Durango Magazine - Winter/Spring 2020-21 Issue

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Buy local! Rise and Recover When friends, neighbors,

and strangers came together Durango recovers and thrives—again

Powerhouse Space Seeds Branding: The moon tree has landed in Durango A living relic of the Old West “Trust everyone, but brand your calves.� Durango Hot Springs The Most Amazing Water Under Mother Earth Canning Preserving local food for ain year...and Old World Craftspeople Durango memories for a lifetime. Traditional craftspeople: In our hurried world, unique, quality work is still possible

BMX State Championships Durango to host the 2020 USA BMX Colorado State Championship



At Highlands Residential Mortgage, we believe in giving all our clients a transparent and stress-free mortgage experience. If you’re looking to purchase or refinance a home in Colorado, New Mexico or Arizona, our team of experienced mortgage professionals is here to help! We’re excited to work with you to find the right mortgage solution for you and your family.

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Suzie Morse

Loan Officer | NMLS 896068 Direct: (970) 799-5683 smorse@highlandsmortgage.com

Andy Roach

Branch Manager | NMLS 681574 Direct: (970) 799-7550 andy.roach@highlandsmortgage.com

Corri Stewart

Loan Officer | NMLS 1406230 Direct: (970) 946-3186 cstewart@highlandsmortgage.com

679 E 2nd Avenue, Durango, CO 81301 | NMLS 134871 | Highlands Residential Mortgage is an Equal Housing Lender


C ON TR I BU TO R S Jeff McGarvin

Linda Baker

Linda K. Baker has worked at the Center of Southwest Studies, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Southern Ute Museum. Her traditional beadwork has been accepted into juried shows, including Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. She is Southern Ute and Navajo.

Forrest Kohere

Forrest Kohere is an educator, adventurer, and photographer living in Durango. When not on an indefatigable hunt for the lowest-density snow in the San Juan Mountains, you can find him in the classroom teaching middle-school language arts, leading groups of students through the Rocky Mountains with the Colorado Outward Bound School (www.cobs.org), or organizing and instructing avalanche-awareness events with Friends of the San Juans (www.thesanjuans.org).

Graham Coffey

Billy Grimes

A native of North Carolina, Graham Coffey studied journalism at the University of Georgia. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, he was drawn to Durango by the siren call of the San Juans. You can find him hiking with his fiancée, Brooke, and their two dogs, Luna and Belle.

After a 44-year career as a graphic designer working for magazine, corporate, and advertising clients in Texas, Tennessee, and California, Billy Grimes moved to Durango to work at Fort Lewis College. Always interested in 3D design, he is now a builder and sculptor. His other interests are music, art, and writing.

Joy Martin

Brandon Mathis

While she mourns the cancellation of Snowdown 2021, Joy Martin is confident that Durangoans will find a way to costume-up all winter long! When she’s not scheming about how to keep the party going while maintaining six feet of distance, Joy is either writing stories, riding bikes, or enjoying watching her daughter, Jolene, toddle around and her husband, Nick, be awesome.

2 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Longtime area resident Brandon Mathis is passionate about southwest Colorado. From the culture, ecology, alpine, and desert environments, he’s been exploring the region for nearly 30 years. “I’m constantly astonished by all there is to discover,” Mathis says, “and what you can do with two days off.” An avid adventurer, he and his wife Bee live on the edge of town and close to trails.

Margaret Hedderman Margaret Hedderman writes about rural places, the outdoors, and environmental science. Sometimes she digs into historical stories, like the real King Macbeth or the first woman to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Her work usually takes the form of creative nonfiction, journalism, and the occasional screenplay. She also manages communications and produces a podcast for Startup Colorado, a program through the University of Colorado that supports rural entrepreneurship.

John Peel

After a 22-year career with The Durango Herald, in 2015 John Peel established his own business, John Peel’s Life Preserver, to help people write their family and personal histories. When not sitting at a computer, he heads outdoors; in 2020, John authored the fifth edition of Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado.

Zach Hively

Zach Hively writes nonfiction, poetry, and the award-winning Fool’s Gold column. He also dances Argentine tango and is a member of the alt-folk duo Oxygen on Embers. His latest poetry collection, Wild Expectations, is available from Casa Urraca Press. He teaches online writing workshops and lives happily with his dog. You can learn more about him at his website, www.zachively.com.

Chloe Ragsdale

A student intern and aspiring writer from Durango High School, Chloe Ragsdale hopes to pursue her passion for writing and working with others during 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 and varsity soccer teams.

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WINTER / SPRING 2020-21 • EST. 1986

Volume 35, No. 2

FEATURES 12 Powerhouse Space Seeds

The moon tree has landed in Durango.

16 Durango Hot Springs

The most amazing water under mother earth.

24 Rise and Recover

Durango recovers and thrives—again.

34 Old World Craftspeople in Durango

Traditional craftspeople: In our hurried world, unique, quality work is still possible.


CONTENTS 6 From the Publisher 8 Excursions 10 Top Picks 18 Durango’s Weather Guru 20 Avalanche! 28 History: Spanish Flu vs. COVID-19 30 Featured Galleries 33 Artist Profile: Norman Lansing 36 Teacher Feature 38 Silverton 40 Photo Essay 42 Shop Dogs of Durango 44 Dining Showcase: Ore House & Rochester 46 Nightlife & Dining Guide 56 Dining Showcase: Mamma Silvia’s 78 Advertiser Index

Whit Richardson

LIVING IN STYLE 60 Durango Kids 62 Featured Spas 66 Home Sweet Home 70 Dream Home 76 Studs Lumber 79 Local Giving



Jim Bommarito: Near the top of Molas Pass, a cabin is nestled in the Grenadier Range of the San Juan Mountains. This late-afternoon scene was captured during the snowy winter of 2018-19 as a welcome recovery from the 416 Fire. DISCLAIMER: Every effort was made to confirm event dates/times/locations at time of publication. Because of potential unforeseen changes due to COVID-19, please confirm prior to attendance.

34 4 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


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“ This, too, shall pass”

—a Persian adage

2020 will be a year we shall never forget. We had a few firsts this summer and fall: We climbed Handies Peak (14,058 feet) as a family for the first time. Seeing the joy in our son’s smile at the top seemed to make all our worries fade. Our son passed his hunter-safety class, so to celebrate we went grouse-hunting just feet away from our doorstep in the San Juan National Forest. We checked off a bucket-list item and went on a hot-air-balloon ride during the Animas Valley Balloon Rally. Unfortunately, like many of you, we had to cancel trips to visit family; but it meant more time to enjoy summer in our southwest Colorado backyard—paddle boarding at Vallecito Lake, camping in Telluride, and four-wheeling around Silverton. We walk up and down Durango’s Main Avenue daily, talking to business owners, locals, and visitors. Much of the world is realizing that they can work anywhere, thanks to technology. And what better place to live and work than Durango? Our new way of working has created a wave of movement to southwest Colorado. Real estate in La Plata County is breaking records. Commercial, residential, and land sales are up 30 percent compared to 2019. We’re looking forward to skiing at Purgatory this winter. Even if it will be a bit different this year, at least we’ll get to enjoy the snow, the mountains, and the blue sky. We look forward to riding the Polar Express this winter, even if it means staying six feet away from Santa. Traditional holiday shopping will be a celebration of shopping small and buying local. We love and appreciate our visitors. If you are a visitor reading Durango Magazine, we THANK YOU for coming to our beautiful mountain town, and for investing time and money in our little corner of the world. It has definitely been an unusual summer and fall; but in the midst of it all, we are once again reminded of how lucky we are to live in a place people want to visit—even during a pandemic—because they also love Durango!

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 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 © 2020 by Durango Magazine. All rights reserved.


Sincerely, @durangomagazine

Marianne Hoover 6 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Corbet Hoover




The Railroad Puts

Jim Bommarito

ROCKWOOD Back on the Map by Zach Hively

This year, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will continue to run its classic winter route to Cascade Canyon—but with a twist: All trains will depart from and return to Rockwood, 18 miles north of Durango. Many railroad buffs recognize this little village, and locals familiar with Highway 550 might know the turnoff. Yet many Cascade Canyon ticket holders will be plugging Rockwood into their GPS for the first time, without knowing much about the town beyond its name. And for good reason: Rockwood is so small, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Yet this hamlet is about to see a veritable boon in railway passengers, making it perhaps the most bustling it has been in more than a hundred years. In the 1870s, Rockwood held sway as the End of the Line. Passengers and equipment rode the Denver & Rio Grande from the capital clear through to Rockwood—before Durango even existed. Precious metals were practically pouring from the mines around Silverton, and 8 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

plenty of people wanted to profit from that trade. But the tracks didn’t yet climb that deeply into the San Juan Mountains. A toll road ran south along the Animas River from Silverton to Rockwood, where workers loaded ore onto the outbound trains. Rockwood became a miniature metropolis, with thousands of people residing and passing through at any given time. One hundred town lots were advertised for sale in papers across the country. These lots, 25 feet wide and 100 feet long, could be (and were) used for anything from emporium grocery stores to cattle corrals. The lots still exist, as do many of the historical buildings, such as the old schoolhouse and its teacher’s cabin. Yet Rockwood’s fame and fortune were short-lived. The railroad laid track the rest of the way to Silverton in a single winter, largely along the old toll road. By 1881, the year after the town of Durango was organized, trains only stopped briefly in Rockwood for

water and supplies. With no reason to linger there, the population plummeted from thousands to hundreds. The town had pretty much died out by the early 1900s. It was the end of the line for the End of the Line. Now, though, Rockwood is finding new purpose. Local fires in 2018 essentially trapped the railroad in its old haunts, so the D&SNGRR started using it as a terminus again. And now, all passenger adventures start and end in Rockwood. Once again, this littlest of mountain towns has found new life.

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our family There are no words for the challenges we have all faced these past few months, however one thing remains clear — our reasons for moving to Durango and for wanting to be part of this community have been reaffirmed over and over. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love you continually show us. We consider ourselves fortunate to live here with you, our extended family and are pleased to share that love with our visitors dining with us. Join us in celebration of friends, family, food and life.

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Courtesy of Durango Dog Ranch

DOG SLEDDING—DURANGO DOG RANCH If you think dog sledding is just in Alaska, think again. Durango Dog Ranch has been operating its dogsled business here in southwest Colorado for over 25 years. The family-owned business has grown into a thriving adventure operation with the motto “Come take a ride on the wild side!” The Dubit family is proud to offer a safe outdoor adventure for visitors from all over the world to come and enjoy. It has been called one of the best things to do in Durango, and was even reviewed in Frommer’s, an iconic guide to perfect destinations. This adventurous family-friendly activity takes place on trails around Durango. Two people ride on each sled; a guide and participants take turns being the musher. The two-hour tour comes after a lesson in how to ride the runners and culminates with ear-scratching (the dogs of course) and hot chocolate at the base of the snowy mountains. Each dog has its own personality, and they love to pull a sled and have their picture taken. Sled dogs take their work seriously, and the dogs of Durango Dog Ranch are seriously loved. Durango Dog Ranch dogsled tours are arranged by advance reservations, and there is no age limit. There are two daytime tours (9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.); a sunset tour at 3:30 p.m. returns under the light of the red lantern, a musher’s symbol of perseverance and determination. All reservations are available online and the sleds are reserved just for you. Come take a ride on the wild side!

SAN JUAN SYMPHONY “We are determined to make music and to connect with our audience” explains San Juan Symphony Music Director Thomas Heuser. “Now more than ever before, we feel that music is essential, and so we are calling our 35th season Essential. We cannot have live audiences, nor can we bring large orchestras together, but we can still make music. And so rather than throwing in the towel, we are thinking outside the box and bringing the Symphony into people’s homes.” Digital Season Passes to the San Juan Symphony are available for $99 by visiting www.sanjuansymphony.org. The virtual 2020-21 SJS season ticket guarantees that, despite the pandemic, households in the Four Corners and around the country will be able to enjoy four subscription concerts of the San Juan Symphony, conducted by Heuser, pre-recorded and released during exclusive, live-streamed events. In addition to the four main programs, the website will host a variety of engaging content, including the popular Pre-Concert Talks by Heuser, interviews with composers and musicians, plus a video series of solo and ensemble performances by SJS musicians that have been commissioned by Dr. Heuser specifically for the online audience.

Courtesy of Purgatory Resort

Courtesy of San Juan Symphony

POWDER CAT SKIING Powder cat skiing is on the rise, and the powder-prone San Juan Mountains will soon be covered in fresh opportunity. This thrilling sport, which delivers skiers to backcountry terrain via snowcat, is more accessible than ever, thanks to the local providers who offer the experience to a wide range of skiers and snowboarders. Purgatory Snowcat Adventures leads skiers and boarders over more than 35,000 acres of fresh, untouched powder surrounding Purgatory Resort. With a team of highly trained guides, each guest can expect exciting runs through untracked tree trails and unblemished glades. Also departing from Purgatory, San Juan Untracked provides an equally exhilarating powder cat skiing experience. Their staff of highly qualified guides provides an otherworldly tour through the San Juans. Just 50 miles north of Durango, in the small town of Silverton, lie rugged mountains with ideal conditions for powder cat adventures. Silverton Powdercats offers the ultimate experience for cat skiing and snowboarding, and caters to athletes whose skill levels range from intermediate to expert. Their terrain extends across Molas Pass, which affords extraordinary views and epic powder. Every powder cat skiing company provides sensational journeys through the San Juan Mountains, and each places a heavy emphasis on the safety of every skier and snowboarder in the party to ensure a safe but adventurous experience.

10 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

SHOP LOCAL, BUY LOCAL, SUPPORT LOCAL Whether it’s brunch or a bronze sculpture, your spending choices can make a powerful difference in Durango. As you move about your day, choose independent businesses that are locally owned by folks who call the Four Corners home (read: not box stores or chains). By supporting these small businesses, you’re ensuring that Durango will thrive, no matter the season or crisis of the times. Satisfy your craving for fish tacos or Dom Pérignon with Durango’s diverse selection of gourmet restaurants like Primus, East by Southwest, or the Ore House. Chances are pretty good that you’ll meet the chefs and learn about the local farms and ranches represented on your plate or in your glass. And if you want to chef up your own locally sourced meal, check out James Ranch or Sunnyside Farms Market. Taste the flavors of Durango or take them home with you in six-packs of Steamworks beer or gift baskets from Dietz Market. For other gift ideas, peruse Durango’s downtown art galleries, explore Maria’s Bookshop, or shop for jewelry from the many boutiques. When you’re short on time, pick up a gift card from your favorite gear store, food truck, or coffee shop. Regardless of your palate or price point, your local businesses thank you for doing your part to keep Durango awesome.

Lisa Mackey


Jim Bommarito

For an exciting alternative to typical winter activities like skiing or snowshoeing, snowmobiling in the San Juan Mountains will keep you entertained for hours. With a wide variety of snowmobiling companies, this wintertime experience is sure to be memorable. Located at Purgatory Resort, Snowmobile Adventures has more than 75 miles of trails throughout the region. The opportunities provided by Snowmobile Adventures range from a ride through historic mining sites to an unforgettable journey over mountain passes. Fun and safety are of the utmost importance, and these priorities are evident in a wide variety of choices for enjoyable excursions. Guests are encouraged to choose between a two-hour, three-hour, or all-day private tour with professional mountain guides. Ice Pirates is stationed in Silverton and guide their guests throughout the Silverton area and over Molas Pass. With more than 55,000 acres of terrain, Ice Pirates offers an exciting and scenic snowmobiling adventure. Guests can choose from a single-seat, double-seat, or private tour throughout the San Juans. A typical day might begin with a trip to Silverton on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and continue with an Ice Pirates snowmobiling excursion to take you back to your starting point.


