Purgatory Winter Activities


Purgatory Winter Activities

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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 is 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 in the area, and both cat ski operations are particularly well suited to strong intermediate and advanced riders who are trying to get more experience in the powder.

Purgatory Snowcat Adventures offer cat skiing in a large tenure of 35,000 acres. The day’s adventure starts at the Purgatory Resort.

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.

For those who like to earn their turns, San Juan Expeditions 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 20km 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, 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. They also have dinner sleigh rides that include a menu appropriate for the kiddies.

Snowshoe Tours

Purgatory Resort offers snowshoe tours in the San Juan National Forest in either the morning or afternoon. 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.

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 native Americans 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 native Americans 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.


If the muscles are aching from skiing or snowboarding, the perfect remedy is a soak at the Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa. The facility is located 8 miles north of downtown Durango and 15 miles south of Purgatory Ski Resort. The resort offers mountain views, multiple mineral hot springs pools, private tubs, saunas and a swimming pool. The resort also offers a full complement of spa treatments.

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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