Durango Magazine - Winter/Spring 2019-20 Issue

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e n i z a Mag

Vacation Like a Local

Winter is a Time for Cuddling Indoors by the Warm Fire or Under a Thick Blanket; Unless You're in Durango

Everyone is a Beginner Once Durango is a Great Place to Learn New Sports this Winter.

Llama Tell You

About a New Way to Adventure in the Backcountry

How the Rugged San Juan Mountains

Are Shaping Colorado’s Outdoor Industry


2 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

CELEBRATE Hitting Lucky 11 on Roulette Celebrating a HUGE Jackpot Seven Rivers Champagne Toast Sleeping Late in My Luxury Suite

Ignacio, CO 888.842.4180 SkyUteCasino.com



Hank Blum

Hank is an adventure photographer, videographer, and a well-known Stormtrooper based in Durango, Colorado.Â

4 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Graham Coffey

Graham Coffey studied journalism at the University of Georgia before working as a wilderness guide and mental health professional in Asheville, North Carolina. He came to Durango for its access to both the mountains and desert. Graham is the store manager and buyer at Backcountry Experience and loves meeting other locals and hearing stories about their exploits in the outdoors. He lives with his girlfriend, Brooke, and their large dog, Luna. Graham enjoys backpacking, hiking, skiing, and any other excuse to play outdoors.

Margaret Hedderman

Margaret is a freelance journalist, essayist, and sometime screenwriter with an MA in biography and creative nonfiction from the University of East Anglia in England. She covers outdoor recreation, travel, and the environment. Her work speaks to the importance of empty, lonely places on the map.

Zach Hively

Zach Hively writes nonfiction, poetry, and the award-winning blog Fool’s Gold: The Column. He also dances Argentine tango and is a member of the alt-folk duo Oxygen on Embers.

Rachelle Fish

Sara Knight

Sara earned her associates degree in journalism from a small college in East Texas before moving to Colorado in 2008, where she continued her writing education at Fort Lewis College. Sara is now a freelance writer, reader, doodler, hiker, mountain biker, runner and general Durango do-it-all.

Lisa Mackey

Lisa is a fine-art printer and photographer, as well as an enthusiastic quilter. These endeavors, professional and personal, provide creative outlets in her life. She is an avid road cyclist, which she says is also nutrition for the soul.

John Peel

John Peel established his family history writing business, John Peel’s Life Preserver, in 2015, after a two-decade-plus career at the Durango Herald. He also does some freelance writing and has just completed the fifth edition of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado, available in June 2020.

Chloe Ragsdale

Chloe Ragsdale is a student intern and an aspiring writer from Durango High School. She hopes to pursue her passion for writing and working with others throughout the rest of her time in high school and into college. Chloe is an avid participant in El Diablo, the Durango Aerospace Design team, and the DHS cross-country team. She hopes to continue to diversify her life with as many challenging and rewarding experiences as she can.


WINTER / SPRING 2019-20 • EST. 1986

Volume 34, No. 2 Hank Blum

FEATURES 16 Vacation Like a Local

Winter is a time for cuddling indoors by the warm fire or under a thick blanket; unless you're in Durango

18 Everyone’s a Beginner Once

Durango is a great place to learn new sports this winter.

30 Llama Tell You

About a new way to adventure in the backcountry

38 How the Rugged San Juan Mountains Are Shaping Colorado’s Outdoor Industry


30 Osprey

10 Excursions 12 Top Picks 22 The Sparrow 23 Maria’s Bookshop 26 History 35 Featured Galleries 36 Galleries & Goods 37 Artist Profile 40 Diversions 44 Featured Chefs 46 Dining Showcase: Primus 48 Night Life & Dining Guide 58 Dining Showcase: James Ranch 61 Winter of 2018-2019

LIVING IN STYLE 66 Featured Spas 68 Durango Kids 70 North Main District takes shape 72 Kathmandu 75 Patient Advocacy 76 Dream Home 81 Giving in Style

38 Purgatory Ski Team

EVERY ISSUE 8 From the Publisher 42 Photo Essay 80 Advertiser Index


Grady James - Late season in the San Juan Mountains can provide some of the best ski conditions of the year. In classic San Juan style, Sven Brunso decides it’s not time to trade skis for his bike just yet, and instead takes full advantage of some bluebird powder on March 28th.

6 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring







That Went Fast. Memorial Day seems like

yesterday. Our first edition of Durango Magazine was delivered, and the summer was upon us—well, sort of. Eight feet of new snow had fallen in Silverton as a lead-up to this year’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. It seemed that winter would just not end. In some places, snowpack was nearly 500 percent of historic levels. Purgatory opened the lifts during the Iron Horse weekend, giving us the longest ski season in resort history. The transition to summer arrived shortly thereafter, and it seemed that spring was non-existent. We have a young man, now in the fourth grade, which kept us busy all summer with Cub Scout camps, days at the lake, BMX races, a visit from Grandma, and his first solo trip to see family on the East Coast. It seems there is simply never enough time to do it all in Durango—a great problem to have. Now the morning air smells of wood stoves, and it is nearly dark as the school bus stops. The nights grow longer as we move toward winter. It will be Thanksgiving by the time most of you read this publishers’ note. But we find ourselves here now, in early October, the day after our annual neighborhood Oktoberfest party. I’m reminded of how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful community. Our neighborhood is known as “The Shire,” a term coined by a past homeowner. It stuck and is now embraced by many. This year’s party was hosted for the first time by some dear friends, Donna and Brad. They, like us, moved here a few years back. We reminisced that this is the same home where we came to meet all our new neighbors in 2008. At that time, the original homeowners, upon completing construction, were hosting their first housewarming party. We had moved in merely days earlier ourselves. Now, as then, I see new faces walking up the drive with a potluck dish in hand—new faces looking to make new friends. I would be willing to bet that many of our local readers have similar stories to share. To this day, we feel so fortunate to have picked Durango as our home. Please find yourself a warm spot, sit back and enjoy this Winter/Spring edition of Durango Magazine. Then get back outdoors and enjoy this very special place—Durango, Colorado.

Publisher/Editor Marianne & Corbet Hoover Design/Production Eric Emerson Account Executives Marianne & Corbet Hoover Photo Editor Lisa Mackey Copy Editor Barbara Scott, Final Eyes Staff Intern Chloe Ragsdale Durango Magazine is published twice a year by Durango Magazine LLC. The Summer/Fall 2020 edition publishes in May. P.O. Box 3907 Durango, CO 81302 Phone: (970) 259-2599

DurangoMagazine.com No portion of this publication’s content may be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. Copyright © 2019 by Durango Magazine. All rights reserved.


Marianne Hoover

Corbet Hoover



8 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Intimate dining, bold flavor We’ve taken our quaint little epicurean setting, filled it with the unforgettable flavors of fresh-caught seafood, full flavored game meats, distinctive cheeses, added a variety of crisp vegetables, microgreens, vibrant herbs and succulent fruits. We then married those flavors into sublime palettes, beautifully plated, lovingly offered. All awaiting you to garnish with oh so many memorable words shared between friends, lovers, or family. We’re Primus, offering a unique dining experience that you will long savor. reservations recommended 1017 main ave. 970.259.1945 9

by Chloe Ragsdale

FOR 136 YEARS, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has

pioneered through the waning hillsides and cavernous cliffs of the Rocky Mountains, exploring the depths of all seasons in their prime. With winter approaching Colorado, this expedition features both the epitome of childlike fantasy and the winter wonderland that seemingly exists only in storybooks. The best-known excursion on the D&SNG is inspired by Chris Van Alls-burgh’s award-winning children’s book The Polar Express. Named for its literary predecessor, the Polar Express train ride winds its way up to the “North Pole” of Durango, beguiling all with its array of festive decorations, dishes—most famously the hot chocolate and cast members, including chefs, the hobo, the conductor, the Hero Boy, Billy, and a company of dancing elves.

Kathy Myrick 10 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Yvonne Lashmett

S PASSENGERS REACH their ultimate destination, they are beguiled with jovial homes decorated with Christmas trimmings and topped with wintry snowflakes that resemble the sugarcoated cookies served aboard the train. Perfect for all ages, the Polar Express train ride provides a comfortably heated atmosphere for all passengers, along with an intricate reading of The Polar Express, the joyous chorus of familiar Christmas carols, and a visit from the man in red himself, Santa Claus. This adventure begins on November 14 and ends January 2, spanning the ideal amount of time for anyone wishing to prolong the Christmas season. The delights of winter don’t stop with The Polar Express. The exploration continues with the Cascade Canyon winter train, a stunning trek through the ravines whose destination is a waterfall sculpted by ice. The Cascade Canyon train departs from the Durango depot and winds its way through the snow-kissed landscape of the San Juan National Forest.

Once on board, all passengers are either served a preordered lunch or encouraged to enjoy their own packed lunch throughout the heated cabins while taking in the view from the windows. Also on board the train is the Caboose Coffee Shop, which serves hot and cold beverages as well as snacks and candy from favorite local makers, including Honeyville, The Durango Diner, Ricky’s Lucky Nuts, and Desert Sun Coffee Roasters. Besides the delicious array of food and the breathtaking views aboard the train, Cascade Canyon is also an attraction for climbers, as they are drawn to the steep limestone walls surrounding the waterfall. This train ride spans from November 25 to May 1, allowing passengers to view the scenery both in the winter and the spring. Both the Polar Express and the Cascade Canyon trains are sure to provide unforgettable experiences from Durango’s corner of Colorado and the magnificent wilderness that surrounds it.

Steve Yabek

Rachelle Fish



Ray Dileo

SKIJORING RETURNS TO SILVERTON’S BLAIR STREET This February, elite teams of horses, riders and skiers pulled by tow rope will race down Silverton’s notorious Blair Street, navigating two and a half snowy blocks of gates and jumps in often less than 17 seconds as they compete for $10,000 in prize money. At high noon on Saturday, February 15, and Sunday, February 16, the races begin, with spectators lining both sides of the course to watch the horses run and skiers reach for the rings that will bring them victory. A Silverton resident brought this great annual event to town in 2010, drawing teams and audience members from throughout the region. The races take place each February in all weather, and audience crowds are anticipated to reach 2,500 in 2020. This event is only possible with the great infusion of energy from volunteers, sponsors, teams and spectators. Silverton Skijoring takes pride in bringing communities and people together with volunteerism, sponsorship and recognition. Silverton Skijoring is a family-friendly FREE spectator event. NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED, for the safety of the horses, riders, skiers, spectators and dogs. Shops and restaurants will be open all weekend, and visitors are encouraged to seek local lodging early. For additional information, please check the Silverton Chamber of Commerce at silvertoncolorado.com or the skijoring website at silvertonskijoring. com. To volunteer or donate, please call 970-903-1961 or email silvertonskijoring@ gmail.com.


Durango Dog Ranch

Durango Dog Ranch has been operating in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado for over 25 years. Dog sledding is not just a bucket-list item, as many locals and visitors come year after year to be whisked along snowy trails with sled dogs. DDR has taken generations of families from the youngest to the oldest on safe winter adventures, and most guests drive a team of sled dogs, with the help of a guide on every sled. There have been birthdays celebrated, anniversaries and even marriage proposals on the runners of the sleds, and owners Gregg and Gretchen Dubit have enjoyed the ride for all of the years since they started this business. In 1988, these two outdoor enthusiasts met as employees of Sugarbush Ski Resort in Vermont. They moved west to ski powder, and to attend Fort Lewis College; both became teachers. The outdoors called again, and Gregg’s fascination with sled dogs led to adventures by dog sled. It all started 28 years ago, when Gretchen said, “I do,” and Gregg thought she said, “I do want two kids (Lydia, 15, and Hayden, 13), and a kennel of working dogs, to grow old with." What started as a part-time business, while both worked their full time jobs as teachers in the local schools, has evolved into the Durango Dog Ranch, a multi-trailhead dog sled adventure business now offering two-hour tours by dog sled and, the newest option, evening race training with the race team(s). Durango Dog Ranch operates under a special-use permit in the San Juan National Forest, utilizing multiple trailheads. This flexibility allows them to find the optimal snow and trail conditions. All trips are by advance reservation, and the Christmas/holiday season is the busiest time. After all, who doesn’t want to celebrate the magic of the season on a snowy dog sled? Shuttle service is available, and booking is online (non-refundable as the dogs and sled are reserved just for you). For more information visit their website: www.DurangoDogRanch.com

DURANGO BLUEGRASS MELTDOWN The 2020 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown happens April 17–19. The Four Corners’ longest running traditional bluegrass music festival takes place during Durango’s shoulder season, featuring events at indoor theaters around downtown. The main hub of the event is the Strater Hotel, which comes alive with folks jamming and listening at all hours of the day and into the night. The Henry Strater Theatre, Durango Arts Center, and Wild Horse Saloon anchor the main-stage events throughout the weekend. The Meltdown also hosts numerous auxiliary events around downtown with the support of local businesses. The Meltdown is proud to have brought top national, regional and local talent to the stages for 25 years and counting. The 2020 lineup features The Greg Blake Band, Trout Steak Revival, Unspoken Tradition, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters and many more. Tickets and information can be found by visiting www.durangomeltdown.com. Molsky's Mountain Drifters

12 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

SNOWDOWN As part of the defining culture of Durango, Snowdown marks a weeklong celebration that rallies the entire town in commemoration. With varying themes each year, ranging from it's Snow Fine in '89 to Intergalactic to Yabba Dabba Doorango, each concept of Snowdown reflects our community's most lighthearted and creative aspects, the lure of many tourists to our town during this untamed festival. Begun in 1979 by its creator, John Murrah, Snowdown is a highly anticipated, holiday-like event. Each year is filled with new surprises and memories to make their mark on the history of Durango. The year 2020 will be no different, as it has been dubbed A Rockin' Snowdown, where citizens of Durango dress up as their most esteemed rock-n-roll artists. Celebrating its 42nd anniversary, A Rockin' Snowdown runs from Wednesday, January 29 through Sunday, February 2, and claims to fit everyone on the wide spectrum of Highway to Hell or the Stairway to Heaven. For more information, visit the official Snowdown website: www.snowdown.org.


The Durango Independent Film Festival will be held Wednesday, March 4, through Sunday, March 8, 2020. This year’s festival includes roughly 100 films across five theaters– Animas City Theatre, both screens at the Gaslight Theatre, and two screens at Durango Stadium 9. The festival kicks off Wednesday, March 4, with FREE MOVIE NIGHT at the Animas City Theatre and Gaslight Theatre. Purchase your pass before January 31, 2020, and you’ll receive an Early Bird discount. And if you purchase one All-Festival pass, you can buy another at half price. The AllFestival pass gets you into films AND 3 VIP parties. Meet and greet every morning with Coffee Talk with Filmmakers, or attend one of the weekend panels to hear more in-depth discussions and behind-the-scenes stories. Come into focus with Durango Film this March. To purchase a pass or to see this year’s lineup (available early February) visit www.durangofilm.org.

WINTER SOLSTICE AT CHACO CANYON Over the course of three days, join astroarchaeology fanatics at the Winter Solstice viewing at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Chaco Canyon, a major center of Ancestral Puebloans and their homes, called pueblos, is located in the vast and intriguing desert of New Mexico and is a compelling look into the history of our ancestors. As most pueblos built in the Chaco Canyon region were constructed in relation to the stars, which is a highly advanced astronomical concept, this is the perfect location to view the 2020 Winter Solstice. Taking part in numerous hikes and guided tours, guests will delve into the intricate history of Chaco Canyon with a lens of the extraordinary Winter Solstice through which to view it all. The best-known attribute of Winter Solstice at Chaco Canyon is witnessing the sunrise at the southern edge of the notch at Wijiji, one of Chaco’s great houses, on the morning of the solstice. Experience the significance of this anomaly as it marks one of the most important ancient puebloan ceremonies. This celebration takes place on Friday, December 20 through Sunday, December 22. For more information, visit the official Chaco Canyon website: www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm.

Corbet Hoover



SAN JUAN SYMPHONY The San Juan Symphony is a unique orchestra. Few in the industry serve multiple communities across neighboring states, and even fewer are comprised of musicians spread across a region as vast as the Four Corners. Musical selections this season are designed to delight and inspire. With the threads of elegance and intensity providing an emotional connection between the different programs, you are invited to feast your ears on an abundance of heartwarming melodies, plenty of musical passion, bombastic drama, and an abundance of bold musical expression. The great Beethoven turns 250 during this, our 34th season–so there is much to celebrate. Enjoy the music! Family Concert: Peter & The Wolf Saturday, January 18, 5 pm, Henderson Performance Hall, Farmington, New Mexico Sunday, January 19, 2 pm, Bayfield Performing Arts Center, Bayfield, Colorado Sunday, January 19, 5 pm, Community Concert Hall, Durango (Instrument Petting Zoo one hour before each show) Beethoven@250 Saturday, February 22, 7:30 pm, Henderson Performance Hall, Farmington, New Mexico Sunday, February 23, 3:00 pm, Community Concert Hall, Durango Thrilling Virtuosity Saturday, April 4, 7:30 pm, Henderson Performance Hall, Farmington, New Mexico Sunday, April 5, 3:00 pm, Community Concert Hall, Durango Tickets & Information: www.sanjuansymphony.org

DURANGO WINE EXPERIENCE Calling wine lovers everywhere! The Durango Wine Experience spans the length of three days, each filled with educational seminars, wine dinners, unique and exciting tastings, and many more enriching events. Showcasing local chefs and a collection from over 100 wineries and thousands of worldwide labels, the 2020 Durango Wine Experience is sure to be one for the books. This event is truly a local wonder, as many businesses in the community sponsor this commemoration of wine that attracts more than a thousand wine fanatics from across the globe. The Durango Wine Experience takes place on Thursday, April 30, through Saturday, May 2. And if the Durango Wine Experience is simply not enough, the Walk-Around Durango Tasting event is Sunday, May 3, from 4 to 7 pm and features an extensive array of wines, light appetizers, and the culture of downtown Durango. For more information, and to buy tickets for the event, visit the official Durango Wine Experience website: www.durangowine.com.