Courtesy of CSWS

The Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College houses a research museum, library, and archive dedicated to collecting the knowledge, history, and development of the greater Four Corners region. The Center welcomes visitors to the rotating museum exhibits and yearround program offerings. Researchers from across the globe—authors, historians, genealogists—and curious minds are invited to delve deeper into the Center’s collections, including an extensive array of rare books, records, maps, and photographs—as well as indigenous pottery, baskets, and Southwestern contemporary fine art. The Center is the proud home of the world-famous Durango Collection®, a rare array of textiles spanning some 1,200 years of weaving in the U.S. Southwest and Mexico. Additionally, the Center of Southwest Studies supports Fort Lewis College’s commitment to experiential learning through graduate-level professional internships, academic collaborations, and student research opportunities. The professional staff at the Center is passionate about training future museum, library, and archive professionals while preparing students to be well-rounded citizens. For the health and safety of our visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center is currently only open to visitors and researchers by appointment, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., and every third Saturday of the month from noon till 4 p.m. Visit the website to learn more about their free-to-the-public exhibits and virtual programs. www.swcenter.fortlewis.edu 11

By Graham Coffey

If you’ve walked along Durango’s famed river trail lately, you may have noticed a new addition to the trail’s scenery. Adjacent to The Powerhouse sits a young American Sycamore tree. For now, the small tree looks rather nondescript, but that will change once a new plaque is installed. No matter how large the tree eventually grows to be, the story of how it came to be planted along the banks of the Animas River will always be much bigger. The tale begins in 1933 with the birth of Stuart Roosa. Roosa was born in Durango, and was raised in rural Oklahoma, in a home without running

Courtesy of NASA

12 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

water. Despite his humble beginnings, he became an aeronautical engineer, a smokejumper, an Air Force pilot, a test pilot, and eventually a NASA astronaut who was a member of the Apollo space program. Although he moved away at a young age, Roosa made extended visits to Durango later in life and always loved the West. As a NASA astronaut, Roosa was chosen to be the command module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission. He and fellow astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell left Earth on January 31, 1971. The rocket they left on would eventually propel them to the moon. Shepard and Mitchell would fly the lunar module to the moon’s surface, leaving Roosa alone in the command module, orbiting the moon for 33 hours. In orbit, Roosa conducted experiments and scouted potential landing sites on the moon’s surface while he waited for his fellow crew members to return. But he also had some company from back home as he traveled around the moon: 500 seeds from loblolly pine, sweet gum, sycamore, redwood, and Douglas fir trees. The seeds were part of a joint project between Roosa and the United States Forest Service, and they were planted as part of America’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. Today they are known as “Moon Trees,” and their eventual locations range from such places as a junior high school in Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Roosa’s story, and his connection to southwest Colorado, is a piece of Du-

rango history that had been mostly forgotten. It was uncovered when a local student was doing a project on Durango’s parks. He and his teacher began digging into the name behind Roosa Park, a small patch of green space on the corner of El Paso Street and Roosa Avenue near the Animas River, and discovered the story of Durango’s very own homegrown astronaut. This revelation made its way to Durango’s Powerhouse Science Center, and an idea started to form. According to Executive Director Jeff Susor, “The Powerhouse’s mission is to turn kids and families onto science as a way of thinking and doing, bringing the biggest world of curiosity and exploration to Durango as possible.” With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 14 coming in January 2021, Susor and his team felt like Roosa’s connection to the Four Corners was a wonderful opportunity to teach Durango’s children not only about the history of the Apollo program, but also current lunar science. The planting of the American Sycamore on the river trail served as the kickoff to a nine-month celebration that’s designed to do just that. One of Roosa’s trees landed on the campus of Mississippi State University, and from it came what is now Durango’s own Moon Tree. Roosa’s daughter started a second round of plantings a few years ago, and helped get the tree to Durango. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, Susor wanted to find new ways to reach the area’s youth. “When we look at the COVID era, it’s about trying

to be as creative as possible to reach kids when the normal routine of coming here to The Powerhouse and doing hands-on playing to learn is impossible. We want to be as relevant as possible to kids in the middle of all of this,” said Susor. By focusing on the moon, children will be able to stay connected with what they’re studying virtually by literally looking up at the night sky. The celebration will also include a series of lectures by people involved with the space program and aerospace industry, as well as artifacts from the Apollo program that will be shipped to Durango by the Johnson Space Center. While the learning opportunities will be plentiful, the most important lesson for the area’s youth might lie in Roosa’s own story. He grew up in a rural area, and from a young age he told all who would listen that he wanted to be a pilot. Believing his dreams to be too big, people in his small Oklahoma town told him to shoot for a more attainable goal, like being a mechanic. Despite their discouragement, Stuart Roosa never gave up. In the end he not only piloted many airplanes, but he also flew a spacecraft around the moon.

Corbet Hoover

Brandon Mathis


please tune in through @powscicenter for the Facebook live stream.

Brandon Mathis

December 13: “Navajo Skies” Nancy Maryboy: President and founder of the Indigenous Education Institute, whose mission is preserving, protecting, and applying indigenous knowledge. Dr. Maryboy is a Cherokee/Navajo scholar working in the area of indigenous science. David Begay: Coauthor of “Sharing the Skies: Navajo Astronomy, a cross-cultural view of traditional Navajo astronomy.” This publication includes their constellations and the way in which Navajo people view the cosmos and their place in it. 13


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Kick back & Relax

By Forrest Kohere

Tucked beneath sandstone cliffs and ponderosa pines that flank the Animas River Valley lies a 65-acre oasis, one that will simultaneously restore those tired muscles and potentially even help finally heal that nagging injury you neglected to see the physical therapist about last year. More than a hundred years ago, Trimble Hot Springs was created as a place for people to enjoy the wonders of a natural resource that comes from deep beneath the Animas River Valley, water that leaches minerals from the rock on its journey back to the surface at nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Durango Hot Springs now resides in the same location, and will eventually house 27 mineral pools, a 25-meter lap pool, a full-service spa, food trucks, and more, for visitors to enjoy. Though many things have changed with the new own16 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

ership, there is an obvious nod to history that can’t be ignored: “People have memories here and we want to respect that,” says owner Bryan Yearout. The Water: The first thing a visitor to Durango Hot Springs will notice is the absence of the sulfur smell that characterizes many other hot springs throughout the country. Lucky for us, the mountains that encompass the Animas River Valley have only minor traces of sulfur, so you can leave your old sulfur swimsuit at home. And the only reason to take a shower after soaking is to enjoy the resort’s plush amenities. But it’s still the water itself that makes Durango Hot Springs, like Trimble, so special. By the time rainwater falls and makes its roughly 10,000-year journey through the Earth and bubbles back to the surface, it is packed full of nearly 30 different minerals. Miner-

als such as magnesium, sodium, and silica can help with anything from building muscle and nerve strength to neutralizing blood pressure and heart rhythms—and even promote such antiaging properties as the growth of healthy hair and skin. Some say all you have to do to find the fountain of youth is to jump out of the boat—or take a dip in the Durango Hot Springs. And speaking of fountains of youth, Durango Hot Springs’ facility is brand spankin’ new. This allows for almost complete control over discharge, temperature, and transition of water in and out of the pools. On a tour through the facility with owner Bryan Yearout, I’m given clues into another aspect that makes Durango Hot Springs a must-visit for any hot-springs enthusiast. After establishing a relationship with the Phoe-

Photos courtesy of Durango Hot Springs

nix-based company Exceptional Water, it became obvious that their Aquagen system was a must for the springs. By taking in concentrated oxygen, the Aquagen system creates tiny bubbles, referred to as nanobubbles. These bubbles are no ordinary droplets of oxygen. In fact they are so tiny, they can permeate one’s skin, get into your bloodstream, and create a higher blood oxygen count in your body. This allows for better circulation, and can even help bones, muscles, and ligaments recover more quickly, something that would make any outdoor enthusiast jump for joy after experiencing a rigorous day of mountain sports. It’s no doubt the most relaxing physical therapy a person could ask for. And if a massage is more your style, Durango Hot Springs also houses a brand-new, full-service spa that will cover any and

all relaxation and recovery needs. A custom experience: One of the best parts about the new pools is that eight of them are “fill and drain” cedar tubs. Constructed from beautiful cedarwood, the scent of which permeates the air when soaked with hot water, the tubs offer users full control over the temperature and amount of water that fills their tub. And the best part is, when you’re finished soaking, the tub is drained and filled with fresh, clean water by the next user, a gesture that goes a long way in the days of coronavirus and a testament to owner Bryan Yearout’s caring attention. Durango Hot Springs will be in full operation by the end of the year. At that time you’ll find me in my own personal cedar tub, water temperature right around 100 degrees—not too hot, not too cold—relaxing my body for another big day in the mountains. 17

Julie Engelken

Durango's Weather Guru creates a following By John Peel

So a guy has a passion for weather, starts making predictions that are arguably better than those of the National Weather Service, and suddenly he’s a local star. That’s the story of Jeff Givens, a self-professed weather nerd who over the last several years has taken the Durango region by, um, storm. His Facebook page and website are locals’ go-to resources for weather. He has nearly 11,000 Facebook followers— including La Plata County officials, regional fire departments, and search-andrescue teams. “It just keeps getting more popular,” Givens says. He’s not exactly a pro—“everything I know I’ve read and found online”—and he makes his living by selling real estate, but this Durango West resident has found a niche. No one else zeroes in on La Plata County climate like Givens does. “He knows the ins and outs of this area,” says Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango’s Business Improvement District and a big fan of the Durango Weather Guy. “I’m on his site all the time.” Givens started studying weather in the late 1990s, reading weather service area

18 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

forecast discussions and viewing what, at the time, were very low-resolution online weather models. In 2008, he moved to Durango and became the latest resident frustrated that forecast discussions basically ignored this area. Using available online information, including weather models from commercial sites he subscribes to, Givens began to make forecast comments on his Facebook page. His following grew. “It got so people were asking me lots of questions,” he says. A few years later, he started the Durango Snow Lovers page on Facebook and had a couple thousand followers by 2014. Ironically, one of the biggest boosts to his site came not because of a storm but due to a fire. The 416 Fire of 2018 threatened numerous homes in the Animas Valley and along Hermosa Cliffs. Given access by fire agencies to satellite images and flyover photographs, Givens produced maps that showed homes and their proximity to the fire. The maps proved to be a valuable planning tool. His efforts were publicly noted that following January, when he was named the Durango Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.

Soon Givens’ Facebook page picked up 4,000 more followers. And one day that winter, his personal forecast predicted 18-plus inches of snow, while the Weather Service predicted around four inches. When 20 inches fell that day, even more believers flocked to his page. His familiarity with the local terrain gives him an edge over the forecasters in the Grand Junction office, who cover about half the state. He’ll spend 30 to 60 minutes on a typical day, and when a storm is brewing, more like two to three hours. That’s less time, he points out, than many spend on social media. “I think it would surprise people how many weather nerds there are in the area,” he says. “It’s nice to share that passion.”

THE WEATHER SCOOP Find Jeff Givens’ Facebook page by entering “Durango Snow Lovers.” His website is durangoweatherguy.com.


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Words and photos by Forrest Kohere

Imagine yourself deep in the San Juan Mountains, enveloped by snow-covered spruce trees standing guard to the craggy high peaks above. All is still except for the occasional wisp of wind that sends frozen water droplets dancing upon the breeze. It snowed a few inches overnight, the light and fluffy kind that makes skiers call in sick for work, lie to their bosses, or quit their jobs altogether. It’s early in the day and the best part? You’ve got it all to yourself. It’s no wonder backcountry skiing has seen a boom in popularity in the last 20 years or so, and it’s not just the freedom of the hills that people are after. The backcountry offers skiers the opportunity to grow in more ways than just their ability to link together a few graceful turns. Communication, teamwork, and critical thinking are just a few of the skills that backcountry skiers hone in their pursuit of low-density powder snow. Of course, like most things worth doing, it all comes at a cost, and this one is more than monetary. Imagine the day described above: 20 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

The sun is out, the morning is calm, and the snow is light. In the backcountry, this scene can turn from picture-perfect to worst case scenario in a matter of seconds, and sometimes it’s hard, even for the most experienced backcountry travelers, to know when one of those seconds may occur. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, an average of 27 people die in avalanche accidents in the United States every year. These people range from snowshoers to extreme skiers and novice to expert backcountry travelers. A dive into the statistics page of the CAIC reveals that there is one specific state in which avalanche accidents happen the most, and that state is Colorado. In the 10 years between 2009 and 2019, 61 people died in avalanche accidents in Colorado, nearly double that

of runner-up Alaska, which is home to much bigger mountains but recorded only 34 deaths in that time. All this is to say that avalanches happen, and they don’t care who you are. Thankfully there are ways to lessen your risk and lower your exposure. With the onslaught of COVID-19 and the inevitable repercussions it will have on ski resorts and the ski industry, it’s safe to assume that backcountry usage will spike among novice backcountry skiers looking to get their time in on the slopes. In many ways, this spike is happening with or without COVID-19. In a conversation with Keith Roush, a fixture in the San Juan skiing community and someone who has skied in these mountains for the better part of 30 years, he reminisced about a time when he knew the owner of every vehicle he saw on top of Red Mountain Pass, a sentiment that would shock anyone who drives over that section of road on any given weekend during the winter. Luckily for those of you who find your home anywhere along the San

Juan Skyway, there is ample opportunity to pursue the mentorship, education, and experience to safely play in the mountains. For those of you driving up Highway 550 as a complete beginner, organizations like Friends of the San Juans, based out of Durango, offer free avalanche awareness opportunities to learn some basic skills and immerse yourself in the community. Once you get a few tours under your belt and can successfully apply the skins to the bottom of your skis, it’s time to take it to the next level. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education serves as the gold standard in the state of Colorado for avalanche education. Pursuing Level One and Two training will give you the skills to begin making safer decisions in the backcountry. San Juan Expeditions, Silverton Avalanche School, and San Juan Mountain Guides all offer AIARE courses throughout the winter. Jack Klim, director of operations for Durango and Silverton-based guiding company San Juan Expeditions, discusses the importance of pursuing avalanche education. “Without education we are uncertain, and uncertainty often leads to stress and mistakes that otherwise could have been avoided.” Aside from helping us make better decisions, pursuing avalanche education may even allow us to have more fun. Klim says that “backcountry skiing is a leisure activity, and if folks want to enjoy it, education will ultimately help people understand, which in turn al-

lows them to have a more enjoyable and memorable experience.” Backcountry skiing can be a rewarding and powerful experience. But the mountains will demand respect from those seeking the rewards. By joining the conversation, becoming part of the community, and pursuing professional mentorship and education, you will begin to do your part in creating a positive and safe experience for yourself and the people around you. When asked to sum up the importance of pursing avalanche education, Klim hesitated for just a short second and said, “self-preservation!”

FOR DAILY AVALANCHE FORECASTS AND OBSERVATIONS Colorado Avalanche Information Center: avalanche.state.co.us/ FOR AVALANCHE AWARENESS Friends of the San Juans: thesanjuans.org/ Know Before You Go: kbyg.org/ FOR PROFESSIONAL MENTORSHIP, AVALANCHE EDUCATION, AND AIARE COURSES San Juan Expeditions: sanjuanexpeditions.com/ Silverton Avalanche School: avyschool.com/ San Juan Mountain Guides: mtnguide.net/ FOR AVALANCHE EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS Know the Snow Fund: knowthesnowfund.org/



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Durango recovers and thrives—again By Joy Martin

With funky jewelry and hilarious coffee mugs as top sellers, 30-year-old locally owned and operated Animas Trading Company usually sparkles as one of downtown Durango’s perkiest shopping destinations. But when the government shutdown forced nonessential Colorado businesses to roll up their welcome mats, even Animas Trading Company felt like another prop in the ghost town that was downtown Durango for an eerie month and a half. Fresh off a wave of the Gold King Mine spill, an endless drought, and the 416 Fire of 2018, Durango is practically famous for its reputation of grit and resilience. So while tumbleweeds drifted about Main Avenue, and the future of a once-vibrant economy teetered with 24 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

the unknowns of COVID-19, Durango’s movers and shakers wasted no time uniting, poised yet again to overcome another unforeseen crisis. “I never thought I’d say that much good came out of the 416 Fire, but that disaster created a tight-knit group of people. We knew that if we rallied then, we could rally now,” says Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango’s Business Improvement District. Hunkered down at home, trying to figure out how to homeschool his second-grade son, Walsworth jumped on the first of a gazillion Zoom calls with that core group of wildfire recovery responders. Together, they formed the La Plata County Economic Recovery Task Force, a grassroots collective of 40 community-minded, business-serving organizations in southwest Colorado, including the Durango Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, the Small

Business Development Center, Purgatory Resort, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Visit Durango, the Colorado Restaurant Association, Region 9, and many more. “Our community is so special, full of the smartest, most creative, passionate people who end up in this little corner of the world,” says Walsworth. “You get them in a room (or Zoom) together and big things can happen.” Before the “big things” materialized, the task force coalesced around one strategic goal: to “Rise and Recover Together.” With this mantra emblazoned on his desktop, Walsworth would spend the next 72 days straight working to ensure that longstanding businesses, like Animas Trading Company, would not only survive this disaster but find a way to thrive. He and fellow task force members focused on getting local businesses to row in the same direction armed with

Jane and Oliver

accurate, timely information—even if it changed hourly. One of the signature resources that emerged from the ashes of the 416 Fire was Southwest Colorado Disaster Assistance, launched by the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado as a one-stop shop for giving and receiving help. With the talents of MJ Carroll, local marketing and website specialist, swcoda.org was adapted to incorporate resources relevant to COVID-19, including how businesses could apply for relief packages, grants, and the illustrious Paycheck Protection Program loan opportunity. As the federal government delivered good news of available money, local businesses scrambled to make sense of an application process that was clear as mud. So, the task force created a playbook to help businesses navigate funding options. Thanks to their speedy assistance, La Plata County businesses received 1,646 loans amounting to $115 million and affecting 12,896 jobs—that is, 42.2 percent of the entire labor pool, according to Mike French, executive director of the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance. These early successes put Durango in the spotlight across the state, with other Colorado communities calling Durango for ideas when there were no experts to turn to for advice, Walsworth says. Bolstered by relief buoyancy, most businesses were able to push through the darkest days of the shutdown and concentrate on the future. With tourism representing 30 percent of Durango’s economy, all eyes were on the emerging trend of a driver’s market

