519 Village Drive • Pagosa Springs, CO • 81147 4 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

outhwest Colorado has you covered, whether you’re looking to relax, explore, be active or entertained, learn, or, quite simply, have a great time. This is the place for it, and in many ways Southwest Colorado is what it has always been for all its years — a gateway to the discovery of ways of life that thrive along its rivers and valleys and in its mountain hideaways and byways. Today, new tribes of people are discovering Southwest Colorado’s ways of life — living in and visiting the region, enjoying our towns and outdoors, marveling at our attractions and ancient cultures, exploring our destinations and, for many, trying to make a difference in the world. We’re that kind of place, and everyone is welcome to enjoy what we have to offer! In winter, residents and visitors alike share our offerings on the slopes of world-class ski resorts, on dog sleds, skates and sleds, and in our restaurants, museums and galleries. There’s a lot here. This winter guide will help you enjoy Southwest Colorado by guiding you on a journey around our corner of the state, into places where you’ll learn to better understand our wonderful region and, we hope, to meet our people. Southwest Coloradans are a friendly bunch, passionate about who we are and what we do. You’ll see. Get to know us — we’ll share laughs over frosty eyelashes and beard-sicles, and together head in for a cup of hot cocoa or a locally brewed beer. Enjoy!

— Jan Nesset, Editor

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 5



est known for its outdoors from both a geological and recreational perspective, it follows that Southwest Colorado teems with whooping, hosannayelling, high-fiving outdoor enthusiasts. NORWOOD






Southwest Colorado



145 RICO











172 550





And while our indoor venues can be just as spirited with hmms, applause and chairstomping pleas for encores — more high fives! — we’re honor-bound just because we’re Coloradans to begin this winter guide with a section on the outdoors. In “Going Outside,” we open the COLORADO door to clean, fresh Colorado air to embrace the star quality of our region’s celebrity, which, for many residents and visitors, is why we breathe in the first place. Ah, the outdoors! In “Staying Inside,” the section to follow, we take a look at the inner creativity of Southwest Colorado. You’ll be impressed. For now, breathe deeply and turn the pages — we’re going outside!



6 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide





Going Outside

A.J. LaFortune in snowboarding bliss at Wolf Creek Ski Area.



Our emergency services team is backed by more than 150 board-certified physicians representing over 40 specialties. From walk-in urgent care to emergency care, we’re here when you need us, 24/7. See ER wait times (updated every 15 minutes) at or download the free iTriage app for smart phones. Patients are seen based on medical priority.

1010 Three Springs Blvd., Durango, CO 81301 | 970-247-4311 | Centura Health complies with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and no person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in the provision of any care or service on the grounds of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, sexual preference, ancestry, age, familial status, disability or handicap.

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 7


★ Rippin’, Glidin’, and Snow Down the Back Side Resorts, huts, deep powder, groomers, pristine open areas, jumps, terrain parks, heli- and cat-skiing, steeps, groomed Nordic trails, pipes, you’ll find everything you need in Southwest Colorado. And with a mountain climate that has been famously described as “ten months winter and two months mighty late in the fall,” most winters your ride is amply covered with snow. Or, if you prefer, dutifully groomed. Your choice: there’s a run for everyone in the mountains and glades of Southwest Colorado. Go for it!


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Durango Mountain Resort, Durango, Colo.


(Durango) With a focus on family, Chapman Hill serves as Durango’s in-town ski area and winter sports center. The hill, located on the east side of Florida Road, provides terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers, with a vertical drop of nearly 500 feet. The area offers skiers and snowboarders two rope tows, an ice skating rink, and a supervised warming house with hot drinks and

JASON LOMBARD/Wolf Creek Ski Area

Durango Mountain Resort

(Durango) One of America’s premier family-oriented ski resorts, Durango Mountain Resort (“Purgatory”) is “When located 25 miles north you’ve parked the of Durango on U.S. second car in the garage, and Highway 550 in the installed the hot tub, and skied in San Juan National Colorado, and wind-surfed in the Forest. Annual Caribbean, when you’ve had your first love snowfall is about affair and your second and your third, the 260 inches. With question will remain, where does the its picturesque dream end for me?” — Mario Cuomo, setting covering 52nd Governor of New York 2,500 acres on National Forest Service land, the resort offers skiing and riding on 1,360 acres of terrain, 10 lifts, 88 trails and five terrain parks, including the new Pinkerton Starter Park. At the resort’s tubing hill you can slide down one of three 600-foot-long tracks on special tubes. Purgatory Village Center has ski and snowboard rentals, restaurants, a small grocery store Brittany Loweree of and deli, and sports shop. There the U.S. Freestyle are several on-mountain restauTeam on Alberta rants and food outlets. So when Face at Wolf Creek the lifts close for the day, stick Ski Area. around after 6 p.m. when the table linens come out and the fine dining begins. Durango Mountain Resort offers ski school/lift packages and beginner packages for first-time skiers and snowboardsnacks. Both the lifts and ski hill ers and a children’s lesson/lift are supervised by trained staff. ticket package. Some programs Snowmaking occurs when needed, require reservations. DMR’s Viloffering a longer season. The lage Center and the mountain typical skiing season for Chapman continue to undergo updates, Hill is from early January through including new and expanded March, depending on the weather. trails, and facilities. e 970-375-7300, e 970-247-9000, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 71 inches AREA: 7.5 acres BASE ELEVATION: 6,512 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 6,980 feet

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 260 inches AREA: 1,360 acres BASE ELEVATION: 8,793 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 10,822 feet

Kendall Mountain Ski & Recreation Area

(Silverton) Located in Silverton, with an average annual snowfall of 200 inches, Kendall Mountain is open for family fun. The ski lift operates Fridays-Sundays, holidays, and every day during winter vacation (Dec. 24 - Jan. 4). The recreation area also offers two sledding hills and free ice skating. There are also trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Affordable equipment and warm snacks are available. The lodge can be reserved for retreats, conferences and weddings. The ski area can be reserved for private groups on weekdays. e 970-387-5528, 970-387-0182, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 220 inches AREA: 35 acres BASE ELEVATION: 9,300 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 9,540 feet

Lee’s Ski Hill

(Ouray) This downhill “ski resort” is located on Third Avenue on the east side of town. A free rope tow operates on weekends and most afternoons when school lets out, providing a great area for learning new skills. Shredders usually maintain a few gnarly jumps. Sledding is not allowed because of the limited space. Fifth Street, however, is closed to traffic for a one-block distance north of Fifth Avenue for youngsters to enjoy sledding. e 970-325-7065,

Silverton Mountain

(Silverton) Silverton Mountain is a facility for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders. The one double chairlift offers access ... continued

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 9

Telluride Ski Resort

is served with a rope tow. When the snow gets deep, the oak brush terrain can be excellent. This small mountain has challenging runs for advanced level skiers, too. Both group and private lessons for downhill, telemark and snowboarding are available for all levels and abilities. e 970-259-3711, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 150 inches AREA: 80 acres BASE ELEVATION: 8,280 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 8,880 feet

to steep and deep powder-filled skiing. The high elevation ensures an early and long season. An easy hike to 13,300 feet offers a 3,000foot vertical drop. Guided skiing is available in November, December and April. e 970-387-5706, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 400+ inches AREA: 1,819 acres BASE ELEVATION: 10,400 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 13,487 feet

(Telluride) Nestled in a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado, — Bill Watterson, author of Telluride’s spectacular Calvin & Hobbes Ski Hesperus scenery is undeniably (Hesperus) Hesperus some of the most beautiful Ski Area, just 11 miles west in the Rockies. Telluride blends of Durango, is a small, friendly, historic buildings and local waterinexpensive place to ski day and ing holes with world-class hotels, night. With a 700-foot vertical restaurants, shops and spas. This drop and steep slopes, Hesperus world-class destination welcomes has one double chairlift, nine you with the same enthusiasm alpine runs with night skiing, the locals feel for the mountains. including snowboarding until 9:30 Telluride has expanded by more p.m. during the ski season, and a than 300 acres over the past few tubing hill. A beginner’s ski area


“Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.”

Telluride Ski Resort


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RYAN BONNEAU/Telluride Tourism Board

A gondola view of Telluride.

A Ute Indian summer camp for centuries until the mid-1800s, the Telluride area lured fortune hunters to its pockets of gold and silver until the central mining camp in the valley incorporated in 1878. With the coming of the railroad in 1890, remote Telluride filled with immigrants seeking their fortunes until 1893 when the thriving community of 5,000 fell to crashing silver prices. With World War I, the mining boom collapsed completely, and the town’s population dwindled from thousands to hundreds. But there was still treasure in the hills, in the form of white gold — snow! In the 1970s, Telluride reinvented itself around its legendary powder, and the Telluride Ski Resort opened in 1973. The town hit high gear, giving rise to skiing, cultural events, festivals, music, and performing arts. Telluride was reborn. Due to its significant role in the history of the American West, the core area of Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. Citizens are committed to preserving Telluride’s historical architecture, open space, and traditional design elements, and most of all, its small town mountain lifestyle. Telluride Tourism Board, 888-605-2578,

seasons, adding to its already legendary terrain. Telluride’s free gondola is the main source of transportation — no traffic or long lines, and no driving once you’ve arrived! e 800-778-8581, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 309 inches AREA: 2,000+ acres BASE ELEVATION: 8,725 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 12,570 feet

JERRY MCBRIDE/Durango Herald

Wolf Creek Ski Area

(28 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs) Located east of Pagosa Springs atop the Rockies in the Rio Grande National Forest, Wolf Creek is a powder hound’s haven with more snowfall than any other area in the state: approximately 465 natural inches annually. Highway closures from snow storms may occur, so check with the resort before leaving home. The

more traditional terrain at Wolf Creek (500 acres and approximately 50 trails) is serviced by two triple chairlifts, one double, one quad, one quad detachable, one high speed poma lift, and Wolf Creek Pass claimed the sixth spot for snowiest year in recorded history with 520 inches in the winter of 1947-48. one magic carpet. Unique to Wolf Creek is the 1,000 acres serviced by the Alberta quad. This lift gives access to steep chutes and many intermediate powder glades that adventurous skiers and boarders enjoy. Cross-country skiing is also available. The ski school offers individual, group and private

lessons, as well as the popular Wolf Pup program for children. Snowboard and telemark lessons are also available. e 970-264-5639, ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 465 inches AREA: 1,600 acres BASE ELEVATION: 10,300 feet SUMMIT ELEVATION: 11,904 feet


Durango Mountain Resort

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 11


★ It’s All Better in the Backcountry Pristine powder is reliably found “up there,” in terrain at and above 10,000 feet. With the highest mean altitude of all the states, Colorado contains 75 percent of the land area of the U.S. with an altitude over 10,000 feet, which means pow — and lots of it, in the towering San Juan Mountains. To get to it, backcountry skiers and boarders hike on Alpine Touring gear or split boards to a summit, ridgeline or opportune high spot where they prepare for a launch into chutes, couloirs and trees and blissful open bowls and glades. Some prefer to base out of a hut, while others get to the powder with a quick trip up on a helicopter or snowcat.

12 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


Danika Gilbert skiing up Spencer Peak above Molas Pass, San Juan National Forest, Colo.


While backcountry enthusiasts must Silverton Mountain Guides always pay attention to the risk of avaIn 2009, Silverton Mountain began lanche, there are favorite backcountry offering heli-skiing drops onto the areas where accessibility and familiarity spectacular terrain of its mountain continue to attract skiers and boardthrough Silverton Mountain Guides, ers into pristine areas and steep slopes. with a variety of options available. Among them are Coal Bank, Molas and High-caliber skiers and boarders can Red Mountain passes and Alta Lakes purchase access to high-caliber runs Basin, Lena Basin and the Bear Creek by the run, in packages of two or more drainage, although this is just the runs, and even get picked up from beginning of a very long list. nearly anywhere in western Colorado Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or and brought to Silverton for a custom one who prefers to access terrain via ski day. Silverton Mountain Guides also helicopter or snowcat, backcountry provide heli-skiing in Alaska. skiing requires in-depth knowledge of e 970-387-5706, gear, avalanche safety, navigation, ski techniques and emergency CATSKIING preparation. Colorado is home to 54 14,000-foot San Juan mountain peaks, more HELI-SKIING than Ski Company any other state in the The San Juan Ski United States. Telluride Helitrax Company’s 36,000-plus In operation since 1982, Telacres of permitted real estate luride Helitrax is Colorado’s oldest has some of the best catskiing in the helicopter ski company. A family-owned state — from chutes and open bowls to guide service with an exemplary safety steep tree runs cliff-pocked with jumps. record, it flies in the beautiful San Juan The largest snowcat skiing operation Mountains at the highest elevations in in the state, San Juan Ski Company is North America. Telluride Helitrax offers based at Durango Mountain Resort, a variety of heli-ski experiences, includwhere it claims more acres than all ing day trips, multi-day bookings, Aspen Colorado ski resorts combined. and Vail charters and custom tours. Instead of sharing powder lines with e 877-500-8377, 970-728-8377, hundreds of frenzied ski resort skiers/ snowboarders, enjoy the day with just


... continued

A San Juan Ski Company snowcat delivers ’boarders to a “pow” sweet spot near Durango Mountain Resort.