Jeremy Wade Shockley

HOZHONI POWWOW AT FORT LEWIS The Hozhoni Powwow at Fort Lewis College is the longeststanding student-led tradition, representing the beautiful and timeless Native American culture. This three-day contest features a range of public-speaking events, powwowing, conventional food presentations, and traditional and modern talent performances highlighting Fort Lewis College’s well established focus on Native American practices. Hozhoni translates to “beauty” in Native American language, which characterizes the event as an intricate tribute to Native American culture and proves its significance in the scope of our modern world. Begun in 1966 by its creator Clyde Benally, or the “Father of the Hozhoni Days," the Hozhoni Powwow was originally named the Shalako Indian Club and morphed over the years into the current powwow/pageant tradition that it is now. This event will be held on the last weekend of March, Friday the 27th through Sunday the 29th. For more information, visit the official Hozhoni Powwow website: www.fortlewis.edu/hozhoni-days-powwow/

14 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring



Winter is a time

for cuddling indoors by the warm fire or under a thick blanket


by Zach Hively

ere, winter is the perfect reason to get out of the house for a full suite of adventures sure to toast your spirit. First things first: Whether your style is full-bore downhill skiing or a leisurely snowshoe hike, you need the right gear to access the best snow in the area. Ski Barn (3533 Main Ave. in Durango) offers nearly everything you can strap to your feet. From snowboarding to telemarking, this is the place to find winter gear under a single iconic pitched roof and they offer shortterm rentals on select gear as well. Ski Barn has been a mainstay of the winter sports scene for more than 40 years. In addition to gear rentals, they specialize in ski clothing, accessories, custom boot fittings, and equipment repair. And their expertise is well earned: Ski Barn’s team demos all the equipment in the store before they stock it so they’re certain that what you’re wearing is the best in the business. Once you’re geared up, you’ll encounter perhaps the most challenging moment of the day: deciding which location to hit. One gem among the local options is the Vallecito Nordic Club’s groomed trail system at Vallecito Reservoir (trailhead at the Old Timers Day-Use Area on Forest Road 603). Vallecito is a beautiful 20-mile drive east of Durango, and the water is surrounded on all sides by scenic hills with aspen and pine forests. The lake largely freezes over, and 16 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

THE DOWN LOW the regularly groomed recreational trails offer a true connection with nature and a sense of community with fellow adventurers. The nonprofit Nordic Club provides and maintains the trail system. The trails are exclusively non-motorized, meaning that a day of skiing around the lake is all the more peaceful for the self-propelled enthusiasts out there. The ski club grooms the trails so they’re accessible to people of all ages and abilities. For

Grady James

more information, including trail condition reports, you can follow the club on Facebook or contact them at (970) 884-6193. If downhill skiing feels more your speed, then head north to Kendall Mountain Ski Area (1 Kendall Pl., Silverton). This ski hill is family friendly, even for those with small children, and it’s an ideal destination for downhill beginners. The terrain is perfect for novice skiers, with four groomed trails, a chairlift, and 240

feet of vertical drop. Lift tickets are wildly affordable: $25 for adults, $17 for kids/seniors/military, and free for kids 5 and under. Always check the operations schedule at www.skikendall.com, because in addition to regular hours Friday through Sunday, there are special extended holiday operations, free ski days, night skiing, and special events such as the Silverton Whiteout & Snowscape Winter Carnival, Feb. 8-10. Nestled in the mountains between Durango and Silverton, the world-famous Purgatory Resort (1 Skier Pl., just west of Highway 550) is best known for its downhill skiing but also offers an array of non-skiing activities. For instance, you can hand-select a tube and hit the Snow Coaster Tubing Hill, featuring multiple designated lanes. Snow scooters are available for rent, and you can book a 45-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride. Or, for something even more unusual, check out the dogsledding tours, which are guided along a scenic snowy trail with sled dogs from Durango Dog Ranch. After exhausting yourself in the powder with any or all of the above activities, take the rest of the day to soak your bones at Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa (6475 County Road 203). It doesn’t matter how cold the air is or even how much snow is falling there’s nothing like donning a swimsuit in winter. These mineral-rich, natu-

rally heated geothermal hot springs fill two therapy pools right in the middle of the Animas River Valley, approximately ten minutes north of Durango. There’s a sauna on the grounds, and spa services are available. The pools are a kid-friendly quiet zone, so these springs make for a great family outing as well as a solo self-pampering trip. When you get back to Durango, there’s no need to call it a day. Why not treat yourself to a scrumptious dinner at one of downtown’s local favorites? The Himalayan Kitchen (992 Main Ave.) serves a deep menu of authentic Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian dishes, cultivated by executive chef and former mountain guide Karma Tenzing Bhotia. Start your feast with an order of samosas before diving into an array of kormas, paneers, curries, and other in-house specialties that are one part comfort food and one part fine dining. The Himalayan Kitchen


Scott Smith

Durango Hot Springs

also runs a full bar with specialty cocktails—the Mustang Coffee might be just the ticket after a day in the snow. Alternatively, you can choose to feed your brain at Conundrum Escape Rooms (736 Main Ave.). Here, your group has one hour to solve the puzzles and riddles necessary to escape a themed room. Each escape room is crafted in-house and built around a story, such as Frankenstein’s laboratory or a Mafia boss’s secret den. Conundrum is always developing new rooms, including a special one to match each winter’s Snowdown theme. There’s even an entire boardgame shop in the front room, so you can take the fun back home with you. With so many options, it’s no puzzle why Durango is the must-do destination for winter, whether you’re visiting from abroad or live just on the other side of town. And if you decide to curl up under that blanket by a fire at the end of a hard day’s play, no one can fault you. After all, even hard-core Durangoans need to rest up for the next day’s adventures.


Everyone’s a Beginner Once by Margaret Hedderman

Since Durango is home to more than a few former and current Olympians, national champions, professional athletes, and some darned good amateurs, it’s easy to feel a tad overwhelmed if you’re a beginner here. All the same, despite the real or perceived intimidation factor, an abundance of entry-level opportunities make Durango a great place to learn a new sport this winter. Here’s how to get started:

Give Snowshoeing a Try One of the easiest ways to get outside in the winter, snowshoeing is quick and simple; anyone can pick it up in a couple of hours. “It’s a great activity to get used to being in that type of environment,” says Jack Klim, a local guide and operations director with San Juan Expeditions (formerly Kling Mountain Guides). “You learn about the cold and snow, and how to manage your layering. It’s a great place to start.” Snowshoeing itself requires very little instruction beyond learning how to put the snowshoes on; but if you’re wanting a bit more guidance, there are a few options in town to help get you started. Purgatory Resort offers guided snowshoe tours behind the ski area. These half-day excursions will allow you to get comfortable traveling in snowy terrain and get used to your gear. Alternatively, if you’re over 50, Seniors Outdoors offers Saturday snowshoe tours throughout the 18 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

winter, often exploring unexpected, less traveled areas. For a small fee, $15 a year, you’ll gain access to endless programming for winter and beyond—plus a wealth of local knowledge and a few new friends to boot. Snowshoes are relatively inexpensive compared to other winter gear and can be purchased or rented at a number of outdoor shops around town.

Get a Workout With Nordic Skiing If the first sight of snow sends you to the gym, consider picking up Nordic skiing this winter. With an abundance of groomed areas close to town and plenty of local stores offering rentals, there’s no excuse not to move your workout outside. “It’s like going for a walk in the woods. It’s beautiful,” says Helen Low, center manager at Durango Nordic.

Kennan Harvey

Steep and deep is not the name of the game, but you will come across some rolling terrain at most Nordic areas. Low recommends taking a lesson to learn how to navigate the ups and downs, as well as to avoid taking up any bad habits. Durango Nordic offers one-off clinics and lessons throughout the winter, but if you’re serious about getting into it, Low suggests signing up for their masters’ program, which offers classes from December through February. In addition to a selection of rental gear in town, the Vallecito Nordic Club hosts an annual demo (usually in January or February) with the latest and greatest Nordic equipment from top brands. Become a Powder Hound It’s all about perspective. When the forecast calls for a foot of snow, don’t think about shoveling the driveway; imagine first tracks at the mountain. Whether you’re called by skiing or snowboarding, we recommend taking a lesson from a professional if you’re brand new to the sport. Both Purgatory and Wolf Creek offer lessons, including beginner series, to get you started. The “8Week Program at Purgatory” is a great way to meet other skiers or boarders at your ability level. If you’ve been around town long enough, you’ve probably heard the term “backcountry” come up in conversation. If you’re even considering venturing out of bounds this winter, Klim says you should be able to “link turns down a black diamond, skiing it top to bottom.” The backcountry presents a host of new challenges, primarily avalanche danger. Klim recommends attending an avalanche-awareness clinic as a basic primer. “You should understand the dangers, as well as the dynamics, of avalanche terrain,” Klim says. “It’ll give you a good idea of whether you want to do it or not.” Several outdoor-gear stores, as well as the Powerhouse Science Center and Friends of the San Juans, host inexpensive or

Paul Pennington

free clinics throughout the winter. Snowboarders can also take advantage of free Splitboard 101 clinics, led by Klim on behalf of Weston Backcountry and Backcountry Experience. Eventually you’ll need to take a true avalanche-safety course to learn how to travel safely in the heavy backcountry snow. San Juan Expeditions, as well as other guiding services in the area, provide level-one certifications through the American Avalanche Association. Get Vertical Don’t worry, climbers, we didn’t forget you. But we’ll be honest. Neither ice-climbing nor mountaineering are exactly entry-level activities. Still, if you’re a strong rock-climber looking for a

new way to get vertical this winter, here’s where to start. “Ice-climbing all stems from rock-climbing,” says Klim. “It’s just a different medium that you’re climbing on.” He recommends signing up for a guided group lesson for either ice-climbing or mountaineering. While you can be relatively new to climbing, Klim says it helps to know how to belay and at the very least top rope. Durango is within an easy drive of the Ouray Ice Park, which hosts an annual ice-climbing festival. Sign up for a variety of clinics and enjoy watching some of the world’s best ice-climbers compete.



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Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. 20 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring



PHOTO/Mattias Fredriksson

835 Main Ave. Durango, CO (970) 247-8728

858 Main Ave. Durango, CO (970) 426-4496



by Sara Knight


Wild West Hearts


The stylish and savvy staff at The Sparrow Mercantile (previously The Silk Sparrow) on Main Avenue knows Durango and fashion, and they know how to bring the two together. The little boutique is a perfect place to discover your distinct look. Katie Bisogno, who purchased the business from Sarah Rousseau in May 2017, has lived in Durango for most of her life. She never formally studied fashion, but she certainly has an eye for it. It’s all in finding what makes you feel your best, whether that’s a black t-shirt and vintage Levis or a flirty dress and heels. “Cute doesn’t mean buttoned-up. I don’t know if it has a specific meaning like it used to,” Katie reasoned. “I think it is just about individuality.” Even while actively participating in the local building industry and owning her window and door company, Colorado Fenestra, Katie made it a point to express her individuality and femininity. “I refused to dress like one of the boys,” Katie explained. “I felt like I could do construction in 4-inch heels if I wanted to. That has always been a part of me – wanting to dress the way I wanted to, and feel like a woman if I wanted to.” Though Colorado Fenestra was highly successful, deep in her heart, Katie always wondered if she could make it in fashion. When her friend Sarah, the founder of The Silk Sparrow, offered to sell the clothing store to her, Katie was elated. She felt that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. “[Sarah] has held my hand through the majority of it,” Katie said graciously. “When I took over, I really wanted to stay true to her. She loves this place so dearly and has been an incredible mentor for me.” When rebranding, Katie and her husband and business partner, James Bisogno, wanted to honor 22 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Sarah’s legacy of The Silk Sparrow, but also create a more neutral aesthetic. Thus, The Sparrow Mercantile was born. James has since designed the store’s branding to fit the shop’s new identity. As The Sparrow Mercantile continues forward, Katie and her employees are keeping an eye toward the future. Katie is proud to feature more and more local artists and brands, and she is considering eventually expanding into men’s clothing, too.

Katie sums up their core message, saying, “We have punk rock souls and Wild West hearts – the perfect blend of mountain-raised and city chic. We feel like we have it all in here.”


Tiffany Jacot


With 35-plus years of history, Maria’s Bookshop is a downtown Durango icon. It’s a favorite hangout for many a shopper or browser. Even the inkling that Maria’s could drastically change or disappear altogether created trepidation for anyone with a stake in the city’s future. When co-owners Andrea Avantaggio and Peter Schertz put the store up for sale, people held their breath: Who would buy it, and what would they do with “our” special town treasure? If you love books and spend time in southwest Colorado, you’ve almost certainly been to Maria’s. The store actually opened way back in 1972 as The Bookshop, then became Maria’s Bookshop when Dusty Teal bought the place in 1984 and reimagined what he believed a book store should be, giving it a true Southwest flavor. Avantaggio, by then a sixyear-long employee, and Schertz took a huge leap of faith in 1998. They bought the store from Teal, believing they could battle the Barnes & Nobles and Amazons. Their son, Evan, was 6 months old. Daughter Lydia would be born three years later. Fast-forward to the spring of 2018: Their wish to sell became public, and speculation began. Evan was finishing his junior year as a mechanical engineering student at Colorado School of Mines in Golden. For months Avantaggio and Schertz met with prospective buyers and considered offers. Nothing seemed quite right, and, perhaps to the detriment of their own pocketbooks, they always prioritized the shop’s legacy— the community, the customers, the employees—over any financial windfall. “Whatever transpired had to serve all of those people in the best possible way,” Avantaggio said.

Meanwhile, Evan, now a senior, was mulling his future. As excited as he’d been to leave Durango and explore the world— during college he visited Japan for world rafting championships and the southern highlands of Tanzania for a school energy design project—Evan discovered as soon as he left that Durango was an ideal place. The community, he realized, is “engaged in its own cultivation”—a condition rare in a large city. His parents had mentioned to Evan the possibility of his assuming control of Maria’s. It was a quick conversation, but the idea slowly took hold. Although he valued the problem-solving mindset that engineering had taught him, he wasn’t sold on an engineering career. In May 2019, the announcement came: Evan would take over at Maria’s. Avantaggio says she felt a “collective sigh of relief” from an anxious community. “True,” says Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District. Maria’s, open every day from 9am to 9pm at 960 Main Avenue, adds value to the heart of downtown. “I think that’s so important that there’s some warm, inviting place that’s always open,” Walsworth said. “Friendly employees, good products-and not just books: It’s a great place for last-minute toys for a kid’s birthday party.”

Nationally there is a “clear passing of the torch to a younger generation” of independent book store owners, said Oren Teicher, chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association and a huge fan of Maria’s. Independent stores have collectively created a road map to success; and in contrast to a decade ago, people see how bookshops fill a viable and important cultural niche. “Evan is part of a cadre of new young owners,” Teicher said. “He’s not alone.” Evan Schertz, now 22, said he certainly does not feel alone. The support he’s received from both the community and Maria’s hardworking, engaging staff has “blown me away.” Avantaggio said the staff is committed to Evan’s success as he uses their expertise and his own problem-solving skills to weave a successful future. Said Evan: “I’m really excited to be part of the next chapter of Maria’s.”

Tiffany Jacot




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24 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring












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Roaring into the 1920s on the Million Dollar Highway

Courtesy of Animas Museum by Susan H. Jones

Animas Museum


THE UNITED STATES SUDDENLY EMERGED AS A RICH AND POWERFUL NATION. Images of flappers in short skirts, wild new dances, and the drinking of illicit alcohol in speakeasies dominated our perception of the era. Inventions including telephones, radios and automobiles were financially within reach for more Americans, helping to create major societal changes. In Durango, the automobile may have had the greatest influence during the 1920s on the place we know today. Durango was established in 1880 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. The railroad connected the remote new town with the outside world, via Denver, and with the mining camps around Silverton. Once the railroad was completed to Silverton in 1882, people happily abandoned the stagecoach, wagon and carriage for the faster and less expensive train. It could convey people, bring ore to Durango smelters, and transport food and supplies into Silverton. Much of the track was even laid on the toll road. The railroad was designed to reach Silverton year round, although in many years snow and avalanches closed the route for weeks at a time. When a flood in the fall of 1911 washed out more than 20 26 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Animas Museum

miles of track in the Animas Canyon, people in Silverton recognized the need for an alternate route into the remote mountain town. Railroad builder and entrepreneur Otto Mears completed the first part of the road that became known as the Million Dollar Highway, between Silverton and Ouray, in late 1884. The first stagecoach ran over it in 1885, and it became a public road by 1900. The State of Colorado provided funding for a wagon road between Silverton and Durango in 1893. The road was technically completed in 1905 but was extremely rough, especially for “newfangled” automobiles. By this time, there was an automobile club in Colorado and over 200 cars in Denver alone, but automobiles were an expensive novelty, out of reach for most Americans. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad remained the transportation mode of choice.

The roar heard in the San Juans in the 1920s was that of the automobile. The price of a Ford Model T with the bare minimum of features dropped to around $300. The number of automobiles in Colorado alone was over 30,000 by 1920.

Animas Museum

IN 1914, WAR BROKE OUT IN EUROPE. The United States entered the war in 1917, which affected transportation in the San Juans. The U.S. government poured money into the D&RG railroad to insure that defense metals flowed out of Silverton. When the Great War ended in November 1918, the people of Durango and Silverton struggled to return their lives to “normal.” Soldiers returned home, the specter of the Spanish flu retreated, but the expected prosperity never returned. Metal prices plummeted from wartime highs, causing many mines to shut down. Facing collapse, the hard-rock mining industry, which employed over half the population, left Silverton, never to return. The railroad lost its government backing and slipped into receivership, emerging as the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1921. Southwest Colorado was suffering and did not experience the postwar boom enjoyed by other parts of the country. The roar heard in the San Juans in the 1920s was that of the automobile. The price of a Ford Model T with the bare minimum of features dropped to around $300. The number of automobiles in Colorado alone was over 30,000 by 1920. That same year, mining revenues peaked then drastically declined in the San Juans. Durango and Silverton realized that automobile tourism could offset the lost income. Both towns started distributing maps and brochures proclaiming the beauty of the San Juans and encouraging tourists to visit. Newly mobile American tourists obliged, driving their Model T’s through the area on

upgraded roads like the Million Dollar Highway, and the economy changed to depend on them. The Million Dollar Highway got its name in the early 1920s. Some say it was so named because it cost a million dollars to build, but Otto Mears’ financial records do not support this claim. Others say it got its name because there was a million dollars worth of gold and silver recovered when the road was built—but again, no financially viable ore was found. Still others say it got its name because the views were worth a million dollars, which is certainly true, especially in the winter. However, the truth is that when the three contractors—the State of Colorado, the U.S. government and the U.S. Forest Service—compared notes, they realized that the cost of their three projects to upgrade the road to an automobile road totaled $1 million. Someone suggested that “We have ourselves a million-dollar highway,” and the name stuck. Once the Million Dollar Highway was complete, a ceremony was held on July 4, 1924, to dedicate the road. Durango, Silverton and Ouray hoped the road would be open year-round, but Roaring ’20s technology did not allow the road to stay open through the winter. They did learn quickly, in the 1920s, that guardrails only thwarted the efforts of plows pushing snow off the road. This winter, enjoy the splendors of the San Juans as you drive along the highway, our legacy from the Roaring ’20s.



Home Furniture & Decor ~ Design Services ~ sofas . rugs . coffee tables . bedrooms . lamps . mirrors dining rooms . glassware . candles . jewelry . art & more 970 259.5755 / 700 e 2nd ave durango co / artesanosdesign.com

Winter Solstice Artisan’s Market November 22 to

December 23

DAC Youth Theatre December 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15

Art Happens Here! 802 E. 2nd Ave, Durango CO www.durangoarts.org 970.259.2606

28 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Where History Comes Alive!

FEaturing Thoughtful Exhibits • historic structures Research library • Extensive Photo Archive Programs & Tours • Museum store

3065 W 2nd Ave | (970) 259-2402 | Animasmuseum.org Owned & Operated by the La Plata County historical society


Four Corners Musical Theatre Company. Where national and local talent combine for amazing theatre.