Lisa Mackey

Brandon Mathis

that would soon find visitors descending on downtown Durango in droves. While Durango’s remote location and sparse population have often been weaknesses in the economy, these traits have turned out to be Durango’s

greatest allure for travelers seeking uncrowded mountain towns and wideopen spaces within driving distance of their cities and suburbs. According to Visit Durango, hotel occupancy as of September 2020 is up 56


Rise &



percent over the national average, and Durango is ranking in the top percentages of tourism destinations internationally. Task force members are working mightily to maintain the delicate balance of promoting business while protecting the community. To this end, adds Walsworth, the City of Durango has been an invaluable team player, especially with the expeditious rough-and-ready build of outside commercial spaces for downtown businesses called “bump-outs.” On Friday, June 12, members of the task force and the City of Durango set up barricades and bump-outs, transforming Main Avenue in three days from four lanes into three lanes with a center-protected left-turn lane and sidewalks lined with new spaces to sit, sip, eat, and reactivate summer nightlife. The bump-outs generated an additional 10,000 square feet for business operations. At a minimum, these makeshift new spaces account for 20 percent of business sales, says Walsworth. For some, that’s the difference between keeping the doors open or closing shop for good. Walsworth recalls sitting at a table outside El Moro Spirits & Tavern sipping an old-fashioned on one of the first nights of the bump-outs, relishing the simple joy of watching friends gather at restaurants and seeing the smiles of servers returning to the work they love and rely on to feed their own families. “These bump-outs created a vibrancy in the heart of our town that we desperately needed,” he says. With the revived walkability of downtown Durango, liveliness also returned to Durango’s iconic stores, like Animas Trading Company, and, more importantly, to bank accounts that were once again starting to see numbers in the black. Despite being closed for a month and a half, Cathy Wakeman, owner of Animas Trading Company, says sales were up 1 percent compared to last summer. “It’s exceeded anything I would’ve 26 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

expected,” says Wakeman. “But the biggest thing for me is when people who come in say they just had fun shopping. We have stuff to make people laugh, which is what’s needed in these times right now. It makes me feel good knowing that I made somebody’s day. That’s worth it for me.” “Businesses reopened, the tourists came back, and our [COVID-19] case counts haven’t gone crazy,” says Walsworth. “So we got through the initial

craziness, but so much work remains to be done. Now let’s get through the slow months. We’re asking the community to continue being doubly conscious of where you make your purchases, and we need our local people to do what they always do: Show up and support local businesses. ‘Rise and Recover Together’ reminds us what we’re trying to do here, so let’s do it today, and let’s do it together. Let’s look local first. Let’s start thriving again.”


H I STOR Y Photo courtesy of Animas Museum

– George Santayana, Philosopher Are the responses being taken to help curb the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus unprecedented? Has the United States ever before taken such extreme measures as closing schools, churches, and businesses in the name of public health and safety? History shows that 100 years ago, the world was gripped with fear and uncertainty in the face of an older but no less deadly pathogen—what we know of today as the H1N1 virus—and in fact, many of the same measures were taken. The 1918 influenza pandemic was incorrectly labeled the “Spanish Flu,” and contemporary wartime propaganda did nothing to abate such ideas. An article written for the Durango Herald in early October 1918 wove reports of the disease’s spread with the nationalist sentiment of the time:

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“Spain has been overly friendly with the Germans and, therefore, they handed them the disease as a friendly gift. The German army is said to be badly infected with it this summer. It crossed over to England by midsummer, and now seems to be here.” It is now generally accepted by historians and experts that the first cases originated in the winter of 1917 at a military camp in Kansas, then spread across the globe with the American soldiers entering World War I. Due to wartime censorship, neutral Spain was the only country openly reporting its spread in the news, and so the moniker “Spanish Flu” stuck. If we were to maintain the idea that a country has to take responsibility for the origin of a pandemic, then this virus should been known as “the Kansas Cough.” The first seven cases here in Durango were reported in early October of 1918. Not long after that, Governor Julius Caldeen Gunter issued the closure of all schools, churches, theaters, picture shows, pool and billiard halls, and any other public places at risk of spreading the flu. (Bars and saloons had closed in 1916, when Colorado adopted Prohibi-

tion.) By October 23, 9,000 cases were reported in Colorado, 250 of them in Durango. Parents were advised to keep their children home and away from other kids. One of the first known victims of influenza in the area is Loisa Bass, who died on her eighth birthday on October 8, 1918. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Greenmount Cemetery without a service, as by that time the order to halt public gatherings had already been issued. Only recently has the Animas Museum, with help from local historians and public donations, been able to place a grave marker where she is buried. Teachers, now out of work from school closures, began volunteering with the Red Cross to set up emergency hospitals, help tend to families stricken with the flu, and fumigate the houses of those who had either recovered or died. They also posted notices to wear masks made from multiple layers of mesh gauze that should be boiled between uses—some of the same precautions we’ve recently taken, with the addition of modern fabrics and filters that can actually help prevent the spread of the virus. Red Cross volunteers were even at the polls on November 5, 1918, to pass out gauze masks to the


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

By Animas Museum

Photo taken ca. 1920 of the original Mercy Hospital that stood where the Durango Library now stands. Despite its apparent size, it proved not nearly big enough to handle the outbreak alone.


Photo courtesy of Animas Museum

voters standing in line to cast their ballots. Many teachers of course became ill with the virus themselves while trying to stem its spread into their community. By December, it appeared that the virus was slowing. Known cases began to drop, the emergency hospitals shut down, and the separation from their friends and family had begun to wear on the public’s willingness to remain quarantined. People were pushing to open up and for life to return to normal in time for Christmas. Bowing to public pressure health officials relented, and on December 18th pool halls and men’s lodges were open seven days a week, while churches were only allowed to hold services one day a week—a move that stirred up a flurry of fury from worshippers decrying the hypocrisy, much like the recent outrage over similar restrictions. By January 6, 1919, the pandemic was believed to be over. Schools were reopened after only four months of closure. Students and teachers were both examined for flu symptoms the day schools opened, a precaution mirrored by Fort Lewis College upon the return of students and staff for fall semester in August of 2020. But less than two weeks after opening, the Animas City School reported several new flu cases and quickly closed again. The public’s rush to “return to normal” had allowed a second wave of the pandemic to pick up steam, and public gatherings once again had to be banned. The decision in 1919 to reopen led to a resurgence of infections, as we are seeing right now. Today we have technology that allows us to stay connected and provides remote-learning options while staying safe. In the meantime, scientific advancements over the past 100 years can provide us the tools we need to truly stop this new pandemic, if we but follow the guidance.

Photo taken in the early 1900s showing the Goodmans’ paint store on Eighth Street between Main and Second Avenue. The important thing here is the name: The Goodman family also ran one of the biggest mortuaries in town; but by 1920, they retired from that business to focus on their stores, such as this one.

Photo courtesy of Animas Museum

Photo taken ca. 1920 of the Animas City School, mentioned in this article. This school had it particularly hard around that time; not only was it shuttered from late 1918 through early 1919, but on Halloween of 1919 the roof caught fire, almost destroying the whole school.




Creativity is alive and well in Durango. Many artists live, create, display, and sell their work throughout our community. Local art is not only available for viewing and purchase in Durango’s many fine galleries, it is also exhibited in the form of murals in both indoor and outdoor public spaces around town. Durango’s creative ingenuity spans many different perspectives and origins, and there is something here to spark wonder and appreciation in everyone. And, as if we needed proof of Durango’s artistic spirit, it is now official: In 2019, Colorado Creative Industries granted state certification to the Durango Creative District.

9318 Collective 1212 Greene Street, Silverton the9318collective.com 970-919-8800 This beautiful gallery in the heart of Silverton, Colorado, represents an eclectic treasury of wares from nearly 30 local artists. Shop a variety of artwork, from handmade silver jewelry to one-

30 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


of-a-kind paintings to intricate leatherwork, suiting nearly every taste. The 9318 Collective, opened in June 2020 and growing weekly, should certainly be a regular stop on your visit to Silverton. A Shared Blanket 104 East Fifth Street asharedblanket.com 970-247-9210 A Shared Blanket is a museum-quality Native American gallery in Durango featuring authentic artwork from tribal members throughout the United States. The gallery emphasizes Navajo weavings, Zuni fetishes, Pueblo storytellers and pottery, Alaskan sculptures, drums, flutes, baskets, and jewelry. All the original art comes directly from the artist. An exceedingly knowledgeable staff can


guide you through the various artists, tribes, artifacts, and ceremonies to help you collect the finest pieces. Staff members know each artist personally, and they guarantee authenticity. Azul Gallery 781 Main Avenue azulgallery.com 970-375-7742 Azul is a multimedia art gallery located in the heart of Durango’s historic Main Avenue. The gallery features local, regional, national, and international artists, specializing in fine jewelry, multimedia wall art, art furniture, and more. Founded in Santa Fe in 2003, Azul takes pride in its unique and eclectic collection. They provide a warm and friendly atmosphere and offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

Create Art and Tea 802 East Second Avenue Inside the Durango Arts Center createartandtea.com 703-431-9649 Create Art and Tea is the place to find unique, locally created art for every occasion. Create features wall art, ceramics, jewelry, photography, eco-dyed wearable art, and more. Lori Preusch, Ann Smith, Deborah Sussex, Marge Meyer-Nugent, and Chayse Romero are among the talented artists featured. Create offers a selection of aromatic and delightful loose-leaf teas. Special-order tea blends are also available. Purchase to go or enjoy a cup while browsing. Earthen Vessel Gallery 115 West Ninth Street earthenvessel.com 970-247-1281 This locally owned fine-craft gallery offers art for everyday living: ceramics, jewelry, paintings, glass, and unique gifts created by extraordinary artisans. Browse the curated range of work, from contemporary to traditional, decorative to functional. Earthen Vessel Gallery consistently discovers the most remarkable artists to add to its collection. Whether a hand-thrown stoneware mug, unique statement jewelry, or abstract painted clothing, come learn the artists’ stories at the Earthen Vessel.

Joyful Nook Gallery 546 East College Drive jngpuzzles.com 970-764-4764 Joyful Nook Gallery manufactures handcrafted, high-quality wooden puzzles using local artists’ original artwork. Whimsical pieces are designed to match the theme of the puzzle, creating a unique scene and a stunning puzzle masterpiece. Joyful Nook has a wide selection of puzzles for all ages and all price ranges, $25 and up. The featured puzzle is from the artwork of Bettina Mills, titled “Coming Home.” JNG designers matched the puzzle pieces to correspond with the meaning behind Bettina’s image. Scenic Aperture 708 Main Avenue durangogallery.photography 970-385-5853

Scenic Aperture features fine-art nature photography from the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. The gallery showcases the works of Durango’s own internationally collected photographer, Frank Comisar. Frank spends most of his time traveling the Four Corners making new images and leading workshops for aspiring photographers. Occasionally he can be found in the gallery, and he’s always happy to discuss how and where his images were made.

Sorrel Sky Gallery 828 Main Avenue sorrelsky.com 970-247-3555 Sorrel Sky Gallery has been part of the Durango community since 2002, representing over 50 local and regional artists. Discover their impressive range of contemporary and traditional Western and Native American fine art and jewelry, sculpture, and more. Owner Shanan Campbell and her team are passionate about art and how it enriches our lives. Visit their beautiful location downtown and discover something new and unique at Sorrel Sky Gallery. Toh-Atin Gallery 145 West Ninth Street toh-atin.com 970-247-8277 Since 1957, Toh-Atin Gallery has been known for its outstanding selection of Navajo weaving, Native American jewelry, Pueblo pottery, Hopi Kachina dolls, Southwestern paintings, and sculpture. Considered by many to be more of a museum than a gallery, this family-owned establishment appreciates the opportunity to share the stories behind the artists and their art forms. Group tours and lectures may be set up in advance with the gallery.





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Norman Lansing

Etching a Unique Niche A small Norman Lansing ceramic pot— smooth and squat, with subtle color changes—can sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Thin-shelled and lightweight, the details of contemporary, traditional, and imaginative designs flow into one another. When lightly traced with fingertips, the art can be felt. This small pot is the result of five decades of constant learning. Lansing’s learning process has also taken him beyond just the art of etching. It has taught him to understand life itself—how precious and fragile it is. After high school, Norman Lansing’s journey as an artist went beyond pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylics. In the early 1970s, he began to explore the process of etching (sgraffito) on a new type of canvas: ceramics. He acknowledges that there has been criticism of his use of non-traditional pottery, but his focus is on the message people receive from his art. The message is revealed on each unique bowl, which is covered with thoughts about the balance of life and about coexistence without turmoil for individuals, especially children. Lansing’s approach is refined. For etching, the initial wide, broad lines achieved with standard devices evolved into fine, thin lines created with custom tools. Glazing is always a challenge, because colors change during the drying process. The glaze needs to work for the pot, as well as for the artist, throughout the etching process, so creating glazes that remain smooth, with no cracks, requires ongoing experimentation. Lansing describes the etching of a pot as a beginning and an end—there is no middle. “You have to be alert, with no distractions, from the moment you begin.” The uninterrupted etching process takes eight to 12 hours, is unforgiving, and cannot be erased or corrected. With a free hand, etching starts in one area, and materializes as the ceramic pot is slowly rotated. The etch develops in the moment and what is being imagined at that moment is being placed on the pot. If an etching is interrupted, it is very difficult to complete the bowl. Norman Lansing was born and raised

by Linda Baker

on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, in southwest Colorado. He continues to work with pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylic, and is constantly exploring and developing designs, ranging from modern beadwork to stylized forms. He has studied, evolved, refined, and created a signature sgraffito style on ceramic, which is recognized for its fine detail and multiple images. Lansing’s work is exhibited at Toh-Atin Gallery, 145 W. Ninth St., Durango.

Photos courtesy of Toh-Atin Gallery


in our hurried world, unique, quality work is still possible


Do quality and craftsmanship still matter in this fast-paced world? If they didn’t, then the four custom craftsmen below wouldn’t be in business. Meet a local knife-maker, upholsterer, woodworker, and tent-maker: Largent Knives If you think one knife is just like any other, you haven’t seen a James Largent knife. Using handles made of antlers and exotic woods, immaculately pieced together onto heat-treated blades, this Bayfield man crafts one-of-a-kind

Photo courtesy of James Largent

knives that outdoorsmen—and anyone with an eye for art—lust after. The former full-time musician went to work for a knife maker in southwest La Plata County in the 1980s. In 1991 he started his own business. He traveled extensively to gun shows and flea markets, hawking his knives (and winning awards that are “sitting in a box somewhere”). The craftsmanship is apparent, even to the untrained eye: The colors and grains, the intricate designs, the blade lines. What you can’t see is the process. Largent treats the antler and wood handles with a special amber that strengthens them and brings a shine. The blades begin as 1½-inch-wide bars of steel that Largent heat treats in a furnace for strength, the process taking most of a day. Pins and epoxy conCorbet Hoover

34 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

nect the blade and handle, and a metal “bolster” creates a transition between the two. Largent is 70 and says, “I’ll go as long as I can,” but he’s set on having his son Jimmy take over eventually. Jimmy is a fishing and hunting guide who makes knives with his dad in the winter. “He’s got it down,” the father says. Check out Largent’s knives on display and for sale at Gardenswartz Outdoors, 863 Main Avenue in Durango. Ye Olde Shoppe Maybe Kurt Gerlach had to break away from the family traditions before he could appreciate them. As a kid, he and his siblings served as “young grunts,” doing whatever labor was needed in his father’s upholstery business, which was started by his maternal grandfather in upstate New York. When

Kurt left in 1981, he figured his days of measuring cloth and hammering tacks were history. After he arrived in Durango that year, he didn’t want to leave. Kurt showed up at a local upholstery shop and had a job within an hour. His career path was set. In 2001 he opened Ye Olde Shoppe, a custom upholstery business that he operates from a building next to his Durango home. His time-honored craftsmanship is renowned, and that reputation earns him work in some of the finer homes in Durango, Telluride, Santa Fe, and even New York City. Like a tailor, he can design and fabricate a sofa based on the customer’s size and specific comfort level desired. He uses designer fabric and works extensively with European leathers. The traditional German eight-way hand-tied suspension system makes his work nearly indestructible. Kurt is also a licensed real estate agent, but his true love is Ye Olde Shoppe and working with his hands. When a customer sits on a sofa and tells him a piece he has built is juuust right, he says: “That’s my joy.” Call Kurt Gerlach at 970-759-9667 or visit durangoupholstery.com Animas Craft Woodworks A visit to Noah Arvidson’s workshop, on North Main Avenue in Durango, reveals a very nice collection of wood—including

Photo courtesy of Noah Arvidson

Photo courtesy of Dave Ellis

cherry, oak, black locust, and, believe it or not, even the “invasive” Russian olive. If you doubt for a second that these flat milled slabs will soon become cherished home furnishings, just take a look at some of his finished products. Most are in homes, but you’ll find plenty of photos on his website. Noah is a Chicago-area native who often visited Colorado as a youngster. He came here to finish college, achieving a biology degree from Fort Lewis College in 1998. The previous couple of decades, in Chicago’s corporate world, had not been so rewarding. He and his wife, Kate, were drawn here, and Noah opened Animas Craft Woodworks in June of 2019. He had previously started a woodworking business in Chicago as a side gig. Some of his time is spent making connections—social media links, displaying knickknacks and talking to people at the Durango Farmers Market, and serving on a committee for the Durango Creative District. “I couldn’t ask for a better community,” he says. “The amount of support is unbelievable.” But more of his time is spent sawing and planing, chiseling and crafting precision joints—all the techniques needed to create heirloom-quality furniture and décor that people are proud to display in their homes. “I love the work,” Arvidson says. “There’s something so rewarding about making stuff.” To contact Noah, visit his website at www.AnimasCraft.com, email noah@ animascraft.com, or call 970-426-5130.