A HUT ABOVE San Juan Outdoor School: Offers guided hut trips with a choice of backcountry lodging accommodations ranging from rustic to deluxe; winter_hut.htm, 970-728-4101, 866-386-8743 High Camp Hut: A cabin in the San Juan Mountain backcountry, near Telluride; highcamphut. com, 970-728-8050 Observatory at Alta Lakes: A luxurious backcountry experience;, 970-239-0027 San Juan Hut System: An array of five backcountry huts between Telluride and Ouray that can be skied to individually or linked following the Sneffels Range; sanjuanhuts. com, 970-626-3033 Red Mountain Pass Cabins, the Artist Cabin, Mountain Belle Hut and Addie S cabin are located within three miles of Red Mountain Pass; skihuts. com, 970-260-2101 Silverton Ski Hut: The only available hut on Molas Pass, the Aladdin’s Lamp Hut is situated at 10,525-feet elevation near Highway 550, nestled below Grand Turk; silvertonskihut. com, 970-382-9570

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 13

a handful of guests, two guides, a snowcat and thousands of acres of incredible snowcat skiing and snowboarding. e 800-208-1780,

Silverton Powder Cats Located seven miles south of Silverton where it uses powerful Piston Bully’s to access the terrain around Molas Pass, the Silverton Powdercats caters to powder hounds looking to hone backcountry skills and advanced riders looking to be challenged in chutes, trees and open bowls, much of which is above tree-line. You’ll ride up in quiet, warm and insulated enclosed cabs with guides who are local, friendly and knowledgeable of the thousands of acres of terrain out the door. With safety as a priority, the guides will personalize your tour and, for a little excitement, they might even suggest a short hike to access more challenging terrain. xyz e 970-385-7288, Silverton, Colorado


★ SILVERTON, COLORADO Once the stomping ground of silver kings and railroad giants, Silverton

survives today as one of Colorado’s most endearing destinations. When the Silverton district opened legally to miners in 1874, an estimated 2,000 men moved into the region from points across the U.S., Europe and even China, to endure severe winters and dangerous mining conditions in their pursuit of minerals. Today, Silverton may be a quiet, high-altitude town surrounded by breathtaking peaks of the San Juan Mountains, but in the winter it’s all but quiet at Kendall Mountain Ski & Recreation Area, where families squeal in pursuit of skiing, sledding and ice-skating thrills; and at Silverton Mountain, where advanced skiers and snowboarders whoop with joy on steeps. In town is a network of cross-country skiing trails and nearby are world-class ice climbing and snowmobiling. Located on the upper Animas River, the sturdy town has retained its original Western character of wide streets and historical Victorian buildings. There is only one paved road, but it’s lined with lodging, coffee shops and restaurants. Silverton Chamber of Commerce, 970-387-5654,

14 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

ice climbing

★ Pickin’ and Grinnin’


Gravity has a heyday with water in Southwest Colorado’s mountainous terrain. In the winter, plunges of water freeze in vertical columns and cascading romps, providing climbers who possess the skills, tools and safety sense yet another reason to call the area paradise. Upstanding ice that keeps climbers on their toes:

Ice meets Danika Gilbert climbing the Whorehouse Ice Hose, the criteria to be a Eureka, Colo. mineral: It is naturally occurring, inorganic, solid, has a specific chemical DURANGO SILVERTON formula and has a fixed Cascade Canyon is a natural ice South Mineral Creek is accessed five internal atomic park just off Highway 550 about miles northwest of Silverton on County structure. two miles north of Durango MounRoad 585. The Direct North Face is the tain Resort, where experts and beginners giant ice first to be seen a few miles down the enjoy single-pitch climbing. It is also no secret that road, followed by the Snowblind chimneys and the Upper Haflin Falls on the east side of the Animas Campground Couloir above the public campground. Valley holds 100 feet of popsicle. The road is not plowed, so reaching these climbs after snowfall requires skis or snowshoes. Eureka, located nine miles north of Silverton on OURAY Forest Road 110, holds a wealth of ice, including Home to the Ouray Ice Festival (Jan. 9 - 13, 2013), favorites such as Stairway to Heaven, a huge flow on Ouray has arguably the best ice climbing in the the east side of the gorge. Tempered by Fire is further country because of the Ouray Ice Park — a mile-long up on the east, beginning in a narrowing slot chimsection of the Uncompahgre Gorge with more than ney just above the road. Also check out Whorehouse 200 easily accessible climbs, most of them “farmed” Hoses, 1st Gully, 2nd Gully, which is an enjoyable via a gravity-fed pipeline. frozen cascade just steps off the road, and Goldrush.


The Wolf Creek Pass area north of Pagosa Springs has a variety of falls that can turn into great ice climbs, including Treasure Falls, which is long recognized as one of its jewels. Just opposite Treasure Falls is Tasty Freeze, another gem.

TELLURIDE Telluride lacks no amount of steep terrain, which in winter can bring to form great ice at Bridal Veil Falls and Bear Creek Canyon/Falls, Ames Ice Hose and Ames Falls. xyz 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 15


★ Straight and Skinny Wins the Day Cross-country and Nordic skiing is skate skiing are technically defined as any Nordic disciplines skiing discipline that involves that require the the use of a ski binding where only the toe is attached, leaving the heel skier to push off “free.” Free-heelers include telemark poles to propel skiers, who pursue the style in the forward on flat alpine and at resorts while dependor rolling terrain. ing on gravity — downhill — for propulsion. The styles differ in the directional movement of the skis. Classic cross-country skis move parallel to one another while skate skis move diagonally outward, mimicking the movement of ice skates. Southwest Colorado’s diverse terrain allows for not only the practice but popularity of many skiing styles. This taste of areas for cross-country and skate skiing includes options for all skill and fitness levels.

16 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide



Sarah Tescher cross-country skiing on the Hillcrest Golf Course, Durango, Colo.


Andrews Lake

(Between Silverton and Durango) With seemingly endless options, this area is a gem. There are no groomed trails but users can be counted on each year to create a network of trails to follow. Directions: Located about a mile before Molas Pass on Highway 550, look for a small parking lot on the east side of the highway. Expect snowmobile activity north of the area toward Molas Pass.


Aspen Town

(Silverton) A 15-mile out-and-back adventure with great views, the trail passes by historic mining and town sites ending at Eureka, where you’ll see the ruins of the Sunnyside Mill. There are switchbacks and a creek crossing at Arrastra Gulch; the creek is usually frozen. Directions: Access this trail from the Kendall Mountain Community Center at the end of 14th Street in Silverton. Park on the road just over the bridge or at the Community Center. The trail heads northeast from the road.

SNOWSHOEING The original snowsport, snowshoeing facilitates walking on snow without breaking through it. Snowshoers often share the same areas as cross-country skiers, including these areas, although types of snowshoes include recreational hiking, aerobic/fitness and hiking/backpacking. Which points to the obvious: snowshoes are versatile. Brice Gordon and Celia Hale snowshoeing on Red Mountain Pass, San Juan National Forest, Colo.

Mancos, go two and a half miles east on Highway 160 and turn north on County Road 44. Go three miles to the Forest Service gate where there is a plowed parking lot.

Haviland Lake

(North of Durango) An easy three to five miles of ungroomed trails and roads. Directions: From Durango, go 17 miles north on Highway 550. Turn right at Haviland Lake to plowed parking area. Be aware of sleigh rides that operate in this area.

Hillcrest Golf Course

(Durango) When the links are covered with snow, the Hillcrest Golf Course is opened to the public free-of-charge for cross-country and skate skiing. Directions: Located just north of the Fort Lewis College campus.


(South of Ouray) Located in a fairly level valley about seven miles south of Ouray on Highway 550, three to four miles of groomed trail glide past the historic ghost town of Ironton. A Chicken Creek superb area to explore, there are also (North of Mancos) Chicken Creek more challenging miles of marked Cross Country Ski Area is a Nordic More snowshoeing hotspots: ungroomed trails to historic mine area just minutes from Mancos. House Creek sites and scenic overlooks. Trail Enjoy more than 15 miles of groomed (Near Dolores) Directions: Turn maps are available at the trailhead. classic and skate trails ranging from west off Highway 145 in Dolores beginning to intermediate level. Mesa Verde National Park Directions: Travel north from Mancos on 11th St. (County Road 31). on Highway 184, turn east on County Climb the hill and go seven miles (Between Mancos and Cortez) If snow(C.R. 31 becomes Forest Service fall permits, the park plans to groom Road 40 and watch for the sign Road 526). Look for signs to three trail systems: Cliff Palace about three miles ahead. For a map House Creek campground. Loop, Prater Canyon and Morefield of Chicken Creek and other Nordic Campground Trails; 20.4 miles. Eight ski areas in the Cortez, Dolores and Beaver Meadows miles of the Wetherill Road will be Mancos area, visit (Near Bayfield) Directions: available for ungroomed skiing/ outdoor-fun/skiing. From Bayfield, go seven miles snowshoeing. Maps and detailed east on Highway 160. Turn north information on skiing and snowEcho Basin on Forest Service Road 135, go shoeing can be acquired on the park (East of Mancos) Extensive at 30-plus two miles. Roadside parking. website. e 970-529-4622, miles of unplowed Forest Service There are two access points from meve; Museum: 970-529-4631 roads, some years the first 12 miles Highway 160. are groomed. Directions: From ... continued 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 17

The Nordic Center at Purgatory

(North of Durango) Located just across the highway from Durango Mountain Resort, the Nordic Center has around 12 miles of ski trails that roll through scenic forest and that are groomed every day for both classic and skate skiing. It also has a separate network of snowshoe trails. Equipment rentals are available on site. e 970-385-2114,

Plumtaw Trail

(Near Pagosa Springs) Approximately 21 miles of groomed trails. Directions: From Highway 160 in Pagosa, turn east on Lewis St., then north on 5th St., which becomes Fourmile Road (County Road 400). Go six and a half miles north to the end of a plowed road. Roadside parking only. The Pagosa Springs area is endowed with groomed ski trails, from easy to difficult. e 970-946-7225,

Telluride Town Park

(Telluride) Just outside the doors of the Nordic Center on the east end of Town Park are nearly two miles of immaculately groomed trail. On the west end of the valley floor, the Valley Floor Nordic Trails offer more than 10 miles of groomed track with gentle terrain and three trailheads.

Town of Silverton

(Silverton) A great place to take kids or to try crosscountry or skate skiing, approximately three miles of groomed trails over easy terrain are located in and about town. Directions: Access this trail at the Visitors Center or at the Railroad Depot.

Top of the Pines

(West of Ridgway) Groomed primarily for skate skiing, more than four miles of wide trail meander around a mesa meadow with spectacular vistas. Directions: Driving west out of Ridgway on Highway 62, turn south on County Road 5 to Elk Meadows. Drive five miles to a turn on the right marked “Highland Drive.”

Vallecito Reservoir Ski Area

(East of Durango) More than nine miles of groomed trails, the ski area offers easy to moderate terrain and mountain scenery. Directions: From Durango, take County Road 240 east to the stop sign on Highway 501; turn left. At the reservoir, turn right, crossing over the dam to the trailhead. From Bayfield, take xyz 501 north, following the above directions. 18 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


ice skating Enjoyed by people of all ages, ice skating is both fun and good exercise. Southwest Colorado enjoys a variety of venues for ice skating, from ponds and lakes to regulationsized ice rinks, where the joy of gliding across ice on blades of steel is satisfied for both recreationalists and sport enthusiasts.

Chapman Hill indoor rink, Durango.


Lisa Hathaway ice skating on Electra Lake, Colo.

★ Get Your Skates On! Chapman Hill

Kendall Mountain Recreation Area

(Durango) Chapman Hill is a small, in-town public ski and (Silverton) One of the largest outskate facility. During the winter, door skating rinks in the Rocky a refrigerated rink provides excel- Mountains, Kendall is always lent ice skating for public skating open, weather-permitting. There is and youth and adult hockey no charge for skating, or sledding. leagues. The pavilion has bleachIce skate rentals are available in ers, concessions and a sitting area the Kendall Mountain Community with a fireplace. Ice skate rentals Center. e and lessons are available. The oldest e 970-375-7395, Mountain Village pair of skates known Ice Rink date back to about 3000 (Mountain Village) Free Skating B.C., found at a lake bottom The Mountain Village in Switzerland. They were Pond Ice Rink is located made from the bones of (Pagosa Springs) in Mountain Village large animals. Pagosa Springs mainCenter next to Hotel tains a free skating pond Madeline. Between late behind River Center at the east December and March, the sizend of town. When the ice is at able ice rink offers a great place least 4 inches thick, skating is for family fun and a free skate allowed from dawn to 10 p.m., but, with a Christmas tree in the except during the nights when ice- middle of the rink, don’t expect to maintenance operations are being hit the puck around here. performed. Directly in front of the Skates can be rented on-site at pond is Summit Ski & Sports (800Bootdoctors. e 970-728-8000 332-9653), which rents ice skates.