February 19-22, 2020 7:30 pm | February 23, 2020 2:00 pm

april 22-25, 2020 7:30 pm | april 26, 2020 2:00 pm Farmington CiviC Center | 1 hour south into sunny new mexiCo tiCkets $10-$32 | www.Fmtn.org/CiviCCenter | 877-599-3331


Words and photos by Hank Blum

30 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

ACKPACKING MAY SEEM LIKE a distant dream at the moment, but if those dreams include treks deep into the wilderness, you might consider planning ahead. The snow will once again melt across the San Juans, and you want to be prepared when it does. A wilderness trek is an exciting adventure that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Hiking and sleeping under the stars for a few days may be just what you need to hit the reset button. The real solitude for me is looking at my phone and seeing no red notifications and no cell service. It is a great opportunity to be present in nature and to step away from the rat race. The appeal of backpacking, to me, is spending days immersed in the wilderness and surviving only on what I can carry on my back. But this is not for everyone. Imagine being able to enjoy a four-to-five-day adventure amid the most beautiful scenery in the San Juans without carrying a heavy pack.

Introducing . . . hiking with llamas! With your furry beasts of burden, you need carry no more than a daypack outfitted with snacks, layers and water. This allows people of all skill levels and physical abilities to penetrate further into the backcountry and leave the nonsense behind. The experience of backcountry trekking is even greater if you don’t have to worry about aggravating that knee injury by carrying a heavy pack. The llamas are able to take you to waterfalls, to the tops of alpine peaks, and to beautiful high-mountain lakes. Plus, there’s no shaving grams on gear when packing for a llama trek. These four-legged friends are an extension of your backpack. Don’t go overboard, but a pound here and there for the bigger tent, a box of wine, fishing gear, camp chairs, ice chests or, for me, those extra camera lenses and batteries, make a big difference. Llamas have been bred for thousands of years, and humans have utilized their strengths

to serve this specific purpose. Llamas can carry about 20 percent of their body weight, packing loads of 60 to 80 pounds for multi-day trips. The first thing I learned on my trip with these llamas is that the guides who come with them also contribute abundant assistance for the backcountry excursion. Getting ready for a several-day overnight trip requires efficiency. Guides place your gear into panniers, taking care to evenly distribute the weight onto the majestic creatures’ backs. The guides are not only there to support your safety; they start your morning off with a delicious breakfast and a hot cup of coffee or tea before you head out on each day’s adventure. And in the evening, you can expect to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful meals they prepare. Having a taco bar, homemade cookies and warm cherry pie at 12,000 feet was my favorite. Grilled salmon over the campfire was a close second. They even had a gluten-free ver-


sion for the one on the trip who was gluten intolerant. After the meals, no need to worry about cleanup. The guides have that covered, too, giving you more time to relax by the campfire or go on an evening moonlit hike. Your guides, aka experts, also bring with them their experience and knowledge about these animals and the area you’re trekking through. I could not get enough of the llamas. They are so intriguing, with their adorably funny looks and silly person-

32 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

alities. With those long faces, banana-shaped ears and awkward underbites, it is nearly impossible not to crack a smile. Plus, they’ve got a variety of entertaining noises also likely to make you giggle. The most impressive thing I found is that these llamas have almost superhero abilities to survive in some of Colorado’s most rugged terrain. Llamas do not have hooves, like horses, sheep and goats do. Their feet have two toes and soft, leather-like pads on the bottom, which enables them to be very surefooted and cause minimal damage to the ecosystem. I have always been somewhat concerned about bears coming into camp to tear up our tents or to eat us but not with the llamas around. Llamas are extremely alert, responding to new intruders and predators by making a high-pitched gargling noise that sounds like Chewbacca. One of my favorite aspects of this trip was watching other backpackers’ faces light up as they approached us on the trail. It was like hiking with Hollywood celebrities. Every hiker we met wanted to stop for llama

selfies or were dying to know more about the animals. You don’t have to worry about the llamas’ survival skills on the trails. Their camel genetics make the species incredibly low maintenance for backcountry travel. They graze on leaves and twigs while hiking and rarely need to stop to eat. This makes llamas excellent for both hiking and backcountry hunting. Day five was bittersweet. A long trek back to the trailhead through knee-high wildflowers, listening to marmots chirp, was pure bliss. It was exciting to know that I could take a hot shower and sleep in my bed that night but sad to leave such a dreamy and special place. It was even difficult to say goodbye to the llamas. Part of me wanted to take them home. I was grateful to the llamas for carrying the load and allowing us to have a wonderful trek deep into the wilderness. It was one of the most fun adventures of my life - so much fun that I’ve already booked my trip for next year. My question for you is, when is your first llama trip going to be?

The 2020 Be Local Coupon Book is in stores after Thanksgiving!

This coffee table favorite will help you try something new, pick your next date night, and teach you about your favorite local, independent businesses in La Plata County. Find out where it’s sold at www.local-first.org 33



THE NSIDE OUT: Visions from the Artist’s Mind A look into the Southern Ute Museum’s permanent collection featuring:

Orian Box Russell Box Sr. Woody Crumbo Sam English McGarey Gallegos Norman Lansing Sam Ray Byron Red Sr. Dorothy Strait Bennett Thompson

The exhibition is open through April 30, 2020 The museum’s collection consists of an array of archival items and objects. From April 5, 2019 to April 30, 2020 the Southern Ute Museum will be highlighting ten Native artists and their contribution to fine art.


(970) 563-9583 | www.southernutemuseum.org 503 Ouray Drive, Ignacio, CO 81137

34 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

From contemporary to Western to Native American, Durango maintains a strong and eclectic presence in world-class art. More than 30 years ago, a group of downtown Durango art galleries began promoting art sales and featuring artists through two annual events, the Spring Gallery Walk and the Fall Gallery Walk. Today the downtown art galleries and alternative art spaces include Azul Gallery, Create Art & Tea, Diane West Jewelry & Art, Durango Arts Center, Earthen Vessel Gallery, Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts, Rochester Hotel & Leland House, Scenic Aperture, Sorrel Sky Gallery, Studio &, Toh-Atin Gallery, and Wildshots Gallery. Take a stroll through downtown Durango and stop by these art venues on Friday, May 8, from 5-9 p.m. for the Spring Gallery Walk. Enjoy featured artists, live music, food and wine, along with the wonders of art here in the Southwest.

For a gallery map or more information, visit www.durangoartgalleries.com, contact Denise Leslie at 970-903-6417 or durangoartgalleries@gmail.com.



Visiting Durango? Stop by Scenic Aperture! The Durango gallery is located in the heart of Durango’s vibrant art scene. Scenic Aperture features fine-art nature photography of the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. The gallery showcases the photography of Durango’s own internationally collected nature photographer Frank Comisar and is a highlight of Durango’s historic Main Avenue.

This locally owned fine-craft gallery represents regionally and nationally known artists from small independent studios. Browse the curated collection to find unique handmade pieces for your home or wardrobe: jewelry, pottery, ceramic sculpture, dinnerware, original paintings, art glass, mixed media, and wearable art. Earthen Vessel Gallery constantly discovers the most remarkable artists to add to its collection. Whether a salt-glazed mug from Durango, unique statement jewelry from Utah, or abstract painted clothing from New Mexico, come learn the artists’ stories and celebrate all things handmade!

708 MAIN AVENUE scenicaperture.com 970-385-5853

Scenic Aperture also offers workshops and tours for the aspiring photographer. Whether you are looking for new places to shoot or to learn the fundamentals of photography, let Scenic Aperture help you make better photographs. Images are available in many sizes and media. Visit the Durango gallery or shop online!

115 WEST 9TH STREET earthenvessel.com 970-247-1281

info@earthenvessel.com www.earthenvessel.com Celebrating All Things Handmade



Joyful Nook Gallery manufactures handcrafted, high-quality wooden puzzles using local artists’ beautiful original artwork. Their whimsical puzzle pieces are designed to match the theme of the puzzle image, creating a unique scene and a stunning puzzle masterpiece.

In 1957, Jackson Clark Sr. began to trade with Navajo trading posts and weavers, buying and selling their famous Navajo rugs. Today, the family business, Toh-Atin Gallery, has a worldwide reputation as one of the finest dealers in Native American and Southwestern art. From turquoise jewelry to Pueblo pottery, Kachina dolls to Navajo rugs, baskets to paintings to sculpture and more, Toh-Atin Gallery is your trusted source. On west 9th Street, just a few steps off Main.

546 EAST COLLEGE DRIVE jngpuzzles.com 970-764-4764

Joyful Nook also offers retail stationery products, fine specialty papers, note and greeting cards, paper and bookmaking kits, and calligraphy supplies.

145 WEST 9TH STREET toh-atin.com 970-247-8277







Next to the train depot, A Shared Blanket represents Native American art and artifacts including Zuni fetishes, Navajo weavings, baskets, jewelry, pottery, knives, paintings, sculpture and books. Friendly staff. Seven days a week. 104 E. Fifth St., 247-9210, www.asharedblanket.com. Award-winning floral and gift boutique with fresh, long-lasting flowers; custom designs for all occasions; and a creative staff. Extensive gift selection, including Maruca bags, Caldrea bath and body products, local jewelry, candles and home décor. 2075 Main Ave., 247-1633, www.durangoflorist.com.


Artesanos offers a variety of fine Mexican furniture, folk art, gifts and home accessories. From Mexico’s talented craftsmen, each piece is selected for its unique design. Handcrafted items from around the globe. Imaginative design ideas. 700 E. Second Ave., 259-5755, www.artesanosdesign.com.


A multimedia art gallery that specializes in designer jewelry, art glass, wall art and much more. Representing local and regional artists. Unique lines differ from the norm. A wide variety of products and prices. Azul has a bright, friendly atmosphere. 781 Main Ave., 375-7742.


In the heart of downtown Durango, the premier store for unique gifts, jewelry and accessories. The region’s largest assortment of beads, gems, charms and supplies for creative people who make jewelry. Inspiration, classes, lessons and experts on hand. Open daily. 840 Main Ave., 247-1204, www.beadsdurango.com.


Where style meets value. Affordable handcrafted furnishings, art, jewelry and more. Many styles, including rustico, reclaimed wood, aspen-log furnishings. Leather sofas, copper sinks, candles, iron accessories and accent chairs. Hand‑sewn, wool-tufted rugs. “New West” art. 742 Main Ave., 375-9666, www.casadecordurango.com.


Presenting the creative spirit of local artists with photography, painting, jewelry, pottery and more, along with a selection of aromatic teas. Located inside the Durango Arts Center at 802 E. Second Ave., www.createartandtea.com.


Contemporary gallery featuring fine art and award-winning jewelry from around the country, as well as outstanding works from a wide variety of artists. The gallery represents Durango’s talented local artists, as well as artists with national reputations. 820 Main Ave., 385-4444, www.dianewestart.com.


A destination for homes, gifts and gardens. Locally made gourmet foods, sauces and condiments. Dietz is a local business supporting local artists and craftspeople since 1983. They take great pride in the quality and originality of their products and the community they serve and support. 26345 Hwy. 160, 259-5811, www.dietzmarket.com.


A nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing visual and cultural arts for individual and community enrichment, the DAC works to ensure the arts thrive in the Four Corners. DAC provides the community with diverse art experiences, educational opportunities and vibrant expressions in many arts. 802 E. Second Ave., 259-2606, www.durangoarts.org.


A display of all things handmade — including contemporary jewelry, pottery, art glass, metal, mixed media, wall art, and wearable art from both local and nationally known artists. The gallery’s collection of American Craft is eclectic, with a wide range of prices for gift-giving. Downtown. 115 W. Ninth St., 247-1281, www.earthenvessel.com.


“Elegance through art and nature” best describes this contemporary art gallery, featuring local landscapes and Zen paintings by owner Karyn Gabaldon. The gallery also has Asian-inspired gifts and magnificent jewelry, along with interior and exterior sculptures. Since 1980. 680 Main Ave., 247-9018, www.karyngabaldon.com.


Longtime local artist Paul Folwell exhibits his stunning landscapes, skiers, dancers and musicians in his studio at home. Giclées and prints, as well as cards, are available. Commissions welcome. 8199 County Road 203, 759-4870, www.paulfolwell.com.

36 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Full-service design center offering a variety of flooring (carpet, tile and wood), fine furniture, lighting, window coverings, cabinets and accessories. Designers provide decorating and interior-design service and can work from blueprints to furnish your home. 146 Sawyer Dr., 247-2223. In the heart of Durango’s vibrant art scene, the gallery showcases the photography of traveling artist Frank Comisar. The images are available in many sizes and media. Frank leads numerous workshops for aspiring photographers. Custom orders always welcome. 10am–6pm daily except Sundays. 708 Main Ave., 403-5853, www.scenicaperture.com.


Sorrel Sky Gallery, in historic downtown Durango, specializes in a contemporary blend of regional fine art and jewelry. A unique and exciting gallery experience. Highlighting the stunning jewelry designs of Ben Nighthorse. 828 Main Ave., 247-3555, www.sorrelsky.com.


This gallery is a combination studio, gallery and retail store. The space is shared by artisans with talents that include painting, illustration, sculpture, graphic design and more. The artisans engage in creative dialogues with gallery visitors, as well as display and sell their work. 1027 Main Ave., (908) 403-9975, www.anddurango.com.


Here in Durango, There’s No Place Like Home. With an eclectic mix of Chinese antique furniture, decorative accessories, quirky gift items, uncommon clothing and stunning jewelry, the shop offers unparalleled shopping for locals and visitors alike. 822 Main Ave., 385-7300, www.theresnoplacelikehomeinc.com


From rustic to refined — a fresh look at home furnishings. Accent pillows, lamps, chandeliers, area rugs and mirrors complement this assortment of furniture. For unique gifts, bedding, table décor and fabulous entertaining. Free personalized interior-design consultation available. 925 Main Ave., 247-1010, www.tippycanoedurango.com.


Traders in Navajo rugs since 1957, the family-owned Toh-Atin Gallery has long been recognized as one of the country’s finest gallery operations. Featuring Native American–made jewelry, kachinas, baskets, prints, paintings, sculpture and pottery, Navajo weavings, and other fine Southwestern art. 145 W. Ninth St., 247-8277, www.toh-atin.com.


For “ultimate” relaxation and entertainment, this downtown store offers unique, exclusive lines of wood and patio furniture, billiard tables and game-room furnishings. Olhausen and Brunswick billiards; Tommy Bahama, Homecrest and OW Lee outdoor lines; handcrafted Woodland Creek Furniture. 858 Main Ave., 247-1461, www.ultimatemountainliving.com.


The upscale Urban Market specializes in eclectic home furnishings and unique accessories. Stylish and fun. The lines mix modern elements, natural materials and neutral palettes. Inspirational! Gifts, home décor, housewares, furniture and lighting. 865 Main Ave., 259-0472, www.urbanmarketonline.com.


Wildshots features the nature photography of Durangoan Claude Steelman. Stunning images of wildlife and landscapes, with mountain lions, polar bears, bald eagles, wolves and wild mustangs. The gallery offers award-winning images printed in many sizes. Five fine-art photography books on sale. The new, second gallery features art photography of the American West. 842 Main Ave., 259-6265; 643B Main Ave. 259-1533, www.wildshots.com.


Handcrafted jewelry, pottery, paintings, rustic décor and collectors’ items fill this store. The perfect gift awaits — and it’s reasonably priced. Many superb selections are locally crafted or made on the premises. Mark Jaramillo welcomes visitors to his world. 131 E. Eighth St., 259-2392, www.worldaccordingtomark.com.


Chugging ever onward, with

Yvonne Lashmett All great artists train for years to excel at their work. Unlike most artists, photographer Yvonne Lashmett actually trained on trains. Speaking from her home, she says of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: “I started doing a lot of their photography when digital got going. I went out on a clearing-the-track trip, and brought my film camera and my digital camera. I wasn’t quite sure that I trusted digital yet, but the digitals came out like postcards.” Odds are that many of the train photographs you’ve seen around southwestern Colorado of steam engines chugging among Technicolor aspen trees, of old locomotives puffing through the snow, of trains navigating jaw-dropping cliffs—were captured by Lashmett’s lens. She served as an official photographer for the railroad from the ’90s well into this millennium. Yet she acknowledges that photography, like transportation, has changed with the times. Nowadays,

by Zach Hively

everyone can take pictures wherever they go. So she challenges herself to retain a unique eye.

Jerry Day

“I’m always looking for different angles, a different look,” she says. “Why do I need to shoot it unless I think I can do something different with it?” To that end, Lashmett has grown enamored with night photography. Working in the darkness and the peacefulness intrigues her. She once took more than 500 pictures — over five hours—while traveling the 50 miles from Silverton to Durango at night. One recent trip stands out in her mind she—ventured out under the stars at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. “There was nobody out there shooting at 10:30 at night or

4:30 in the morning,” she says. “Nobody else is saying, ‘Yeah, I got it in the middle of the night.’” Lashmett also continues to evolve as a photographer by stretching into people photography natural shots, that is, rather than portraiture. Although she’s been shooting photographs of people since a college newspaper job, and she even covered the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, she still finds challenge in snapping candid photographs, especially in the United States. (She finds that people in other countries accept it more easily than those in her own native land.) Yet she’s also finding success in this area, as well. Her street-level photograph of people leading a burro to a race in Creede recently placed as a semifinalist for a competition at the Denver airport, in a call for work that represents Colorado. But you don’t have to travel as far as Denver to view Lashmett’s work. It’s available online at durangoexposures.com. Her shots hang in the Best Western Rio Grande, the Durango-La Plata County Airport, and at the train store and the Chocolate Dog in Silverton. She’s the official photographer for the Animas Valley Balloon Rally and compiles its annual calendar. And she still issues annual railroad calendars as well. But whatever she happens to be shooting, though, Lashmett has had one constant throughout her career: “I just love getting lost,” she says. “My sisters always laugh: ‘Did you get lost today?’ I never know where I’m going to end up. Photography is just looking, with a fresh eye, every day.”


How the Rugged San Juan Mountains

Are Shaping Colorado’s Outdoor Industry by Margaret Hedderman


WHAT’S BEHIND THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS' BOOMING OUTDOOR INDUSTRY? Digging out the drive. Waiting for the electricity to come back. Stockpiling for the day avalanches close the only roads in or out of town. If these aren’t conventional challenges facing entrepreneurs and business owners, they’re certainly ones that build character. “In the San Juans it’s just a little more remote, a little more rugged,” says Timm Smith, chief marketing officer at Voormi. “That resonates with who we are and

38 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

why we build hardworking gear.” A performance-driven wool apparel company based in Pagosa Springs, Voormi is part of a growing outdoor recreation industry taking root in the San Juan Mountains. This high mountainous region, comprising rural communities on and off the beaten path, is tapping into Colorado’s $62 billion outdoor industry with a growing host of manufacturers, retailers, guiding services, and even educational programs. In 2015, Colorado became one of the first states in the nation to open an outdoor recreation office.