Ellis Canvas Tents When Dave Ellis decided to start his own company making tents and bedrolls in 1992, he took his inspiration from the cowboy spirit, seeing how cattlemen in Texas and Arizona slept out on the prairie. Then he improved on that. His Ellis Canvas Tents has grown, adapted, and innovated, always keeping the historical perspective: His Shackleton tent is modeled after one used by the famous Antarctic explorer, but he always makes sure his product is highly usable. He, his son Caleb, and a couple of helpers manufacture the products in Bodo Industrial Park, south of downtown Durango. Cowboys and local hunting outfitters were Ellis’s first clientele. He attended ranch rodeos, went to livestock shows, saw what they were using, and brought them back a newer style of bedroll—lighter and smaller. He’s not someone who sits still. “I’m an inventor,” he says, “and that’s probably part of my problem. I’m always upgrading.” He has branched out plenty since those days, and his products are used by archaeologists, firefighters, and wilderness schools, among others. The Shackleton “base camp” tent uses a strong but lightweight, seven-ounce, cotton Army Duck Canvas that is water and mildew resistant, and fire retardant. His Rocky Mountain Swag bedroll keeps you dry in a rainstorm and gives you room to move—“tent not required.” For more information, specs, and videos, visit www.elliscanvastents.com. 35


Photos courtesy of Corey Zirkelbach


The wide variety of educators across Durango undeniably nourishes the heart and soul of our mountain town. Among this sea of highly essential teachers, one stands out for her achievements in education, her passion for teaching, and her love of children. Corey Zirkelbach has been a teacher for 13 years, and has taught everything from kindergarten to second grade; she currently teaches second grade at Riverview Elementary. As an avid hockey player, skier, and reader, Zirkelbach embodies the well-rounded educator and encapsulates the persona of a Durango teacher and leader. After winning an outstanding teaching award for the 2019-20 school year for her exceptional dedication and passion, Zirkelbach continues to rise above—not only for her students, but for her community, too. Zirkelbach’s commitment and enthusiasm toward teaching stems from her absolute love for her students, and this dedication inspires her teaching methods and helps her to achieve her goals. “One of my favorite things with kids is watching those lightbulbs 36 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

turn on and then watching them use what they know. And kids are just fun to be around! I love having conversations with them. I love to sit down and have lunch with them. I just love to spend my time with them,” says Zirkelbach. In an ever-changing society, teaching standards and methods must adapt to keep pace. This new reality requires a heavy emphasis on technology in the classroom. As a second-grade teacher, Zirkelbach struggles, like most, to incorporate technology into her classroom, especially since most of her students don’t know the first thing about using a computer. With an abundance of hard work and dedication to her students, Zirkelbach has persisted in adjusting to the obstacles brought on by COVID-19 while also maintaining the high standards for which our teachers are known. “I think students want teachers to be fair and kind. I think they want them to be fun and energetic, and to have a passion—so they want to be at school. They want to know that you like them and that you’ll be there for them,” says Zirkelbach, highlighting the qualities she clearly possesses. Corey Zirkelbach not only personifies an ideal teacher, but she serves as our reminder to appreciate and thank every educator in the Durango community for their indispensable contributions to our lives and the lives of our children.


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



Jared Ogden

Jared Ogden

Silverton, Colorado, is nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 9,318 feet above sea level. Silverton is the nexus for the most adventurous winter activities. There are miles and miles of snowmobile and Nordic groomed trails that start right in town, with a ski experience awaiting any level of skier. San Juan County has endless ski terrain, and Silverton is famous for making backcountry heli-skiing accessible at Silverton Mountain; learn the fundamentals in town at Kendall Mountain Ski Area. If Nordic sports or snowmobiling are your thing, there are endless freshly groomed trails to explore. Snowshoeing, ice skating, ice climbing, sledding, fat biking on snow, and ice fishing are all part of the winter fun! Plus, the town golf course is open in winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 38 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Snowmobile tours are available—rent a machine or bring your own. Visit Silverton and experience the San Juan Mountains in all their winter-white beauty! Finish your day of winter fun by choosing from a variety of lodging accommodations. Silverton has boutique bed and breakfasts, historical luxury hotels, motels, hostels, and vacation rental homes. Dine in local cafés, breweries, fine-dining establishments, and coffee shops—most are open year round. Be sure to save some time to browse in the local boutiques, artist shops, and galleries. Silverton is becoming an art destination! Silverton’s winter events are a BLAST! Silverton Skijoring takes place every President’s Day weekend. Don’t miss the Flying Dogs Sled Race and the Silverton Whiteout Fat Bike Race.

Jim Bommarito

Whether you come up for a day, a week, or a month, Silverton always feels like your home away from home. Wintertime is quieter up on the mountain and gives you an opportunity to settle in with the locals. Silverton welcomes you into it's backyard. Come stay and play! The Silverton Avalanche School offers beginner to professional avalancheeducation courses. SAS is the oldest avalanche school in the United States— it’s where the snow pros go! Check out www.avyschool.org to see their winter schedule. Silverton is your base camp to winter adventure! Follow @VisitSilverton on Instagram. Check them out, tag them, or go to #visitsilverton. Log on to SilvertonColorado.com to find out what’s going on, what to do, and where to stay and dine.


YOUR BASECAMP FOR adventure #lifeat9318 | silvertoncolorado.com




SKIING * ICE SKATING * SLEDDING Family and beginner friendly, at a fraction of the cost!

www.skikendall.com 39





40 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Jim Bommarito

Kim Todd

Grady James

Jeff McGarvin

41 Boza Fernando

Shop Dogs of Durango

In Durango, the phrase “a dog is a man’s best friend” is certainly true. You’ll discover that most everyone in the community finds companionship with history’s most beloved pet. Whether you’re trekking along one of Durango’s many hiking trails, taking a stroll on the river trail, or shopping among the variety of local stores, you’ll be sure to come across lots of these furry friends. In particular, Durango’s shops host some of the friendliest, most popular dogs in the community, and they’re located at town favorites such as Animas Trading Company, Crow’s Closet, Durango Outdoor Exchange, Durango Rug Company, Kroegers Ace Hardware, Pine Needle Dry Goods, Purgatory Ski Patrol, and Star Liquors. Pay a visit to Durango’s shop dogs and be greeted with a little extra love on your next shopping trip!



742 Main Avenue • animastradingdurango.com • 970-385-4526

Do you have a favorite toy? Yes, his name is Olaf. He has only one arm and he is a stuffed snowman.


What is your deepest, darkest secret? I love all dogs except for huskies.

Do you have a favorite toy? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I really like my blue wheel filled with frozen peanut butter, and I like cuddling with Scooby Doo.

What is your favorite human food? Ice cream and steak. If you had a job, what would it be? I do have a job. I am the shop dog at Animas Trading Company, because I get treats, pats, and I love my boss… who could ask for more in life? If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? I would be a turtle so that I could hide in my shell.


750 Main Avenue • crowscloset.com • 970-426-4000

What is your deepest, darkest secret? It may, or may not, be related to the whereabouts of several missing half-finished treats. The rest is classified. What is your favorite human food? Stolen Brussels sprouts and yams. If you had a job, what would it be? I would be a lifeguard because I have been performing deathdefying rescue missions to save the pressure pool cleaner for 28 dog years. Returning without it has never been an option. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? I would be a deer because I have aspirations of leaping recordbreaking lengths… and because I love to eat grass.


747 Main Avenue • durangorugcompany.com • 970-247-0056

Do you have a favorite toy? My Frisbee. What is your deepest, darkest secret? When no one is around, I am in charge of the shop. And I give too good of a deal. I am afraid my boss is going to find out about it. What is your favorite human food? Cantaloupe.

If you had a job, what would it be? I already have my dream job. It is here at Durango Rug Company. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? I would not want to be any other animal! I am so lucky and happy already.



3677 Main Avenue • durangooutdoorexchange.com • 970-259-0171

Do you have a favorite toy? My favorite toy is a stuffed hedgehog. I play with him when I get overly excited and treat him like he’s my baby.

What is your favorite human food? Anything and everything salmon! If you had a job, what would it be? I would be a school counselor. I love kids and I’m always available to lend an ear and offer my support.

What is your deepest, darkest secret? I have a major FOMO (fear of missing out). Luckily I get If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be to be a shop dog at Durango Outdoor Exchange, where I and why? get lots of pats and love all day long! I would be a mountain goat so that I could frolic endlessly in the San Juan Mountains.


KROEGERS ACE HARDWARE — BO 8 Town Plaza • acehardware.com • 970-247-0660

Do you have a favorite toy? My stuffed yellow duck. What is your deepest, darkest secret? I LOVE going to work on Mondays. What is your favorite human food? Grilled chicken with white rice.

If you had a job, what would it be? Kroegers store manager… well, I guess I kinda am that already. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? A cat, so that I could finally catch one of those pesky chipmunks.



858 Main Avenue #101 • pineneedle.com/drygoods • 970-426-4496

Do you have a favorite toy? Kittens and snow. What is your deepest, darkest secret? I’m not really a dog, but rather an odd mix of a house cat and a coyote. What is your favorite human food? Peanut butter (Thanks Annie!).

If you had a job, what would it be? I have a job, and it’s sitting in the front of the shop watching the world outside. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? See question #2. I’m certainly a cat.


STAR LIQUORS — BUBBLES 1485 Florida Road, Suite C-100 starliquorsdurango.com 970-247-2258

Do you have a favorite toy? My little buddy, Frizzante. What is your deepest, darkest secret? I’m afraid to get my paws wet. I won’t even go out to pee in the rain. What is your favorite human food? Any form of chicken—did someone say CHICKEN?! (Insert drool here.) If you had a job, what would it be? I have a job. I am the floor supervisor at Star Liquors and therapy dog to anyone who needs me. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram, @bubblesandfrizzante. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? I’d be an alligator, so I could eat more chickens faster.



1 Skier Place • purgatoryresort.com • 970-247-9000

Do you have a favorite toy? Our search tugs. It drives us nuts when we find them buried in the snow with a human during training. What is your deepest, darkest secret? I am Carson, and I swam with a floaty vest until I was eight months old. I am Lida, and I eat Carson’s food when he isn’t looking. What is your favorite human food? Cheese. Any kind. The smellier the better.


If you had a job, what would it be? We have jobs at Purgatory Resort. We are members of the ski patrol and wear uniforms with name tags. We train every day. If you weren’t a dog, what animal would you be and why? I am Carson, and I would be a teddy bear because I love people. I am Lida, and I would be a lioness because I am a hunter. 43


Ore House & Rochester COLLABORATION By Billy Grimes

On a cool autumn evening, I was lucky to enjoy the convivial magic of a five-course dinner outdoors at the Rochester Hotel’s Secret Garden. The sumptuous meal was prepared off-site in the Ore House kitchen, just a block away, then carefully transported by golf cart, ably assembled, and served with minimal contact by the Ore House’s attentive staff. This happy alliance made me curious about its origin. It has been said that ingenuity is stimulated by difficulty, and the pandemic has been nothing if not difficult for our local businesses. They’ve had to become very creative in order to remain viable. I’ve noticed this before in our somewhat remote mountain town: the resourcefulness that comes when our people are faced with a challenging situation. For example: After the 416 Fire two years ago, Durango came together to support businesses after the tourist season went bust. Sheer ingenuity comes in the absence of easy solutions. In the pantheon of Durango business establishments, the Ore House and the Rochester Hotel have to be included. These two places have withstood the test of time and have become part of the fabric of our community. Generations have enjoyed the oldschool steakhouse vibe of the Ore House, and the Rochester is one of Durango’s oldest hotels. Its revival 22 years ago brought new life to Second Avenue. These two businesses are stalwart institutions that help give Durango its character and charm. The Ore House, started in 1972 and located on East College Drive, cannot have a “bump-out” dining area to cope with the pandemic, like the other restaurants on Main Avenue, and the alley behind the restaurant is not suitable for patio seating, since dumpsters are not usually associated with fine dining. Operations director/co-owner Ryan Lowe found a solution during these difficult times after reaching out to his longtime friend Kirk Komick, proprietor of the The Leland House & Rochester Hotel, about combining their efforts to create something unique in Durango. The Rochester Hotel has a kitchen and usually serves delicious breakfasts for its guests, but it has been closed since May due to the pandemic. In normal times, The Secret Garden next to the hotel hosts a summer concert series and is open for many other events. The beautiful space 44 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Photos by Brandon Mathis

was lonely and needed to be enjoyed. The Ore House, with its state-of-the-art kitchen and classic steakhouse interior, is just two blocks away and needed a safe outdoor dining area. By combining forces, together they found a way forward, and the “Ore House at the Rochester Garden Wine and Dinner Series” was born. The menu changes weekly and is built around The Ore House’s extensive wine collection. The Ore House sources food from local farmers, ranchers, and other culinary contributors in the community to curate these exceptional meals. An optional wine pairing is offered to go perfectly with each dish. The menu for the dinner series will evolve with the changing of the seasons. Reservations open for the following week at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and dinners are served Thursday through Sunday.

As our meal progressed and the evening turned to night, the lights and excellent live music provided by the iAM Music Institute created a dreamy atmosphere we all enjoyed. The tables were spaced apart, and at no time did our group feel unsafe. It was a “black-mask affair,” although most people were dressed in “Durango casual.” I wanted to find out more, so I came back the next night to go behind the scenes to find out how this unusual coupling worked. When both businesses were forced to suspend their operations in the early spring of 2020, their employees were, of course, apprehensive about what would come next. I spoke with the Ore House kitchen staff the next evening, and they let me know how eager they’d been to get back to work in this new symbiotic union called The Wine and Dinner Series. I could

see the pride in their faces as they plated the meals and delivered them to the tables. The menu was the same one I had sampled the night before and now I was able to watch it being prepared. The fourth course of the evening was a delicious steak, grilled to perfection in the parking area behind the Rochester. A cyclist rode past, enjoying the flavorful smoke, as Jack, the grill chef, seared the steaks; it was amusing, to say the least. The Ore House staff has had to adapt to this strange new world of dining, and they performed beautifully—both nights. Kudos must be given to Ore House co-owner Ryan Lowe and the Rochester’s Kirk and Laura Komick for their calm and inspiring attitude during these changing and challenging times. The Wine and Dinner Series will have to adapt again as cooler weather forces us all inside. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this great and tasteful union.



Paul Pennington



Neighborhood favorite just south of College Drive in College Plaza. Top notch karaoke three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday. Choose from over 46,000 songs to sing before a nonjudgmental crowd. Bar snacks available. Off-Main beverage prices! 509 E. Eighth Ave., 970-259-8801.


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. #210, 970-422-8008.


Showcasing 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. Suite B, 970-764-4123, www.bookcaseandbarber.com


Distillery and tasting room. Durango’s first grain-to-glass distillery since prohibition. 1120 Main Ave. #2, 970-247-1919, www.durangospirits.com


Founded in 1942, El Rancho is a local pub in downtown Durango. Breakfast and lunch service from Durango Diner. 975 Main Ave., 970-259-8111, www.elranchotavern.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 and artichoke dips. 528 Main Ave., 970-403-8182, 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. 121 W. Eighth St., 970-382-8554.


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., 970-903-0266.


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 well drinks and appetizers, discounted drinks. 937 Main Ave., 970-259-9018.


Locals’ favorite happy hour. Perfect after-work and late-night Victorian bar at the historic Strater Hotel. A wide selection of creative libations, local beers and fabulous wines. Amazing interior setting. Daily happy hour, dinner and live music. 699 Main Ave. inside the Strater Hotel, 970-247-4431, www.strater.com/dining/the-office-spiritorium/


One of Durango’s “last REAL bars,” Orio’s is a sports bar and much more, with pool tables. 652 Main Ave., 970-259-6120.