Rotary Park Rink

(Ouray) The Ouray ice skating rink is located at Rotary Park, approximately one mile north of the Hot Springs Pool. Maintained by the City of Ouray and a cadre of volunteers, the rink typically opens late December. There is a small warming hut located at the rink. Lights at the rink allow for evening skating. e 970-325-4746

Town Park and Andy Hanley Ice Rink

(Telluride) Telluride’s Town Park has both an outdoor and indoor rink. The outdoor rink offers skating for the whole family on a natural pond surrounded by splendid mountain scenery. The Andy Hanley Ice Rink is a regulationsize refrigerated indoor hockey rink and the venue for regional and local leagues. The rink is also open for public skate in the early afternoon; 970-728-2173. Skate rentals are available at the Nordic xyz Center. e 970-728-1144 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 19

ice fishing


Southwest Colorado offers some great ice fishing for both native and stocked species in its lakes and reservoirs. With just basic equipment, ice anglers have the tools to target trout, salmon, northern pike and pan fish. With a cautionary note to always check ice conditions and thickness before venturing onto ice, here is a handful of lakes to get you started.

★ Fish On! Big Molas Lake

(South of Silverton) A 20-acre natural lake located near Silverton, ice anglers here target “holdover” rainbow trout from summer stockings. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Durango, 970-247-0855

Blue Mesa Reservoir

(Between Montrose and Gunnison) This 8,900-acre reservoir is a popular ice-fishing locale for brown trout, lake trout, rainbow trout and yellow perch. Blue Mesa is also Colorado’s largest body of water and home to Colorado’s largest population of kokanee salmon. e Curecanti National Recreation Area, 970-641-2337

20 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

Echo Canyon Reservoir

(South of Pagosa Springs) This 118acre reservoir is in a state wildlife area and holds largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, yellow perch, rainbow trout, channel catfish and white bass. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/ Durango, 970-247-0855

Colorado waters are open to fishing from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, except as otherwise noted in the regulations. An annual Colorado fishing license is valid from April 1, 2012 to March 31, It’s true! 2013. Southwest Colorado has excellent winter fly fishing, too, on the Animas, Gunnison, San Juan, San Miguel and Uncompahgre rivers.

Lemon Reservoir

(Near Durango) Located approximately 15 miles northeast of Durango, Lemon Reservoir is home to brown trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Durango, 970-247-0855

Mancos State Park

(Near Mancos) Jackson Gulch Reservoir is located approximate five miles northeast of Mancos in Mancos State Park. When ice is in condition, anglers target yellow perch and rainbow trout. e Mancos State Park, 970-533-7065, 970-882-2213

Pastorius Reservoir

(Near Durango) Located in a state wildlife area about 10 miles southeast of Durango off U.S. Highway 160, this 85-acre reservoir is managed with largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Durango,970-247-0855

Summit Reservoir

(Near Mancos) Summit Reservoir is a 350-acre lake located about eight miles northwest of Mancos and 20 miles northeast of Cortez. Summit is stocked with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Durango, 970-247-0855

Totten Reservoir

(Near Cortez) Known for perch, bluegill and northern pike, this 204-acre reservoir is located a few miles east of Cortez. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/ Durango, 970-247-0855 ... continued 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 21

A fishing license is required for people 16 years of age and older. Children under the age of 16 and over the age of 64 are not required to have a fishing license;

Looking north across Vallecito Lake and into Weminuche Wilderness.

Vallecito Reservoir

McPhee Reservoir

(Near Cortez) At close to 4,500 surface acres, McPhee is Colorado’s second largest man-made lake. It is located approximately 10 miles north of Cortez, just west of the town of Dolores. Stocked annually with rainbow trout, McPhee is also home to largemouth and smallmouth bass, kokanee salmon, black crappie, bluegill and channel catfish. e Colorado xyz Parks and Wildlife/Durango, 970-247-0855

22 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


(Near Durango) This 2,700-acre reservoir is located northeast of Durango hold brown trout, rainbow trout, northern pike, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, and even a few large walleye. e Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Durango, 970-247-0855

★ VALLECITO LAKE, COLORADO In a secluded mountain valley 8,000 feet above sea level,

Vallecito Lake is one of Colorado’s largest bodies of water. Vallecito, Spanish for “Little Valley,” the lake and its community is located in the southwestern part of the state just 25 miles from Durango. With 2,700 surface acres of water and 12 miles of shoreline, Vallecito Lake sits in the heart of the unspoiled San Juan National Forest and offers a variety of accommodations and recreational opportunities, including ample opportunities for winter sports. Vallecito is a great location for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Many Vallecito restaurants are open during the winter. Vallecito Lake Chamber of Commerce, 970-247-1573,

dog sledding


★ A Howling Good Time Dog sleds have been used for hunting, trapping and travel for more than a thousand years, and today the thrill of dog-powered exploration has dogs — and people — howling with joy among the snowy peaks of Southwest Colorado. This winter experience receives its highlights from the power, excitement and energy of a team of authentic working sled dogs. Enjoy the ride along with breathtaking views.

Durango Dog Ranch

(Near Mancos) In operation since 1996, the Durango Dog Ranch runs high-end dog-sled adventures for people of all ages that put the participant in the driver’s seat, literally. There is a guide on each sled, and all participants harness the dogs and drive the sled. All trips are by reservation. Hot drinks, fresh snacks and a camaraderie between human and canine are just some of the highlights. e 970-259-0694,

Lucky Cat Dog Farm

(Gunnison) The longest continually operating dog sled tour business in Gunnison County, the Lucky Cat Dog Farm shares the thrill and excitement of the dogsledding experience by designing trips that are fun, exciting, educational, even relaxing. e 970641-1636,

Forty legs and two runners

Sled dog breeds are commonly Siberian and Alaskan huskies and Alaskan malamutes.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” — Roger Caras, author and television personality

Winter Moon Sled Dog Adventures (Telluride) Local tours offer halfday, full-day and overnight trips into the San Juan Mountains near Telluride where vast plateaus and mountain meadows are ideal terrain for for dog sledding. Make friends with new canine companions and learn how to prepare both them and a sled for a fun-filled dog sled adventure. A professional guide, “musher,” will help you to prepare the team and sled, and then drive the sled. e 970-729-0058 xyz

On a body-weight basis, an Alaskan husky running in the Iditarod eats and burns about 11,000 calories a day, which is about eight times as much as a Tour de France cyclist. — Roger Segelken, Cornell University 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 23

sleigh riding Bill Gamble and Miki Harder take a sleigh ride with Anne Rapp of Rapp Corral along a snowy road in the San Juan National Forest, Colo.


For good, old-fashioned fun or for a romantic ride snuggled under a blanket with your sweetheart, it is difficult to beat a horse-drawn sleigh ride through flocked forest. So get out the pocket warmers and prepare for hay-scented snorts, rosy cheeks and a few jingles on a sleigh ride, laughing all the way.

★ Ho, Ho, Giddyup! DURANGO Located just across the highway from Durango Mountain Resort, Buck’s Livery operates horse-drawn sleigh rides at the resort. Reservations are required, but every evening, starting slope-side in front of Purgy’s, draft horses pull sleighs of up to 10 people for a 30- to 45-minute ride through the enchanting forest snowscapes near the resort. e 970-385-2110,

24 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

Rapp Corral offers custom horsedrawn sleigh rides 17 miles north of Durango for groups, couples or individuals. In December through February, subject to weather conditions, enjoy 45 minutes aboard handmade sleds pulled by draft horses. The three-mile ride goes through snowy terrain along the shores of Haviland Lake under the Hermosa Cliffs. Rides are offered on the hour by reservation only. e 970-247-8454,

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

A Buck’s Livery draft horse decked out to jingle and ready to pull.

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling to...” San Juan Sky Outfitters operates horse-drawn open sleigh rides — on modified wheels, not runners — departing from the historic Strater Hotel down Main Avenue on Friday and Saturday evenings and holidays in the winter, or by appointment. e 970-259-8590, e, 970-247-4431


During the holiday season Rimrock Outfitters offers sleigh rides in the Mesa Verde area through pine trees and open meadows. A real Western experience; enjoy breathtaking views of the La Plata Mountains. e 970-533-7588,


With Astraddle A Saddle, take a 40-minute leisurely sled ride pulled by a team of draft horses over the hills and through the valleys west of town. e 970-731-5076,

RIDGWAY Owned and operated by a genuine cowboy, Rowdy, Bach’lers Stable offers personalized sleigh rides near the Bachelor Syracuse Mine. e 970-318-0444


Riding every day year-round except Sundays, Telluride Horseback Adventures provides winter trail rides and horse-drawn sleigh rides against the backdrop of the Wilson Range. e 970-728-9611, xyz 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 25


★ Going Fast and Having Fun on SeriousToys


Bryce Gordon and Cori East sled on Kendall Mountain. Less-steep sledding is available nearby on the same mountain at the Kendall Mountain Ski & Recreation Area, Silverton, Colo.

When the weather is dreary and cold, one of the best and least expensive — and fun! — ways to break the boredom is to get out into the fresh air and go snow sledding. All you need is a sled, toboggan or tube, snow and a place to go. For inspired wipeouts and zippy runs, find them here: 26 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

Buckley Park

(Durango) With enough snow, Buckley Park on Main Avenue is a family favorite. It’s arguably the best hill for little ones, because the downhill slide is gentle from the east rim above the park toward Main Avenue, although watch for rocks or a park bench at the end of a long ride. On a snowy day, this is a great spot for free, old-fashioned fun.

Chapman Hill

(Durango) A dedicated sledding area is located north of the ski area at Chapman Hill. No sledding is allowed in the ski area. e, 970-375-7300

Durango Mountain Resort

(Durango) For a fast and furious slide, fly down the mountain on a tube at the Snow Coaster tubing hill. Rent a tube from Purgatory’s rental fleet, hike up the hill and then whoosh down one of three tubing lanes in the Columbine Area. Guests must use Purgatory’s tubes, which can be rented by the hour. e 970-247-9000,

Firecracker Hill

(Telluride) Telluride Town Park’s sledding hill offers short but thrilling sled rides down Firecracker Hill. Bring your own sleds or rent one at the nearby Nordic Center. e 970-728-1144,

Kendall Mountain Ski & Recreation Area

(Silverton) Arrive with a sled or tube or rent one at the lodge and hike it up the hill for a long ride down a roped-off run. e 970-387-5522,

Reservoir Hill

(Pagosa Springs) The sledding includes a luge-style run with a berm at the end. Access the hill by turning south on Hot Springs Blvd and, just across the bridge, turning left on San Juan Street. Across from the parking area is Park Street. Walk up Park Street to the sledding hill. Other options around town include Hole 4 of the Ponderosa loop on the golf course and Lobo Overlook on Wolf Creek Pass.

Ski Hesperus Tubing Hill

(Near Hesperus) This small ski area between Durango and Mancos also has a groomed tubing hill with three distinct runs ending at a snow berm near the highway. Tube rentals are by the hour. e 970-259-3711,

Vinegar Hill

(Ouray) This children’s sledding hill has been Ouray’s sledding hill for more than 100 years. Located on the east side of town between Fifth and Sixth avenues, the top and bottom of these two avenues are blocked xyz off with hay bales to driving traffic. 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 27

calendar of


Winter 2012-13

COMMUNITY KEY Aztec | Bayfield | Cortez | Dolores | Durango | Farmington | Ignacio | Mancos | Mesa Verde | Ouray | Pagosa Springs | Silverton | Telluride | Other

Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall Oct. 18 Acoustic Africa Oct. 23 Shaolin Warriors Nov. 10 San Juan Symphony: Dread, Redemption, Nirvana

HARVEST GALA DINNER AND AUCTION Oct 18 [Durango] The Mahogany Grille/Strater Hotel, 970259-0374, ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Oct 19-20 [Ouray] Wright Opera House, 970-325-4005 NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY Oct 20 [Aztec] Aztec Ruins National Monument, RENAISSANCE FAIRE Oct 20-21 [Farmington] Animas Park, GIMMIE A SHIMMY: ZUMBATHON Oct 21 [Durango] Durango Community Recreation Center, 970-769-4154 OCTOBER SUNDOWNER Oct 24 [Pagosa Springs] Mud Shaver Car Wash, 970-264-2360

Dec. 1 John Denver “The Tribute” INTERNATIONAL INDIAN FINALS RODEO Oct 25-28 [Farmington] McGee Park Arena, MUNCHKIN MASQUERADE CARNIVAL Oct 26 [Farmington] Farmington Recreation Center, ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW LIVE Oct 26, 27, 31 [Durango] Henry Strater Theater, PUMPKIN FESTIVAL Oct 27 [Cortez] Cortez Cultural Center, 970-565-1151, RHYTHM RUN Oct 27 [Ridgway] KOTO HALLOWEEN BASH Oct 27 [Telluride] Town Park Pavillion, THREE SPRINGS FESTIVAL Oct 27 [Durango] 970-764-6000,