Since then, several other states have followed suit, bringing the count to 13. Although most of the growth in Colorado has been on the Front Range, Nathan Fey, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC), says they’re working with rural communities, like those in the San Juan Mountains, to develop infrastructure that supports recreation. With backyard access to endless mountains and a short commute to the desert, it’s not surprising that so many outdoor brands have settled in the San Juans. The region is home to industry behemoths like Osprey Packs in Cortez, as well as spunky startups like Western Rise in Telluride. Larger communities like Durango have attracted an eclectic assortment of brands—such as Tailwind Nutrition, Moto Burly, and Bedrock Bags—while smaller communities like Silverton have a few core players in town. “You want to be in this magical place,” says Klemens Branner, owner of Venture Snowboards in Silverton. “It’s not always the smartest business move, but in the end you get to live here.” Branner and his wife, Lisa, moved Venture Snowboards from Bayfield to Silverton, in part because of the close proximity to the mountains. Branner says he can press a board in the morning and test it at Silverton Mountain in the afternoon. Several companies cited the ability to conduct research

Tailwind Nutrition

and development so close to home as a major incentive to working in the region. At Alpacka Raft, a pack-raft manufacturer in Mancos, the design team is able to make quick changes or updates in real time, something many companies with overseas operations are unable to do. “If you’re small and nimble and can move around, the San Juan Mountains are a great zone to land in,” says Sarah Tingey, co-owner of Alpacka Raft. This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. Almost across the board, companies mentioned the cost and duration of travel. The remoteness of the San Juan Mountains, while often an attraction, is also an obstacle when it comes to traveling for trade shows or industry events. “Everything that happens in Colorado is on the Front Range, and that can be prohibitively expensive,” says Tingey. “It makes it very hard to be involved in statewide politics or send staff to trainings.” Recruiting is another challenge facing businesses, both in the outdoor industry and otherwise. Many businesses say they often have to wait longer to fill positions or they frequently lose staff once the charm of living in a mountain town wears off.

Moto Burly


“The good news,” adds Voormi’s Smith adds, “is that once you find the people it’s right for, they want to stick around.” The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation is responsible for 229,000 direct jobs in Colorado. In rural mountain towns like those in the San Juans, outdoor businesses can create good jobs for skilled workers, whether through hiring locally or boosting the labor pool with a fresh influx of talent. In small towns like Silverton, even just a few new faces can benefit the community and local economy. “We’d like to see more people live here,” Venture’s Branner says. “So for that reason, I like to hire people who live elsewhere.” In addition to outdoor brands, the San Juan Mountains are home to numerous guiding companies and experiential businesses designed to get people outside. Many of those guides are the product of Fort Lewis College’s Adventure Education program, which educates students in wilderness learning skills. Graduates have also gone on to pursue careers in wilderness therapy, outdoor retail, and conservation. OREC’s Fey is particularly excited about degrees like those at Fort Lewis. “Time spent outdoors always leads to great innovation,” he says. It’s a good time for outdoor business in the San Juan Mountains. Take a walk through most towns in this region and you’ll like-

ly pass more than one (sometimes more than three) outdoor-sports stores. Besides just the San Juans, the entire Western Slope region is attracting more growth in the outdoor sector. “The benefit and demand is that communities on the Western Slope can get out of extractive [industries] and look around at all this great natural capital they have,” says Fey. “It doesn’t have the same boom-and-bust cycle.”

Scott Smith






Ride the train to the North Pole with Santa Claus.

Excursion departs from Durango depot on a 26-mile journey through the San Juan National Forest and along the Animas River.



Over 50 invited regional artists offering art and fine crafts for the holiday shopping season. Held at the Durango Arts Center.

Foot parade from TBK Bank to Buckley Park. Hot chocolate, cookies and Christmas caroling.


All-day and all-evening holiday shopping event with over 100 participating businesses. Discounts, raffles, refreshments, live music and entertainment.


Community Connections and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad present an enchanted forest of locally decorated Christmas trees, held in the Grange behind the Durango Train Museum.


Aztec Ruins National Monument hosts the annual holiday luminaria display.


The historic schoolhouse will be filled with vendors offering handmade goods. Museum gift shop offers books and other items.


Holiday shopping market featuring arts and crafts by local and regional vendors.


A traditional family Christmas performance presented by the Durango Choral Society and held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

DEC. 11 • MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER, FARMINGTON, NM: Christmas concert held at the Farmington Civic Center.


Christmas concert performed by the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara and the San Juan Symphony; held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.


Local and regional farmers and artisans bring fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, holiday gift items and hot prepared food.

DEC. 14 • CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, FARMINGTON, NM: Play performed at the Farmington Civic Center.


Traditional cowboy Christmas show held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

DEC. 20-21 • WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION, AZTEC, NM: Visitors will be able to observe the alignment of the north wall of Aztec West with the sunset position on the western horizon; held at Aztec Ruins National Monument.



Snowboard art created by local artists in a month-long silent auction to benefit the La Plata County Humane Society.


The orchestra performs Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf, held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

40 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Troupe performs choreographed routines with skill and physicality, accompanied by a musical score of traditional Chinese music with a New Age twist, held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.


Novice and pro ice climbers from around the world entertain spectators at the Ouray Ice Park. Vendor exhibitions, climbing clinics, music, food and parties.

JAN. 29-FEB. 1 • ROCK N’ ROLL SNOWDOWN, DURANGO: Winter festival to combat cabin fever with more than 100 events and activities over four days, including the Snowdown Light Parade, the Snowdown Follies and the Snowdown Balloon Train.








A troupe of performers from the high desert of New Mexico in a highenergy performance combining fine art, live music, singing, dancing, humor and interaction in a frenzy of movement and color, held at the Farmington Civic Center.


15th annual event with independent films at multiple venues along with parties and events, panels and workshops, and filmmakers in attendance.


A rocking tribute to Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, held at the Farmington Civic Center.


The San Juan Symphony begins its year-long celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a concert held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.


The Actors’ Gang Theater presents a play celebrating the courage and great character of refugees who came to this country throughout the past 300 years. Held at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.



Performance for toddlers to seniors by the daughter of Shari Lewis and the beloved Lamb Chop puppet, held at the Farmington Civic Center.


The major American dance company, Pilobolus, brings their unique version of modern dance, video and theater to The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.


Continuous entertainment in multiple venues – concerts, workshops, Irish and Scottish dancers, vendors and more.


A performance of dance, music and song to celebrate Irish heritage, held at the Farmington Civic Center.



A.J. Croce, the son of Jim Croce, performs his father’s timeless classics, held at The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.


World-class bluegrass musicians come to Durango for a multi-day, multivenue event including shows, workshops and impromptu jam sessions.



We are inspired by forming a great relationship with our clients and thinking holistically about each project, seeing the full picture from environmental impact to the livability or workability of the space and materials used. We stay at the forefront of design trends and new technologies to offer you great design and creative solutions. Visit us online at www.RA-AE.com.

1140 MAIN AVE, SUITE B | DURANGO, CO | (970) 259-7494


The Four Corners Musical Theatre Company performs Lerner and Loewe’s classic Broadway musical at the Farmington Civic Center.




The world-renowned group performs some of their many famous and familiar tunes from the early days of rock and roll, held at the Farmington Civic Center.


A multi-venue springtime evening of strolling downtown and visiting Durango’s art galleries, featuring art, live music, food and wine.

Pianist Adam Swanson brings classical, jazz and ragtime music to life at The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. A three-day multi-venue event including wine tastings, educational seminars and wine dinners featuring hundreds of wineries, artisan spirits and craft beers from around the world, and showcasing top local chefs.



Historic downtown Durango is the location for the annual street fair of cuisine. Durango area restaurants offer their delicious specialties in this all-day, open air food festival with music and entertainment.






42 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Ron Martin

Steve Yabek

Steve Yabek

Scott Smith

Rachelle Fish

Grady 43James


The Local Palate Durango is a surprising hub for the restaurant scene, as they have more restaurants per capita than one of the country’s most bustling cities, San Francisco. With a very diverse and wide range of customers throughout the Durango area, local chefs have developed their individualism and talent, focusing on varying aspects such as organic foods and unique takes on traditional meals. The variation and abundance of restaurants in Durango contribute to its truly tasty and exciting atmosphere.

Hometown? Peñasco, New Mexico

CYPRUS CAFÉ Enjoy award-winning Mediterranean cuisine — recommended in Bon Appétit, Sunset Magazine, and The New York Times — during your stay in downtown Durango. Renovated in 2014, this charming restaurant is located in a Victorian home just a few steps from Durango's Main Avenue and boasts an outdoor garden patio. Cyprus Café serves lunch and dinner, combining innovative meals with excellent service. Championing farm-to-table cuisine, Cyprus Café proudly serves fresh produce grown in their own gardens as well as locally raised vegetables and produce from other local farmers, meats from nearby ranches and cheeses made here in Durango.


What is your favorite spice? Red chile powder. Everything is better a little spicy. Favorite ski run at Purgatory? SheoI. I love the powder caches in the trees. When not at work, where is your favorite place to hang out? Playing disc golf at Fort Lewis or on the river trail. Vacation: Moab or Broadway? Moab. I'm an avid outdoorsman. Person you’d most like to cook for? My mother. I hardly ever see her and I know she would enjoy the experience. LIVE JAZZ MUSIC ON THE CYPRUS CAFÉ PATIO EVERY SUNDAY — THURSDAY EVENING FROM MEMORIAL DAY TO LABOR DAY

725 East 2nd Avenue cypruscafe.com 970.385.6884

Honestly, how many times have you ridden the train? Zero. But I hope soon.

EOLUS BAR & DINING Eolus Bar & Dining is a locally owned and operated, new American restaurant that consistently serves exquisite food with excellent service in Durango. They use the best ingredients and provide a great atmosphere. Chef Chris Crowl focuses on locally grown produce and the small yet insurmountable details. 919 Main Avenue eolusdurango.com 970.259.2898

Hometown? Ridgefield, Connecticut What is your favorite spice? Salt, as it works on the molecular level to make everything taste better. Favorite ski run at Purgatory? Monkey Gully. It’s steep and fun.

44 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

When not at work, where is your favorite place to hang out? In the mountains snowboarding and mountain biking, finishing with a soak at Durango Hot Springs. Vacation: Moab or Broadway? Love them both.

Person you’d most like to cook for? Snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones, as he has been an inspiration in my life. Honestly, how many times have you ridden the train? Six or seven.

EAST BY SOUTHWEST & MAMMA SILVIA'S East by Southwest opened in 2002, bringing sushi and Japanese cuisine to Durango. Eight years later, Sergio and Hydi Verduzco bought Ariano’s Italian Restaurant next door, changing it to Golden Triangle, featuring cuisine from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In June 2019, they came back full circle to Italian cuisine and opened Mamma Silvia’s Italian Kitchen as a tribute to Sergio’s mother. The restaurant features some of Mamma’s recipes and her oil paintings. The statues in the restaurant symbolize her nurturing spirit and her love of life. Chef Sergio says the reception for Mamma Silvia’s has been fantastic and is grateful to cook the food of his culinary roots. 160 East College Drive eastbysouthwest.com 970.247.5533 FIRST-EVER SUSHI IN DURANGO


Hometown? Las Vegas, NV / Morelia, Mexico What is your favorite spice? Garlic. It is versatile and transcends many cuisines. Favorite ski run at Purgatory? Wapiti When not at work, where is your favorite place to hang out? Home Vacation: Moab or Broadway? Anywhere I can scuba dive.


Person you’d most like to cook for? I would love to cook with and for my paternal grandmother, Olga Verduzco. Honestly, how many times have you ridden the train? Rode the train to Silverton and back once, one way to Silverton twice, Polar Express with my kids three times.



Hometown? Durango What is your favorite spice? Garlic. It brings out so many other flavors. Favorite ski run at Purgatory? Sally’s Run When not at work, where is your favorite place to hang out? Navajo Lake with family and friends. Vacation: Moab or Broadway? Moab HAND — PICKED BARRELS OF TEQUILA FROM CASA HERRADURA

Person you’d most like to cook for? Gabriel Iglesias, Fluffy

Gazpacho New Mexican Cooking y Cantina opened in September of 1991. This restaurant was the vision of restaurateur James Arias, a son of New Mexico and a true chilehead. After decades in the restaurant business, Jim wanted to get back to his roots; to the food of his childhood. Jim and his longtime business partner, Bill “Beatle” Abshagen, put together a plan to bring authentic New Mexican cooking to Durango (and chile roasting to Durango, but that is another story). Durangoans loved the food, the ambience, and the character of the new restaurant. Today Gazpacho holds true to Big Jim’s vision and his love of New Mexican chile! 431 East 2nd Avenue gazpachodurango.com (970) 259-9494

Honestly, how many times have you ridden the train? Four times; but does the Polar Express with grandkids count? 45




The first thing you notice when you walk in the door is the size of the place. Primus, Durango’s newest fine-dining establishment, sits in a building just nine feet wide. The space is unusual, but that feels appropriate: Everything else about the restaurant is the creation of owner/executive chef John L. Daly III and his wife Kerry. The Dalys came to Durango from Denver in December of 2018, after John had spent the previous 26 years honing his skills in some of America’s finest restaurants under such renowned chefs as Wolfgang Puck. Primus, Latin for “first,” was the product of some soul-searching. John and Kerry worked long hours in Denver and came to Durango after giving a lot of thought to how they wanted to raise their son. John already had family in the area, and the mountains of Durango felt like an excellent place both to raise children and open a new restaurant. It is clear that they’ve come here to be a part of the community. The staff at the restaurant raves throughout the night about how well the Dalys treat them, and they express over and over how they appreciate working somewhere that makes them feel like part of a family. John and Kerry are invested in being part of the community and have gotten involved with the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado’s 20/20/20 campaign to help raise money for La Plata County nonprofits. John beams with pride as he talks about how one of his employees, who had been living in a local shelter for many years, has recently been able to get into his own apartment. Having a positive impact on the community is what is most important to John and Kerry, and the reason they came to Durango. Primus is located at 1017 Main Avenue in downtown Du46 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Tiffany Jacot

rango. The building was in dire straits when the Dalys bought it, but on this night it’s awash in warm light, and the smell of good food abounds. The rustic beams above seem to welcome you in, and it’s hard not to gawk at the delicious dishes on other patrons’ plates as you’re walked to your own table. Everything at Primus is made in-house, from the ketchup and butter to the tables of reclaimed beetle kill wood we’re seated on this night.

The width of the building turns out to be a feature, and a local couple adjacent to us quickly strikes up a conversation. This continues on and off throughout the meal, and the environment feels family-friendly and relaxed. We chat about personal histories, and the gentleman turns out to be a native of the Northeastern coast. When he bites into a lobster roll and excitedly announces his pleasure as the butter drips down his chin,

it makes his endorsement all the more valuable. You might be shocked to find a good lobster roll in the middle of the Rockies, but John Daly is from Maine, and like all of Primus’s proteins, the lobster is flown in fresh every day. The crustacean had been out of the water for only 16 hours when it hit the patron’s taste buds. Knowing this, his insistence that it was as good as any lobster roll from his childhood made perfect sense. That’s the magic of Primus. When you look at the menu you might think you’re in Manhattan. Depending on what you order, you could be in any number of places. The appetizer of Spanish Carpaccio Octopus comes seasoned just right, and is served with dabs of an incredible avocado crema. It’s surprisingly tender and lacks the chewiness that octopus often has when it’s been frozen and in transit for days or weeks. Octopus of this quality is a delicacy usually reserved for those on the shores of Alaska or the northwestern coast of Spain, but tonight I am savoring it on Main Street in Durango. It was a delightfully unique experience, and the restaurant’s Grilled Artichoke made the perfect complement. The octopus is not the only rarity offered on the menu at Primus. This is by design, and Daly prides himself in creating a menu that is unlike any other in town. If he is no longer passionate about serving a dish, or feels it is growing old, he will change it. Primus vows to keep things fresh for the local community by offering a seasonal menu that changes every few months, giving patrons a new dining experience each time they come in.

Primus also wants to challenge its patrons, and features a menu that encourages its customers to try proteins that are outside their comfort zones. There is no chicken, salmon or traditional beef dishes on the menu, but you may choose from lamb, bison, elk, venison, duck, quail or wild boar. I usually go for a steak at fine restaurants, but I went for Primus’s crown jewel, the 24-ounce Bison Tomahawk, instead. Cooked medium-rare and packed full of flavor, I managed to devour it despite the fact that the 24-ounce measurement didn’t include the bone. I found different flavors in each bite, and as I worked my way through the beautifully prepared cut of bison, I wondered what other rare meats I might be missing out on. I look forward to answering that question on my next trip to Primus.

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot 47


Rachelle Fish



The Balcony and The Balcony Backstage is the Four Corners destination for live music, tasty beverages, great food & good times. Gotta come up to get down! Full lunch and dinner menu, weekend brunch. Salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and more. 600 Main Ave., Ste. 210, 422-8008.




The Bookcase and Barber showcases Durango’s local talent while transporting guests to another time with an intimate atmosphere, expertly crafted cocktails and superior service. Do you know the password? 601 E. Second Ave., Ste. B, 764-4123. www.bookcaseandbarber.com


Distillery & Tasting Room, Durango’s first grain-to-glass distillery since prohibition. 1120 Main Avenue Suite 2, 970-247-1919


Neighborhood favorite just south of College Drive in College Plaza. Top notch karaoke three nights a week, Thursday – Saturday from Over 46,000 songs to sing before a nonjudgmental crowd. Bar snacks available. Off-Main beverage prices! 509 E. Eighth Ave., 259-8801.

Founded in 1897, El Rancho is a local pub in downtown Durango. Open 10am–2am daily. Durango Diner breakfast and lunch service. 975 Main Ave. www.elranchotavern.com Premier cocktail lounge and wine bar offers respite from the daily hectic pace. Wide selection of wines from around the world; delicious, awardwinning, handcrafted cocktails; fresh-brewed coffee and espresso drinks; tasty morsels for lunch or dinner. Locals’ favorite. M-F 10am-9pm, Sat 10am9pm. 723 E. Second Ave., 385-0105. www.enodurango.com


Charming downtown winery and tasting gallery. Over 20 wines made on site: varietals, ports and specialty crafted wine. Tastings, by the glass, or take home a bottle. Local chocolates for pairing. Appetizers include artisan cheeses, hummus, artichoke dips. Monday – Saturday, noon–8pm; Sunday, noon–7pm. 528 Main Ave., 403-8182. www.fourleaveswinery.com


Previously known as Pongas, The Garage is a modern and energizing option for entertainment in downtown Durango, featuring live performers, an array of billiard tables, and a fantastic variety of food and drink. Open 2pm to 2am every day of the week. 121 West 8th Street. (970) 382-8554. @TheGarage,Durango on Facebook


A classic long bar with lots of seats, a few tables, and mirrored shelving stacked with bottles. With a restaurant serving all-American food like burgers and fries, Joel’s is fun, friendly and moderately priced. 119 W. Eighth St., 903-0266.


This fun lounge is a local favorite for food and live music, plus one of the area’s best patios. Largest selection of vodkas in Colorado; world-famous Bacontini. Great appetizers; over 90 martinis. Happy hour Monday–Friday, 4:30–7pm: half-price wells and appetizers, discounted drinks. 4:30pm–2am daily. 937 Main Ave., 259-9018


One of Durango’s “last REAL bars,” Orio’s is a sports bar and much more, with pool tables. Open seven days week, 2pm–2am. 652 Main Ave., 259-6120.