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.” 601 E. Second Ave., Suite C, 970-375-2568, www.durangowildhorsesaloon.com

Editors’ Pick

46 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring



A culinary collective with a progressive vision that honors the history of the location. From tacos to pizza, sushi to Indonesian cuisine, their independent food-trucks cure any craving. Outdoor deck is perfect for relaxing with a cold drink or quick lunch. 1101 Main Ave., 970-422-8482, www.11thstreetstation.com


Fast, convenient and delicious takeout combined with a laid-back and enjoyable bar atmosphere. Offering hot and cold sandwiches along with a full bar. 601 E. Second Ave., 970-259-1000, www.2nddelidurango.com


“Who bakes the best pizza? You do!” Offering traditional, thin and gluten-free pizzas to take home, as well as wings, cookies and salads. Order by phone for pickup. 50 County Road 234 inside Elmore’s Corner Store, 970-799-0425.


Coffee house and roasting company using the pour-over coffee-making process. Offering hot coffee, iced drinks, mochas, lattes, chai and homemade baked goods in a laid-back atmosphere. 3101 Main Ave. #1, 970-385-1941, www.81301coffee.com


Located at Dalton Ranch Golf Club just eight minutes north of downtown Durango. Offering Italian-American cuisine and a wonderful patio dining experience. Executive Chef Jonathan Fletcher spent many winters in Italy and has brought back traditional Italian recipes. 589 County Road 252, 970-247-4980, www.alcherestaurant.com


Just off the Animas River trail near Rotary Park. A family-friendly brewpub serving house-made beers and Colorado wine and spirits, along with a spin on comfort food and plenty of kid favorites. Relaxed, family-friendly. Comfortable outdoor seating. 1560 E. Second Ave., 970- 403-8850, www.animasbrewing.com



Casual and comfortable atmosphere where chocolate lovers can relax while tasting amazing chocolates. From decadent truffles to divine darks, chocolate confections made on the premises using the highest quality chocolate, simple ingredients, no preservatives. 920 Main Ave., 970-317-5761, www.animaschocolatecompany.com

Overlooking Electra Lake, the Boathouse opens for the summer in June. Former Seasons chefs Dave and Jenn Stewart prepare James Ranch beef, fresh fish and locally sourced produce. Everything is made from scratch. 141 Electra Lake Rd. W., 970-247-5180, www.electralake.org/the-boathouse-at-electra



Serving delicious family favorites, from their famous boneless wings to mouthwatering salads and chicken dishes. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nine televisions, full bar, casual, comfortable, friendly atmosphere. 800 Camino del Rio inside Durango Downtown Inn, 970-259-5850, www.applebees.com

Fresh homemade breads, pastries, cookies and deli sandwiches served daily. From whole wheat to rye, ginger snaps to scones, Bread is fast, friendly and fantastic. 42 County Road 250 and downtown at 135 E. Eighth St., 970-247-5100, www.breaddurango.com


Located on the Fort Lewis mesa, this new coffee shop offers a wide variety of coffee drinks, as well as crepes, Paninis, salads, granola, pastries, and baked goods. 100 Jenkins Ranch Rd., A2, 970-946-8979.

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


Delicious breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos. Tasty burgers, hot dogs, fries, hot pastrami, salads, specials and much more. Boasting “the best Reuben in town”. 1220 Carbon Junction Rd. inside the Exxon gas station across from Walmart, 970-247-1144, www.bartsdeli.com


Serving 42 delicious ice cream flavors, as well as a variety of ice cream cakes, smoothies, sundaes, shakes and blasts. 32 Town Plaza, 970-247-1231, www.baskinrobbins.com




Redrock Foods, a Burger King Corp. franchisee, owns and operates the Durango location and 19 New Mexico and Colorado stores. Come to Burger King for the famous Whopper and chicken sandwiches. Order online, via phone, or in person. 1415 Main Ave., 970-247-9095, www.bk.com


Lunch and dinner menu features burgers and Colorado craft beers, with a breakfast menu focused on the morning classics. Thirteen high-definition TVs promise no bad seat in the house, and the daily happy hour will keep your glass full. 21636 U.S. Hwy. 160 W. inside the Holiday Inn & Suites, 970-385-6387, www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/durango/drodc/ hoteldetail/dining

Enjoy their signature rotisserie chicken, along with fresh and tasty house made salads and sandwiches. Something for everyone. 2957 N. Main Ave., 970 426-4596, www.birdsdurango.com






One of the Southwest’s original brewpubs, and located in historic downtown Durango, Carver’s offers tours of its solar/wind-powered brewery, and has 12 award-winning handcrafted brews on tap. Hearty and fresh creations for every meal. Kid-friendly. Organic produce grown at Carver Farms and other local sources. 1022 Main Ave., 970-259-2545, www.carverbrewing.com Contemporary American bistro with a southwestern flair. Creative small plates, salads, artisanal pizzas, plus fire roasted steaks, chicken and seafood. Stone-hearth ovens in an expo kitchen. Specialty cocktails, fine wines and local tap beer. Unique, casual fine dining. 862 Main Ave., 970-259-2749, www.chimayodurango.com


Favorite longtime Durango restaurant, offering delicious and traditional Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. Full bar and beautiful riverside patio. Parking. Dine in or take out. 1525 Main Ave., 970-259-0868, www.durangochinacafe.com


Popular south-side eatery, open for breakfast and lunch, whose goal is for you to leave with a smile. Specialty breakfasts, Mexican food, specialty sandwiches, burgers and salads. Catering, delivery and take out. Prices from $4 to $10. 810 E. College Dr., 970-375-0117, www.cjsdiner.net

Staffed by high-school students who want experience. Sandwiches, yogurt, chips, fruit and cold drinks. Featuring baked goods from Bread and coffee from Desert Sun Coffee Roasters. It is the perfect snack spot for kids, library patrons and river-trail users. 1900 E. Third Ave. inside the Durango Public Library, 970-375-3380.



Family-friendly menu selections to satisfy everyone of all ages. Serving delicious and classic breakfasts like pancake or egg platters; with seafood, salad and steak lunches and dinners, Denny’s provides affordable and delicious meals. 666 Camino del Rio, 970-247-1512, www.dennys.com


An 1890s bar with a stage for local and touring musicians. Offering martinis, wines, 14 beers on tap and fresh cocktails. Menu items made from scratch and eight sports screens. Everyone feels like a local. 725 Main Ave., 970-247-5440, www.derailedpourhouse.com




48 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


First founded in 1887, and continuing the tradition with a restart in 2020, the new railroad-inspired tasting room offers local brews from High Trestle Brewing Company, along with great “pub grub”, including a variety of burgers and homemade red and green chili. 3000 Main Ave., 970-746-4466.

The secret recipe for smooth, creamy ice cream is to make it fresh daily in the store, and then customize it with your choice of mix-ins on a frozen granite stone, as Cold Stone does perfectly. Custom, signature ice-cream cakes, pies and cupcakes. 598 Main Ave., 970-259-5052, www.coldstonecreamery.com Creative and large menu, fresh-roasted organic coffee, friendly folks and atmosphere. Daily, delicious specials and tried-and-true entrées. Everyone is treated like a regular at College Drive Café. Free Wi-Fi and cozy dining room. 666 E. College Dr., 970-247-5322, www.cafedurango.com

Voted the “best bagel in the Four Corners.” Freshly baked bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls and pastries. Great breakfast selections and lunch bagel sandwiches. Takeout bag lunches. 106 E. Fifth St. next to the train depot, 970-385-7297.

Family sports eatery. Broasted chicken, 20-plus kinds of wings, most menu items under $12. HDTVs, satellite sports. Full menu and bar. Dine in or take out. 128 E. College Dr., 970-259-6322, www.cuckooschicken.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 at 5:30pm, June through October. 699 Main Ave. inside the Strater Hotel, 970-247-4431, www.strater.com/dining/diamond-belle-saloon/



Fast, friendly delivery or carryout. A variety of delicious pizzas, chicken wings, breadsticks, pasta, sandwiches, salads, sodas and more. Enjoy a classic meal anytime you crave it. Open for lunch, dinner and late night. 1485 Florida Rd., 970-259-3660, www.dominos.com

Coffee shop and café. Comfortable meeting place. Locally roasted coffees. 730 Main Ave., 970-259-1011, www.durangocoffee.com


A great place for a quick, affordable lunch or dinner, indoors or on the patio. Soon-to-be-famous specialty hot dawgs, fresh-cut fries and the best gyros in town. 600 Main Ave., 970-259-3647.


For a warming soup, a satisfying sandwich or mouthwatering burger, the airport deli is just the ticket. For a quick bite or just a place to relax while waiting for a plane, the Durango Deli is the perfect traveler’s haven. 1000 Airport Rd., inside the Durango-La Plata County Airport, 970-259-6964.


On historic Main Ave., “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 are sold nationwide. Breakfast and lunch all day. 957 Main Ave., 970-247-9889, www.durangodiner.com


Fresh donuts and bagels, breakfast burritos, lunch favorites – something for everyone. Grab a breakfast burrito or bagel sandwich, or relax in the comfy dining room for a full breakfast or lunch. 2653 Main Ave., 970-247-1610, www.durangodoughworks.com


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, fair trade and certified-organic coffees and teas. 40 Town Plaza, 970-375-7891; 732 E. College Dr., 970-375-2121; 3455 Main Ave., 970-375-6384; 331 S. Camino del Rio, 970-764-4848; 1211 Escalante Dr., 970-382-5911; 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; and more. 575 E. Eighth Ave. at the corner of College and Eighth, 970-247-8129, www.durangonaturalfoods.coop


Voted Durango’s best happy hour, hottest date night, best dessert, best cocktail and best bartender. Full sushi bar, vegetarian options, sake, Asian beers, libations. Comfortable upscale, urban setting. Kids’ menu. 160 E. College Dr., 970-247-5533, www.eastbysouthwest.com


Durango's premier destination for the flavors, spices, and excitement of genuine African food. Lunch is served at their sister restaurant, the Smiley Café at 1309 E. Third Ave., 970-844-0771. Dinner is served at the Eat Zawadi location at 509 E. Eighth Ave., 970-422-8462, www.eatzawadi.com


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy stunning river views. Daily specials. Kids menu. For casual or celebratory events. For the healthyminded, the Edgewater Grille has its “eat right menu.” Easy-order takeout by phone. 501 Camino del Rio inside the DoubleTree Hotel, 970-382-3950.









Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. El Moro is named after the early-1900s saloon that occupied the historic site. Comfortable, with exposed red-brick walls and hardwood floors. A “farm-to-table” restaurant featuring local fresh foods. 945 Main Ave., 970-259-5555, www.elmorotavern.com 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. Reservations accepted. 919 Main Ave., 970-259-2898, www.eolusdurango.com Family owned and operated and with a full bar, featuring the East Coast flavor of Sicilian or New York style pizza. Dough made fresh daily. Great salads, wings and soups. Private parties welcome. 640 Main Ave, 970-385-0420, www.fathersdaughterpizza.com Devoted to quality local and imported ingredients and the traditional method of artisan wood-fired baking. Always fresh, handmade, wood-fired pizza, sandwiches and salads. Gluten-free options, daily specials, full bar, family friendly, seasonal rooftop patio. 735 Main Ave., 970-247-0264, www.fireduppizzeria.com


Award-winning, authentic New Mexican, Mexican and continental cuisine. Family-owned and operated since 1968, Francisco’s serves great steaks, fresh fish, chicken, pasta and salads. Senior and kid menu, daily specials, full bar with terrific margaritas. 639 Main Ave., 970-247-4098.


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. 431 E. Second Ave., 970-259-9494, www.gazpachodurango.com

Fresh ingredients and homemade tastes, the perfect place for an Italian lunch or dinner. Serving pizza and calzones, hot hero sandwiches and delicious pastas in a cozy family-owned atmosphere. 2477 Main Ave., 970-764-4727. Award-winning restaurant serving burgers from 100% grass-fed, USA-raised beef; turkey and vegan burgers; sweet and regular fries; salads. Indoor/ outdoor seating, kiddie corral. Vegan, allergy, gluten-free friendly. The American burger made healthy, ethical and delicious. Dine in or carry out. 726½ Main Ave., 970-247-1081, www.eatgrassburger.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. Great food and friendly service. Considered a classic, local favorite. 2603 Main Ave., 970-259-3558. New to the Durango area, Happy Pappy's has a wide variety of build-yourown pizzas, flavorful wings, and beer. Using longtime family dough and wing recipes along with the best ingredients possible. Order online, by phone, or in person. 2411 Main Ave., 970-764-4213, www.durango.pappys.pizza


Dedicated to providing the highest quality specialty coffee along with unparalleled customer service. Serving a wide variety of coffee from around the world, connecting the Durango community in the process. 738 Main Ave. 970-259-2059, www.hermosacoffee.com


Locally owned café in the Animas valley north of town, the perfect stop on the way to the mountains. Delicious and unique egg dishes, pancakes, cinnamon rolls. Daily specials. Sandwiches, burgers, authentic gyros, salads. Full espresso bar. 32223 U.S. Hwy. 550 N., 970-247-0014, www.hermosacreekgrill.com



Locals’ hang-out. Unique appetizers and full bar. Happy-hour oysters, $9/ half-dozen. Slider night is Wednesday, $3.95/slider. Thursday Ladies’ Night, $5 drinks. Friday catfish night, $12.95. Great for private parties. 955 CO Hwy. 3, 970-385-7444, www.highway3roadhouse.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, and vegetarian. Fresh bread from the Tandoor oven. 992 Main Ave., 970-259-0956.


Gourmet pizza, salads and sandwiches, plus a full bar. Dine in, take out, or order online for in-town delivery. If you love fresh homemade pizza and friendly service, this is the place for you; just ask the locals. 441 E. College Dr., 970-259-5551; 2915 Main Ave., 970-422-8337; and 125 Mercado St., #105, 970-764-4208; www.homeslicedelivers.com


Cozy, charming spot for breakfast, lunch and take-out box lunches. Delicious fresh sandwiches, tasty soups and salads. Baked goods include pumpkin bread, apple Danish, muffins and chocolate croissants. Event catering. 939 CO Hwy. 3, 970-385-5577, www.hottomatoescafe.com


Known locally as Bo’s, this fast, casual, family eatery serves pizza, ribs, grinders, burgers, salads, local microbrews and more. Pool tables, jukebox, video games, live music. Eat in, take out or delivery. 1301 Florida Rd., 970-259-0010, www.jbosdurango.com


Where unforgettable food and memories are made. Experience a table-onthe-farm organic restaurant, farm market and ranch tours. 33846 U.S. Hwy. 550, 970-676-1023, 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 yet innovative dinner menu. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Top-rated sweets on Trip Advisor. 601 Main Ave., 970-247-7700.


The popular franchise has featured gourmet sandwiches since 1983. Jimmy John’s is known for its irreverent attitude, low prices, great and healthy food and speedy delivery, with more than 2,000 stores nationwide. 1316 Main Ave., 970-259-0577, www.jimmyjohns.com


Locally owned drive-through at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Camino del Rio. Shade-grown organic, fair-trade coffees. Energizing and satisfying espresso drinks, teas, smoothies and more. Grab-n-go breakfast and lunch. Fast and friendly. Get your Jitters organically. 802 Camino del Rio, 970-799-5282.


Delicious and traditional Southwestern foods along with Mexican and Native American dishes prepared fresh daily. Fast and efficient service; great prices and free parking. 325 S. Camino del Rio in the Centennial Center, 970-247-3536.


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. Delivery and takeout. Breakfast served anytime. 171-A Suttle St., 970-247-4007.


Take Out Specials Double Bogo Shots Starting at $6

Our Famous Margaritas 4 servings: $21

Online ordering for take out


North Main at 25th St. TWO LOCATIONS 970.385.1595

South at Walmart Plaza 970.259.4114

Locals Ken and Sue Fusco invite you to be their guest. Creative and tasty food and great service at reasonable prices. Upscale, comfortable eatery. Year-round patio. Reservations are encouraged. 636 Main Ave., 970-385-1810, www.kenandsues.com


Taste Tuscany in the La Plata Mountains, just 10 miles west of Durango on Hwy. 160. Mediterranean and American-inspired cuisine, bistro setting. Extensive wines, full bar, takeout, ever-changing seasonal menu. Events and banquets welcome. Reservations accepted. 4 County Road 124, Hesperus, 970-247-5674, www.kennebeccafe.com


Recently changed to La Hacienda, this colorful family restaurant on the north side of town offers great margaritas and delicious, authentic Mexican food. 2850 Main Ave., 970-375-2492.


A 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, hormone-free chicken; salads. Compostable cutlery and dishes. 680 Main Ave., 970-286-0227, www.thelivingtreesaladbar.com


Classic Old West with western themed wall décor. The café serves hearty breakfasts such as steak and eggs. Lunch features burgers, classic sandwiches, soups and salads. Weekend-only dining menu features prime rib and rib eye steaks. 619 Main Ave., 970-764-4280, www.lonespurcafe.com


Order online: NayaritMexicanDurango.com 50 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

In the Main Mall downtown, this unassuming restaurant is small, but features a great Mexican menu and handcrafted margaritas. Friendly, comfortable atmosphere serving everyone’s favorite dishes, including “street” tacos and vegetarian platters. 835 Main Ave. #106, 970-764-4042, www.durangoamigos.com


Fresh and bursting with flavor, great dishes prepared with the highest quality 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. 1485 Florida Rd., 970-422-8540 and 275 E. Eighth Ave., 970-259-4108.


