Activities & Tours

Durango Activities

One of the fantastic aspects to a Purgatory ski vacation is that it doesn’t just have to be about skiing and snowboarding. There are a plethora of other activities at Purgatory Ski Resort and in the historic town of Durango and surrounding areas.

Purgatory Ski Tours and Activities

There are a few options for those who want to go skiing or boarding but need something a bit different.

Powder hounds can go cat skiing. Silverton Powdercats (formerly El Diablo Snowcat Skiing) is only 20 minutes northeast of Purgatory Ski Resort. In addition to some great tree skiing, they have lots of wide open faces where you can let it rip. This is a great place to satisfy your addiction for powder, and it sure beats hiking at Silverton Mountain. The Powderhounds have conducted a review of Silverton Powdercats

For those who like to earn their turns, Kling Mountain Guides offer backcountry skiing tours that vary from half day tours to multi-day hut trips. They also offer a range of avalanche courses and ice climbing courses.

Nordic Skiing

The Nordic Center at Purgatory is located opposite the ski resort across highway 550 about a quarter mile north. The center has 15km of cross country trails that are groomed for both classic cross country and skate skiing. They have ski rentals on site and offer group and private lessons.

Family Skiing and Activities

Herperus ski area is a little ski hill suitable for families and those who don’t want to pay a pretty penny to ski. Herperus is open for night skiing except Sundays, and there are green, blue and black trails, a terrain park, half pipe and tubing hill. Hersperus ski area is located 11 miles west of Durango on highway 160 on the way out to Mesa Verde. Tubing is also available at Durango Mountain Resort at the Columbine base area.

Chapman Hill is another family ski hill open for night skiing. It’s only tiny but there is also an indoor ice skating rink to keep the kids entertained. Chapman Hill is located in the town of Durango at 500 Florida Road.

Another good family activity is an evening horse-drawn sleigh ride with Buck’s Livery. These leave from Purgatory Resort at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm. They also have dinner sleigh rides that include a menu appropriate for the kiddies.

Snowshoe Tours

Purgatory Resort offers a variety of snowshoe tours in the San Juan National Forest including half day tours, full day tours, and moonlight tours with a wine and cheese party at the Powderhouse. The tours include the snowshoe rental. Tours can be booked through Guest Services at the resort.

Adventure Activities

Snowmobiling is great fun for families or for those wanting a bit of an adventure, and Snowmobile Adventures are conveniently located at Purgatory Resort. The guided tours travel along a variety of trails including groomed trails and narrow trails amongst the trees, and open areas up in the spectacular alpine. The views are stupendous, and driving a reasonably powerful snowmobile is plenty of fun. They offer a range of 1 to 4 hour tours with flexible departure times. See the Powderhounds' review of Snowmobile Adventures for more information.

Purgatory ski resort is a great place to try snowbiking which is super fun. Snowbiking is much easier to learn than skiing or snowboarding, so it’s good for those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard, or for those looking for something new to do. All riders must be certified or take a certification course from the Purgatory Ski and Ride School before snowbiking on the slopes. Snowbikes can be rented from Purgatory Rentals and lessons are also available.

Another activity is fishing, but rather than boring old ice hole fishing, go fly fishing with Animas Valley Anglers who provide guided fly fishing excursions during winter in nearby rivers. They can also provide lessons and the apparel to keep you dry and warm. 

Mesa Verde

A visit to the Mesa Verde National Park is an absolute highlight of any ski holiday to the Durango area. Mesa Verde is an archaeological attraction where American Indians settled around 600 A.D. The National Park shows the ancient dwellings of the Pueblo Indians and demonstrates their progression from being semi-nomadic, to the cliff dwellings, to the mysterious abandonment of the area in about 1300 A.D. The cliff dwellings in particular are fascinating knowing that the Indians went rock climbing every day to tend to their farms up on the mesa (plateau).

During winter not all the trails to the archaeological sites are cleared so they are not open to walkers, although it’s possible to cross country ski around various trails. The museum doubles as a visitor’s centre in winter, and the Mesa Top Loop is open during winter as well as the Spruce Tree House. Visiting Mesa Verde during winter provides the distinct advantage of being able to avoid the hordes of tourists that visit during summer, and the colours of the rock contrasted against the snow provide dramatic views.

A trip to Mesa Verde is a good half day excursion. From the town of Durango it’s a 40 minute drive to the National Park entrance, and then a further 40 minutes up the mountain to the museum depending on road conditions. To get there, drive west on highway 160 through the town of Mancos, and then the turn off is well sign-posted. The road up is paved but it can be snow covered or have icy patches.  

If you don’t have your own vehicle there are various transport outfits that do tours to Mesa Verde. Buckhorn Limousine is one example. 

Leisure Activities

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is another popular tourist activity in the area. During winter the train rides don’t go all the way to the town of Silverton, but the trip is spectacular nonetheless with the tracks passing through canyons and along cliff edges. It is a 5 hour trip with trains departing at 10am. If you don’t have enough time to go on the train ride, just visit the Railroad Museum for a taste of a bygone era. 

If you have an urge for some gambling, the Sky Ute Lodge and Casino has various tables and slot machines. It’s located about 15 minutes outside Durango with free shuttles that leave from downtown.

Relaxation

If the muscles are aching from skiing, the perfect remedy is a soak at the Trimble Natural Hot Springs. They have two mineral hot pools open to the public (except Wednesdays when it’s closed), and also have various spa treatments on offer. Trimble Hot Springs is located 8 miles north of Durango on the way back from the ski resort. 

The new Purgatory Lodge at Durango Mountain Resort also has a full service day spa.

Purgatory Durango Activities & Tours Listings

Snowmobile Adventures Durango, Colorado Snowmobile Adventures
Take a backcountry tour in the spectacular San Juan mountains and experience the thrill of snowmobiling  at the same time. Operates 9-5 daily 7 days a week from Durango Mtn Resort. Tours from 1 hour.

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