Durango’s favorite for live country-western music and southern rock. National artists and talented locals. Giant dance floor, dance lessons, special concerts, karaoke, DJ Crazy Charlie. “A fun-loving redneck’s dream.” Wednesday–Saturday, 6pm–2am. Must be 18 to enter, 21 to drink. www.durangowildhorsesaloon.com

Editors Pick

48 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring




A culinary collective with a progressive vision giving a nod to the site’s history. From tacos to pizza, sushi to Indonesian cuisine, 11th Street Station’s independent food-truck kitchens cure any craving. Outdoor deck perfect for relaxing with a cold drink or a quick lunch. 1101 Main Ave., 946-6903. www.eleventhstreetstation.com





Co-owners Zach Williams and Colin Brunson have been close friends over the past 8 years and decided to roll the dice and go all in on their new deli/ bar venture. Offering hot and cold sandwiches along with a full bar. Open at 11:30am Mon-Sat. 601 E. 2nd Ave. 970 259-1000. www.2nddelidurango.com


“Who bakes the best pizza? You do!” Offering 16” traditional, 14” thin and 12” gluten-free pizzas to take home, as well as wings, cookies and salad. Order by phone or text for drive-through pickup. Inside Elmore’s Corner Store at the northeast corner of highways 160 and 172. 50 C.R. 234, 799-0425. www.pizza425.com


Sit-down coffee shop owned by Taylor and Sage Anderson. Coffee, roasted in house, uses “pour-over” coffee making process. Hot coffee, iced drinks, mochas, lattes, chai, homemade baked goods. Laid-back atmosphere. Daily, 6:30am–6pm. 3101 Main Ave., Ste. 1, 385-1941. www.81301coffee.com


Alcé (pronounced - All-Che’) is a new Italian-American restaurant located at Dalton Ranch Golf Club just 8 minutes North of downtown Durango. Alcé is the Italian word for Elk which can be seen from what is no doubt the best patio dining experience in Durango. Executive Chef Jonathan Fletcher spent many winters in Italy and has brought back traditional Italian recipes and cooking. Reservations. Dalton Ranch, 247-4980. www.daltonranch.com

Just off the Animas River trail, offering a variety of flavorful craft beers along with a spin on comfort food and plenty of kid favorites. Relaxed, family-friendly. Comfortable outdoor seating. Open 11am, Tuesday– Sunday, 4pm on Monday. 1560 E. Second Ave., 403-8850. www.animasbrewing.com Casual, comfortable — chocolate lovers can relax while tasting amazing chocolates. From decadent truffles to divine darks, chocolate confections made on-premise using the highest-quality chocolate, simple ingredients, no preservatives. Tasting room/ shop/factory open M-F 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. 920 Main Ave., 317-5761. www.animaschocolatecompany.com


At Town Plaza (north end) on Camino del Rio, just a block west of Main. Forty-two ice-cream flavors, as well as ice-cream cakes, smoothies, sundaes, shakes and blasts. Daily 11am–10pm. 32 Town Plaza, 247-1231. www.baskinrobbins.com Known to many as the best burgers, fries and shakes, these burgers are prepared by professionals. Many American favorites. Dine out on the deck, inside, or grab treats to go. Monday– Saturday, 8am–7pm. 1400 E. Second Ave., 385-4469.


Old West music and comedy stage show with traditional barbecue supper. Fun for the whole family. Nightly: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Reservations required. 8080 C.R. 250, (970) 247-5753. www.bardchuckwagon.com

Bird’s opens daily at 11am with our signature rotisserie chicken ready to fly out the door. Plenty of fresh and house made salads and sandwiches are on the menu as well. Stay tuned as we plan to open earlier with our great breakfast offerings as soon as we get some wind under our wings. 2957 N. Main Ave., 970 426-4596.



Serving family favorites. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sunday–Thursday, 11am-midnight; Friday–Saturday, 11am–1am. Nine TVs. Full bar. Casual, comfortable, friendly. In Durango Downtown Inn. 800 Camino del Rio, 259-5850. www.applebees.com

A creative, casual spot in Albertsons’ parking lot, dedicated to providing tasty and satisfying meals. Options include daily soups, sandwiches on house-made bread, veggie burgers, salads of quinoa, kale, or fresh veggies on mixed greens, desserts. Eat in or take out. 309 W. College Dr., 426-4276.



Breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, hot pastrami, “the best Reuben in town” and more. Monday-Friday, 6am–3pm; Saturday, 7am–2pm. Inside the Exxon gas station across from Walmart. 1220 Carbon Junction, 247-1144.

Overlooking Electra Lake, the Boathouse opens for the summer in June. The restaurant is open, with reservations, to the public. Former Seasons chefs Dave and Jenn Stewart. James Ranch beef, fresh fish and locally sourced produce; everything made from scratch. 141 E. Electra Rd., 247-5180.

Voted B Burger est 2019

Where unforgettable food & memories are made.

Experience our Table-on-the-Farm organic restaurant and farm market. We’ve expanded into our new building with a substantial market, indoor seating, large picture windows, fireplace and a private room for parties!


Call for the most updated days & times of business Visit us: www. Jamesranch.net Follow us:

33846 Hwy 550→Located 10 miles N of Durango, just past Honeyville

Grill (970) 764-4222 Market (970) 385-6858




Fresh homemade breads, pastries, cookies and deli sandwiches served daily in this popular bakery — a gathering spot for breakfast and lunch at the corner of Florida and East Animas roads. From whole wheat to rye, ginger snaps to scones, Bread is fast, friendly and fantastic. Open every day. 42 C.R. 250, 247-5100. www.breaddurango.com


Redrock Foods, a Burger King Corp. franchisee, owns and operates this Durango location and 19 New Mexico and Colorado stores. Redrock, in business for many years, is based in Albuquerque, N.M. 1415 Main Ave., 247-9095. www.bk.com


Lunch and dinner menu features specialty burgers and Colorado Craft beers, while a Start Fresh breakfast menu focuses on the morning classics. Thirteen high-definition TV's promise no bad seat in the house, and our daily happy hour will keep your glass full! Open daily 6am-11pm. 21636 Hwy. 160 W., 385-6387.


Beto Navarro, owner of Macho’s Mexican restaurant, brings to Durango dishes similar to those of his birthplace in Guadalajara, Mexico. “Modern Mexican” menu includes steak, lobster, seafood, fusion dishes. His chef has studied in Peru, Brazil and India. 1150-B Main Ave., 422-8523.


One of the Southwest’s original brewpubs, Carver offers tours of its solar-, wind-powered brewery, and has 12 award-winning handcrafted brews on tap. Healthy, hearty and fresh creations for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cocktails with organic produce grown locally at Carver Farm. Vegetarian, kid friendly. Historic downtown. 1022 Main Ave., 259-2545. www.carverbrewing.com

50 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


For the epitome of the Durango experience, this brewery offers a wide variety of delicious sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups, as well as an extensive kids menu, and a plethora of locally brewed beers to satisfy the hungry biker or anyone looking for a mouthwatering, casual meal. Open from 11am to 10pm every day of the week. 3000 Main Ave., 970-247-1009. www.chainlessbrew.com/


Contemporary American bistro with southwestern flair. Creative small plates, salads, artisanal pizzas, plus fire-roasted steaks, chicken and seafood. Stonehearth ovens in an expo kitchen. Specialty cocktails, fine wines and local tap beer. Curved concrete bar, rollup wall, historic interior. Unique, casual fine dining. 862 Main Ave., 259-2749. www.chimayodurango.com


Favorite longtime area restaurant (25-plus years) offers Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. Full bar and riverside patio. Parking. Dine in or take out, Mon-Sat open 11am, Sunday 4pm. 1525 Main Ave., 259-0868. www.durangochinacafe.com


Popular south-side eatery is open at 6am Monday–Saturday for breakfast and lunch. Specialty breakfasts, Mexican food, specialty sandwiches, burgers and salads. Catering, delivery, takeout. Prices from $4 to $10. 810 E. College Dr., 375-0117.


To deliver the “ultimate ice-cream experience,” the secret recipe for smooth, creamy ice cream is made fresh daily in the store, and then customized with your choice of mix-ins on a frozen granite stone. Custom, signature ice-cream cakes, pies, cupcakes. 598 Main Ave., 259-5052. www.coldstonecreamery.com


Creative and large menu, fresh-roasted organic coffee, and friendly folks. Daily specials and tried-and-true entrées. Everyone is treated like a regular at College Drive Café. Open daily 6:30am–2pm. Free Wi-Fi. 666 E. College Dr., 247-5322. www.cafedurango.com


Staffed by high-school students who want experience. Sandwiches, yogurt, chips, fruit, and cold drinks, bread, baked products, Desert Sun Coffee Roasters coffee. Perfect snack spot for kids, library patrons, river-trail users and meeting attendees. 10am–2pm Monday Friday. Durango Public Library lobby. 1900 E. Third Ave., 375-3380.


Family sports eatery. Broasted chicken, 20-plus kinds of wings. Most items under $12 make it a place “where a family can afford to eat, every night of the week!” HDTVs, satellite sports. Family friendly; full menu and bar. Dine in, take out. Lunch, dinner. 128 E. College Dr., 259-6322. www.cuckooschicken.com


Just one block off Main. Cyprus Cafe is dedicated to providing high quality cuisine which promotes the health and well being of our customers and community. We use the freshest produce available and serve only free range chicken, natural meats, and sustainable seafood. Live jazz. Call for hours. 725 E. Second Ave., 385-6884. www.cypruscafe.com


Family-friendly menu selections; serving breakfast, lunch, dinner. Open 24 hours every day. 666 Camino del Rio, 247-1512. www.dennys.com


An 1890s bar and a stage for local and touring musicians, Derailed offers martinis, wines, 14 beers on tap, fresh cocktails. Scratch-made food. Winter fireplace; summer open-air windows on Main. Eight sports screens, friendly staff. Everyone feels like a local. 725 Main Ave., 247-5440. www.derailedpourhouse.com


Legendary Old West saloon in the heart of historic downtown. Famous ragtime piano, costumed Belle girls, cowboys and bartenders. Daily live music, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Sunday brunch. Gunfights Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 5:30pm, June–October. Strater Hotel, 247-4431. www.diamondbelle.com


“Where neighbors become friends!” Serving burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads, hand-cut steaks, salmon and cod for fish-n-chips. Flavors from the Southwest. Happy hour 3-6pm. Open M-F 11am-9pm. Sat 3-9pm. Menu available online. Large groups welcomed. 125 Mercado St., Ste. 107, 259-2344. www.3springsdigs.com


Fast, friendly delivery or carryout. Pizzas, chicken wings, breadsticks, pasta, sandwiches, more. Open for lunch, dinner and late night; daily, 10am– midnight. 1485 Florida Rd., 259-3660. www.dominos.com


Down The Rabbit Hole, serves up soups, salads, burgers, steaks, beautiful appetizers and desserts, and more. Full bar will quench your thirst, too. Open for lunch, dinner and late night. Open daily at 11am. 640 Main Ave., 422-8686. www.rabbitholedurango.com


Voted “best bagel in the Four Corners.” Freshly baked bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls and pastries — daily from 6:30am. Great breakfast selections and lunch bagel sandwiches. Takeout bag lunches. Downtown, next to the train depot. 106 E. Fifth St., 385-7297.



Voted Durango’s best happy hour, hottest date night, best dessert, best cocktail, best bartender. Creative Pacific Rim fusion. Black Angus beef. Full sushi bar. Vegetarian options. Sake, Asian beers, libations. Comfortable upscale, urban setting. Dinner. Kids’ menu. 160 E. College Dr., 247-5533. www.eastbysouthwest.com

Colorful family restaurant on the north side of town offers great margaritas and authentic Mexican food. Travelers to the south can enjoy their sister eatery in Cortez. 2850 Main Ave., 375-2492. www.fiestamexicanarestaurants.com


For breakfast, lunch and dinner with great river views. Daily specials. For the healthy minded, DoubleTree has created an “eat right menu.” Kids’ menu. Easy-order takeout by phone. DoubleTree Hotel, 259-6580. www.doubletree3. hilton.com

Devoted to quality local and imported ingredients and the traditional Methods for artisan wood-fired pizza, sandwiches and salads. Always fresh, handmade and wood fired. Gluten-free options. Daily specials. Full bar. Family friendly. Seasonal rooftop patio. Open daily: winter, 11am–9pm; summer, 11am–10pm. 735 Main Ave., 247-0264. www.fireduppizzeria.com



Lunch and dinner daily, plus weekend brunch. Termed “modern rustic” and “approachably upscale,” El Moro is named for the early-1900s saloon that occupied the historic site. Comfortable, with exposed red-brick walls, hardwood floors and tin ceilings. A “farm-to-table restaurant” that features local fresh foods. 945 Main Ave., 259-5555. www.elmorotavern.com

Award-winning, authentic New Mexican, Mexican and Continental cuisine. Family-owned/operated since 1968, Francisco’s serves great steaks, fresh fish, chicken, pasta and salads. Seniors’ and kids’ menus. Daily specials. Full bar and terrific margaritas. Tues-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 10am-10pm. 639 Main Ave., 970-247-4098.



Locally owned and operated since 2013. Named for the famous peak near Chicago Basin, featuring farm-to-table and vine-to-wine. Contemporary American cuisine. A fine array of local products. Elegant dining room, comfortable bar, rooftop patio with views. Open 5pm nightly; reservations accepted. 919 Main Ave., 259-2898. www.eolusdurango.com

Voted Durango’s favorite for Mexican food and margaritas. Traditional northern New Mexican fare. Hatch red and green chiles. Carne adovada, tamales, blue-corn enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas and vegetarian menu. Full bar. Parking. Open daily, 11:30am-10pm.. 431 E. Second Ave., 259-9494. www.gazpachodurango.com



Family owned and operated and with a full bar, this new restaurant at the corner of College and Main (formerly Diorio’s) features the East Coast flavor of Sicilian or New York–style pizza. Dough made fresh daily. Great salads, wings and soups. Private parties welcome. Open daily 11am-10pm. 600 Main Ave., Ste. 110, 385-0420. www.fathersdaughterspizza.com


With fresh ingredients and homemade tastes, the perfect place for a hearty Italian lunch or dinner. With pizza and calzones, hot hero sandwiches and delicious pastas, the food is great, in a cozy family-owned atmosphere to boot. Convenient location on North Main. Monday–Saturday, 11am–9pm. 2477 Main Ave., 764-4727.


A great place for a quick, affordable lunch or dinner — inside or on the patio. Soon-to-be-famous specialty hot dawgs, fresh-cut fries and the best gyros in town. Open daily at 11am. Friday and Saturday ’til 2am for late-night grub. 600 Main Ave., 259-3647.


For a warming soup, a satisfying sandwich or a burger, the airport deli is just the ticket. For a quick bite or relaxing while waiting for a plane, the Durango Deli is the perfect traveler’s haven. Open daily. 1000 Airport Rd., 259-6964.


On historic Main Avenue, “The Diner” is one of the town’s landmark eateries. Known for its nostalgic no-frills meals and local camaraderie. Brand-name green chile and Southwest salsa sold nationwide. Monday–Saturday, 6am– 2pm; Sunday, 6am–1pm. Breakfast and lunch all day. 957 Main Ave., 247-9889. www.durangodiner.com


Fresh donuts and bagels, breakfast burritos, grill lunch favorites, something for everyone. Grab a ready-to-go breakfast burrito or bagel sandwich, or relax in the comfy dining room for a full breakfast or lunch. Soup/salad bar. 6:30am–2pm daily. 2653 Main Ave., 247-1610. www.durangodoughworks.com

Located Inside Nature’s Oasis We Proudly Serve Only the Best We Serve...Meyers Beef, Niman Ranch, Smart Chicken, and more. We stand by providing the highest quality and ethically produced products.


Nine convenient locations in Durango, Farmington and Aztec, serving the best espresso/coffee drinks, blended drinks and smoothies paired with tasty pastries, breakfast burritos, salads and sandwiches. Enjoy “legendary customer service”; loyalty programs; and fair trade, certified-organic coffees/teas. Free Wi-Fi., 259-1808. www.durangojoes.com


Durango’s first and only community-owned food market and deli. The best local, organic produce; non-GMO groceries and bulk foods; locally raised meat and eggs; cruelty- free body-care products; more. Open daily. Corner of College and Eighth. 575 E. Eighth Ave., 247-8129.

Locally and Family Owned

970.247.1988 • 300 S. Camino del Rio • Durango, CO 51



Award-winning restaurant serving 100 percent grass-fed, USA-raised beef burgers; turkey or vegan burgers; sweet and regular fries; salads; and bowls. Fun Western-industrial décor; indoor/ outdoor seating, and kiddie corral. Vegan, allergy, gluten-free friendly. The American burger made healthy, ethical and delicious. Dine in or carry out. 726½ Main Ave., 247-1081. www.eatgrassburger.com



Tastes from such top-of-the-world regions as Nepal, India and Tibet. Daily gourmet lunch buffet. Dinner temptations include yak, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetarian. Bread fresh from the Tandoor oven. Lunch, 11am–2:30pm; dinner, 5–9:30pm; Fridays and Saturdays ’til 10pm. 992 Main Ave., 259-0956. www.himkitchen.com


This very reasonably priced, popular Southwestern and American diner serves fajitas, carnitas, enchiladas, smothered burrito plates and burgers. Vegetarian and kids’ meals, and takeout. Monday–Saturday, 10am–9pm. Good food, friendly service. Considered a local favorite. 2603 Main Ave., 259-3558.

Gourmet pizza, salads and sandwiches, plus a full bar. In-town delivery or dine out on the patio. If you love fresh homemade pizza and friendly service, this is the place for you; just ask the locals. Open daily, 11am–10pm. Online ordering. 441 E. College Dr., 259-5551; 2915 Main Ave., 422-8337. www.homeslicedelivers.com



Dedicated to providing the highes–quality specialty coffee along with unparalleled customer service. 738 Main Ave.. 970 259-2059. www.hermosacoffee.com


Locally owned café in the valley north of town, the perfect stop on the way to the mountains. Egg dishes, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, specials daily. At lunch: sandwiches, burgers, authentic gyros, salads, soup in the winter months. Full espresso bar. Daily 7am–2. 32223 Hwy. 550, 247-0014. www.hermosacreekgrill.com


Locals’ hangout. Interesting appetizers, full bar. Fresh and fried oysters, jumbo Gulf shrimp, catfish, crawfish, quesadillas, blue-crab cakes. Happyhour oysters 4–5:30pm: $9/half-dozen. Slider night is Wednesday: $3.95/ slider. Thursday Ladies’ Night Out: $5 drinks. Friday catfish night: $12.95. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 4–8pm. Great for private parties. 955 Hwy. 3, 385-7444. www.highway3roadhouse.com

52 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Charming lunch spot and bakery. Homemade baked goods, delicious fresh sandwiches, tasty soups and salads. Baked goods include pumpkin bread, apple Danish, muffins, chocolate croissants. Cozy setting with the hospitality of proprietors Robynn and Ken. 939 Hwy. 3, 385-5577. www.hottomatoescafe.com


Durango’s first “authentic” Irish pub. Warm and cheerful — Gaelic style — with décor and furnishings from the homeland. Subtle Irish music, Irish draughts and whiskeys. Hearty Irish comfort foods with a local touch. Open weekdays at 11am, weekends at 8am. 900 Main Ave., 403-1200. www.theirishembassypub.com


Known locally as Bo’s, this fast, casual family eatery serves pizza, ribs, grinders, burgers, salads, local microbrews, wine and more. Pool tables, jukebox, video games, live music. With kids, the friendly restaurant, the lounge or the patio is easy. Eat in, take out or delivery. Get some. 1301 Florida Rd., 259-0010. www.jbosdurango.com


Where unforgettable food & memories are made. Experience our Table-onthe-Farm organic restaurant, farm market, and ranch tours. We’re expanding into our new building this summer. Call before you come see us. Mon–Sat, 11am–9pm (Memorial Day to mid-October); Saturday only (mid-October to Memorial Day). 33846 Hwy. 550, 676-1023. www.jamesranch.net/harvestgrill


Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wine room for small business meetings or private dinner parties. Live classical and/or jazz music on the weekends. Traditional and innovative dinner menu. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Top Trip Advisor sweets. 601 Main Ave., 385-0122.