Sunny sidewalk patio in the heart of downtown. Most affordable sandwiches in town. Traditional or grilled panini. Breakfast burritos, salads, smoothies, espressos, house-brewed chai and fresh-made gelato. Selection of magazines, cards, games, puzzles, candy and sodas. 707 Main Ave., 970-259-1159.


Featuring something for everyone. Menu items crafted by their master with meats, produce and ingredients from local family-owned farms and ranches. 699 Main Ave. inside the Strater Hotel, 970-247-4431, www.strater.com/dining/the-mahogany-grille/

C chocolate & coffeeo. est. 2011

Chocolate Cafe Handcrafted Chocolate

Espresso | Iced Drinks | Coffee | beer | wine | Cocktails


Traditional Italian cuisine crafted by East by Southwest owners Hydi and Sergio Verduzco, featuring delicious and unique antipasti, farinacei and insalate. Once inside, there’s a modern and comfortable design. Fun for the whole family. 150 E. College Dr., 970-247-5533, www.mammasilvias.com


Some of the town’s best and most delicious Chinese food. Traditional specialties: Szechuan, Hunan, Mandarin and 38 lunch specials. No MSG. Full menu for takeout. Full bar. Great location downtown. 909 Main Ave., 970-259-4836.


Fast and friendly service. Order from the dollar menu or the regular value meals. Enjoy favorites like the Big Mac and classic French fries. 201 W. College Dr., 970-247-2446, www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us.html


Longtime Durango chef Michel Poumay brings authentic sweet and savory French crêpes to the heart of downtown. Each made fresh to order. Perfect to grab some unique fare to go, or dine on the patio. 598 Main Ave., 970- 769-0256, www.michelscorner.com


WWW.ANIMASCHOCOLATECOMPANY.COM 920 MAIN AVE. | Durango, colorado | 970.317.5761

We Proudly Serve Only the Best

Located in the Walmart shopping center and featuring tasty Peking and Mongolian barbecue, plus Hunan, Chinese, Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. A variety of beer and wine, free parking, and all-you-can-eat dishes. Dine in or take out. 1135 S. Camino del Rio #230, 970-259-7228, www.mongoliangrilldurangocolorado.com


For the perfect on-the-go meal, Mountain Munches offers a variety of healthy, organic snacks like customized trail mix, falafel waffles, and paleo skittles, which includes a mix of different fruits. This is the ideal stop for those on the paleo or vegan diet. 3701 Main Ave., #102, 970-317-9855.


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., 970-375-2701, www.mutusitaliankitchen.com


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. Also home to Jack’s Meat & Seafood, River Liquors and Serious Delights Bakehouse. Locally owned since 1993. 300 S. Camino del Rio, 970247-1988, www.naturesoasismarket.com

Located Inside Nature’s Oasis Jack's...Your cleanest, friendliest, full-service meat market in Southwest Colorado Thank you for supporting us during shelter-in-place, and always.


Named after the Mexican state Nayarit, offering authentic Mexican food that cannot be found anywhere else in Durango. Best-known for the selection of tequilas and margaritas, fresh seafood and delicious tacos. 2525 Main Ave., 970-385-1595 and 1135 S. Camino del Rio, #290, 970-259-4114, www.nayaritmexicandurango.com

Locally and Family Owned

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


Food so good, you won’t trust the water! Funky, casual Mexican restaurant with a unique take on traditional Mexican food. Giant burritos, grilled quesadillas and tasty tacos. A wide selection of world-famous margaritas and local beers. 552 Main Ave., 970-259-4221, www.ninistaqueria.com


Lively place for great pizza, calzones, beer and spirits. Just three miles south of Purgatory Resort, across from Needles Country Store. Stop in after a great day of skiing! 46778 U.S. Hwy. 550 N., 970-259-2257, www.oldeschoolhousesaloon.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. 1000 Main Ave., 970-259-2990, www.otcdurango.com



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1 0 + B O T T L ES , 7 5 0 M L

9 7 0 . 3 7 5 . 0 3 5 1 Located Next to Nature’s Oasis 300 South Camino del Rio | Durango, Colorado 81301

Established in 1972, the Ore House is one of Durango’s oldest and finest restaurants. Hand-cut, USDA-certified prime and choice steaks; sustainable wild seafood; seasonal produce; a selection of award-winning wines and handcrafted seasonal cocktails. Reservations encouraged. 147 E. College Dr., 970-247-5707, www.orehouserestaurant.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, Reuben and club sandwiches. Kids’ menu. Takeout. 18 Town Plaza, 970-247-0526, www.oscarscafedurango.com


Freshly prepared, ready to pop into the oven, pizzas from gourmet to “deLITE.” Including Papa’s All-Meat, Cowboy, Papa’s Favorite, Vegetarian. Gourmet, stuffed to thin, crispy crust, there’s a Papa Murphy’s pizza for everyone. 12 Town Plaza, 970-382-0961, www.papamurphys.com


Find all your favorites at this national chain pizzeria. Pan-style, stuffed crust, thin and crispy, or hand-tossed styles. Ask about the Pizza Supreme. Buffalo wings, bread sticks, salads, sodas and much more. Delivery and takeout. 1316 Main Ave., 970-259-2112, www.pizzahut.com


Just north of Durango on U.S. Hwy. 160. 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: coffee, snack chips, sodas, salsa, honey. 67 Trimble Crossing, 970-247-0100, www.pjsgourmetmarket.com


Restaurateur Jimmy Nguyen, owner of Rice Monkeys, unrolled Pop Sushi. As executive chef, Ray Srisamer oversees a Japanese tapas restaurant with a full bar. Urban atmosphere, seating for 70. 42 County Road 250, #400, 970-422-8182, www.popsushidurango.com


Primi, meaning first course in Italian, serves a unique and tasty variety of authentic and handmade pasta dishes, sauces, paninis, salads, gelato and wine. Offering a casual atmosphere to relax and enjoy. 1201 Main Ave., #102, 970-764-4138, www.primidurango.com


Chef John Daly III provides a beautiful array of fresh seafood, wild game and locally produced grains and produce in this tasteful setting. With both an upstairs and downstairs dining area, Primus offers a unique and exciting menu to those seeking to enliven their taste buds. 1017 Main Ave., 970-259-1945, www.primusrestaurant.com


The resort offers fun, convenient bars and 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. One Skier Place, 970-247-9000, www.purgatoryresort.com

52 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Locals’ choice for healthy meals. Tasty wraps, deli sandwiches, breakfast burritos, vegetarian green chile, local organic coffee, and the very best fresh-fruit smoothies in town. Takeout orders welcome. 509 E. Eighth Ave., 970-375-9727, www.raiderridgecafe.simdif.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. In the heart of downtown inside the Main Mall. 835 Main Ave., #107-B, 970-382-9868, www.rgpswraps.com


Healthy, creative, delicious Asian food in a fast, friendly environment. Sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, traditional Vietnamese. Specialty rolls, rice bowls, egg rolls and platters with favorites such as ceviche, seared black-pepper tuna, Saigon noodles, beef pho, ginger chicken. To-go party platters, delivery. 1050 Main Ave., 970-403-3852, www.ricemonkeysdurango.com


Brought to you by the owners of Cuckoo's Chicken House & Waterin' Hole and The Animas City Theatre. Serving traditional American food like burgers, French fries and prime rib. Wide selection of beer and wine. Dine in or take out. 128 E. College Dr., 970 764-4661, www.theroostdurango.com


Changing dinner menu 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. Reservations encouraged. Dinner nightly beginning at 5:30pm. 764 Main Ave., 970-382-9790, www.seasonsofdurango.com


Local family bakery provides a wide variety of fresh breads, pastries and desserts, and proudly offers delicious gluten-free options. Treats are always handcrafted from scratch using local, organic ingredients when possible. Inside Nature’s Oasis market. 300 S. Camino del Rio, 970-403-1517, www.seriousdelights.com


Selected by Sunset Magazine as one of the best barbecue restaurants in the West. Smoked meats, huge sandwiches and legendary ribs. Outdoor deck. 18-hole mini golf at south location. 650 Camino del Rio, 970-259-9507 and 3535 N. Main Ave., 970-247-2240, www.serioustexasbbq.com


For an authentic steakhouse experience, this restaurant wows with selections of mussels, giant prawns, lump crab, scallops and shrimp. Prime cuts of beef, such as petite filet and New York strip. Beautiful décor. Reservations available. 14324 County Road 172, Ignacio, inside Sky Ute Casino Resort, 970-563-6235, www.skyutecasino.com/dining/seven-rivers/


Known for great coffee and espressos, and for amazing and healthy breakfast burritos, quality baked goods, great soup and sandwich lunches in a fun, friendly café. 555 Rivergate Ln., #B1-103, 970-422-8558, www.singletrackcafe.com


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. 519½ Main Ave., 970-385-9470.


Eat local while enjoying fresh craft beer right from the source. Built from repurposed shipping containers, Chef Jeremy Storm serves brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches, soups, salads, kids’ options. Live music on Thursday nights. 225 Girard St., 970-247-5792, www.skabrewing.com, www.containeroffood.com


For dining options: Seven Rivers Steakhouse for upscale steaks and seafood; Willows Café Bistro for breakfast, lunch, dinner; Rolling Thunder Grill for pub fare; 49 Lounge for sports fans with TVs, a full bar and appetizers; Shining Mountain Café for Native American fare. 14324 County Road 172, Ignacio, 970-563-7777, www.skyutecasino.com

How The West Was Won...

Just two blocks north of The D&SNGRR station, you’ll find Durango’s living history museum, the iconic Strater Hotel. Experience the old west in three local-favorite bars and restaurants — The Mahogany Grille, The Office Spiritorium and the famous Diamond Belle Saloon. Live entertainment from local singer/songwriters and famous ragtime pianists make a visit to The Strater a lively and memorable time. Fun…that’s how everyone wins! BREAKFAST • WEEKEND BRUNCH LUNCH • DINNER • LIVE MUSIC

Stay with us! BOOK DIRECT

Strater.com | 800.247.4431



54 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


A cozy and inviting coffee shop in the popular Smiley Building. Serving fresh, local coffee from 81301 Coffee Roasters, breakfast burritos, salads, sandwiches and a delicious variety of home-baked, gluten-free goodies. 1309 E. Third Ave., 970-844-0771, www.thesmileycafe.com


Breakfast and main menu items all day like American classics like cheeseburgers and fries. Happy hour (half-price fountain drinks and slushes) every day, 2–5pm. Monthly specials. 240 E. Eighth Ave., 970-247-8160, www.sonicdrivein.com


Durango mountain dining with great mountain views of Engineer Peak. Steaks, wild game, fresh fish, poultry, soups, salads, homemade desserts since 1986. Kids’ menu, full bar, wines. One mile south of Purgatory Resort. Birthdays, reunions, weddings or a night out. 48475 U.S. Hwy. 550 inside Silverpick Lodge, 970-247-3527, www.sowseardurango.com


Fresh-brewed coffee, mochas, Frappuccinos, lattes, pastries, bagels and more. Outdoor seating. 6 Town Plaza inside South City Market, 970-247-4475; 311 W. College Dr. inside Albertsons, 970-382-2224; 3130 Main Ave. inside North City Market, 970-385-4340; 2817 Main Ave., 970-382-1783, www.starbucks.com


Great spot for a casual lunch or dinner. Award-winning selection of beers, cocktails and wines. Nightly food and drink specials. World-famous Cajun Boil. Games on several TVs. 801 E. Second Ave., 970-259-9200, www.steamworksbrewing.com


Fast, inexpensive and ready to go when you are. Perfect for backpacks or picnics. Delicious salads and sandwiches. Fresh meats, crisp veggies, breads baked daily. 2101 Main Ave.,970-259-0887; 1537 Florida Rd., #101, 970-247-2335; 1145 S. Camino del Rio, 970-382-9511; www.subway.com/en-us


A full-service retail butcher shop with a complete line of fresh meats, poultry, and seafood. Sunnyside Farms Market provides grocery and butcher shop needs, and also deli to-go orders. 1305 Escalante Dr., #101, 970-375-6400, www.sunnysidefarmsmarket.com


Featuring unique Mexican-inspired street food like Sonora dogs, elote and tacos; fresh cocktails; affordable prices; fun, laid back environment. 741 Main Ave., 970-422-8074, www.switchbacktaco.com


Fast becoming a local favorite with hickory-smoked barbecue, po’ boys, fresh-ground burgers and Creole fare. Newly renovated interior. Largest patio in downtown, with a horseshoe pit and great views. Eat in, take out, delivery, catering. #3 Depot Pl., 970-259-6000, www.tssmokehouse.com


Known for “thinking outside the bun” with original tacos, burritos, gorditas, Mexican pizza, chalupas, nachos, cheese roll-ups, quesadillas, taquitos and taco salad. Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, extra cheese, rice, beans. 2902 Main Ave., 970-259-5588, www.tacobell.com


Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, guacamole and chile rellenos. Everyone’s favorite Mexican dishes in the Three Springs neighborhood. Beer and wine. Fresh, authentic Mexican food. New “fast-casual” eatery seats nearly 100. Family-operated by Silvia, Juan and Miguel Aguayo. 150 Confluence Ave. #101-C, 970-422-8399, www.tacoboycolorado.com


Wrestle down some tacos at Durango’s newest taqueria. Serving lunch and dinner for dine in, take out, and delivery. Enjoy signature drinks at the full bar. 1150 Main Ave., 970-764-4186, www.tacolibredurango.com


Hola! For an authentic Mexican food experience, Tequila’s is highly inventive; always surprising customers with their daily specials. Known for the town’s best margaritas. Wonderful food, drinks and great service that you won’t soon forget! 948 Main Ave., 970-259-7655, www.tequilasmexicandurango.com


Tucked inside the Alpine Bank at 11th and Main, authentic Thai cuisine such as spring rolls, egg rolls, chicken satay, crab Rangoon, wonton soup, chicken peanut salad, pad Thai noodles, curry dishes and stir-fry. Eat in or carry out. 101 W. 11th St., 970-385-3903, www.durangomenus.com/thai_kitchen.html


Self-serve frozen yogurt at the corner of Main and College. The shop offers multiple flavors of the delicious, healthy treat plus over 40 toppings. Sodas, bottled water and other refreshments. 600 Main Ave. #105, 970-422-8088, www.topthatfrozenyogurtdurango.com


Locally grown, wild-harvested, living-foods lunch. Soup, salad, entrée, dessert for suggested $15 donation. Raw, organic, vegetarian and vegan ingredients. Sharing the Victorian brick building with Rocky Mountain Retreat. Patio in summer; warm (greenhouse) second floor in winter. Open Tuesday and Friday 11am-2pm. 848 E. Third Ave., 970-247-8395, www.turtlelakerefuge.org


Featuring live music, vintage decor, full bar, delicious food from a food truck and fun for the whole family. A great gathering place to relax and enjoy. 3062 Main Ave., www.unionsocialhouse.com


In the Grandview area. Gourmet coffee/espresso drinks, teas, smoothies, bagels, healthy breakfast sandwiches, delicious burritos and fresh in-house baked goods. Hot, toasted lunch sandwiches, soups, and salads. Free Wi-Fi. 28902 U.S. Hwy. 160 E., 970-385-5747.


Hot, juicy 100-percent pure beef burgers, savory chicken sandwiches, garden sensation salads, delicious French fries and frosty shakes. Try the Baconator! Take out or eat in. Drive-through until midnight. 1840 Main Ave., 970-247-4505, www.wendys.com


Modern dining from Sari Brown. Creative vegetarian choices including roasted cauliflower with kale rice; mango and coconut curry; Tomato Bombs with cabbage, raisins and caramel vinaigrette. Also featuring bisque, chowders, steaks, chicken, ribs, grits and burgers. Catering available. 3206 Main Ave. Suite #1, 970-259-3773, www.theyellowcarrot.com


Fresh-Mex: burritos, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, tamales, soups, fish tacos, salads, rice bowls. Beer and margaritas. Daily specials, kids’ menu. Eat in, take out, catering. Online ordering at ChowNow. 2977 Main Ave., 970-247-3355 and 400 S. Camino del Rio, 970-247-1002, www.ziatauqeria.com DISCLAIMER: Every effort was made to confirm accuracy at time of publication. Because of potential unforeseen changes due to COVID-19, please call the business to confirm hours of operation.