28 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

HARVEST HAUL Oct 27 [Pagosa Springs] Town Park, HALLOWEEN BALL Oct 27 [Ouray] Beaumont Hotel Grand Ballroom, RHYTHM RUN Oct 27 [Ridgway] Ridgway Town Park, LAST TRAIN TO SILVERTON Oct 27 [Durango] D&SNGR, BOOGIEMAN BALL Oct 31 [Farmington] Sycamore Park Community Center, HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL Oct 31 [Pagosa Springs] Ross Aragon Community Center, 970-264-4152 ZOMBIE THEATER Oct 31 [Farmington] Turano-Chrisman Theatre,

Dec. 4 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Holiday Party Dec. 4 Durango Choral Society: Traditional Family Christmas Dec. 14 - 16 State Street Ballet Nutcracker Dec. 20 Bar D Wranglers Christmas Jubilee Jan. 22 2013 Diavolo Dance Theater Feb. 13 The Infamous Stringdusters Feb. 17 San Juan Symphony: Back to the Future Feb. 27 “ The Intergalactic Nemesis” Feb. 27 Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project March 7 Steep Canyon Rangers March 13 Neil Berg’s “101 Yearsof Broadway” March 23 Oliver Mtukudzi March 28 Ruth Moody Band 970-247-7657


Nov. 3 Nakai, Eaton and Clipman


Winter season begins Dec. 21 and ends March 20

NOVEMBER FIRST THURSDAY ART WALK Nov 1 [Durango] NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTH RODEO Nov 1-4 [Ignacio] Sky Ute Fairgrounds, MOUNTAIN FILM ON TOUR Nov 2 [Durango] Smiley Building, 970-382-9244, HESPERUS SKI PATROL SKI SWAP Nov 3 [Durango] La Plata County Fairgrounds, 970-759-1147 SOUTHERN UTE VETERANS POW WOW Nov 3 [Ignacio] Sky Ute Tribal Event Center, CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIRS Nov 3 [Farmington] Bonnie Dallas Senior Center/Farmington Recreation Center, DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS Nov 4 Fall Back

LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY Nov 7, 14, 18, 28 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area KOTO’S SKI SWAP Nov 9-12 [Telluride] Wilkinson Public Library, FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY CHRISTMAS CAROL LUNCHEON & FASHION SHOW Nov 10 [Ouray] Ouray Community Center, 970-325-4724 FREE ENTRY Nov 10-12 [Mesa Verde] OURAY COUNTY NORDIC COUNCIL BANQUET Nov 13 [Ouray] Ouray Community Center, 970-325-0480 WARREN MILLER FILM “FLOW STATE...” Nov 14 [Durango] Smiley Theater, TIMSHEL THEATRE PERFORMANCE/CHERRY DOC Nov 16 [Ouray] Wright Opera House, 970-325-4399 THE POLAR EXPRESS Nov 16Dec 28 [Durango] D&SNGR,

TURKEY TROT & GOBBLE WOBBLE Nov 17 [Farmington] Downtown, 505-5991184, CHRISTMAS BIZARRE Nov 17 [Mancos] Mancos Valley Lions Club, 970-533-7011 HOLIDAY BAZAAR Nov 17-18 [Ouray] Ouray County 4-H Center OPENING DAY Nov 22 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort MOON RISE/SUNSET CROSSCOUNTRY SKI SOCIAL Nov 23 [Pagosa Springs] OPENING DAY Nov 23 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort CHAMPIONSHIP BULLRIDING EXTRAORDINAIRE Nov 23-24 [Farmington] McGee Park Memorial Coliseum, HOLIDAZZLE Nov 23-Dec 24 [Durango] Downtown,

WINTER SOLSTICE ARTISANS’ MARKET Nov 23-24 [Durango] Barbara Conrad Gallery, Durango Art Center, HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR Nov 24 [Cortez] County Annex building, 970-565-1151 OPENING (tentative) Nov 26 [Mesa Verde] Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center, CHRISTMAS IN DOLORES Nov 26-Dec 20 [Dolores] FESTIVAL OF TREES Nov 28Dec 1 [Farmington] Farmington Civic Center, 505-3308467 CHRISTMAS PARADE Nov 29 [Farmington] Main Street, 505-325-0279 NOEL NIGHT Nov 30 [Durango] RIVERGLO Nov 30 [Farmington] Berg Park, 505-326-7602, 800-448-1240 ... continued

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 29

★ OURAY, COLORADO Nicknamed “the Switzerland of America,” Ouray is situated in a

Ouray, Colo., home to the Ouray Ice Festival, the largest ice-climbing festival in the United States.

OPENING DAY Dec 1 [Silverton] Silverton Mountain, OLD FASHION CHRISTMAS Dec 1 [Bayfield] Senior Center, SALMON RUINS HOLIDAY ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR Dec 1 [Farmington] McGee Park, 505-632-2013, 800-448-1240 CHRISTMAS BAZAAR Dec 1 [Dolores] Dolores Community Center; 970-882-7717 SAN JUAN COLLEGE LUMINARIAS Dec 1 [Farmington] San Juan College campus, 505-326-3311 YULE LOG FESTIVAL Dec 1 [Silverton] Kendall Mountain

Recreation Area, 800-7524494, CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING AND YULE LOG FIRE Dec 1 [Dolores] Town Hall, LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY Dec 5, 12 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area FIRST THURSDAY ART WALK Dec 6 [Durango] LUMINARIA HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE Dec 6 [Mesa Verde] Chapin Mesa Headquarters, PARADE OF STORES Dec 6-8 [Pagosa Springs] FESTIVAL OF TREES Dec 7 [Pagosa Springs]

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” Dec 7-9, 14-16 [Durango] Durango Art Center,



SANTA’S CANDY CANE CHRISTMAS Dec 8 [Farmington] Farmington Recreation Center, 505-599-1184

TELLURIDE ARTS BAZAAR Dec 7-9 [Telluride] Telluride High School, MANCOS OLDE FASHIONED CHRISTMAS Dec 7-15 [Mancos] 970-533-7434, HOLIDAY ARTS & CRAFTS SHOW Dec 7-9 [Durango] LaPlata County Fairgrounds, 970- 247-2117 HOLIDAY BAZAAR Dec 8 [Silverton] American Legion Hall, 800-752-4494,

★ RICO, COLORADO One of those places where tranquility meets the road, Rico is home to

30 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

WINE, CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE FEST Dec. 8 [Ouray] Ouray Community Center, 970-325-4913 SKIERCROSS AND SNOWBOARDERCROSS WORLD CUP Dec 13-16 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort AZTEC CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL Dec 14 [Aztec] HOLIDAY ART WALK Dec 14 [Farmington] Downtown, 505-599-1419

Main Street/Highway 145

KATE SIBER/InsideOutside Southwst

200 or so winter residents (500 in summer). The hardy souls who remain behind ski cross-country along the river, telemark or snowboard in the endless backcountry, or snowshoe anywhere their hearts desire. Spanish for “rich,” Rico’s wealth lies in its mines and the accompanying history. Trappers first worked the valley in 1832-33, taking mainly beaver and other fur-bearing animals. The first gold was discovered in 1866 by Colonel Nash, a Texan who led a team of 18 prospectors. The Utes drove away many initial miners, and the mining rush didn’t truly begin until 1878 when the Utes signed the Brunot Agreement, thus surrendering their land claims in the San Juan Mountains. The establishment of the Pioneer Mining District in 1876 led to an abundance of mining, and in the spring of 1879 rich oxidized silver was discovered on Blackhawk and Telescope Mountains. Rico became incorporated and surveyed; cabins, saloons, a general mercantile and the Pioneer Hotel and Restaurant sprung up on the newly platted streets. The Enterprise Lode was struck in 1887 by David Swickhimer, creating jobs for miners from Dolores. The Rio Grande Southern Railroad’s route included a stop in Rico as it huffed from Dolores to Ridgway. Town clerk: 970-967-2861,



river valley at 7,792 feet in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Ouray officially began in 1876 as a mining town. Today, modern visitors admire Ouray’s majestic peaks, cascading waterfalls, natural hot springs, the Million Dollar Highway, Ouray Ice Park and the town’s reputation for being the Jeep Capital of the World. Prior to the arrival of the miners, the Tabequache Indians, a nomadic band, traveled to this setting in the summer months to hunt game and to soak in what they called “sacred miracle waters.” In 1873, the famous Ute Chief, Ouray, reluctantly signed a government treaty releasing the Ute’s treasured San Juan Mountains to encroaching settlers, which was instrumental in keeping peace between the Ute Indians and the many settlers. The town was named in his honor. Ouray is known world-wide for its ice climbing and festival but there are many other winter activities to enjoy including backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding and snowmobiling. Ouray Chamber Resort Association, 800-228-1876,


Luminaria display at San Juan College

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Dec 15 [Farmington] Sycamore Park Community Center


AUDUBON CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT Dec 15 [Farmington] Riverside Nature Center,


LOCAL’S DAY Dec 16 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort LOCAL’S APPRECIATION 2-FOR-1 SKIING Dec 17 [Silverton] Silverton Mountain, CHACO CANYON CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT Dec 17 [Farmington] Chaco Canyon National Monument, 505-599-1422 SENIOR’S DAY Dec 19 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort SECOND AVENUE WINTER SOLSTICE FESTIVAL Dec 21 [Durango] LIVE NAVAJO NATIVITY Dec 22 [Farmington] Four Corners Home for Children, WARREN MILLER FILM TOUR Dec 23 [Telluride] Sheridan Opera House, SANTA COMES TO TOWN Dec 24 [Silverton] Town Christmas Tree, 800-7524494, TORCHLIGHT PARADE Dec 24 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort

Born with an adventurous spirit, an easy-going nature and amazing scenery, Downtown Durango reveals a surprise around every corner. Explore over 200 shops, restaurants and galleries, plus loads of sights and celebrations. Come experience fun without the fuss, Durango-style!

PARADE AND FIREWORKS Dec 31 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort TORCHLIGHT PARADE & FIREWORKS CELEBRATION Dec 31 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort

JANUARY BRUNCH TRAIN Jan 1 [Durango] D&SNGR, FIRST THURSDAY ART WALK Jan 3 [Durango] BARES, BRONCS, & BULLS SPECTACULAR RODEO Jan 4-5 [Farmington] McGee Park Memorial Coliseum CANINE SKIJORING Jan 5-6 [Pagosa Springs] OURAY ICE FESTIVAL Jan 9-13 [Ouray] Ouray Ice Park, LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY Jan 9, 23, 30 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area, DOG SLED RACES Jan 12-13 [Silverton] 800-752-4494,

Fall/Winter Downtown Events Monthly First Thursdays Art Walk Oct. 11–14 Durango Heritage Celebration, Oct. 14 Apple Days Festival, Nov. 30 Noel Night, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 & 7-9 Festival of Trees, Dec. 7–9 Holiday Arts Show, Dec. 14-15 Holiday Farmers Market, Jan. 30-Feb 3 Snowdown Festival, Feb. 27-March 3 Durango Film Festival, March 8-10 Celtic Festival, celtic-music-celebration April 12-14 Steampunk Convention,

Scan this code with your smartphone for more information on activities in Downtown Durango.

... continued

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 31

LOCAL’S DAY Jan 13 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort

OUTLAW SNOWDOWN Feb 8-9 [Pagosa Springs] Town Park,


SENIOR’S DAY Jan 16 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort

WINTERFEST Feb 8-10 [Pagosa Springs]

WINTERFEST WEEKEND Feb 14-17 [Pagosa Springs]

WINTERFEST CELEBRATION Jan 19-20 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort

SNOWSCAPE WINTER FESTIVAL Feb 8-10 [Silverton] Kendall Mountain Recreation Area, 800-752-4494,


MOON RISE/SUNSET SOUP AND CHILE CROSS-COUNTRY SKI SOCIAL Dec 28 [Pagosa Springs] WEDDING EXPO Jan 26 [Farmington] Red Lion Farmington, SNOWDOWN: “GET YOUR GEEK ON!” Jan 30-Feb 3 [Durango]

FEBRUARY JORDAN WORLD CIRCUS Feb 1 [Farmington] McGee Park Memorial Coliseum, LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY Feb 3, 10, 27 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area, FIRST THURSDAY ART WALK Feb 7 [Durango] CHOCOLATE FANTASIA Feb 8 [Durango] La Plata County Fairgrounds, 970-259-1021

REDBALL EXPRESS FUNDRAISER Feb 9 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort, ANYTHING GOES DOWNHILL SLED RACE Feb 9 [Pagosa Springs] SWEETHEARTS OF THE ARTS Feb 9 [Durango] LOCAL’S DAY Feb 10 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort MARDI GRAS CELEBRATION Feb 12 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort SENIOR’S DAY Feb 13 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort COMEDY FESTIVAL Feb 14-17 [Telluride] Sheridan Opera House,

Home decorated for the holidays in Bayfield, Colo.