Now open in the busy plaza at the crossroads of Camino del Rio, 14th Street and Main, the popular franchise has featured “gourmet sandwiches since 1983.” The business is known for its irreverent attitude, low prices, great food and speedy delivery. More than 2,000 stores in the U.S. 1316 Main Ave., 259-0577. www.jimmyjohns.com


Locally owned drive-through at Eighth Avenue and Camino del Rio. Shade– grown organic, fair-trade coffees. Espresso drinks, teas, smoothies and more. Grab-n-go breakfast and lunch. Fast, friendly. Get your Jitters organically. Monday–Saturday, 6am–2pm. 802 Camino del Rio. 385-JAVA.


Delicious Southwestern foods. Mexican and Native American dishes prepared fresh daily. Fast, efficient service; great prices and free parking. Monday– Saturday, 10am–8pm. Centennial Center. 325 S. Camino del Rio, 247-3536.



In Bodo Park behind the Comfort Inn. Breakfast and lunch; weekday specials. Choices for large and small appetites. Gluten-free and vegetarian options. Homemade baked goods, MSG-free sauces and chilies. Breakfast served anytime Mon–Fri, 6am–2pm; Sat & Sun, 7am–2pm. Delivery/to go. 171A Suttle St., 247-4007.

In the Main Mall downtown, this unassuming restaurant is small but features a great-big Mexican menu. Plus, handcrafted margaritas. Owner Tonny offers a friendly, comfortable atmosphere and serves everyone’s favorite dishes, plus ceviche, “street” tacos and vegetarian platters. Monday–Friday 9am10pm. Sat 8am-10pm. 835 Main Ave., 764-4042. www.durangoamigos.com



Locals Ken and Sue Fusco invite you to be their guest. Creative food and great service at reasonable prices. Upscale, comfortable eatery. Year–round patio. Lunch Monday–Friday, 11am–2:30pm. Dinner, 5pm nightly. Reservations are encouraged. 636 Main Ave., 385-1810. www.kenandsues.com


Taste Tuscany in the La Platas, 10 miles west on Hwy. 160. Mediterranean- and American-inspired cuisine, bistro setting. Extensive wines, full bar, takeout, ever-changing seasonal menu. Events, banquets. Dinner Tuesday–Sunday; brunch Saturday, Sunday. Lunch May — October. Reservations accepted. Hesperus, 247-5674. www.kennebeccafe.com


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Live–foods salad bar. Fresh, healthy, organic, cultured foods. Friendly, fun setting. Locally sourced food when possible, kombucha on draft. Grass-fed beef; cage-free, hormonefree chicken; salads; chili; kimchi; ferments. Compostable plates, cups, bowls and silverware. 680 Main Ave., 286-0227. www.thelivingtreesaladbar.com


Lone Spur Café is classic Old West with Western–themed wall décor and cowboy vittles to match. The café serves hearty breakfasts, like steak and eggs, all day; lunch features burgers, fries, classic sandwiches, soups and salads. Weekend-only dining menu features steaks like prime rib and rib eye. 619 Main Ave., 764-4280. www.lonespurcafe.com

Fresh and bursting with flavor, great dishes prepared with the highestquality ingredients. Authentic Mexican meals — Beto’s Burrito Bowl is a favorite! Great atmosphere, friendly service, affordable prices. Take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. Open 7am–10pm daily. 1485 Florida Rd., 422-8540; 275 E. Eighth Ave., 259-4108.


Sunny sidewalk patio in the heart of downtown. Most affordable sandwiches in town. Traditional or grilled panini. Breakfast burritos, salads, smoothies espressos. Best–ever house-brewed chai and fresh-made gelato. An incredible selection of magazines and cards. Games, puzzles, candy and sodas. 707 Main Ave., 259-1159.


The New Mahogany features something for everyone. From shared plates to all that’s fine. Crafted by our master chef, with meats, produce and ingredients from local family-owned farms and ranches. Open daily for breakfast, happy hour and dinner; weekend brunch. Strater Hotel, 247-4433. www.mahoganygrille.com


Hydi and Sergio Verduzco, owners of East by Southwest next door. 150 E. College Dr.


Some of the town’s best Chinese food. Specialties: Szechuan, Hunan, Mandarin and 38 lunch specials. No MSG. Full menu for takeout. Full bar. Downtown. Open 11am daily, lunch and dinner. 909 Main Ave., 259-4836.


Fast and friendly service. Order from the dollar menu or the regular value meals. Open daily, 5am–1am (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). 201 W. College Dr., 247-2446. www.mcdonalds.com


Longtime Durango chef Michel Poumay brings authentic sweet and savory French crêpes to the heart of downtown. Each made fresh to order. Perfect on your way to the mountains to grab some unique fare to go, or dine on the patio. 598 Main Ave., 769-0256.


An adventure into Mexican and Latin American cuisine. A “paletería,” an ice cream/snack shop, serves freshly made fruit bars, homemade ice cream and snacks. As a reminder of home or an exciting new taste, this traditional Mexican fare is an oasis in the desert Southwest. 2980 Main Ave., 764-4343.


In the Walmart shopping center. Featuring Peking barbecue, plus Hunan, Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. Grill opens daily at 11am. Beer, wine. Free parking. All-you-can-eat dishes. Dine in, take out. 1135 S. Camino del Rio, 259-7228. www.mongoliangrilldurangocolorado.com


From classic to contemporary cuisine, Mutu’s offers a menu that everyone in the family can enjoy. Culinary Olympic medalist owner/chef Rustin Newton creates delicious, savory dishes with fresh and local ingredients. Excellent wine selection, house-made lemongrass martinis. 701 E. Second Ave., 375-2701. www.mutusitaliankitchen.com





Locals’ favorite for over 25 years! One of the Four Corners’ best patios. Superb salads, marvelous margaritas and huge burgers (voted Durango’s best). Full bar plus 15 beers on tap. Handful of TVs. Specials: Thursday, chicken-fried steak. Friendly locals. 1000 Main Ave., 259-2990. www.otcdgo.com

Find all your favorites at this national chain pizzeria on Main. Pan-style, stuffed crust, thin and crispy, or hand-tossed styles. Ask about the Pizza Supreme. Buffalo wings, bread sticks. Delivery and takeout. 1316 Main Ave., 259-2112. www.pizzahut.com



Established in 1972, one of Durango’s oldest and finest restaurants. Handcut, USDA-certified prime and choice steaks; sustainable wild seafood; seasonal produce; award-winning wines; handcrafted seasonal cocktails. Reservations encouraged. Open daily 5pm. 147 E. College Dr., 247-5707. www.orehouserestaurant.com

Rare treats or necessities, fresh produce, meat, poultry, seafood. Deli with the best salads, meats, cheeses. Freshly baked breads, sweets, pastries. Everyday groceries. Fresh local and regional products: locally made coffee, snack chips, sodas, salsa, honey. 67 Trimble Crossing, 247-0100. www.pjsgourmetmarket.com



Food so good, you won’t trust the water! Funky, casual Mexican. Giant burritos, grilled quesadillas and tasty tacos. World-famous margaritas and local beers. Open daily at 11am. 552 Main Ave., 259-4221. www.ninistaqueria.com

Voted Durango’s “best breakfast,” a ’50s-style diner with a train. Homemade hash browns, chili verde, pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, French toast, cinnamon rolls, soups, salads, homemade pies and shakes. Burgers, Reubens, clubs. Kids’ menu. Take out. Open daily, 6am–2pm. 18 Town Plaza, 247-0526. www.oscarscafedurango.com

Restaurateur Jimmy Nguyen, owner of the successful Rice Monkeys, unrolled Pop Sushi at the corner of Florida and East Animas roads. As executive chef, 26-year veteran Ray Srisamer oversees a Japanese tapas restaurant with a full bar. Urban atmosphere, seating for 70. Sashimi, thinly sliced fresh fish. 42 C.R. 250, Unit 400, 422-8182.







Durango’s great natural market is the largest provider of natural and organic products in the Four Corners. Fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and hot foods daily in the deli. Largest selection of supplements and beauty-care products in the region. Locally owned since 1993. 300 S. Camino del Rio, 247-1988. www.naturesoasismarket.com


Named after the central Mexican state of Nayarit on the Pacific coast of Mexico, they offer real, authentic Mexican food that cannot be found anywhere else in the area. They are best known for the wide selection of tequilas and margaritas, fresh seafood and delicious tacos. New, larger location! 2525 Main Ave., 385-1595.


Locals’ favorite happy hour. Perfect after-work and late-night Victorian bar at the historic Strater Hotel. Creative libations, local beers and fabulous wines. Amazing interior setting. Daily happy hour, dinner and live music. Strater Hotel, 247-4431. www.strater.com Lively place for great pizza, calzones, beer and spirits. Food is served daily until 9:42pm; bar hours after kitchen closes. Just three miles south of Purgatory Resort, across from Needles Country Store. 46778 Hwy. 550 N., 259-2257. www.OldeSchoolHouseSaloon.com

Celebrating over 45 years in Durango, offering traditional American cuisine. Open for lunch, dinner and in-between. Historic dining rooms, beautiful tavern for great cocktails and lighter fare. Happy hour 4–7pm. GF menu. 505 Main Ave., 247-2018. www.palacedurango.com Freshly prepared, ready to pop in the oven — pizzas from gourmet to “deLITE.” Papa’s All-Meat, Cowboy, Papa’s Favorite, Vegetarian pizzas. Gourmet, stuffed to thin, crispy crust, there’s a Papa Murphy’s pizza your family wants. 11am–8pm daily, old Town Plaza. 12 Town Plaza, 382-0961. www.papamurphys.com

Chef John Daly III provides a beautiful array of fresh seafood, wild game, and locally produced grains and produce in this tasteful and established setting. With both an upstairs and downstairs dining area, Primus offers a unique and exciting menu to those seeking to enliven their taste buds. Open 2pm to 9pm Monday through Thursday, 2pm to 10pm Friday through Saturday, and is closed on Sunday. 1017 Main Ave. 970-259-1945. www.primusrestaurant.com


The resort offers fun, convenient bars and distinctive restaurants, including indoor and al fresco options. From pastries, salads, gourmet burgers, pizza, steak, pasta and fish entrées, choose a variety of delicious dining options for everyone in the family. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. North of Durango, 247-9000. www.purgatoryresort.com


Locals’ choice for healthy meals. Tasty wraps, deli sandwiches, breakfast burritos, vegetarian green chile, local organic coffee, and the very best freshfruit smoothies in town. Takeout orders welcome. Website has menu, hours and directions. 509 E. Eighth Ave., 375-9727. www.raiderridgecafe.com


Voted No. 1 in Durango — more than just seafood. Award-winning service, food, salad bar. Fresh seafood, steaks, prime rib, specials, large wine list, kids’ menu, homemade desserts — plus aquariums! Your satisfaction is Red Snapper’s goal. Happy hour Monday–Friday, 4–6pm. Dinner nightly, 5pm. Online reservations. 144 E. Ninth St., 259-3417. www.redsnapperdurango.com


Homemade dough grilled over an open fire and filled with the freshest ingredients. Local favorite: Southwest turkey club. Also, pulled-pork barbecue and chicken pesto panini. 11am–5pm Monday–Friday. In the heart of downtown. 835 Main Ave. (Main Mall), 382-9868. www.rgpswraps.com



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Located Next to Nature’s Oasis 300 South Camino del Rio | Durango, Colorado 81301 54 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Healthy, creative, delicious Asian food in a fast, friendly environment. Sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, traditional Vietnamese. Specialty rolls, hot-soup bowls, rice bowls, egg rolls and platters with such favorites as ceviche, seared blackpepper tuna, Saigon noodles, beef pho, ginger chicken. Party-to-go platters, delivery. 1050 Main Ave., 403-3852. www.ricemonkeysdurango.com


Brought to you by the owners of Cuckoo's Chicken House & Waterin' Hole and The Animas City Theatre. Serving American traditional and burgers. Dine-in or take out. Open Tues-Sat at 4pm. 128 E. College Dr., 970-764-4661.


Great food, drinks and company. Open for dinner Mon-Sat at 4pm. Next to the Best Western. 21382 Hwy. 160 W., 970 -85-1016.


Modern American, simply the best seasonal ingredients. Changing dinner menu (often weekly) to showcase the area’s bounty. Wood-fired grill, great service, award-winning chef. Critically acclaimed, internationally awarded wine list. Main Avenue views, private-cellar dining, patio. Lunch, 11:30am– 2:30pm Monday–Friday. Dinner nightly, 5:30pm. Reservations encouraged. 764 Main Ave., 382-9790. www.seasonsofdurango.com


Local family bakery provides fresh breads, pastries and desserts, and proudly offers gluten-free options. Treats are always handcrafted from scratch using local, organic ingredients when possible. Inside Nature’s Oasis market. Open daily. 300 S. Camino del Rio, 403-1517. www.seriousdelights.com


Selected by Sunset magazine as one of the best barbecue restaurants in the West. Tasty smoked meats, huge sandwiches and their legendary ribs. Outdoor deck and patio dining. 11am–9pm summer; 11am–8pm winter. 18-hole mini-golf at south location. 650 S. Camino del Rio, 259-9507; 3535 N. Main Ave., 247-2240. www.serioustexasbbq.com


For an authentic steakhouse experience, Seven Rivers Steak Seafood Spirits at the Sky Ute Casino Resort is unique in the Four Corners. This restaurant wows with selections of mussels, giant prawns, lump crab, scallops and shrimp. Prime cuts of succulent beef, such as petite filet and New York strip. Beautiful décor. Reservations available. Ignacio, 563-6235. www.skyutecasino.com


Known for not only great coffee, but also for amazing breakfast burritos, quality baked goods, great soup and sandwich lunches in a fun, friendly cafe in Rivergate. 555 Rivergate Ln., Ste. B103, 970-422-8558.


A locals’ favorite with the wonderfully different, delicious and healthy foods of Thailand made with the freshest ingredients by native Thais. Call in, carry out or dine in. Very affordable, healthy and delicious. 5191/2 Main Ave., 385-9470.



Casual Durango mountain dining with great mountain views of Engineer Peak. Hand-cut steaks, wild game, fresh fish, poultry, soups, salads, homemade desserts since 1986. Kids’ menu, full bar, wine list. One mile south of Purgatory Resort. Birthdays, reunions, rehearsals, weddings or a night out. Silverpick Lodge, 247-3527. www.sowseardurango.com

Eat local while enjoying fresh craft beer right from the source. Built from repurposed shipping containers situated in Ska Brewing World Headquarters, Chef Jeremy Storm serves brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches, soups, salads, kids’ options. Tasting room, retail outlet, tours at the brewery. 225 Girard St., 247-5792. www.containerrestaurant.com




For unique dining options: Seven Rivers Steak Seafood Spirits for upscale steaks and seafood; Willows Café Bistro for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend buffets; Rolling Thunder Grill for pub fare; 49 Lounge for sports fans has TVs, a full bar and appetizers. Shining Mountain Café for sandwiches, salads and Native American fare. Ignacio, 563-7777. www.skyutecasino.com


Fresh-brewed coffee, mochas, Frappuccinos, lattes, pastries, bagels and more. Outdoor seating, weather permitting. Open daily, 6am. 6 Town Plaza, 247-4475; 311 W. College Dr., 382-2224; 3130 Main Ave., 259-0240; 2817 Main Ave., 382- 1783; 558 Main Ave., 375-1694. www.starbucks.com Great spot for a casual lunch or dinner. Award winning beers, cocktails and wines. Nightly food and drink specials. World-famous Cajun Boil. Games on several TVs. 11am daily. Downtown, corner of Eighth and East Second. 801 E. Second Ave., 259-9200. www.steamworksbrewing.com


A cozy and inviting coffee shop in the popular Smiley Building. Serving fresh, local coffee from 81301 Coffee Roasters, breakfast burritos, salads, sandwiches and delicious variety of home-baked, gluten-free goodies. Monday–Friday, 7am–5pm. Saturday, 8am–2pm, 1309 E. Third Ave., 903-5598.

Fast, inexpensive and ready to go when you are. Perfect for backpacks or picnics. Delicious salads, cold or toasted sandwiches. Fresh meats, crisp veggies, breads baked daily. Four sites: 2101 Main Ave., 259-0887; 1537 Florida Rd., Ste. 101, 247-2335; 20800 Hwy. 160 W., 259 1422; 1145 S. Camino del Rio, 382-9511. www.subway.com



Breakfast and main menu items all day. Sunday–Thursday, 6am–midnight; Friday–Saturday, 6am–1am. Happy hour (half-price fountain drinks and slushes) every day, 2–5pm. Monthly specials. Major credit cards. 240 E. Eighth Ave., 247-8160. www.sonicdrivein.com

With an extensive array of mouthwatering spreads, each with a spin on traditional Mexican cuisine created to inspire the adventurous foodie, this restaurant has a laid back atmosphere, the prime location to simply enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by a great staff and great service. Open from 11am to 10pm on Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 9pm on Sunday, and is closed on Monday. 741 Main Ave. 970-422-8074. @SwitchbackTaco on Facebook

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Fast becoming a local favorite with hickory-smoked barbecue, po’ boys, fresh-ground burgers, Creole fare. Newly renovated interior. Largest patio in downtown, with horseshoe pit and Downtown Aztec holiday events from 10am to 6pm great views. Eat in, take out, delivery, catering. #3 Depot Pl., 259-6000. www.tssmokehouse.com Known for thinking “outside the bun.” Tacos, burritos, gorditas, Mexican pizza, chalupas, nachos, cheese roll-ups, quesadillas, taquitos, taco salad. Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, extra cheese, rice, beans. Daily, 9am–9:30pm; drive through ’til 10pm. 2902 Main Ave., 259 5588. www.tacobell.com Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, guacamole and chile rellenos, everyone’s favorite Mexican dishes now in the busy Three Springs neighborhood. Beer and wine. New “fast-casual” eatery seats nearly 100. Family operated by Silvia, Juan and Miguel Aguayo. Fresh, authentic Mexican food fast. Open daily, 7am. 150 Confluence Ave., Ste. 101C, 422-8399. www.tacoboydurango.com


Hola! For an authentic Mexican-food experience, Tequila’s is highly inventive; always surprising daily specials. Known for the town’s best margaritas. Wonderful food, drinks and great service. You won’t soon forget colorful Tequila’s. 948 Main Ave., 259-7655. www.tequilasmexicandurango.com


Tucked in the Alpine Bank at 11th and Main, authentic Thai cuisine served daily, 11am–9pm. Spring rolls, egg rolls, chicken satay, crab rangoon, wonton soup, chicken peanut salad, pad Thai noodles, fried rice, curry dishes, stirfrys. Eat in or carry out. 101 W. 11th St., Unit B100, 385-3903.