Whether whipping sour cream into the guacamole or sprinkling parmesan atop her delectable lasagna, Silvia Verduzco harmonized her Hispanic and Italian heritages in everything she cooked. This multicultural magic inspired her only son, Sergio, to use those flavors as the foundation of his culinary career, and, eventually, of his Durango-based Italian restaurant, Mamma Silvia’s. In 1971, Mamma Silvia, a single mother, moved with 10-year-old Sergio from their home in Mexico City to Las Vegas, Nevada. She worked as a switchboard operator in hotels during a time when the mob still ran everything. Sergio recalls rubbing elbows with “the old guard” of Vegas, meeting the likes of tommy-gun-toting gangsters and Sammy Davis Jr. As a teenager in the City of Second Chances, Sergio fell in with the wrong crowd, walking a path that didn’t please his mother. He worked in restaurants along the Las Vegas Strip, including the Dunes’ Hotel where the Bellagio now stands. The Dunes executive chef, a surly German named Peter who was friends with Silvia, saw talent in Sergio, who had worked his way from busboy to prep cook. Peter suggested that Sergio attend culinary school. After graduating from high school in 1979, 17-year-old Sergio arrived at New York’s Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. He spent the next two years studying under the world’s greatest culinary teachers, learning the art of pastry-making, ice carving, and more. He worked on campus at the variety of student-run restaurants before graduating with an associate degree in culinary arts. He moved back West, earning his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the University of Las Vegas, where he met his culinary counterpart and future wife, Hydi. The couple spent the next 20 years working at resort restaurants from Pacific beaches to the Rocky Mountains, Sergio developing his style and reputation as a classically trained chef in European culinary. In 1998, an opportunity opened at The Peaks Resort & Spa in Telluride, where the Verduzco family lived for 10 years. During that time, Sergio realized there was no sushi restaurant in the mountains, so he attended sushi school in Venice Beach, California, before open-

56 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Photos courtesy of Mamma Silvia’s

ing Euphoria Sushi in Telluride. Diners would drive from Durango to partake in the intricate morsels, sparking in Sergio the idea that Durango also needed a sushi restaurant. When the Verduzco’s third son had a congenital disease that made breathing at altitude difficult, the decision to move to a lower elevation was

easy, and the family settled in Durango. Committed to his sushi concept, Sergio purchased the restaurant space at the corner of College Drive and Second Avenue and opened East by Southwest. In 2008, he purchased the adjacent 50seat restaurant space, formerly Ariano’s Northern Italian Restaurant, launching

an odyssey to find the perfect food to fit regional demand while not competing with East by Southwest. For the next decade, Sergio explored trending concepts, like Thai and vegan, before realizing that what Durango really needed was traditional, old-school, comfort-style Italian cuisine. The concept would not only be a nod to Ariano’s but also serve as a full-circle move for Sergio, a homecoming to the food that had shaped his life. He decided he would call the restaurant Sergio’s. In March 2019, Mamma Silvia was in her last days, suffering from dementia. Her appetite was gone, but the light of a life well-lived still sparkled in her 83-yearold eyes. Sergio would sit beside her bed, and the two would reminisce about Mamma’s favorite recipes, something Sergio planned to add to his new Italian menu. During one of these special moments, Sergio had the epiphany that the restaurant wouldn’t be Sergio’s. It had to be named Mamma Silvia’s. Two months after Mamma Silvia passed away, her spirit found new life in Mamma Silvia’s, the restaurant. Her vivacity is felt through her personal paintings hanging on the walls and in the photo of her and Sergio that serves as the logo. Sergio plans to host a special event each July 26, Mamma Silvia’s birthday. From made-from-scratch sauces simmering on the stove to Mamma’s lasagna, stacked with hand-crafted noodles, Mamma Silvia’s influence can be tasted in every bite. Sergio also features dishes from other mentors throughout his life, like Chef Piero Broglia’s tiramisu, or Paglia e Fieno, a masterpiece of pancetta, porcini mushrooms, and peas. With Frank Sinatra or Pink Floyd playing in the background, Sergio conjures up the flavors of his childhood to share with a hungry clientele. His four sons help in the restaurant, while Hydi manages the front-of-house and behind-the-scenes operations. When the family gathers around their own dinner table, Sergio raises his glass for the family toast: “Cent’Anni,” he says. “To 100 years of health, happiness, and prosperity.”






(970) 259-7494

(970) 264-6884







58 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

CONTENTS: 60 62 66 70 76 78 79 Jim Bommarito



Photo courtesy of iAM Music Institute

Photo courtesy of Be Frank Foundation

Nonprofits bring music to life for Durango youth by Zach Hively

Durango is known for its vibrant live-music scene. A big part of the culture derives from three area nonprofits that believe in kids’ abilities to create and perform high-level music. This kind of music education is a valuable opportunity for young people in the Durango area, whether they are visitors taking a handful of private lessons or local kids on 60 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

a multi-year mission. Stillwater Music is the granddaddy of children’s music education in Durango. It started out with a simple yet unorthodox experiential learning strategy: Kids thrive when they can play and perform as part of the learning process. “In typical music education, you pick an instrument, you get lessons, and after you reach a certain level of proficiency, then maybe you start playing with other people,” says Jeroen van Tyn, executive director and theory/violon/voice instructor. “Stillwater Music turns that on its head and gets kids playing cool music in a band.” The standard Stillwater program partners six to 10 students in a genuine pop or rock band and then writes parts accord-

ing to the students’ abilities and learning styles. The students all learn multiple instruments, and every band gets the chance to perform at various events around town. “It really holds kids’ interest because they sound really cool really quickly,” van Tyn says. Stillwater Music offers private lessons for students who want to dive into a specific instrument, as well as more general options for students of all ages. Their Music Together program allows families with kids as young as eight months to come in and essentially make music together, with accompaniment from a teacher. Preschoolers can immerse themselves in a program for body movement, music literacy, and singing. And the Introduction to Combos program gets younger elementary students ready for the full-on band program. “It’s all consistent with the way most people experience music out there, even at the highest levels,” van Tyn says. Both Stillwater and its newer cousin, the iAM Music Institute, conduct music programs for area schools, including at-risk youth. iAM Music also enables students to get involved in a band or ensemble of four to six students of similar age, interest, and abilities, and the program offers private lessons, too. Its instructor crew covers nearly every instrument and genre, so students interested in styles from folk and indie to bluegrass, jazz, and classical all have support and opportunities. Here’s where the iAM Music emphasis is most different: It believes that all students should have the opportunity to learn to write their own music and perform it with a band. “We encourage every student who comes through, even the young kids, to compose something original,” says Alissa Wolf, executive director and violin/fiddle

Photo courtesy of iAM Music Institute

instructor. “Even if they’re just starting out on an instrument, we encourage them to learn how to come up with melodies and learn enough theories to have the experience of writing a song.” During student showcases, each band performs about three songs—and much of the time, one or two of those songs are written by members of the ensemble. “When a kid who has never written music before is able to complete and perform a song of their own, we get to see that kid break through their comfort zone,” Wolf says. “It gets them to the next level. They feel that they’ve completed something big.” In-school programs provided much of our first exposure to music education, and that aspect is the primary focus of the Be Frank Foundation. This program works directly with schools to offer after-hours on-campus music classes that augment regular music programs—or, in some places, they are the only program. “The effort of the Be Frank Foundation is to provide equal opportunity for all students of any financial situation and any background,” says Lech Usinowicz, founder and executive director. “Any student in and around our area deserves to experience quality music education with a quality instrument.” To that end, Be Frank partners with providers as far away as Albuquerque to ensure that all participants have the best possible instruments that are also size-appropriate. With many

students between second and fifth grade, their hands simply aren’t yet large enough to handle many full-scale instruments, and Be Frank believes learners should not have to sacrifice quality and tone just to get their hands on an instrument. “We know that there’s a direct correlation between attention and the quality of instrument that they’re playing,” Usinowicz explains. Like the other music programs, Be Frank incorporates a strong performance element. Students each year perform at a Halloween bash and fundraiser called Frank ’N Stein (with beer for the adults), a much more introspective winter concert, and the crown jewel: a spring concert at Fort Lewis College’s Community Concert Hall. Unlike the other programs, Be Frank

has no brick-and-mortar location. They always go to the students at the schools to remove any additional hurdles, such as transportation and scheduling. Stillwater Music, iAM Music, and the Be Frank Foundation each have their own generous scholarship programs and instrument-loan programs. “There is never a scenario in which student opportunities should be compromised because of a parent’s financial situation,” Usinowicz says. It should be no surprise that a community as vibrant as Durango—and all of southwestern Colorado—would value music education for its youth. What’s truly amazing is the breadth and variety of opportunities that value accessibility, engagement, and creativity. With organizations like these three in our community, music can become a lifelong journey; the only requirement is to be human. Photo courtesy of Be Frank Foundation



Sink In, Unwind, Relax Durango is known for unbridled adventure, but it’s our spirit that we’re most proud of: “We go all out” is the mantra that truly describes our approach to outdoor sports, of course; yet we apply it with equal gusto to food, art, and shopping local. We know how to go all out with our recreation, but we could stand to go all in, occasionally, with our relaxation. Fortunately, the self-care providers in Durango obsess over rejuvenation, just as the rest of us obsess over our gear.

The Woodhouse Day Spa pampers and soothes both body and spirit.

Durango Dermatology tends the skin, which takes the brunt of our outdoor pursuits.

Durango Hot Springs Resort + Spa unwinds the exertion of both mind and muscle. And Aesthetics and Wellness Durango keeps us looking and feeling our best for all of life’s adventures. With options like these, you can count us in. All in.

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1521 MAIN AVENUE & 600 GLACIER CLUB DRIVE durango.woodhousespas.com 970-247-7769 It goes without saying that things look different in the world around us. One thing has not changed: The Woodhouse Day Spa’s dedication to putting your well-being at the forefront of everything they do. The Woodhouse Day Spa is honored to do so by providing consistency in their services that will far outreach your expectations. Their team works to deliver each guest the same luminous “Woodhouse experience” regardless of which of their two Durango locations you choose. The Woodhouse Day Spa is proud to present safe and clean facilities that allow you the opportunity to embrace a world that encourages your highest level of wellness, in mind, body, and spirit. Experience peace and harmony for your whole self with The Woodhouse Escape, a head-to-toe service that opens with a dry-brush exfoliation and therapeutic stone massage. Their expert massage therapist will bring relief to the neck and shoulder region and progress with renewing acupressure, scalp, hand, and arm massage. Restorative reflexology brings your escape to an end—as the benefits are just beginning. We welcome you to experience The Woodhouse difference, in Durango or up at the Glacier Club, because you deserve it. SERVICES INCLUDE: • Body treatments • Foot treatments • Hand treatments • Massage therapy • Skin care • Sleep treatments • “Spend a Day with Us” packages • Waxings • Woodhouse Signature Services

DURANGODERMATOLOGY 523 SOUTH CAMINO DEL RIO, SUITE B durangodermatology.com 970-247-1970

As the first dermatology practice in the area, Durango Dermatology has been providing skin care to the Four Corners for 50 years, and it has been offering aesthetic treatments for over 35 of those years. The Durango Dermatology team consists of two board-certified dermatologists, two board-certified physician assistants, a certified aesthetic nurse specialist, and a registered nurse/licensed aesthetician. Specializing in skin, theirs is the only practice in the area to offer on-site laser aesthetic procedures with board-certified dermatologists. Call to schedule a complimentary aesthetic consultation with one of their nurses to answer any questions you have and to help determine the best treatment. SERVICES INCLUDE: • Botox, filler, and Kybella • Laser treatments for skin rejuvenation, redness, and wrinkle reduction • Laser hair removal • Tattoo removal • HydraFacial



6475 COUNTY ROAD 203 durangohotspringsresortandspa.com 970-247-0111

555 RIVERGATE LANE, UNIT B2-134 aestheticsdurango.com 970-799-3610

Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa is located in the Animas Valley, just seven miles north of downtown Durango and 16 miles south of Purgatory Resort. The natural geothermal mineral springs have a reputation as a source of healing and wellness. Much of this mystique comes from the unique character of the hot springs water, with its balanced blend of minerals and no sulphur smell. The amazing natural water embraces you with a feeling of being rejuvenated and refreshed after soaking. Durango Hot Springs has 22 mineral soaking pools, a new 25-meter, resortstyle pool, and a completely renovated spa. Attention to ADA accessibility is also a large part of the design. Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa is truly a place to ease your body and revive your spirit

Aesthetics and Wellness is the only Med-Spa in Durango and the surrounding area that offers Ultherapy Ultrasound Treatment for skin tightening and lifting. PDO Threads offer a nonsurgical facelift through the insertion of very fine medical-grade suture to stimulate collagen. Neocollagenesis is the making of new collagen for tighter and smoother skin. In addition to their aesthetic treatments, they have IV infusion therapy to replenish hydration and nutrients so you can live more optimally. Feel your best inside and out with the wide variety of skin-health and anti-aging treatments offered by Aesthetics and Wellness Durango.

SERVICES INCLUDE: • Hot springs soaking pools • Massage and spa treatments • Dry-finish sauna • Lodging rentals • Gift certificates

SERVICES INCLUDE: • Botox, fillers and Kybella • Ultherapy and PDO Thread lift • Photofacial and microneedling • Teeth whitening, laser hair reduction • Facial, brow, and lash lift and tint


64 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Skin care for 50 years In addition to general dermatology and skin cancer treatment, we are the only practice in the four corners area to offer laser aesthetic procedures with board-certified dermatologists on-site.

General Dermatology Skin Cancer Treatment Surgical Dermatology Botox Filler Kybella Tattoo Removal Laser Hair Removal HydraFacial CoolSculpting CO2 IPL ResurFX Legend Pro Vbeam Chemical Peels Complimentary Aesthetic Consultations

970-247-1970 Mark Gaughan, MD

Joseph Dai III, MD Haley Frazier, PA-C Kristin Pogue, PA-C Robyn Chapman, RN, BSN, CANS Lorraine Roche, RN, Aesthetician 523 S Camino del Rio 970-247-1970

Voted ‘Best Aesthetics Clinic’

durangodermatology.com Photo Copyright StelioMedia.com

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Photos courtesy of Louisa’s Electronics


No Place Like (a Smart) Home We’ve all done it. We leave the house and wonder, minutes or hours later, if we actually turned off all the lights. Did we set the alarm? Did we forget to adjust the thermostat? For Houston and Charlotte Kauffman, those questions are no

66 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

By Zach Hively

longer an issue since they renovated their Dalton Ranch home in the fall of 2020 with a smart automation system. The Kauffmans underwent their electronic remodel with Louisa’s Electronics, a completely Durango-based business. Smart-home automation means that homeowners are able to integrate all their technology systems into a single app and can control everything—from lighting to entertainment systems—to suit their lifestyle. “The first and biggest thing we did with the Kauffmans was to go through the house and replace most of the light switches with Lutron smart light switches,” explains Ericka Curlee, owner of Louisa’s Electronics. “Then we replaced all the window treatments with motorized shades. They’re battery-operated, so the house didn’t need any rewiring to do that.”

The Kauffmans love how quiet the motors are in their new window coverings. This is the second home they have automated, so they knew precisely what they wanted this time around—and Houston kept telling Louisa’s team how he wished they’d gone with the Lutron options years ago. Their experience also means they asked for advanced programming in their integrated lighting-control system. This is one of the key benefits of smart automation: homeowners, with help from Louisa’s, preprogram multiple “lighting scenes.” Say one button is set to “dining.” Press that one and the kitchen lights dim, the dining room lights shift to a warm glow, and the shades on the picture window open. Or press the one that says “welcome” when you come home, and the house initiates a path of light to your

most-frequented areas. “Having an ‘all-off’ button for your lights at the front door or the master bedroom is magical,” Curlee laughs. The motorized window shades are an integral feature of the Kauffmans’ lighting scheme, helping with energy conservation as well as setting different moods. Louisa’s set their coverings according to the astronomical clock, so that the Kauffmans can program certain blinds to close at sundown, a time of day that shifts through the year, for example, or open at an hour past sunrise—whatever they please. This automated timing can let in heat or keep it out, depending on the time of year, and can protect their furnishings from unnecessary UV deterioration. “I love their lighting control system,” Curlee says. “When you have bad lighting in an environment, people know it. They recognize it. It’s like bad acting. When you have good lighting, sometimes people don’t even notice it because it’s so good.” The Kauffmans’ remodel didn’t stop at lighting. It extends from their home

aesthetic to the actual safety of their home. Louisa’s installed a security system utilizing wireless sensors to avoid the cost and damage of installing new wiring. They added a surveillance system with cameras (which have night vision, too). And they installed water sensors in the various areas of the home where pipes could potentially burst. Those sensors also contain temperature sensors, which recognize if the ambient temperature of the home drops below safe levels. “If something like that happened, the Kauffmans would actually get a notification saying there’s a water issue going on,” Curlee says. “That could prevent quite a bit of damage.” The cherry on top is that Louisa’s integrated all of these systems—lights, window treatments, thermostat, security and surveillance, and water and temperature sensors—into a single user-friendly Elan Home Systems app. This streamlined system enables all those systems to work in concert. “When they arm the system,” Curlee says, “they’re also saying they want the thermostat to go to this level, they want the lights to go on this schedule, they want the shades to do this. And when they come home, they disarm the system, and the house knows what they need, because it knows the difference between daytime and dark.” Louisa’s has done all the handiwork, and they continue to work with the Kauffmans on their advanced programming needs. Ultimately, these homeowners will

get to enjoy the ease, the simplicity, and the reliability of the finalized system. For Curlee and her Louisa’s Electronics team, the real joy in designing and installing these automated home systems comes entirely from that single word: home. After all, home sweet home is a state of life more than a standard of living. Home is where we feel safe and welcome, where we can let down our guard and enjoy being with the people we love. Home sweet home isn’t made of bricks and mortar, and it doesn’t get installed by professionals. That relationship goes the other way around—our houses, and the amenities within them, offer us the comfort and peace of mind we need to relax into our truest selves. “When people walk into a space and it feels like home, then I know that I’ve helped them create a place for themselves,” Curlee says. “That’s what I like the most.”