MOON RISE/SUNSET SOUP AND CHILE CROSS-COUNTRY SKI SOCIAL Feb 22 [Pagosa Springs] HIGH DESERT FINE ART FESTIVAL Feb 22-24 [Farmington] San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center KICKER ARENACROSS AND FREESTYLE MOTOCROSS SHOW Feb 22-23 [Farmington] McGee Park Coliseum; 918-629-9930 “PAGOSA PAW” DOG SLED AND CANINE SKIJORING RACES Feb 23-24 [Pagosa Springs] GAY SKI WEEK Feb 24 March 2 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort DURANGO FILM FESTIVAL Feb 27 - March 3 [Durango]

SAN JUAN COUNTY HOME EXPO March 1-2 [Farmington] McGee Park Convention Center, 505-327-2678 XMR SNOWMOBILE RACING March 2-3 [Silverton] Molas Lake, 800-752-4494, LOCAL’S DAY March 3 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort PAGOSA SPRINGS QUAD CHALLENGE March 3 [Pagosa Springs] SENIOR’S DAY March 6 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY March 6, 31 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area, FUN DAYS FOR DISABLED March 9 [Silverton] Molas Lake, 800-752-4494, DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME March 10 Spring Forward MANCOS VALLEY SNOW SHOW March 15 [Mancos]

★ BAYFIELD, COLORADO In the Pine River Valley 20 miles east of Durango and about 45 minutes north of the New Mexico border, Bayfield is a pleasant, four-season town of about 1,700 residents. The town is adjacent to two million acres of San Juan National Forest, and draws fly-fishing enthusiasts, horseback riders and people who want a real Colorado vacation. The earliest residents of the valley were Ute Indians — it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the region was settled by non-Indians. The first herd of cattle was brought to the area in 1875 and the valley was further settled as ranchers discovered the fertile soil. The town was named after William A. Bay, who created a vision for the town in 1898 and later helped establish it in 1906. Agriculture is still a way of life for many Bayfield residents. In the spring and fall, visitors may be surprised and delighted to find themselves in a “lamb jam,” because herders use nearby highways to move livestock to seasonal pastures. Bayfield is downstream from Lake Vallecito, a presence that promotes Bayfield as a haven for boating, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and crosscountry skiing. Lodging includes cabins, dude ranches, guest ranches, RV parks and motels. Bayfield Chamber of Commerce, 970-884-7372,


32 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

SKIJORING Feb 16-17 [Silverton] Blair Street, 800-7524494,



★ FARMINGTON/AZTEC, NEW MEXICO Over 2,000 years ago the Anasazi “basketmakers” lived in pit houses and pueblo structures

Farmington, New Mexico

in the Farmington area. But they left the area, which then became inhabited by the Navajo, Jicarilla Apache and the Utes. The Spanish passed through this area in the late 1700s and eventually settled in the eastern part of San Juan County in the early 1800s. In the 1870s the population of the area began to grow, giving rise to the settlement of Farmingtown, which was later shortened to Farmington. Pioneers settled at the confluence of the La Plata, Animas and San Juan rivers, and Farmington blossomed into a flourishing farm and ranch economy, incorporating in 1901. In the early part of the 1900s, apples became a prime crop for the local farmers, with about 53,000 bearing apple trees. In the 20th century, Farmington became a leading New Mexico oil-and-gas producing area and an important center of commerce for the region, which includes Southwest Colorado, and enjoys many restaurants and lodging opportunities. Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-448-1240, Just 14 miles east of Farmington is Aztec, N.M., a small community of 6,600 that shares cultural and industrial history with Farmington. At the Aztec Ruins National Monument, which is located in town, history buffs can marvel a 500-rooom Anasazi pueblo with the nation’s largest reconstructed Great Kiva. Aztec Visitor Center, 888-543-4629,

WINE AND WHISKERS March 16 [Ouray] MANCOS MELT March 16 [Mancos] ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATION March 17 [Durango] Durango Mountain Resort,

ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE March 17 [Pagosa Springs] Downtown, 970-264-2360, SPRING FEST March 30 [Bayfield] Joe Stephenson Park, PEANUTS EASTER BEAGLE EXPRESS March 30 [Durango] D&SNGR,

APRIL LOCALS APPRECIATION DAY April 3, 7 [Pagosa Springs] Wolf Creek Ski Area, BREWSKI MICROBREW FEST April 7 [Silverton] LAST DAY April 7 [Telluride] Telluride Ski Resort

SAN JUAN COLLEGE CONTEST POW WOW April 12-14 [Farmington] McGee Park, 505-566-3321 MUD FEST April 26-28 [Ouray] Ouray County Fairgrounds, CLOSING DAY April 14 [Silverton] Silverton Mountain,


2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 33

Parade of Stores

Dec 6–8: NO TAX Shopping Weekend!

Special daily store events and specials throughout Pagosa! Super Pagosa Prize Package Giveaways Lodging facilities offering great Shop & Stay packages

Info: 800-252-2204 •

Pagosa Springs Cross Country Skiing & Events

FREE X-C Skiing with over 50 km of Groomed Trails for Skate Skiing & Classic X-C Skiing and over 100 miles of groomed multi-use trails for snowmobiling & X-C skiing! Please Check for Event Details & Trail Grooming Reports Pagosa Nordic Ski Challange–Dec 8-9

Dec 8: 20km/10km Skate Ski and 10km/5km Classic Ski Races Dec 9: Eagle Mountain Red Ryder BB Gun Biathlon competitive 12km or citizens 6km with 3 target shoots

FREE Moon Rise/Sunset Soup & Chili X-C Ski Socials–Nov 23 ■ Dec 28 ■ Jan 25 ■ Feb 22 ■ 4-7 pm Fridays before the full moon. Great family activity. Easy groomed terrain. Dress warm and bring your head lamps.

FREE Learn to Cross Country Ski Clinics for Adults & Kids–Dec 15 ■ Jan 12 ■ Feb 2 ■ 9-11 am Introductory Skate Ski and Classic X-C Ski instruction clinics.

FREE Dog Harness Demo Day, Clinic & Fun Race–Jan 5-6

Learn about the basic gear and techniques to get you and your dog off and running.

Winterfest Nordic Ski Races–Feb 9–10

Feb 9: Distance races–8km/15km Classic Ski, 12km/25km Skate Ski Races and Kids Races Feb 10: Eagle Mountain Biathlon w/ Red Ryder BB guns (supplied)– 3km/6km Classic Ski Biathlon & 5km/10km Skate Ski Biathlon Plus Fun Relay, Sprint Races & Kids Races

PAGOSA PAW Dog Sled, Canine Skijoring & Cani-Cross Races–Feb 23-24 ■ 9 am

Exciting Spectator Event! Two days of Colorado Mountain Mushers Dog Sled & Canine Skijor Racing

Pagosa Springs Quad Challenge–Mar 3

10km Skate Ski or 5km Classic Ski, 5 km Run, 20km Bike, 1km Swim, Team or Individuals

Info: Few towns have as much character, or characters, as ours. Get to know us at or 866-438-9914.

WinterFest Feb 8-10 ■

Feb 8-9: Outlaw Snowdown, Town Park

A rowdy & rockin’ music festival for folks lookin’ to have a good time; a play-hard weekend for the work-hard set. Ride Wolf Creek by day and howl at the moon by night.

Info: Feb 9: Nordic Ski Races, Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race, Snow Sculpting Contest, Snowman Stomp Snowshoe Romp Feb 10: Nordic Races, Hot Toddy for the Body Contest (11 am) followed by 4th Annual Pagosa Penguin Plunge (noon) Watch the brave participants as they plunge into the San Juan River, temperature approximately 33º. You can also raise funds for your favorite nonprofit or school by collecting pledges.

Info: 800-252-2204 •

Wolf Creek Ski Area

The first snow and the best snow in Colorado! Ski deep powder snow throughout the winter.

Professional ski school with great programs for every ability level Two quad chairlifts, two triple chairlifts, one double chairlift, one historic platter lift and the Magic Carpet for the Wolf Pup Program ■ Excellent restaurants in the base area and several smaller eateries on the mountain ■ Extremely affordable lift ticket prices throughout the season ■ ■

College Days: Lift tickets for $35 with valid college ID Nov11 ■ Dec 2 & 9 ■ Jan 6 & 13 ■ Feb 24 ■ Mar 24 & 30 ■ Apr 6 Info


★ Vroom With a View

Alta Lakes

(Near Telluride) Alta is a picturesque 1870’s mining town in a lakeland area and a popular snowshoeing and snowmobiling area about a 30-minute drive from Telluride and five miles south of Mountain Village on Highway 145. Look for a left turn (east) into Alta Lakes Road.

A sampling — think relish! — of Southwest Colorado snowmobiling Beaver Creek Meadows

(Near Pagosa Springs) From Durango take Highway 160 approximately 26 miles east to Forest Access Road 135 (Beaver Meadows). Park off this road. Watch for cross-country skiers.

Boggy Draw

(Near Dolores) More than 30 miles of trails. Turn west off Highway 145 in Dolores on 11th St. (County Road 31). Go one and a half miles, turn right on County Road W and travel one mile to the plowed parking area. Jim Dickey jumping a snowmobile in fresh powder, San Juan National Forest, Colorado.

Barlow Creek

(Near Rico) Located approximately eight miles north of Rico on Highway 145, Barlow Creek is groomed from the Durango side from Purgatory over Bolam Pass. Dog-sledders and cross-country skiers also use this trail so use caution when riding.

Colorado Basin

(Near Silverton) Four and a quarter miles one way, this trail is accessed north of Silverton on Highway 110B, passing Silverton Mountain Ski Area and parking at Gladstone Mine.

Echo Basin

(Near Mancos) Located north of Highway 160 just east of Mancos on County Road 44. Take County Road 44 north for approximately three miles to the parking area.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center: 36 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


If you’re in Southwest Colorado with a snowmobile, you’re in paradise. Vast tracks of snowmobile trails and numerous areas of deep snow compel snowmobilers into the mountains for thrillsome and exciting rides. If you’re here without one but eager to ride, you’re still in paradise. Snowmobile tours and rentals provide options to venture out on your own, although each riding area has its level of difficulty, from trail riding to steep and deep powder for experts.

NANCY RICHMOND/InsideOutside Southwest


With the Dolores River running through town into McPhee Reservoir and mountains on both sides of the valley, Dolores is one of the unique vacation spots in Colorado. There is spectacular scenery and mile after mile of the San Juan National Forest filled with elk and mule deer. Dolores was a railroad town for 60 years and had a major Rio Grande Southern station between Durango and Ridgway. There is a replica of Dolores’ original train depot standing on Railroad Avenue today, a Victorian-style structure that now houses the Rio Grande Southern Railroad Museum and the Dolores Visitors Center. The town of Dolores is along the San Juan Skyway, a state and federally designated scenic highway that has been called “America’s Most Beautiful Drive.” The 236-mile loop will take you over and around the spectacular San Juan Mountains and through historic mining towns. Dolores Chamber of Commerce, 970-882-4018,

Fall Creek Trail

(Near Pagosa Springs) Occasionally groomed six and a half miles of trail near Wolf Creek Pass. From the Highway 160/84 intersection, drive north on Highway 160 21.3 miles to a parking lot on the right, about a mile from Wolf Creek Trail.

First Notch

(Near Bayfield) From Bayfield take Highway 160 east to Forest Access Road 620 (First Notch). The

road is accessed on the north side of Highway 160 about a mile and a half west of the Piedra River. Access the groomed trail from a parking lot a short distance up on the road’s east side.

Lemon Dam

(Near Durango/Bayfield) From Durango take County Road 240 (Florida Road) east to County Road 243. Turn north on County Road 243 to Forest Road 597 where parking is available.

Entering town from the west

Cross-country skiers use the first three miles of this groomed trail to access Elk Creek and Transfer Park campgrounds.

Lizard Head Pass

(Between Telluride and Dolores) The heavy snowfall and rolling terrain of the Lizard Head area create a popular snowmobile playground. Park at the pass summit south of Telluride on Highway 145. ... continued

l Ski l Snowboard l Sled l Ice Skate l Snowshoe ... and a warm lodge with views of it all!

l Lift Tickets only $15/day (age 6 - 18) $20/day (age 19-64) l Cross Country, Snowshoes, Sleds and Ice Skates Available Locally 1 Kendall Place(14th (14thStreet) Street) 1 Kendall Place l Enjoy Hot Drinks and Lunch in the Viewing Lodge Silverton, CO 81433 l Perfect for Weddings, Retreats and Conferences l Hours: Friday – Sunday 11am - 4pm 970-387-0182 970-387-5228 l Dec. 21 - Jan. 6 – Special Holiday Hours, Open 7 days a week *Closed Christmas Day 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 37

Missionary Ridge

(Near Durango) From Durango take U.S. Highway 550 north to Trimble Lane. Turn east on Trimble Lane to County Road 250. Turn north and continue north until Forest Road 682, which turns east. After turning onto the road, park roadside.

Molas Pass

(Near Silverton) Nearly 68 miles of trails accessed from parking lots on Highway 550, approximately 40 miles north of Durango. One lot is located at the Molas Pass lookout and the other at the Molas Lake turn-off, located one mile north of the pass. Snowmobiling is not allowed near Andrews Lake.

Purgatory Ski Area

(Near Durango) From Durango take Highway 550 north to Durango Mountain Resort and drive to the top of the parking area to the Forest Road 578 turn-off. Snowmobile rental operations and crosscountry skiers share this groomed trail.



(Silverton) The three miles of groomed and marked trail system may be accessed from the Visitor’s Center parking lot or from the Railroad Depot at the end of 10th Street. Riding on Silverton streets is allowed if you have a flag, are over 14 years old, and obey the speed limits and traffic laws.

❆ ❆ ❆ ❆ We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. While at some very pure level no two snow crystals are exactly alike, in 1988 a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research found two under microscope that were alike enough to create buzz in the scientific community and be entered into the Guiness Book of World Records.

38 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

South Mineral Creek

(Near Silverton) Approximately eight miles one way, this trail may be accessed on a good snow year from the Silverton Visitor Center’s parking lot and picked up by Red Mountain Motel. Otherwise, access the trail by turning west off Highway 550 a mile and a half from town. Parking is roadside.

West Mancos

(Near Mancos) The parking lot and trailhead are located seven miles north of Mancos on County Road 42. Dog-sled tours and cross-country skiers also use this trail, so use caution when riding.

Vallecito Reservoir

(Near Durango/Bayfield) From Durango take County Road 240 east to County Road 501. Turn left and travel around the lake’s north end to the turnoff for Forest Road 724. xyz

One of the largest organisms on Earth, the aspens in Colorado put on a spectacular show in fall. The leaves of trees joined underground by a single root network are set ablaze simultaneously with luscious reds and golden hues. In winter, the white-trunked trees, lacking leaves and with branches carrying snow, show off a textured rhythm of white contrasts.


2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 39

winter safety

★ Stay Safe Out There

The bliss and magic of a winter wonderland can be overwhelmed quickly by misery and grief brought about by winter weather and its conditions. Minimize the threats by taking precautions that can protect the health of you and your loved ones.

Sun Exposure

Winter Driving

Even though it’s winter, wear sunglasses, lip balm and a hat to avoid sun exposure. Always apply plenty of sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Avoid excess exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause toughening of the skin, wrinkling, loss of elasticity, sun spots, cataract formation, suppression of the immune system and increase the risk of developing a type of skin cancer. In Southwest Colorado, outdoor enthusiasts should consider that higher elevation exposes you to 50 percent more UV radiation. Fresh snow reflects up to 90 percent of the sun’s dangerous UV rays, and up to 80 percent of UV radiation from the sun can pass through the clouds. In the high country, UV exposure increases 5 percent every 1,000 feet above sea level.

The weather out there can get frightful with snow, wind and freezing temperatures, creating dangerous driving conditions. Equip your vehicle for the worse-case scenario and learn to navigate through difficult weather conditions. Tips from AAA Colorado that will make your winter driving as uneventful as possible • Steer around an obstacle rather than braking, if possible. In winter weather, sudden braking can put you into a skid. • Do not rely on cruise control. • Control speed and avoid hard braking and sharp turns to reduce your risk of hydroplaning or sliding on ice. • Increase your following distance. Focus your attention as far ahead as possible, at least 20 to 30 seconds.

Cell phones don’t always work in the mountains. In an emergency, a higher ridgeline will give you the best reception. 40 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


In 2012, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the earliest winter since 1896 arrives with the winter solstice at 6:12 a.m. on December 21 (EST).

ILLUSTRATION: JAN NESSET/Inside-Outside Southwest

WIND CHILL TEMPERATURE is how cold people feel when outside, based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. FROSTBITE has occurred when your body tissue freezes. The most susceptible parts of the body are fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. HYPOTHERMIA occurs when body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

• If you get stuck, and you are driving a vehicle with manual transmission, rock your way out by using second gear. • If you get stuck, and you are driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission, use low gear. Move forward until the vehicle stops, then shift into reverse and move backwards until momentum stops. Repeat this process using minimum power to prevent wheels from spinning and digging in deeper. • If necessary, create traction by using mats, gravel, or kitty litter.

Altitude Sickness Colorado’s mountains can exceed elevations of 14,000 feet above sea level. At these heights, air becomes thinner and contains less oxygen. Physical exertion, rate of ascent, altitude attained and individual susceptibility contribute to a person’s chance of experiencing altitude sickness, bringing on symptoms that include headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and trouble sleeping. More severe symptoms

such as lung congestion and trouble breathing require immediate medical help, as they may signal the onset of life-threatening pulmonary or cerebral edema. Altitude sickness precautions: • Avoid alcohol, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (H.A.P.E), an excessive sleeping pills and accumulation of fluid in the narcotic pain lungs, can result in death. medicine during the first few days at altitude. • Drink plenty of fluids and eat a high carbohydrate diet to fuel up for outdoor activities. • Get rest and limit your activity the first days. • Spend an extra day and night at around 5,000 feet before attempting activities at higher elevations. xyz

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 41

hot springs

Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs


★ Savor a Soak After a Well-Done Day Southwest Colorado is dappled with geothermal pools that penetrate the surface with hot mineral water that can soothe the body and revitalize the spirit.

Dunton Hot Springs

(17 miles northeast of Dolores) Set in an alpine valley on the site of a restored ghost town, Dunton Hot Springs offers a variety of day and overnight packages, which include winter activities such as heliskiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing and skating — and the entire town can be rented for private use for up to 44 people. Featured in a variety of popular magazines, the resort’s restoring waters are thought to have been used by the Ute tribes before easing the weary bones of miners. Whether inside the restored 19th-century Bathhouse, under the stars at the source, in the pool outside the

bathhouse, in the pool behind the Dunton Store cabin, inside Well House cabin, or out on the river at Christoph’s spring, there are several ways to enjoy the resort’s waters, which range in temperature from 85°F to 106°F. e 970-882-4800,

Orvis Hot Springs

(1.5 miles south of Ridgway) Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing optional hot springs resort that does not heat or treat its natural lithium water in any way. The seven soaking areas range in temperature from 98-112°F: four outside, an indoor pool and two private tubs.

Lodging is also available in six rooms without phones or televisions. Massages are offered in an elegant massage yurt. Tent and vehicle camping is available yearround on a limited basis, and all campers enjoy 24-hour access to the springs and the community kitchen. e 970-626-5324,

Ouray Hot Springs Pool

(Ouray) A relaxing, family-oriented environment, Ouray’s large public pool contains more than a million gallons of crystal-clear natural hot springs water, free of sulfur

The town, a mix of Southwest and Western cultures, is the county seat of Archuleta County with a town population of 1,591 and county-wide PAGOSA SPRINGS, COLORADO population of 12,386. The town derives its name from the Ute Indian Pagosa Springs is located in the Colorado Sunbelt, just 35 miles north name “Pagosah,” which means “healing” or of the New Mexico border and along the “boiling waters.” The Ute Indians discovWestern slope of the Continental Divide. ered the healing powers of the hot springs. The combination of high desert plateau A few centuries later, the town still weland Rocky Mountains to the north and east comes travelers seeking a soaking respite of town creates an unusually mild climate. in the mineral water while treating outdoor Pagosa Springs is located in the upper San enthusiasts with skiing and ice climbing at Juan Basin, surrounded by the 3-millionWolf Creek Pass nearby to the north, and acre San Juan Forest and adjacent to the sledding and ice skating in town. largest contiguous wilderness area in the nation, the Weminuche Wilderness. Pagosa Springs aglow with lights. Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, 800-252-2204,

JEFF LAYDON/Pagosa Photography

42 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

smell, that ranges from 96 to 106°F. The pool has a lap swimming section, a shallow section for younger children and a game area for water volleyball. The bathhouse has a full range of conveniences including showers. The pool has a massage facility and an exercise room. e 970-325-7073,

Overlook Hot Springs

(Pagosa Springs) The newest hot springs in Pagosa Springs, Overlook Hot Springs provides naturally hot, therapeutic mineral water in a Victorian ambience. Relax in scenic rooftop tubs with views of the San Juan Mountains and San Juan River, in one of five indoor pools, or in a private tub room. Featured in the November 2009 issue of Sunset Magazine as a fabulous aprés-ski location, Overlook provides Swedish, deep-tissue massage, prenatal and hot-stone massage, e 970-264-4040,

Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs

(Seven miles north of Durango) Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs is Durango’s only hot springs, massage and lodging center. Trimble is open to the

public year-round, and provides two saunas, two naturally heated, mineral-rich hot pools and a large outdoor heated pool. The source of hot water, volcanic in origin, comes from underneath the La Plata Mountains. Combine soaking with sauna and a large selection of massage and body treatments. e 970-247-0111,

The Springs Resort Bath House

(Pagosa Springs) The mineral hot pools in Pagosa Springs are open to the public for soaking and relaxing in 23 different hot mineral pools, a cool saltwater swimming pool and jacuzzi. For centuries, visitors to Pagosa Hot Springs have touted the miraculous curative powers of these ancient waters. Verbal testimonies began with American Indian visitors from centuries past, and continues today as visitors from all over the globe journey to these 10,000-year-old waters seeking healing, relaxation and rejuvenation. A complete menu of massage and spa therapies, as well as hair, skin and nail salon services are available at The Healing Waters Spa & Salon. e 970-264-4168, xyz

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 43


Staying Inside


Mancos backyard

“The problem with winter sports is that — follow me closely here — they generally take place in winter.”


— humorist Dave Barry

now and cold are not for everybody — and we’re not afraid to admit it for those of us who prefer to huddle quietly near a hearth or find our activity at a museum or in a heated pool. And it’s OK. The truth is, Southwest Colorado is rich in cultural and social diversity, illustrated in its communities but especially its people. Even hardcore snow addicts who thrive out of doors like to mix it up by adding a measure of staying inside with their ample doses of going outside. Inside, outside, either way, we’re easy. So, even if you find snow an unfortunate state of water, and cold temperature a flagrant 44 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

assault on the body — but can endure the winter elements long enough to walk between vehicle and building doors — then you have arrived in the right place. In the second part of this guide, beginning here, we continue the exploration of Southwest Colorado by remaining in climatecontrolled venues, in museums, art galleries, theaters, climbing gyms, heated pools, a train and casinos, all of which offer excellent opportunities to make region-spun memories. Prepared to be dazzled by the extent of our region’s cultural creativity, all deeply branded Southwest Colorado. Another breath ... we’re staying inside! xyz


★ Past Presence Shaped by the history of its people, industry and commerce, the cultural landscapes of greater Southwest Colorado are exhibited in the region’s impressive museums. AZTEC, N.M.

Aztec Ruins National Monument The ruins were built by Ancestral Puebloans, not Aztecs, but early settlers mistakenly called the ruins the “Aztec Ruins” based on the belief that Aztecs migrated to Mexico from the United States. A self-guided trail explores the West Ruin, where visitors can view wellpreserved structures. Near the trail’s end, the Great Kiva was the central social and religious site of the complex. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. e 84 County Road 2900,


Salmon Ruins Museum Salmon Ruins conserves historic and prehistoric resources, preserves and displays what it can and protects cultural resources, including 11th-century ruins, a Chacoan great house and a 19thcentury homestead. Investigate replicas of a sweat lodge, Hogan, tipi and pit house, and ancient artifacts and exhibits. The library specializes in archaeology and history of the American Southwest. Open year-round. e 6131 Highway 64, 505-632-2013,


Cortez Cultural Center A home for artists, cowboy poets, archaeologists and musicians, the the Center provides educational, cultural and artistic programs, including lectures, museum exhibits, art displays, and cultural programs and field trips to Hawkins Preserve. Winter hours: Nov - most of May, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. e 25 N. Market St., 970-565-1151,


Anasazi Heritage Center With a focus on the Ancestral Puebloan, the center’s features include exhibits on archaeology, local history and Native American cultures, archaeology, special exhibits and events, a research library, a research collection of artifacts and a museum shop. Open 10-4, Nov. - Feb. e 27501 Highway 184, 970-882-5600, ... continued

Top: Durango Discovery Museum photo: HAL LOTT

Left: Southern Ute Cultural Center photo: HAL LOTT

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 45


Durango Discovery Museum A hands-on, interactive science center for all ages that presents a wide range of programs, exhibits, and activities designed to provide an entertaining and inspiring look at “energy — past, present, and future.” Open year-round (closed Mondays). e 1333 Camino del Rio, 970-259-9234, Animas Museum Operated by the La Plata County Historical Society, the museum collects, preserves and interprets the history and culture of the San Juan Basin by offering a variety of exhibits, events and programs. It is also home to a research library and photo archives. Exhibits include a 1908 restored classroom and the Joy Cabin, Durango’s oldest intact structure. Winter schedule: Nov. - April; 10-4, Tues-Sat. e 3065 West Second Ave., 970-259-2402, Center of Southwest Studies The Center provides opportunities to explore, study and experience the Southwest’s heritage. The facilities include the Exhibition Gallery, an archival

46 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

repository, a special collections library, the Office of Community Services and classrooms, labs and offices for the College’s Anthropology and Southwest Studies programs. Exhibition Gallery hours during semesters: 1-4, Mon-Fri; 1-7, Thurs. e Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Dr., 970-247-7456, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum A tribute to railroading, the museum features steam locomotives, railroad cars, memorabilia and artifacts from the Durango and Silverton areas. A baggage car used in the1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is now a movie theater. In winter, the museum is open 1-4 p.m. on dates the train is running. e 479 Main Ave., 888-872-4607,


Farmington Museum at Gateway Park The museum features a variety of exhibits and artifacts relating to the history of the area’s cultures. Traveling exhibits as well as national and regional juried arts shows are also featured. Lecture series, workshops and special demonstrations are offered year-round: 8-5, Mon-Sat. e 3041 E. Main St., 505-599-1174,


Cliff Palace

E3 Children’s Museum & Science Center Offers hands-on, science-related interactive exhibits and special programs scheduled throughout the year. For the younger children, Tot’s Turf is a room filled with activities for youngsters under the age of six. New exhibits are added regularly. 10-5, Tues-Sat. e 302 N. Orchard, 505-599-1425, Riverside Nature Center Observe wildlife and learn about the environment on a walk through the river corridor. Exhibits feature plants and animals of the riverside with emphasis on historic uses and ecosystems. Wildlife can be seen throughout the grounds, and also in the observation

★ MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO In 1906, Mesa Verde was designated as the first national park

set aside to preserve the works of humankind. Mesa Verde, which means “green table” in Spanish, was established to protect sites built by Ancestral Puebloans. Elaborate stone villages and collective communities were occupied from 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Of the more than 4,000 known archaeological sites in Mesa Verde, 600 are cliff dwellings. During the winter, none of the roads within the park are plowed except for the entrance road to the Visitor Center, so everything else is open to cross-country skis. This is one of the best ways to see the sites. In good snow conditions, there are also places to ski in Morefield Campground or the scenic 6-mile trail along Ruin Road’s Balcony House Loop. Mesa Verde National Park, 970-529-4465,

area inside the Center. Winter schedule: Oct-March; 9-5, Tues-Sat; 1-4, Sun. e Animas Park off Browning Parkway, 505-599-1422,


Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum Ute history is displayed in exhibits, galleries, and collections of photos and recordings. Explore early rock art, stroll through a historic camp scene and investigate the turmoil and anguish as the Ute people were placed on reservations and in boarding schools. Learn how the modern Utes have transformed themselves into an industrious tribe. Stroll around the ... continued

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 47

complex and see trees, plants, and flowers used traditionally by the Utes for food, medicine and in ceremonies. Winter Hours: Labor Day - Memorial Day (9-4:30, Tues-Fri; 10-4, Sat). e 77 County Road 517, 970-563-9583,

nal Harman paintings, “Red Ryder & Little Beaver” comic strips and a variety of memorabilia. 10:30-5, Mon-Fri. e 85 Harman Park Drive, 970-731-5785,



Ridgway Railroad Museum Dedicated to the preservation of the railroading history in Ouray County and surrounding areas. Displays include artifacts, pictures, models, documents and tools. Outside, in addition to a restored outbuilding, are various original and replica train cars. Winter schedule: Oct. 1 - May 31; 10-3, Mon-Fri. e 150 Racecourse Road, 970-626-4373,


Telluride Historical Museum Through hands-on, interactive and rotating displays, study the geology of the region, the area’s Native American Ute, mining history, the arrival of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad and the diversity that has kept Telluride alive. Winter schedule: 11-5, Tues-Sat; 11-7, Thurs. e 201 W. Gregory, 970-728-3344, xyz

Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum Dioramas illustrate Ancestral Puebloan life, including exhibits of prehistoric artifacts, Ancestral Puebloan culture, and items related to the park. An orientation film offers an overview of the history of Mesa Verde. Free ranger-guided tours of Spruce Tree House are offered in winter. Open year-round. e 970-529-4631, Fred Harman Art Museum One of the country’s foremost painters of the American West, Fred Harman (1902-1982) was also the creator of “Red Ryder and Little Beaver,” a worldfamous cartoon strip which began syndication in 1938 and ended in 1964. Harman was also an established sculptor and illustrator. The museum displays origi-

48 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


art galleries

★ Where the Art Is A diversity of art galleries in Southwest Colorado builds awareness of our region — and the world — by displaying the work of artists who find inspiration in the cultures and themes in our landscapes. Art galleries also celebrate art by sharing with us artistry that captures the spirit of our region on canvas, with materials or through photography. Welcome to the celebration! AZTEC, N.M.

Teasyatwho Art Gallery Kachina carvings; art of the High Desert Art Association. e 119 S. Main, 505-334-0426


Clay Mesa Art Gallery and Studio Original works by local artists Richard St. John and Lesli Diane. e 29 E. Main St., 970-565-1902 Mesa Indian Trading Company & Gallery Navajo/Ute art. e 27601 Highway 160 East, 800-441-9908 Notah Dineh Trading Company Large collection of Navajo rugs in the Four Corners. e 345 West Main, 800-444-2024


West Fork Art & Frame Original art; lithographs, prints. e 105 S. 5th St., 970-882-2211, THE HISTORIC BAUER BANK BUILDING is the current home to Artisans of Mancos. photo: BETSY HARRISON

“Late Snow,” painting by Caroline Reeves Johnson Paintings by Johnson and Cynthia de Bolt and ceramics by Ann Friedman will be featured in About Light, an exhibit at the Barbara Conrad Gallery at the Durango Arts Center, Oct. 30 - Nov. 17. Opening reception is Friday, Nov. 2, 5-7 p.m.


Ellis Contemporary Art Gallery Fine art, including limited editions. e 822 Main Ave., 970-382-9855,

Diane West Contemporary fine art and jewelry. e 934 Main Ave., 970-385-4444,

Fort Lewis College Art Gallery Diverse exhibitions. e

Azul Gallery Jewelry, ceramics, metal art. e 781 Main Ave., 970-375-7742,

Durango Arts Center/Barbara Conrad Gallery Art of Four Corners’ life, landscapes and culture. e 802 East Second Ave., 970-259-2606, The Earthen Vessel Handcrafted pottery, jewelry, metal art, etc. e 115 W. 9th St., 970-247-1281,

Gadugi Center Eclectic local and regional artists. e 734 Main Ave., 970-946-0198, Image Counts Fine Art Photography Art, photography by Jim and Eileen Baumgardt. e 2053 N. Main Ave., 970-382-0055, Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts A variety of artisans’ crafts. e 680 Main Ave., 970-247-9018, Open Shutter Photography Gallery Fine art photography by numerous artists. e 735 Main Ave., 970-3828355, Rain Dance Gallery Western and American Indian art and crafts. e 945 Main Ave., 970-375-2708, ... continued 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 49

Rock Island Stone Art Gallery Stone art. e 2180 Junction Creek Road, 970403-9222,

November fawn CLAUDE STEELMAN/Wildshots Gallery

sculptures. e 120 Grand Ave., 970533-1177,

Sorrell Sky Gallery Western gallery. e 870 Main Ave., 970-247-3555,

Raven House Gallery Co-op of local artists. e 120 Grand Ave., 970-5337149,

Studio & Artistic think tank. e 1027 Main Ave.,

Painted Turtle Studio Studio with classes, workshops, gallery. e 121 W. Grand Ave, 970-533-7136,

Toh-Atin Gallery Indian crafts, Southwest art. e 145 W. 9th St., 970-247-8277, Wildshots Gallery Photography by Claude Steelman. e 738 Main Ave., 970-403-6701,

tion of art. e 114 West Grand Ave., 970-533-1381,

The World According to Mark Yard art. e 131 E. Eighth St., 970-2592392,

Artisans of Mancos Co-op where fine artists display wares. e 101 Grand Ave, 970-533-7040,


Arborena Wine Bar and Art Gallery Wine bar cafĂŠ for enjoying a rota-

Goodnight Trail Gallery Western art, Veryl Goodnight bronze

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Artifacts Gallery Watch artists and shop for art created by 50 area artists. e 302 E. Main St., 505-327-2907, Wal-Art Gallery Signed prints and canvases; Thomas Kinkadelicensed gallery. e 422 W. Main St., 505-326-7427,


★ MANCOS, COLORADO The Mancos Valley continues its 140-year ranch-

Town center, as viewed from the north

ing tradition at the edge of the San Juan National Forest. Cattle drives, wagon and horseback rides are common in and around town during the summer while cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Chicken Creek, downhill skiing and sledding at Ski Hesperus, and ice fishing at Mancos State Park are winter treats. Fans of Louis L’Amour can explore the countryside where the author lived and wrote many of his books. The Town

Henderson Fine Art Gallery/ Humanities Art Gallery New Mexico reflected in art forms; the San Juan College collection. e 4601 College Blvd., 505-566-3464, TRWC Art Center/In Cahoots! Gallery Art of Three Rivers Women’s Collective. e 109 N. Allen, 505-7167660,


Dancing Spirit Community Art Center/Cooperative Art Gallery Creative works of more than 25 artisans. e 755 Goddard Ave., 970563-4600, Waci’-ci Trading Company/Southern Ute Cultural Center Jewelry, basket ware, and bead work produced by Native American artisans. e 77 County Road 517, 970-444-6039,


AGO Gallery of Fine Art Features artist Romagean Personne and top Colorado artists. e 445 Main St., 970-325-0270, North Moon Gallery Jewelry, paintings and Colorado landscape photography by Kathleen Norris Cook. e 720 Main St., 970-325-4885 Ouray Glassworks & Pottery Sam Rushing glass and Di Rushing stoneware pottery. e 619 Main, 970-325-0275,

Skol Studio and Design Metalwork and furniture; variety of art by local artists. e 812 Main St., 970-325-7290,


Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts Premier venue supportive of regional and national art. e 333 Bastille Drive, 970-731-2766,

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude. — Friedrich Nietsche

Wild Spirit Gallery Original Western art of 50 local and national artists. e 480 San Juan St., 970-264-9453,


Art Connection Gallery Lynn Bean’s hand-tooled copper feathers, leather, horsehair, bead work. e 1246 Blair St., 970-387-5090, Kendall Mountain Gallery Photography of Thomas Livingstone. e 1240 Notorious Blair St., 970-3875160, Silverton Artworks Ruth Ann Caitland clay works, weaving, baskets. e 1028 Notorious Blair St., 970-3875823,

of Mancos – Gateway to Mesa Verde – has always been a jumping off point for tourists to the famed cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park. In recent years, Mancos has also developed as an arts community: Its small downtown is energized with galleries and a community art studio. The area offers a variety of accommodations, from motels in town, country cabins, bed & breakfasts, dude ranches, or even a yurt at Mancos State Park. Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce, 970-533-7434,


Ah Haa School for the Arts. Classes, workshops, exhibitions, more. e 300 S. Townsend, Train Depot, 970-728-3886, Elinoff & Co. Diego Riveras to Picassos, local and international artists. e 204 West Colorado Ave., 970-728-5566, Lustre Gallery Creations by Ulla Darni, Todd Reed, Masriera and Gurhan. e 171 South Pine St., 970-728 3355, Lyceum Arts Southwest landscapes by Kathryn Vinson Tatum. e 430 W. Colorado Ave., 970-708-1331 Naturescapes Gallery Photographic art of nature by Dale Malmedal. e 100 W. Colorado Ave., 970-7286359, Telluride Arts Stronghouse Studios/ Gallery Monthly exhibits of local artists. e 283 South Fir St., 970-728-3930, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art American artists, renowned sculptors, painters, photographers. e 130 East Colorado Ave., 970-7283300,


Ute Mountain Pottery Durable and museum-quality tribal designs. e Highway 160 South, 800-896xyz 8548, 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 51


★ A Celebrated Train and Its Rails Keep Steamwork Rolling Trains accelerated the growth of the nation, and quite impressively, Southwest Colorado, too. While the country looks ahead to a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network, Southwest Colorado enjoys its slow-speed narrow-gauge history-builders, one stationed in Durango and the other in Chama, N.M. With a steep and high mountain route to navigate that takes it to 10,015 feet above sea level, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad shuts down for the winter on Oct. 21 until Memorial Day, but the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad keeps its steam locomotives alive season after season — and wherever it goes for the day the ride in one of its historic train cars is always a treat!

52 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


Cheryl Albrecht-Harvey riding the Animas River Trail next to the D&SNGR steam train as it heads north through Durango.

HAL LOTT; Inset: STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

On The Polar Express, the D&SNGR brings to life the award-winning children’s book. During the ride, you had better watch out because the famous jolly elf himself is likely to drop in bearing gifts for pajamawearing children who have been good for goodness sake.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

(Durango) Forerunner to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGR), the Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881, and by July of 1882 the tracks to Silverton were busy with train loads of passengers and freight. From the very beginning the railroad was promoted as a scenic route for passenger service, although the line was constructed primarily to haul mine ores from the mountains.

By 1885, Otto Mears completed the toll road to Ouray and additional narrow-gauge track out of Silverton was laid down in 1887. Beginning in 1893, the railroad faced slides, floods, snow, war and financial instability. As it faced abandonment in 1947, a determined staff stepped in and helped to promote tourism. Hollywood soon discovered Durango and the railroad, offering a boost to tourism through the popularity of several movies filmed in the area. In 1981, as the railroad prepared to celebrate its 100th birthday, Charles E. Bradshaw, Jr., purchased the ... continued

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 53

Silverton branch and gave rise to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Today, the D&SNGR continues to provide yearround train service, operating a historical train with rolling stock indigenous to the line. The 1923-25 vintage locomotives remain 100-percent coal-fired, steam-operated and are maintained in original condition. Each coach features bathroom facilities and are heated during the winter months. The train operates year-round, but during the winter months it cuts regular service to Silverton and travels 26 miles to the wye at Cascade Station, and back. For breaths of cold, clean Colorado air, step out into the train’s open gondola cars for a panoramic view of the snow-flocked mountains. Concessions are available on every train. Throughout the winter, the D&SNGR offers specialty and themed trains, including its most popular family train, The Polar Express (Nov. 16 Dec. 28), which is based on the award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg. On the trip to the North Pole (just north of Durango) to pick up Santa, passengers sup hot chocolate and sing selected Christmas carols

★ DURANGO, COLORADO Over 2,500 years ago, Ancestral Puebloans thrived in the Durango area

before moving to the mesas until their perplexing disappearance in the 1300s. The Utes arrived centuries later, and not long after that prospectors discovered gold in the San Juan Mountains. A community grew to support the miners, but growth slowed with the American Civil War. At the war’s end, the Denver & Rio Grande Railway reached Durango in 1881, which fueled swift growth supported by mineral wealth. Within a year of the railroad’s arrival, Durango was incorporated, emerging as the region’s center for industry and commerce. By the turn of the century the tourist economy was flourishing. The opening of Fort Lewis College in the 1950s and in 1965 Purgatory ski resort, now called Durango Mountain Resort, helped to anchor Durango as a vacation destination. Today, Durango is a haven to outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy year-round sports. Durango Area Tourism Office, 970-247-3500,

54 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide


Northeast view across town from atop Smelter Mountain.


Light beaming and steam billowing skyward, arching back over its passenger cars, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad displays domination over a winter setting, chuffing and whistling its birthright through the Animas Valley.

while being read the Polar Express story. When Santa steps on board, he goes car to car to greet each kid with a special gift. The entire trip, from the train station to the north end of town and back, lasts an hour and 35 minutes. The train steams into 2013 with the New Year’s Day Brunch Train and, on Feb. 16, sweeties take their turn on the Romance on the Rails Valentine’s Train. A Winter Photographer’s Special train takes off a day later, Feb. 17. Beginning March 30, the Peanuts™ train, the Easter Beagle Express, heads to Cascade Canyon where passengers meet Snoopy the Easter Beagle and enjoy Easter-themed activities. e Durango (original 1882 depot): 479 Main Ave., 970-247-2733, 877-872-4607, xyz

The original search engine.

In Print. Online. Mobile.

259.6500 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 55

swimming indoor climbing

★ Drippin’ and Grippin’ Whatever the weather, you can strip down into minimal clothing and get a great workout and have some fun in facilities where either swimming pools or climbing gyms, or both, provide year-round activity.

The recreation centers in Cortez and Durango each have a climbing wall in operation all winter, and The Rock Lounge has an entire facility devoted to indoor climbing.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. — Dr. Seuss


Bloomfield Family Aquatic Center SWIMMING: Its three outdoor pools are closed in winter but the Aquatic Center’s indoor facility has a 25-yard, six-lane lap pool that remains open for both adults and kids. There are open-swim hours built into a schedule that accommodates the community swim team, school gym classes, swim lessons, aerobics and special events. Winter hours: 6-7 Mon. - Fri., 12-5 Sat., closed Sundays. e 201 East Blanco Blvd., 505-632-0313,


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Cortez Recreation Center SWIMMING: The competition lap pool holds 150,000 gallons of water, is 25 yards long and ranges from 4 to 12.5 feet deep. The deep end has a diving board. The family pool ranges from 0 to 18 inches deep and has a kiddy-sized duckling slide and a water-spouting play feature including a minitube slide. The Lazy River, or resistance pool, is 3.5 feet deep with a constant water flow for a workout or a lazy ride in an inner tube. A winding 145-foot tube slide will keep the bigger kids busy.

The water slide at the Durango Community Recreation Center, Durango, Colo. photo: JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

courts. SCUBA certification for kids and adults is also offered, and every Tuesday is Open Kayak Night when kayakers can use the lap pool to practice rolling and paddling technique. CLIMBING: The 30-foot-high climbing wall starts on the main floor and tops out in the second, punctuating the open space in the weight-lifting and fitness room. The wall has three top anchors, of which the outside two are equipped with auto-belay devices. Staff members assist with harnesses and to provide a belay on the middle route. e 2700 Main Ave., 970-375-7300, The Rock Lounge CLIMBING: This climbing and yoga lounge features a 35-foot climbing wall for lead climbing and top roping, including an auto-belay route, two bouldering rooms, yoga, fitness classes and a children���s afterschool program. Walk-ins are welcome. There are a variety of fees and memberships. For those who are new to climbing, training sessions are available for a per-hour fee. e 1111 Camino Del Rio, Suite 105, 970-259-7625,


CLIMBING: The 35-foot tall climbing wall has two self-belaying systems and three sections for advanced climbers who prefer to belay each other. e 425 Roger Smith Ave., 970-564-4080,


Durango Community Recreation Center SWIMMING: The 71,557-square-foot facility offers many amenities, including year-round indoor swimming with a children’s pool and water slide, separate lap pool and hot tub, climbing wall, gymnasium, indoor track, group fitness room and racquetball



Cortez is located between the San Juan Mountains to the east and the desert of the Four Corners region to the west. A small town with a colorful history, Cortez was built as a staging area for workers building tunnels and irrigation ditches into the Montezuma Valley. Cortez is located in the middle of the most archaeologically dense region of the country. Thousands of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) sites have been found in the area, including the world-famous ruins at Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site known for a number of cliff dwellings. Also nearby is the Hovenweep National Monument, on both sides of the Colorado/Utah border, with six clusters of ruins. The Canyons of the Ancients surrounds much of Hovenweep and houses more than 6,000 individual archaeological sites. Cortez Chamber of Commerce, 970-565-3414,

Farmington Aquatic Center SWIMMING: The Center provides indoor water recreation for the family, year-round. The options include a 50-meter Olympic-size pool, 150-foot water slide, leisure/playground pool, and programs and lessons. e 505-599-1167, 1151 N. Sullivan Ave., Lions Pool SWIMMING: Lions Pool provides a year-round aquatic venue for adults with swim lessons, lap swimming, Aquacise and a variety of other adult aquatic fitness programming. e 505-599-1187, xyz 405 N. Wall St., Main Street

xyz 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 57


★ Curtain Call


Allen Theaters/Fiesta Twin Features new film releases. e 23 West Main, 970-565-7380,


Abbey Theatre Full bar and live music featuring national musicians and indie films. e 128 E. College Drive, 970-385-1711, The Back Space Theatre Dance and theater performances and independent films. e 1120 Main Ave., Suite 2, 970-259-7940, Fort Lewis College/Community Concert Hall Productions reflect regional tastes while highlighting cultures and performance traditions from around the world. e 970-247-7657,

Gaslight Twin Cinema Features foreign, independent and commercial films. e 102 East Fifth St., 970-2479766, Henry Strater Theatre The worldrenowned venue welcomes local and national bands, and touring companies. e 699 Main, 970-3757160, Durango Stadium 9 Features commercial films, stadium seating and Digital Surround Sound. e 900 Translux Drive, 970-247-9760, Durango Arts Center Theater, visual arts, dance, live music, and education programs; home to a gallery, theater, arts library, studio space and more. e 802 East Second Ave., 970-2592606,

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James C. Henderson Fine Arts Center This 800-seat auditorium serves as a performing arts theater for a variety of entertainment at San Juan College, including the Silhouette Performing Art Series. e 4601 College Blvd., 505-566-3462, Theater Ensemble Arts Local theater group provides affordable, quality multicultural live theatrical performances October – April. e 505-326-2839,


The Wright Opera House Built in 1888, “a wonder of the time,” the historic building’s performance hall features concerts, movies, plays and special events. e 472 Main St., 970-325-4399,


Today’s myriad entertainment options at home and online fizzle when compared to attending a live performance or a movie at a Concert performance at the Durango Art Center Theatre. theater, where the thrill of being close to live performers or engaged in the rise and swirl of music and lights while sharing the experience with friends and complete strangers seated comfortably around you make you feel like you’re a part of something special. We’re blessed in Southwest Colorado with theater options that can ring up the curtain on There are an that special feeling, whether its community theater, infinite number of ways professional productions, a concert, to be moved in the theater. or just movie night with the family. — actress Martha Plimpton


Liberty Theatre Features commercial films. e 418 Pagosa St., 970-264-7469,

Telluride’s Michael D. Palm Theatre for the Performing Arts.


Thingamajig Theatre/Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts Presents professional theater created by local artists with a year-round calendar of productions. e 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469,


A Theatre Group Offers a variety of productions with professional, emerging and community artists. e 1303 Greene St., 970-387-5337,


Michael D. Palm Theatre for the Performing Arts The 30,000-square-foot theater with 587 seats is committed to bringing to Telluride the finest national touring companies. e 721 W. Colorado Ave., 970-369-5669, Telluride Theatre Original company-driven professional work performed on Telluride stages. e 970-369-5675,

Nugget Theatre Commercial films shown in the historic Nugget Building built in 1892. e 207 W. Colorado Ave., 970-728-3030, The Historic Sheridan Opera House Built by miners in 1913, the opera house provides a 240-seat venue for concerts, movie premieres and private events. e 110 North Oak St., 970-728-6363, Squid Show Theatre Original, professional theatrical productions integrate music, dance, art and comedy. e 283 South Fir St., 970-708-3934, xyz

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photos this page: JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald


★ Four of a Kind If you enjoy casino entertainment and gaming, you’re in luck! We’re doubled down in Southwest Colorado with four casinos — two in Colorado and two just across the border in New Mexico — each within the reach of a full tank of gas from nearly any road access in the region. Keeping your shirt for the return trip home may be another matter, but if you play your cards right there’s the chance your luck could take you home in style.

“I must complain the cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand.”— Jonathan Swift,

Thoughts on Various Subjects (1728)

Northern Edge Navajo Casino

(Farmington, N.M.) The Northern Edge Navajo Casino opened its 86,000-square-foot facility in January with 750 slot machines, six poker tables, 10 live table games, a full-service restaurant, food court, gift shop, a player’s club and live entertainment on most Fridays and Saturdays. The casino highlights Navajo culture with artwork by Native artists. Directions from Farmington: The Northern Edge Navajo Casino is located southwest of the city of Farmington, N.M. Drive south on N.M. State Highway 371 (Bisti Highway). Turn right and proceed west for 1.2 miles on Upper Fruitland Road (Navajo Route 36). e 505-960-7000, 877-241-7777,


Ignacio is a ranching community in a long valley bordered by the La Plata Mountains and located within the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. In 1899, land in the eastern portion of the reservation was made available to nonNative Americans. At this time, the Hall brothers were running the trading post and post office. This and the narrow-gauge rail station to the south were all that existed in the way of a town. Hans Aspaas purchased the trading post in 1908. At the same time, the Ute wife of Civil War veteran John Taylor died, and the 169-acre allotment that he inherited was immediately sold to the Halls. In June of 1910, both the Hall and the Aspaas lands were filed with the La Plata County Clerk, and in 1913 Ignacio incorporated. Today, Ignacio supplies the adjacent reservation and ranches scattered throughout the area, and is a crossroads for the gas and oil industry. Ignacio is also home to the Sky Ute Casino & Resort and to Ignacio Bike Week, the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally held every Labor Day weekend. An art community is developing in Ignacio, with a new gallery and several colorful murals painted on businesses and walls facing Goddard Avenue. Ignacio Chamber of Commerce, 970-563-0344, 60 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

Sky Ute Casino & Resort

(Ignacio, Colo.) Open in 2008, the Sky Ute Casino & Resort contains a 45,000-square-foot gaming floor with slots, poker/blackjack, craps, roulette, and ... continued

Sky Ute Casino & Resort

2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide • 61

bingo, live entertainment, and includes luxury hotel rooms and suites, five restaurants, the Rolling Thunder Lanes and flourishes of Southern Ute culture. Directions from Durango: From Highway 160, take Highway 172 south just 16 miles. Sky Ute will be noticeable on your left as you enter Ignacio. e 970-563-7777, 888-842-4180,


Northern Edge Navajo Casino

Sun Ray Park & Casino

(Farmington, N.M.) Features seasonal horse racing, simulcast theater, live entertainment including dinner theater and comedy night (once a month), video machines, 500 slots and a bar and grill. Directions: Sun Ray Park & Casino is located in New Mexico between Farmington and Bloomfield on Highway 64. e 505-566-1200,

Ute Mountain Casino, Hotel & Resort

Sky Ute Casino & Resort 62 • 2012-13 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

(Towaoc, Colo.) Colorado’s first tribal gaming facility in the Four Corners region hosts 700 bingo seats, seven gaming tables and 640 slot machines. The 48,000-square-foot facility includes a hotel and resort, a gift shop, Kuchu’s restaurant for lunch, breakfast and dinner, and its RV Park & Campground includes a sauna and indoor and wading pools. Directions from Cortez: Travel 11 miles south of Cortez on Highway 160 until the casino comes into view on the right (west). e 800-258-8007, xyz 970-565-8800,

2012 Southwest Colorado Winter Guide