56 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Premier north side breakfast and lunch spot. Delicious house-cured meats, soup and mighty hand-pressed burgers. Local faves: grab-n-go breakfast or custom sandwiches, house-roasted Southwest turkey or the tasty Philly cheesesteak. Across from Durango High School, next to Durango Rapid Wash. 2411 Main Ave., 422-8204. Self-serve frozen yogurt at the corner of Main and College. Open daily, noon–7pm, the shop offers multiple flavors of the delicious, healthy treat plus over 40 toppings to try. Sodas, bottled water and other refreshments. 600 Main Ave., Ste. 105, 970-442-8088. www.topthatfrozenyogurtdurango.com In the Grandview area. Gourmet coffee/espresso drinks, teas, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, burritos and fresh in-house baked goods. Hot, toasted lunch sandwiches and salads. Free Wi-Fi. Tuesday–Saturday from 6am-2pm, Sunday 6am-12pm. 28902 Hwy. 160 E., 385-5747.


Hot, juicy 100-percent-pure-beef burgers, savory chicken sandwiches, garden sensation salads, frosty shakes. Take out, eat in. Daily, 10am–10pm. Drive-through ’til midnight. 1840 Main Ave., 247-4505. www.wendys.com


Locally grown, wild-harvested, living-foods lunch every Tuesday and Friday, 11:11am–2:22pm. Soup, salad, entrée, dessert for suggested $15 donation. Raw, organic, vegetarian and vegan ingredients. Sharing the Victorian brick building with Rocky Mountain Retreat, the café entrance is in the back. Patio in summer; cozy, warm (greenhouse) second floor in winter. 848 E. Third Ave., 247-8395. www.turtlelakerefuge.org

Modern dining from Sari Brown. Creative vegetarian choices: roasted cauliflower with kale rice; mango and coconut curry; Tomato Bombs with cabbage, raisins, caramel vinaigrette. Also, bisque, chowders, steaks, chicken, ribs, grits, burgers. Wednesday–Saturday, 5–8:30pm. Lodge at Tamarron, 382-6776. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Yellow Carrot has a new location. Fresh and creative, with all of Sari Brown’s delicious offerings. Menus and catering options available online. 3206 Main Ave. #1, 259-3773. www.theyellowcarrot.com Fresh-Mex: burritos, quesadillas, tacos, beers and margaritas. Enchiladas, tamales, soups, fish tacos, salads, rice bowls. Specials, kids’ menu. Eat in, take out, catering. 11am–9pm, summer; open ’til 8pm, winter. Online ordering at ChowNow. Two locations: 400 S. Camino del Rio, 247-1002; 3101 Main Ave.; 247-3355. www.ziataqueria.com



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After eight years of running a popular grill from a food wagon in the Animas Valley, Cynthia James Stewart reached a critical decision point for her top-tier burgers and salads: “We had to either quit or grow,” she says. The concept of quitting does not seem to exist in her family. James Ranch started as a cattle ranch north of Durango in 1961. Since then, the children of founders Dave and Kay James have gone on to start their own businesses as part of the ranch’s growing ecosystem. Cynthia is no exception; although she left Durango for New York City as a career woman, she discovered her love of cooking at age 37 and ultimately returned home to combine into her own entrées the beef, vegetables, eggs and cheese for which her family is so well known. Eight years later, she and her husband, Robert, chose to grow. And now, James Ranch Grill has opened the doors (and magnificent picture windows) of its stunning new structure, housed alongside the James Ranch Market just mere minutes from town. As always, the beef and a large portion of the produce come right from the ranch out back. And also as always, Cynthia prides herself on using the freshest in-season ingredients. But the new building brought along fresh changes. At long last, James Ranch Grill will be open through the winter, from Thursday through Sunday. The grill is now equipped to take call-in takeout orders. And along with the shift in weather, the grill will be shifting the menu. “People need to eat seasonally,” Cynthia explains. “All my family members have attempted to emulate nature in their practices. We’re going to serve squash and root vegetables in the win58 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

tertime, because that’s what nature in the inland states says you’re supposed to eat. When you’re cold, your body craves different food.” To highlight the stars of winter cuisine, Cynthia has initiated a weekly plated special at the grill—each one a hot dish that’s completely off the menu. As one example, she describes mouthwatering meatballs filled with James Ranch ricotta, served with house-made pasta. “I have talented cooks and chefs,” she says. “They want to have fun with it.” The secrets of the James Ranch Grill’s success are hardly secret at all. Locals know that the grill sources meat and produce from the working ranch. It’s truly a family affair: Dave and Kay still run the ranch along with daughter Jen and son-in-law Joe, who also tend the gardens. Sister Julie and her husband, John, manage the laying hens and the on-site tree farm, and Julie also runs the James Ranch Market. Younger brother Dan and his wife, Becca, are cheese-makers. And Cynthia and Robert are the

Tiffany Jacot

unlikely restaurateurs. What doesn’t come from the ranch, Cynthia sources locally as much as possible—and as organic as possible. “We buy from ten different farmers,” she says. “We’re supporting a community of families, and we’re supporting the whole regenerative agricultural movement through living by example with our practices.”

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot

With such quality ingredients at hand, she acknowledges the key to her success as owner/ chef is just letting the fresh flavors shine. For instance, in the chopped kale salad with pecans, cranberries, and a fried egg on top, the star of the show is Dan’s Leyden cheese. In a classic James Ranch burger, the beef rises above the condiments. “I enjoy people having a good food experience,” Cynthia says. The grill’s classics are enhanced even more by their new digs. The restaurant is designed

for more windows than wall space, and the cozy wood adds depth to the food’s home-cooked feel. When weather permits, there’s still outdoor seating, where in the summer the famed Burger and a Band music events will continue. But through the winter, the grill’s staff is stoked to serve hearty, conscientiously crafted meals to all—whether they’re venturing up from Durango or returning from a day skiing on the mountain.

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot


AZTEC OFFERS WORLD-CLASS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE Savvy travelers know the Southwest is synonymous with bucket-list thrills. That’s why they hit Aztec, New Mexico, a place boundless in world-class outdoor adventure. For maximum fun, the journey begins with premier fly-fishing, on the world-famous “Quality Waters” of the lower San Juan River. The 4.2-mile riparian stretch is located just half an hour from another wildly popular recreation area, Navajo Lake State Park, with waterskiing, sailboating, kayaking, houseboating, and camping. Or explore Aztec on a mountain bike and pedal some of the area’s singletrack through the mountain parks and canyon-plunging loops of Aztec’s Alien Run Bike Trail.

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Winter of 2018-2019

Brings Historic Avalanche Behavior to Southwest Colorado By Graham Coffey

The 2018-19 winter was one to remember in the southern San Juan Mountains. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center recorded 232 total avalanches in the San Juan region alone a far cry from the 98 recorded in 2017-18. So what caused all the slides in the area? While Southwest Colorado is famous for its backcountry skiing, it is also notorious for having a snowpack that many skiers simply refer to as “sketchy.” In all snow years, heavy or light, those recreating in the backcountry around the San Juans need to be educated in avalanche safety through courses developed by The American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE-1, AIARE-2, etc.) and experienced in navigating dangerous terrain in order to mitigate the risk of triggering an avalanche. Normally the San Juans’ snowpack is hardened in the late winter or early spring, creating safer skiing conditions in the backcountry; so why did slides continue throughout spring in the area? The first thing to look at is the 2018-19 snowfall. Silverton’s historical average is 165 inches, but last winter’s total was 421 inches! The high mountains of the San Juans saw their first dusting in early October and continued to see snow into May. Historically, the San Juans see plenty of snow, making them a haven for backcountry skiers. However, in most years the snow falls in more concentrated volumes over shorter periods of time. Usually that creates a firmer and more stable snowpack; but in the winter of 2018-19, repeated deluges hit the region. By the time southwest Colorado’s snowpack peaked on April

Brandon Mathis

5th, the region had accumulated its third highest snowfall totals since recordkeeping began, falling just behind the winters of 1993 and 2005. This created more layers of snow, each with their distinct consistencies and temperatures. The lack of overall consistency kept the region’s snowpack from stabilizing, and unprecedented avalanche activity ensued. Traditionally, avalanches slide in the same areas, as the paths lack anchor points like trees and rocks to help hold the new snow in place. However, last winter was so severe that countless avalanches broke (literally) entirely new paths. Stands of aspen and pine trees 200-300 years old were chewed up and ripped into pieces like matchsticks in the hands of a giant by the forces of sliding snow. Crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation did their best to mitigate the slides and trigger them in a controlled manner, but those efforts led to 30 feet of snow on US 550, cutting off the town of Ouray from anything to its south for nearly a month.

Areas near the top of Red Mountain Pass were covered in avalanche debris for months. The trail to Ice Lakes Basin, one of the quintessential San Juan hikes, was covered by avalanche debris in five different places. Only constant volunteer help throughout the summer, from the San Juan Mountains Association, helped make the trail passable again. In the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado’s largest wilderness area, the popular trail to Chicago Basin was buried as avalanches covered the Needle Creek Trail. The same was true for the Elk Creek Trail, as three avalanches created dangerous debris piles that had to be navigated by hikers throughout the summer. Now the cleanup efforts have been stopped by the arrival of another winter, as snow from last year still remains in a few places in the high country. Come spring the region will dig out again and reassess the mess. Whether more avalanche debris is added to the pile this season or not, it is clear that the effects of winter 20182019 will be felt in the region for years to come.





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Be Well, Be Centered

By Chloe Ragsdale

Are you looking for a transformational experience to rejuvenate and reset from the stresses in your life? Durango has a wide variety of fantastic spas aimed at bringing unique and inspiring treatments into the depths of your physical and emotional well-being. From the Woodhouse Day Spa to Salt 360 Float Studio, and from Animas Laser Therapy to Remedy, each local spa introduces a distinctive and healing environment for your relaxation and tranquility. Whether it's finding a location to rejuvenate after a long day of skiing, or a way to ease your mind and body after an extensive day of work, each of these spas and treatments provide the ideal way to reward yourself for the assiduous extents of your labor. Utilizing these spas is not only beneficial to de-stress yourself, but is also beneficial to your mental and physical health as a whole. Discover the power of true silence and peace at Salt 360 Float Studio, where your mind becomes free from the pressures of daily life, which can also be experienced through the facial treatments founded upon natural, invigorating materials at the Woodhouse Day Spa, Animas Laser Therapy, and Remedy. Additionally, they contribute to relieving your physical discomforts, whether through massage at Woodhouse Day Space or Remedy, the light energy from low-level lasers with advanced technology at Animas Laser Therapy, or the completely tranquil suspension in the warm saltwater at Salt 360 Float Studio. Durango’s spas are here to completely heal your physical and mental turmoil, and provide the ultimate in peaceful and rewarding treatments and settings.

66 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

THE WOODHOUSE DAY SPA 1521 MAIN AVENUE durango.woodhousespas.com 970-247-7769

Welcome to The Woodhouse Day Spa. From the moment you arrive, you’ll realize that The Woodhouse Day Spa is like no other. Your Woodhouse Day Spa has been created to give you the ultimate experience of escape and indulgence that you deserve. They believe your day at the spa should be more than just a great spa treatment; it should be a great experience from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. Enjoy the ambience, a cup of tea, spa water or mimosa while you prepare to indulge in your choice of over 70 rejuvenating spa treatments. Their team of dedicated professionals possesses a genuine desire for your overall well-being and will make your experience the ultimate retreat. Choose from a variety of advanced body and skin-care treatments, from their famous nurturing facials to invigorating body treatments in their Vichy shower. Succumb to their Swedish, deep-tissue, or their 90-minute volcanic hot-stone massage. Relax while enjoying their expert manicures and pedicures, giving you the maximum benefits in relaxation and transformation, from head to toe. At The Woodhouse Day Spa, you’ll find that it’s not the journey but the destination. Whether for a day or an hour, friends’ day out, bridal shower, birthday or anniversary, Woodhouse is ready to deliver the experience you deserve! SERVICES INCLUDE: • Body Treatments • Foot Treatments • Hand Treatments • Massage Therapy • Skin Care • Sleep Treatments • Spend a Day With Us Packages • Waxings • Woodhouse Signature Services




Our bodies and our minds work hard. Between the demanding tasks of daily living and the unrelenting lure of play and adventure, we tend to be left with our heads spinning—breathless, aching, and little out of sorts. Some people think it’s normal to feel this way, but Salt 360 Float Studio in Durango wants to challenge that notion. There is such a thing as a total body and mind reboot, and Salt 360 has it ready for you, all in one room. Salt 360’s float rooms contain a space to escape to a zero-sensory world of revitalization. Floating in 12 inches of water with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt relaxes muscles and joints in a way that’s only available through this unique experience. Salt’s total body retreat takes place in a 95-degree saline solution that naturally contains magnesium sulfate, a vital mineral that supports the nervous system, brain function, and mood. Retreat from that busy schedule and reboot your body so you’ll be refreshed, revitalized, and ready for what life throws your way.

Dixie, a long-time resident of Durango, Colorado, has forever been passionate about living well and helping others. In 2017, Dixie opened Animas Laser Therapy after discovering low-level laser technology and its many benefits, including the reduction of pain and inflammation, skin renewal, body sculpting and of course, detoxing. Erchonia’s FDA approved lasers are very safe with no downtime or discomfort, allowing you to continue your daily activities without interruption. The mission at Animas Laser Therapy is to provide a safe and non-invasive approach to help clients look and feel their best. With the pain-reducing benefits of low-level laser technology, they aim to give their clients a way to safely and effectively manage pain and allow them to continue to do the things they love. Revitalize your life with light at Animas Laser Therapy.

Remedy Integrative Health & Aesthetics along with Pamela Hatten, RN, Med Spa have a mission to provide you with the treatments that will restore your beauty, health and vibrancy. Here you will find answers to turn back the clock and jumpstart your body's regenerative abilities. Pamela Hatten, RN, Med Spa specializes in facial sculpting and rejuvenation treatments, where experience and knowledge matter. Remedy’s integrative health and aesthetics practice is dedicated to providing safe, affordable, effective antiaging and wellness therapies. Look good, feel good. Discover your Remedy.

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BENEFITS OF FLOATING: • Stress relief • Pain relief • Faster recovery from physical activities • Prevention of sports injuries • Improved immune system function • Better sleep • Enhanced ability to focus and concentrate • Increased creativity

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Purgatory Ski Team

Purgatory Ski Team Grooms Skier Citizens by Purgatory Ski Team

Durango skiing has a rich history rooted in mail carriers, miners, power linemen, and the 10th Mountain Division traveling through the San Juan winters. Ever since the first rope tow, ski culture has spread. And Durango youngsters have been skiing in local programs for over 70 years. These ski programs instill a sense of value and pride in our local ski community, and the region has produced top-tier skiers and even Olympians. This tradition continues with the Purgatory Ski Team, with its mission to combine ski training and competition with life skills, such as setting goals, handling feedback, and building self-esteem. Skiing disciplines include 68 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

alpine racing, freeride, and freestyle. And PST is excited to introduce its newest program addition, affectionately called the “Gromlins.” The program is designed for athletes between the ages of 6 and 10 with a passion for skiing, who aren’t ready yet to specialize in a discipline. Gromlins will be introduced to all three competitive disciplines—alpine, freeride and freestyle—throughout the year. Coaches will focus on developing fundamental techniques to progress budding athletes into strong skiers at a young age. Of course, this only works if the young athletes are having fun and developing a passion for skiing, which is the ultimate goal of all of the teams. The PST coaching philosophy encourages two-way communication between athletes and coaches. Athletes take ownership of

their chosen discipline by committing to a prescribed workout program. Encouraging athletes to communicate and develop a rapport with each individual coach leads to local kids doing great things. The PST sees these accomplished athletes as role models for future skiers and as a beacons for the development of younger athletes in the Durango area. This philosophy has been forged over the years by knowing what it takes to develop a competitive program through nurturing and communicating with athletes and parents. An important part of the plan is to surround the athletes with qualified, caring coaches and to encourage athletes to leapfrog each other to reach their full potential, both on and off the ski slopes.

David Porter

IN THEIR WORDS: Why is skiing important to you? How does being a part of the Purgatory Freestyle team help you achieve your goals?

AMARA: Winter is my favorite season. Skiing is important to me because it’s my favorite sport and I get to hang out with my friends. It’s a unique sport, where you’re always learning something new, because the terrain is always different. When I ski, I am always in the present moment and not thinking about anyAmara Kirk thing else. Being a part of the Purga(2019 RQS U13 Champ) tory Freestyle team helps me achieve my goals, because I have great coaches who are very supportive. They give me advice but are also nice and very funny. My teammates make going to ski practice super fun, and I wouldn’t be at my skill level without my coaches and teammates. Our entire team is one supportive community. BALIN: Skiing is important to me because it’s my favorite sport and it’s super fun. I love skiing because there are no rules when you free ski, and you can hit whatever terrain you want with your friends. Being a part of the Purgatory Freestyle team helps me achieve my goals, because my coaches and teammates are people I love to ski with. My coaches have a lot of experience and different skiing backgrounds that can help me improve everything from jumping to bumps. At competiBalin Kirk tion, my team helps me to have a pos(2019 RQS itive attitude and not get nervous Overall Champ) during races. They cheer me on, and that help me to be more confident in my ski runs.

How has having a unique facility like Chapman Hill helped you on your path to being strong, competitive skiers? AMARA: Being able to train at Chapman Hill during the week gives me more days on the snow with my friends, because it’s so accessible and gives me more feedback from my coaches. Also, the steepness and often icy conditions makes for a harder training course so that when we go to a competition we’re used to all types of conditions and can perform better. BALIN: Chapman gives me more training opportunity because it’s essentially in my backyard. I can get up the hill in 30 seconds instead of a 10-minute chairlift ride, so I can get in 60 runs a day. I also can ski seven days a week, because I can go to Chapman right after school with my friends. Chapman helps me as a skier because I have great coaches and I can put their feedback into practice right after a mogul run to make sure I get my technique perfect.

Wes Jackson

Purgatory Ski Team

Purgatory Ski Team

Gracey Hening

What is the perfect day of skiing for you? AMARA: My perfect day for skiing is having it snow, no lift lines, free skiing with my brothers and friends, hitting cliffs and jumps, learning new tricks, and hiking to ski new terrain. I love to be outside in nature skiing with the snow in my face where there are no expectations and I can ski whatever line I want. I also love skiing moguls—not just to improve but because moguls are my favorite terrain. David Porter

BALIN: My perfect day for skiing is a deep-powder day or park skiing. I love hitting cliffs and doing tricks off jumps and rails, and going fast. My favorite trick is cork 7. I love being in the wilderness when it’s dumping snow and you have snow in your face at every turn.

What can you do to better yourselves as athletes and representatives of the Purgatory Ski Team in the upcoming season? AMARA and BALIN: We’re going to do move-up comps on a harder course and against older kids. We’re also going to add one more day of training each week at Chapman and do more training sessions on the new Bull Run course. We want to help our teammates become better skiers and get more of our friends involved with the Purgatory Ski Team, and, most importantly, have fun skiing. Purgatory Ski Team

Wes Jackson 69

Character Building

The North Main District takes shape

by Tim Walsworth

CREATIVE PLANNING—it’s something that Durango has embraced with enthusiasm. As commercial growth continues in our town, community members recognize that it’s prudent to handle it wisely. Thus the formation of a variety of character districts throughout our burg, and the North Main District is the first (outside of the established Historic Downtown) to take root and blossom.

“We’re delighted to be a part of what is becoming a vibrant new segment of our community. It’s working, it’s viable, and it’s great.”