Subscribe to Durango Magazine and two times a year Durango will come to you. Durango Magazine showcases the people, places, events, and history of beautiful southwestern Colorado. Colorful, informative and entertaining. You won’t want to miss an issue. Or, send a welcomed gift to a friend.




68 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

The Highest Quality Homes Come from the Professionals who Belong to the HBASC Savvy builders know they can count on the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado to provide them with educational opportunities and information

to stay at the forefront of the industry. Find top builders and subcontractors in our member directory, or become a member today. Visit us online at hbasc.com.




Photos courtesy of Marona Photography


By Graham Coffey

Upon arrival, the first thing you notice might be the beautiful Douglas-fir siding. As you walk into the home and soak in its attractive contemporary design you see large panes of glass that let in the surroundings. Among many noticeable features are the beautiful high ceilings with exposed beams. The cumulative effect gives the home an aesthetic similar to that of the homes in the Lake Tahoe area, where Greg and Tara Mantell-Hecathorn are originally from. Despite all of this, the thing that really sticks with you after visiting their home is how open it feels. It would be fair to say that it’s hard to tell where the foyer, living room, kitchen, and dining areas be-

70 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

gin and where they end. They are all part of the same large communal space, and the mind immediately envisions large family gatherings, filled with laughter and warmth. As it turns out, the vision is appropriate, since that’s how Greg and Tara live their lives and run their business, Mantell-Hecathorn Builders. Greg and Tara began practicing their craft as custom home builders 45 years ago, when they lived in the Alaskan bush and built homes in Fairbanks. Life took them back to their native California for a time, and finally to Durango. They quickly became one of the area’s most renowned builders, specializing in energy-efficient homes. As master certified

green professionals, they have perfected the practice of building dream homes for others. They have become so good at it that they built their own home in the same ultra-efficient manner that’s earned them their reputation. That house was named the Grand Winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2020 Housing Innovation Awards for a custom home. That means the house meets and exceeds the highest standards for energy efficiency in the housing industry. In addition to energy-efficient appliances, building specifications were designed to keep the interior of the home at the occupant’s desired temperature without wasting heat or air conditioning.

A critical part of earning the DOE ZerH certification is meeting the certification standards of the U.S. EPA Indoor airPlus program for healthy indoor air quality. That means the construction features rarities like triple-pane windows and 9-inch-thick double-studded walls, giving them an R-factor of 42. The airtightness of the home is certified at a Home Energy Rating System Index of 14. In a normal home, that metric averages somewhere between 90 and 100, meaning the Mantell-Hecathorn residence is somewhere between 80 and 86 percent more efficient than the average home. Since it was built for the owners of the company, it would be reasonable to imagine that these features are exclusive to the Mantell-Hecathorn’s home, but the company has found its niche in the Durango market by building custom high-performance homes just like this for its clients, and every one of their projects meets the standards for the Zero Energy Ready home program. You could be forgiven for assuming that a home with so many exact features would take years to build, but you would be wrong. Despite the high level of customization, the 3,300-square-foot home took just six months to construct. The efficiency with which they complete their projects parallels the efficiency of what Mantell-Hecathorn Builders constructs around Durango. It makes sense that, in addition to efficiency, their house is also designed to host loved ones. Mantell-Hecathorn Builders is a family-oriented company, as Greg and Tara’s son, Hunter, is president of the company and on the jobsite of every project every day. Hunter’s wife, Miranda, oversees all aspects of business administration. The company only takes on about four projects a year, and they have their craft down to a science. “We have an A-level group of subcontractors, and they have had experience working together,” says Hunter. “They know how to stick not just to the schedule of the project but the quality standards that we build our homes with.” Hunter calls it “stacking the dominoes tight,” and his promptness is a product of not just experience but also Mantell-Hecathorn’s desire to give every client they work with the absolute highest level of satisfaction. They take



each project start to finish, and many of their projects start when the customer first begins thinking about building their dream home. “The client will say they’re interested in building, and they’ve started looking at land,” Hunter says. “Usually the first time we meet them will be walking a property they’re thinking about buying to build on. When you start from that place you can get a true idea of what the client really wants and help make their vision into reality.” This is what helps the team at Mantell-Hecathorn break a stereotype that most contractors fall under: being over budget. “We are able to direct our client toward decisions that reflect their desires. Since we have done this so many times, we can make open and honest budgets for our customers. Our homes are always on budget if not under, and there are no surprises. The only way something changes in the budget is if it’s from a client-driven order.” The company’s customers often become friends of the Mantell-Hecathorn family, and with that perspective in mind it is easy to understand why the

72 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

firm works so hard to make sure projects stay on schedule and on budget for their clients. Family and friends mean everything to the Mantell-Hecathorn clan, and that’s evident everywhere you look. In the backyard, a playhouse sits in the shadow of the home. It was partially designed by Hunter’s daughter, the granddaughter of Greg and Tara. The playhouse features the same beautiful Douglas-fir siding the home has and includes real windows as well. And the reclaimed redwood siding in the powder room comes from Tara’s family home in California. Before making its way into her parents’ home, it came from the company her father owned. Though the dwellings they live in and build may be a long way from the Alaskan bush, the values of working hard and taking care of people have remained constant. That journey is best summed up by how Greg personally views the family’s story. From building our cabin in the Alaskan wilderness 45 years ago to winning national awards, we have worked hard and have been rewarded with beautiful homes and friends.”




74 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring


Blinds - Shades - Shutters Indoor - Outdoor Residential - Commercial

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Owner operated 970-426-2004 AffordableBlindPros.com

Located inside Silver Creek Design,

3206 N. Main Ave, Durango



A local sourcing story

By Graham Coffey

Photos courtesy of Studs Lumber

“How much of your dollar stays in the local economy?” That’s the question Russ Gartner, owner and founder of Studs Lumber, asks himself every day, and he wants you to ask yourself the same thing. He’s thought about it for years, and he knows for sure how much of your dollar gets circulated throughout the community when you spend it at Studs. Eighty cents goes to the cost of goods, ten cents to the labor at Studs, and eight cents to overhead expenses— like property tax, utilities, fuel, maintenance, marketing, and legal. The two cents left over goes to the business itself as profit. So you might be asking: How does that help the people living our area? Well, there’s an army of people liv76 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

ing off that eighty cents. Studs buys lumber from mills throughout the region—all over southwest Colorado and the Four Corners; and from that, an economy is created. Studs buys from mills that employ workers. Those mills have a need for trees, and that demand creates jobs for the people who harvest tress from our area’s forests. Someone gets paid to drive the truck that brings those trees to the mill. Someone else gets paid to bring the lumber created at those mills to Studs. You might think it stops there, but Gartner takes things a step further as he explains how a mill Studs buys from in Montrose brought its entire workforce to downtown Durango for the company’s Christmas party last year. The company paid for rooms at a locally owned hotel for all of its employees and their spouses. All of those people went to a locally owned restaurant and dined on the company’s dime. The next morning they shopped at stores in

downtown Durango. The ripple effect is huge, but Gartner boils it down simply: “The people who own and work in those businesses are from this region, and when they have money in their pockets, they get to spend it at other local and regional businesses.” Gartner and his right-hand man, Adam Hirshberg, spend their days talking about these types of things. It’s why Studs Lumber has pledged support to as many local mills as they can find, and pledged their support to two others to make them feel comfortable going into business. In fact, despite having just a single-digit percentage of the region’s annual local lumber business, Studs has exceeded $30 million in regional spending since its inception. You might be wondering what would happen if they had all of the region’s lumber business, and they have an answer for that, too. “An extra $47 million would circulate around the region every year.” Gart-

ner pauses before exclaiming: “That’s nine dump truck loads of money circulating in our local economy!” Hearing all of this, it’s hard not to wonder what would happen if fewer dollars were spent on businesses that don’t give back to Colorado. Gartner and Hirshberg point out that by buying the lumber they sell from regional mills, much less money is spent transporting it to Durango. Trends in the lumber industry have moved toward bringing more and more goods in from faraway places like Canada. The cost of transport ends up making that lumber more expensive for the contractor who buys it. It also means they end up charging more to the client who hired them to build their house. Buying from suppliers in our area is a win-win, and that’s before considering all the polluting emissions saved by not driving every truckload of lumber thousands of miles from the Canadian border to Durango. Gartner came to the lumber business in an odd way: by watching it burn. “I was working on the wildfire line and kept seeing these beautiful trees burning up and being wasted and our forests destroyed year after year,” he says. “I recognized that the only way to change the system was to flood it with capitalistic dollars, so those dollars could change the forest products scene in our region, enough that we could buy them instead of letting them burn.” It was this passion that led to Studs Lumber having what might be the most grassroots origin story ever. The business was literally started in a grassy field off County Road 126, near Red Mesa. “I saw our community’s money flowing overseas and across state lines, and I knew it could be done better and we could utilize our natural resources better,” explains Gartner. In the end, his pitch is simple. “You get the same product or better from Studs Lumber as you would from anyone else, and you get it at the same price. Except here, we know your name, and we’re going to take some of your money and invest it back into the community you live in.” So… how much of your dollar do you want to stay in your local economy?


AD V ER T ISER I N DE X 9318 Collective......................................................................................... 30 A Shared Blanket.....................................................................................30 Aesthetics and Wellness Durango.........................................27, 63 Affordable Blind Pros.............................................................................75 Animas Chocolate & Coffee Co.........................................................51 Animas Museum....................................................................................... 37 Animas Trading Company...................................................................15 April’s Garden.............................................................................................64 Artesanos.....................................................................................................22 Aspen Pointe by Sutter Homes.......................................................80 Azul Gallery.................................................................................................30 Backcountry Experience..................................................................... 27 Bank of the San Juans..........................................................................64

78 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring

Barefoot Durango.....................................................................................15 Brown’s Shoe Fit Company.................................................................14 Center of Southwest Studies............................................................69 Closets Plus..................................................................................................74 Coffee Bear..................................................................................................39 Controlled Hydronics Plumbing and Mechanical................ 73 Create Art and Tea....................................................................................31 Crow’s Closet...............................................................................................15 Durango Dermatology..................................................................63, 65 Durango Dog Ranch............................................................................... 37 Durango Furniture & Mattress..........................................................19 Durango Hot Springs Resort + Spa.........................................3, 63 Durango Kids Pediatric Dentistry..................................................68

Durango Magazine..................................................................................68 Durango Mountain Realty..................................................................69 Durango Organics...................................................................................32 Durango Rug Company .......................................................................14 Durango Ski & Patio..................................................................................5 Durango Smoke Shop........................................................................... 37 Earthen Vessel Gallery..........................................................................31 East by Southwest.................................................................................. 47 Eolus................................................................................................................48 Fallen Angel, The.......................................................................................19 Gardenswartz Sporting Goods.........................................................19 Genesis Land and Waterscapes..................................................... 73 Gold Law Firm, The....................................................................................7 Good Karma.................................................................................................19 Guild House Games ................................................................................14 Highlands Residential Mortgage.......................................................1 Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado..........69 Jack’s Meats, Poultry, Seafood..........................................................51 James Ranch Market & Grill..............................................................49 Joyful Nook Gallery..................................................................................31 Kendall Mountain....................................................................................39 Kennebec Wealth Management.....................................................64 La Plata on Main.......................................................................................22 Lively...............................................................................................................23 Louisa’s Electronics................................................................................ 78 Magpies Newsstand..............................................................................55 Mamma Silvia’s Italian Kitchen....................................................... 47 Mantell-Hecathorn Builders Inc................... Inside back cover Maria’s Bookshop.....................................................................................15 McCarty Excavation & Construction............................................80 Nature’s Oasis............................................................................................54 Nayarit Mexican Casual Cuisine.....................................................50 Oh Hi Beverage.........................................................................................32 Olde Tymer’s Café....................................................................................50 Pine Needle Mountaineering and Dry Goods.........................22 Primus...............................................................................................................9 Purgatory Resort.................................................................. Back cover Quality House Interiors........................................................................68 ReLove Consign & Design..................................................................23 Reynolds Ash + Associates...............................................................58 River Liquors..............................................................................................52 San Juan Symphony............................................................................... 37 Scenic Aperture.........................................................................................31 Sears Hometown Stores.......................................................................74 Silver Creek Design................................................................................75 Silverton Chamber of Commerce..................................................39 Silverton Soapbox...................................................................................39 Sorrel Sky Gallery.................................................................................... 31 Southwest Vapor......................................................................................32 Sparrow Mercantile, The.....................................................................22 Strater Hotel................................................................................................53 Studs Lumber............................................................................................. 73 Sun Glass Durango................................................................................. 73 Sunnyside Farms Market....................................................................53 Taco Libre.....................................................................................................52 Teddy Errico, Sotheby’s........................................................................65 Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant...........................................................54 Tippy Canoe................................................................................................23 Toh-Atin Gallery.....................................................................................5, 31 UltraSteam/RugMasters......................................................................75 Urban Market..............................................................................................23 Visit Durango..............................................................................................26 Woodhouse Day Spa, The.........................Inside front cover, 62 Ye Olde Shoppe Durango Upholstery...........................................74



Photo courtesy of AidtoAll

Suzanne Hartley and her family were living on a shoestring budget. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Hartley was no stranger to roughing it, but the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic were stacking up: Their new trailer had to be winterized, home– school supplies purchased, warm layers for their first winter in the mountains acquired. When Hartley learned about AidtoAll, an emergency-assistance nonprofit organization based in Durango, she applied immediately. A few weeks later, $1,200 on a preloaded MasterCard arrived in her mailbox. AidtoAll is a philanthropic startup from Mercury Payment Systems cofounder and former Worldpay executive Matt Taylor. The 501(c)3 charity provides fast, direct funding to people experiencing financial hardship caused by the pandemic. It’s a simple premise. Those who have the financial resources to give can donate online. Those who need help can apply for immediate disaster relief.

“In terms of an efficient transaction, it’s the equivalent of giving $25 to your neighbor,” Taylor explained. As the pandemic unfolded, Taylor watched the sudden and devastating toll it was taking on the Durango community. Amid the crisis, he saw a clear need for a secure, trustworthy solution

for local giving. Taylor reached out to his personal network at Worldpay and beyond, and soon gathered an army of volunteers ready to build AidtoAll. “This was moonshot after moonshot,” Taylor said, adding that building AidtoAll was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done by a country mile.” In August, AidtoAll was launched as a pilot program in La Plata County. Since then, it has raised over $105,000 and awarded funds to 34 local families. AidtoAll has also partnered with Compañeros, a resource center for immigrants in the Four Corners, to assist the local underserved population. Unlike other platforms, AidtoAll does not charge a donation service fee. One-hundred percent of donations goes directly to recipients. A volunteer committee reviews applications and awards funding based on a series of questions addressing income, hardship, and need. Seventy people, mostly in the Durango area, donated in August, including Bill Carver, owner of Carver Brewing Company. He said that Taylor’s history in the area and vision for AidtoAll inspired him to donate. “It’s so scalable,” Carver said. “It’s got people helping people, but it also has the analytics that can attract a bigger audience.” The AidtoAll platform provides detailed metrics on how funding recipients spend their money. According to Taylor, 87 percent of transactions have been used for basic needs. He be-

lieves the platform’s metrics will lead to greater transparency and trust for potential donors. Eventually, AidtoAll will be able to restrict certain types of spending, further ensuring that recipients use the funds as intended. Based on the success of the pilot program, AidtoAll has expanded its operations. In early October, the organization partnered with La Plata County and Local First to serve as the application platform for La Plata Cares, a local grant program developed to distribute CARES Act funding. AidtoAll will also launch a crowdfunding option for small businesses this fall, enabling donors to support local business owners through charitable giving. For the long term, Taylor says he’s working with other states to launch AidtoAll in communities deeply affected by the pandemic. Eventually, the nonprofit could be deployed in response to other crises.

“I want to activate philanthropy,” Taylor said. “And do it in a manner that can be fast, so that we can make the most impact.” For recipients like Suzanne Hartley, the impact couldn’t have come at a better time. “This program has helped me to feel like I’m not just swimming upstream,” she said. “It’s the helping hand when you need it.” 79

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82 Durango Magazine Winter/Spring