Durango Business Improvement District 70 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

As with many small towns, Durango initially developed somewhat sporadically. The focus had always been downtown, around the hub of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. But moving up Main Avenue, north across the Animas River (in what was known as Animas City), a healthy growth of hotels and motels were developed, especially early on when the county had significant natural gas development and workers needed temporary housing. “But our industry evolved,” says Chris Vivolo, owner of the Hampton Inn, located at the most northern part of the North Main District. “With the development of the Purgatory ski resort in the '60s, the need for comfortable, reasonably priced lodging emerged, an d we’ve only continued to enhance these services for our visitors.” Indeed, the lodging properties located in the North Main District are perfectly situated for those who enjoy all that Durango has to offer for outdoor adventures. Beyond direct access to the ski resort, trailheads for hiking and mountain biking are within minutes of the lodging properties, and all are minutes from the Animas River (and its adventures) and the adjacent Animas River Trail. “But we’re not just about tourism in the North Main District,” says Ericka Curlee, president of the Durango Business Improvement District (BID), which works to further the vibrancy of both Downtown Durango and the North Main District. As co-owner of Louisa’s Electronics, which she and her husband deliberately relocated to North Main Avenue, she’s optimistic about local business development in the area. “We were among the first to build or renovate in the North Main District, because we felt the vibrancy, the importance of enhancing our town in this district,” she says. Part of the enhancements have been the addition of popular eateries, which while they welcome guests staying at the local lodging establishments, the restaurants—Bird’s, Zia Taqueria, Serious Texas BBQ and Yellow Carrot—are embracing the local vibe. “We were attracted to the North Main District; we’ve seen the changes and growth, and it’s exciting,” says Kris Oyler, CEO of Peak Food & Beverage, parent of Bird’s (as well as Steamworks Brewing and El Moro Spirits and Tavern). “We also had the opportunity to own the real estate for Bird’s, and that was a game changer for us. The North Main District offers opportunities for businesses like ours to invest and grow. Also, Bird’s, like Zia, has supported the Animas City Bazaar events this year, which added to the vibrancy and a sense of neighborhood for folks who live in the area.”

Scheduled monthly during the summer months, the Animas City Night Bazaar features a locally grown farmers market, entertainment, activities and more. Additional activities in the warmer weather months include the Free Outdoor Movie Nights on the lawn at the Durango Recreation Center. In April, the BID will coordinate what is now the North Main Clean Day—a community effort held post “snowmelt” to put the proverbial spit-and-polish on the corridor. In the event’s first two years, more than 100 community volunteers donned vests and gloves, armed with trash bags and brooms, and helped clean the blocks. The next day, the now-annual North Main Event is planned. This is designed to introduce community members and visitors to the businesses in the North Main District. “So often, people are just driving through the corridor and you don’t actually see all that is here,” says Tanya Clegg, BID marketing director. “The North Main Event is a foot-friendly walking event, with activities, entertainment and food at many of our North Main businesses. It’s a great way to see what’s what on North Main.” The Chamber of Commerce has also relocated to the District, and as Jack Llewellyn, executive, director, notes: “For decades, the Durango Chamber of Commerce had been housed in a ‘neutral area’ of Durango. We were able to secure the property on North Main—the little A-frame—that had been the home of our original Chamber.” The Chamber redeveloped the property across from Durango High School and adjacent to Junction Creek, and some might say the new facility has become the “heart” of the new North Main District. “We’re delighted to be a part of what is becoming a vibrant new segment of our community,” says Llewellyn. “It’s working, it’s viable, and it’s great.” To learn more about the North Main District and its burgeoning business community, visit www.NorthMainDurango.org.

Tiffany Jacot

Tiffany Jacot

Durango Business Improvement District 71


Brings Environmentally Friendly Gear to America By Graham Coffey

Want to buy your gear from one of the world’s most sustainable outdoor brands without emptying your bank account on a single jacket? Fortunately for you, there’s a new brand in Durango’s vibrant outdoor retail market. Hailing from New Zealand, Kathmandu is bringing its unique and stylish offerings of adventure travel and outdoor apparel to the United States for the first time. The brand is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly companies, and only 45 brick-and-mortar outdoor retailers were selected for its North America debut. While Kathmandu may be new to America, the brand has a rich history. Kathmandu has produced some of the world’s best outdoor products for 30 years and views making and selling gear as a vehicle for saving the planet. As a certified B-Corporation, Kathmandu meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The company puts its passion for the environment into its products, too. Last year 80 percent of Kathmandu’s bags and 60 percent of its clothing was certified REPREVE®, meaning it is made out of totally recyclable materials. Because of this strong commitment to sustainability, Kathmandu kept 6.7 million plastic bottles out of the world’s oceans last year alone. They’re not resting on their laurels either:

72 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Photos by Kathmandu

The brand is on track to top the 7 million mark in 2019. Kathmandu even set a goal to become a fully zero-waste company, and though they’re only a few short years into the mission, they’ve already made it 80 percent of the way. That’s no small feat for a brand that also has over 160 of its own stores. In addition to their environmental achievements, Kathmandu wants to make an impact on a human level. Rated the No. 2 brand in the world for using fairtrade materials sourced in sustainable ways, the brand refused to produce its usual amount of wool garments this year, because the only product left to buy was either produced with the help of employees in unethical conditions or harvested in ways detrimental to the environment. Because of decisions like that, Kathmandu scored an A in the ethical fashion report.

Even though there are more people enslaved currently than at any other time in human history, Kathmandu is a force for freedom. The brand is so focused on ensuring that their products are made by workers who are treated and paid fairly, they even have employees on the payroll who exclusively investigate Asian factories for modern-day slavery. Instead of trying to use their work in the environment as a way to influence consumers to buy their goods, Kathmandu’s founders and operators have seen making gear as a vehicle to help the world since they started in 1987. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see the value in buying Kathmandu’s stylish and rugged offerings. Look great while shopping ethically and paying less for premium outdoor gear.


74 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Patient Advocacy

DEEMED POSSIBLE Local Durango RN Offers New Service

Local Durango RN Offers New Service

Imagine you get a new diagnosis. You are in shock and disbelief. At the same time, you are sick and simply want to get better. Your doctor is explaining your diagnosis and possible treatment options. In that moment, it is difficult to focus on what your provider is saying. You leave the office completely confused and overwhelmed. You don’t have any recollection of what was just explained to you. According to the journal FPM (Family Practice Medicine), a study done in 2010 found that 50 percent of patients leave doctor visits not understanding the information that was communicated to them. Independent patient advocacy is a growing field that provides services such as translating the complexity of a new medical diagnosis or understanding your medical insurance and medical bills. Managing your healthcare is increasingly confusing and overwhelming, especially when you are sick. A patient advocate is the patient’s personal guide to healthcare. Patient advocates meet one-on-one with their clients, helping them understand procedures, connect with doctors and specialists, and provide education of health conditions and treatment plans. Many healthcare systems offer patient advocacy, but an independent advocate offers complete loyalty to you. Independent advocates take direction and initiative from you. Advocates search for solutions and options based on the client’s needs while also communicating and coordinating with providers. Christine Deem, a registered nurse of 22 years, is the founder of Southwest Colorado Patient Advocate, a company providing independent patient advocacy. Her mission is to provide direction, education, and advocacy to clients in their healthcare journey. Christine is passionate about what she does and enjoys making a difference in people’s lives.

Services offered by Southwest Colorado Patient Advocate: • Education about illness and treatments • Help with finding a physician or specialist • Assistance with finding a physician for a second opinion • Education about mental illness and access to care • Navigating hospitalizations, from encouraging communication between all providers on a team to educating the family about illness and treatment plans • Coaching clients on questions to ask the doctor, and accompanying clients to appointments • Assisting patients that are too ill or overwhelmed to navigate their healthcare

Christine Deem P 970-426-9567 E advocacy@swcopatientadvocate.com



Photos by Tiffany Jacot


From the time he held a toy hammer as a child, Rob Sachs knew he wanted to be involved with construction. A career that has spanned 37 years was sparked by watching an Uncle in Vail who was a contractor. Sachs was infatuated with the process of building things for as long as he can remember, and it inspired him to put himself through college, earning a construction management degree at Cal State Fullerton. In his time in the industry, he has been a part of building many well-known Durango landmarks. Rob built his business at Sachs Construction over the last 16 years, growing larger and larger throughout the last decade and a 76 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

half before ultimately deciding to take his business in a different direction. There’s a house on a hill in Mancos that Sachs built a few years back. When you walk into the home, you can immediately deduce a couple things about the residents. They obviously love dogs. The industrial dog wash built into the home gives it away. It is also clear that those who live there like to entertain, as the open kitchen is filled with seating for plenty of guests. Judging by the beautiful appliances and the myriad cookbooks on the shelf that’s built into the black granite island, visitors who come here to sit at the bar for

hors d’oeuvres, drinks and conversation, prior to moving to the dining-room table for the main course, can expect to be treated to some delicious dishes. As they dine, they might be looking out one of the home’s many windows, staring at the mountains in the distance, wondering what it was like when the same slopes and ridges were filled with the indigenous peoples who inhabited the areas around Mesa Verde National Park a millennium ago. After dinner, the owners of this beautiful home on the hill might walk their guests out to the patio for a nightcap around the property’s outdoor fireplace, the warmth and glow of the burning logs giving those who surround it plenty of warmth to enjoy the brilliant stars that can be seen on a clear night from the backyard. If this dinner party had occurred on a summer evening, the hosts might have walked the visitors up to the widow’s walk. In this uppermost room, the views abound, stretching in all directions as far as the eye can see. From there they will look west into the sunset as the sun fades over the ridges and turns the sky a hundred different shades of pink. This is the spot where the owners usually enjoy a good book or gaze at the wildlife that inhabits the hillsides in the distance through the lenses of a pair of binoculars. This was the view they hoped for when they bought the property and hired Rob Sachs to build the dream home where they would enjoy retirement. Sachs found out about their desires for this room through conversations with the couple, and he was determined to get it right. So determined was he to make their visions into a reality that he rented a hydraulic lift, brought it out to the homesite, and lifted the couple into the Colorado sky. Once they were at a height that gave them the perfect view, they said so. Sachs and his team measured from the couple’s feet to the ground, and that became the height that they would build the floor of the widow’s walk.

This same type of attention to detail and dedication to realizing the clients’ visions is what Rob Sachs brings to all of his clients. If you think this sounds unusual, you would be right. But unusual has become the norm for Sachs Construction. Rob, the owner and founder, has put his company on an unusual trajectory. As his business grew, Rob became the go-to guy for building restaurants in downtown Durango, after starting off building custom homes. If you’ve lived here for long, there’s a good chance you’ve dined in a building he built. Restaurants like Eolus became valuable proof of Sachs’ ability to get the job done, and soon his services were wanted by many who looked to open dining establishments in Durango. Eventually, his business grew to over 20 employees, and Sachs started to feel that he had lost something he loved. Recently he downsized his operation so he could get back what he calls “the value of experience” in his business. When you talk to him, it’s easy to see that Rob loves working with people. While he’s friendly throughout our entire conversation, when he starts talking about the personal interactions with his clients his spine straightens and he beams, as if


he’s tapped into the thing that really makes him tick. He prides himself in making the building process easy on his clients; and more than anything, you can tell he enjoys helping people in a field that often creates stress for customers. When building for clients who are new to the area, he often becomes a guide to the town he loves, offering up recommendations on dentists or mechanics. Sachs builds people their dream homes, creating custom dwellings that are tailored to their lifestyles and passions. There’s plenty to be proud of; but more than anything, Rob Sachs is proud of how his customers often become his friends. That is why he has brought himself back to his professional roots of building custom homes. People matter to Rob Sachs, and seeing them light up when touring their new dream home brings him a feeling that he can’t get from running a bigger business with the goal of making more money. While Sachs still occasionally offers his services to commercial clients, it is clear that he has found his own home in building custom homes for others.

78 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Blinds - Shades - Shutters Indoor - Outdoor Residential - Commercial





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Home Improvement Advice by Ashley Blackmore

There’s something wonderful about winter… bears in hibernation; we humans slow our pace, stay home and relax more often in cooler weather. If you’re shopping for a home or have recently, these are the best features your new home can offer to help you enjoy cooler weather. Fireplaces: Whether you have a gas, electric or wood-burning fireplace, or a fire pit in the backyard, watching the flames is a great way to relax, listen to music, or snuggle under your favorite blanket with a purring cat or fluffy dog by your side. Built-ins: Bookshelves, china hutches and window seats may seem like yesteryear, but they also add utility and character to your home. They can be updated with newer finishes, but the quality of built-in woods and craftsmanship can rarely be matched today. Sitting areas: A reading nook or a small conversation area can be intimate, comfy and charming. Make it a no-electronics zone for books, sketching or needle arts. Hardwoods and rugs: Hardwood floors are warm, elegant and in high demand. To soften the sound and protect the beauty of floors in high-traffic areas, choose hand-knotted wool or silk rugs. They stand the test of time, and you can move them around to change the look of a room. Lighting: Adjustable lighting from three-way bulbs to lamps with arms to dimmer switches can make relaxing more personal and comfortable. Think of all lighting as task-oriented to choose the right fixture and bulb for your needs. AshleyBlackmoreHomes.com

125 White Water Dr, Durango, CO 80 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

2180 Lighting & Design Studio....................................................................... 79 2nd Ave. Sports.........................................................................................................28 Affordable Blinds...................................................................................................... 79 Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company........................................................55 Animas Laser Therapy.......................................................................................... 67 Animas Museum.......................................................................................................29 Animas Trading Company..................................................................................20 Artesanos.....................................................................................................................28 Barefoot Durango....................................................................................................25 Backcountry Experience..................................................................................... 24 Bank of the San Juans...........................................................................................74 Berkshire Hathaway/Ashley Blackmore ..................................................80 Benson, The.................................................................................................................62 Brown’s Sport Shoe................................................................................................25 Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College...........................34 City of Aztec, The.....................................................................................................60 Closets Plus................................................................................................................. 79 Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College...................................29 Crow’s Closet..............................................................................................................25 Cyprus Café.................................................................................................................28 Durango Arts Center..............................................................................................28 Durango Dog Ranch...............................................................................................33 Durango Furniture & Mattress.......................................................................... 21 Durango Kids Pediatric Dentistry..................................................................40 Durango Magazine...................................................................................................74 Durango Organics....................................................................................................57 Durango Smoke Shop............................................................................................73 Durango Spas..............................................................................................................15 Earthen Vessel Gallery.........................................................................................35 Eolus................................................................................................................................50 ENO Cocktail Lounge & Wine Bar..................................................................28 Fallen Angel, The......................................................................................................20 Farmington Civic Center......................................................................................29 Golden Block Brewery..........................................................................................62 Grand Imperial Hotel..............................................................................................62 Green House, The......................................................................................................73 Guild House Games................................................................................................. 21 Jack’s................................................................................................................................51 James Ranch Market & Grill..............................................................................49 Joyful Nook Gallery............................................................................................. 7, 35 Kassidy's Kitchen....................................................................................................55 Kendall Mountain....................................................................................................63 Kennebec Wealth Management......................................................................74 Kinfolk Farms.............................................................................................................36 Local First.....................................................................................................................33 Maria’s Bookshop..................................................................................................... 21 Med Spa......................................................................................................................... 67 Morehart Murphy Regional Auto Center................Inside Back Cover Mountain Annie’s.....................................................................................................63 Nature’s Oasis............................................................................................................56 Olde Tyme’s Café......................................................................................................53 Pine Needle Mountaineering............................................................................ 21 Primus...............................................................................................................................9 Purgatory Resort.................................................................. Inside Front Cover Re-Love Consign & Design................................................................................20 Remedy.......................................................................................................................... 67 Reynolds Ash & Associates................................................................................41 River Liquors..............................................................................................................54 Sachs Construction................................................................................................82 Salt 360 Float Studio.............................................................................................. 67 San Juan Symphony...............................................................................................29 Scenic Aperture..................................................................................................24,35 Silverton Chamber of Commerce..................................................................63 Silverton Soapbox...................................................................................................63 Southern Ute Museum..........................................................................................34 Southwest Vapor.......................................................................................................57 Southwest AG.............................................................................................................64 Sparrow, The...............................................................................................................25 Sky Ute Casino..............................................................................................................3 Stitch............................................................................................................................... 24 Sunnyside Farms Market.....................................................................................73 Tequila’s......................................................................................................................... 52 Tippy Canoe................................................................................................................ 24 Toh-Atin Gallery..................................................................................................... 7, 35 Urban Market..............................................................................................................20 Urban Rebel Designs.............................................................................................60 Woodhouse Day Spa, The.......................................................66, Back Cover


The Durango Choral Society

Celebrating 50 years!

Celebrating our 50th Year 1970–2020


Fall/Winter 2019-2020 Season

The four choirs of the Durango Choral Society include talented local singers ranging in age from 8 to 85. This year’s program, VIVA 50, celebrates the 50th season of presenting beautiful choral music to the community and beyond. Members of the choirs have performed across the globe, including in the cathedrals of Vienna, Zagreb, Salzburg, and Innsbruck, and the concert halls of Honolulu, Prague, Syros, and New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. And they look forward to a concert tour of Florence and Venice in the spring of 2020. The Durango Choral Society has won national awards for choral innovation, premiered a dozen new commissioned works, and collaborated with choirs from around the region. Through the years, the choirs have performed with the Telluride Chamber Choir, the San Juan Symphony, Music in the Mountains Festival, and Fort Lewis College—and the children can be heard as the chorus in The Nutcracker. One of the Choral Society’s proudest achievements is its

robust program of music education for the community’s children, including a choir to sing in at any age. None of the choirs’ varied activities would be possible without generous corporate and individual sponsorships, grants, and donations, which allow for family-friendly ticket prices, an overnight camp for the children’s choirs, and guest artists who enhance the quality and variety of the Choral Society’s many concerts. VIVA 50 features a number of very special events, including the world premiere of the Society’s golden-season commission: A Hopeful Sound, composed by Linda Rice Beck. All four choirs perform on December 8, 2019, at the Community Concert Hall. Other celebratory events include a side-byside performance with singers from Durango High School, special guest conductors and artists, and a vocal workshop open to the entire community. Spring is blooming with concerts, including a preview of the music that will be performed on the Florence tour. The Durango Choral Society is a nonprofit corporation that relies on community support for a season that includes every-

Robert Winslow

thing from Mozart and Beethoven to Broadway. Check out their new website, durangochoralsociety.org, which features a full concert schedule, information about auditions, and more. Look up the Durango Choral Society on Facebook and YouTube to see and hear the extraordinary level of artistry found right here among friends, neighbors, and family members who share a love of the choral art. All are invited to audition for the ensembles. Or you can sponsor a scholarship for a child’s tuition. Mostly, attend the concerts and give yourself the gift of live music. The Choral Society is indeed blessed with both talented performers and generous patrons, and they plan to provide the community another 50 years’ worth of inspiration, hope, and joy. VIVA 50!

Paul Boyer 81



Sachs Construction not only builds amazing custom homes, we build relationships. It’s the most important job we have and a foundation for creating more-than-satisfied clients. We want you to love the entire process, not just the end result…and everything we do builds on that goal. Let’s talk about your custom home and how we can make it happen for you.

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION, LLC 82 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

sachsconstructionllc.com | 970.749.7304 | 182 Girard St. Unit B | Durango, CO


84 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring