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Old 03-14-2012, 02:59 PM
 
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Do know that Labor Day weekend is the annual Harley-Davidson motorcycle run, and it was in Durango when I was there on L.D. weekend. Don't know if that's every year, but it's sure a good time to be around unless you find tens of thousands of motorcycles for 50 miles around to be romantic.
I also disagree with Jazz on this one. There's a world o' difference between Durango, and say, Telluride/Vail and other ski-focused mega-rich towns. Jazz would have you have a real western experience with no one from anywhere but that town, retired miners limping around and people only wearing jeans if they wear them to work outside. A world that hasn't existed in many places for a long time. I see nothing wrong with some restaurants and horseback riding or jeeping (which I think he likes for himself?) without it being wall-to-wall L.A. (a feeling I certainly got in Telluride. Glad I don't ski).

 
Old 03-14-2012, 03:19 PM
 
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It's hard for me, as a native Coloradan, to have much of a "Western" experience in Durango, when it can take 20 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic to drive through a town that's not that long from end-to-end. It's hard to have a Western experience when many of the people walking on Main Ave. have Eastern accents, or are speaking German or Japanese--and if you mention that you are a Colorado native that's known Durango for nearly a half-century, you're looked at like something from another planet. It's hard to have a Western experience when mostly what you see for the first 15 miles north of Durango is a bunch of yuppie/affluent retiree/trust-funder subdivisions. The Durango & Silverton Railroad is about the most authentic thing about the town, but the latter-day transplants are constantly b****ing about the smoke from that and many of them would just as soon have the railroad go away. Durango is just great these days if one is seeking a tourist trap selling a tourist vision of the West instead of anything resembling the real thing. But, if the OP, as an example, is seeking a true Western experience without all of the fluff and bull****, then there are better places to go. At least Durango is better than Sedona, the latter being about most pretentious, phony place in the entire United States (excepting maybe Aspen or Telluride).
 
Old 03-14-2012, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,725 posts, read 15,617,456 times
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jazzlover wrote:
if you mention that you are a Colorado native that's known Durango for nearly a half-century, you're looked at like something from another planet.
Do you really expect us to believe that you're not from another planet? Just joking with you buddy.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 03:28 PM
 
Location: South Central Nebraska
350 posts, read 562,458 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
It's hard for me, as a native Coloradan, to have much of a "Western" experience in Durango, when it can take 20 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic to drive through a town that's not that long from end-to-end. It's hard to have a Western experience when many of the people walking on Main Ave. have Eastern accents, or are speaking German or Japanese--and if you mention that you are a Colorado native that's known Durango for nearly a half-century, you're looked at like something from another planet. It's hard to have a Western experience when mostly what you see for the first 15 miles north of Durango is a bunch of yuppie/affluent retiree/trust-funder subdivisions. The Durango & Silverton Railroad is about the most authentic thing about the town, but the latter-day transplants are constantly b****ing about the smoke from that and many of them would just as soon have the railroad go away. Durango is just great these days if one is seeking a tourist trap selling a tourist vision of the West instead of anything resembling the real thing. But, if the OP, as an example, is seeking a true Western experience without all of the fluff and bull****, then there are better places to go. At least Durango is better than Sedona, the latter being about most pretentious, phony place in the entire United States (excepting maybe Aspen or Telluride).
Jazzlover I would like to have a more authentic experience. If you need to PM that's fine. I was hoping Durango being so far from the Front Range and the Denver Metro Area that the traffic would not be wall-to-wall like Estes Park. I went last Fourth of July weekend and it was obscene. The scenery was beautiful but I'd never been so disappointed by the amount of people in one place in my life! Hopefully Durango is not like that. We will avoid holidays and will mostly be there during the week in August.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Durango, CO
118 posts, read 252,247 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
when it can take 20 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic to drive through a town that's not that long from end-to-end.
For the record, this has never happened to me since we moved here. You must have been driving through during the Fake Wild West Gathering. I have, however, had to wait for fairly long periods of time on local roads (both paved and unpaved) to wait for "fake" cowboys to move their cow and sheep herds through.

I must have low expectations, as an East Coast transplant. But, again, as someone who's actually here every day, I can tell you I see a LOT more cowboy hats and Carharts than dresses or Polo shirts...by a wide margin. Hell, I see guys walking around with well used spurs on a regular basis.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 04:02 PM
 
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Wink Durango in romance and excursion

Durango is surely a better choice for a honeymoon than Cortez, in scenery, services, and most all else.

As far as Mesa Verde NP is concerned, it is well worth the visit, and not all that much farther from Durango than from Cortez. In August, expect a fair number of tourists, although that the case for anywhere in Colorado they would go from mid-June to when school begins in mid-August, and a good number tapering in or out on either side of that time frame. Nevertheless, if the slightest interest, Mesa Verde is a beautiful and fascinating place.

If your interest in Native American culture extends beyond just the better part of a day spent, you might also visit Hovenweep NM, the majority of it located in far southwest Colorado, next Utah. Chaco Canyon NP, in northwestern New Mexico, would be a feasible drive from Durango as well, and is as distinctive in its own unique way as these two other Anasazi sites are.

For something less ancient, the Navajo Nation covers the entire northeastern section of Arizona, from shortly north of Flagstaff, AZ, and overlapping into Utah and New Mexico. Various branches of the Ute tribe reside in far southwest Colorado. If so interested, it is entirely possible to spend some time in a lot of driving through very open desert country, and see a place most Americans have not, save possibly in some movie. One possibility would be in cutting south on US 191 to Chinle, AZ, and a visit to scenic Canyon de Chelly NM. From there one could either backtrack, or a bit farther south to then east through Window Rock, which is the capitol of the Navajo Nation.

While US law nominally applies throughout the Navajo Nation, as within a very large, semi-sovereign, reservation, one will have the sense, and in fact be in a place where many of the customs and order of the world accustomed to and thought known to exist do not. One will have all the better sense of this if visiting the land of the Hopi, which resides as a spiritual island of sorts in the middle of the Navajo Nation. But also if departing from ordinary paths, such as across the Chuska mountains, paralleling the state line between Arizona and New Mexico. Although that not recommended unless the right vehicle, and some determination.

From Window Rock, assuming ever that far south, one could continue into Gallup, NM, which for good and ill has a robust Native American presence. From there one could return north on US 491 (which used to be US 666, until some thought that too demonic). It is an interesting drive, perhaps, if one has never been there, although rather dry and flat. Or of course one could loop on farther around through Crownpoint, NM, and find their way up through Chaco Canyon NP. If that, be advised that it is dirt road for a good distance into the park from north or south (and due weather at times, a good idea to check in advance on local conditions). It might be added that rustic camping is possible at Chaco, as well Hovenweep for that matter, and in either place it might be a rather special experience. Not as much so as directly in the ancient stone ruins, which they will not allow (unless sneaking in), but still certainly different.

In a different direction, and something far more green and lush, heading up US 550 towards Silverton offers a magnificent mountain drive, and fabulous scenery. The road crests up over several high passes, but you'll get there as well if taking the old narrow gauge steam train along the Animas river. Highly recommended (the drive, that is), even if one only travels part way. But in no way regretted if continuing on as far as the very picturesque town of Ouray.

One could easily never venture far from Durango and have a lovely time. In that respect, venturing up to Ft. Lewis College, above town, can afford a superlative view of the valley and mountains to the north. But one is also in great road trip country, assuming willing to spend the time in the long distances involved. One might, perchance, drive up to Ouray, maybe spend the night there, and then continue around in a very long loop back around through Lake City, over Wolf Creek Pass, and eventually back to Durango. Or the reverse of that, as well.

One thought on lodging. If any number of options in Durango, many of them are respectable enough but otherwise not all that special. Even in August (although booking in advance a good idea) it shouldn't cost a fortune to arrange for something memorable (in a good way). For most activities, you'll probably want to be located in the south part of Durango, near the train station; it can be a rather long drive from north to south through town with all the stoplights, if just trying to get about. The Strater or General Palmer hotels would provide a good central location, although unless updated their rooms perhaps 'historic.' But Durango is not Aspen; there should be good, solid, and not exorbitant, choices in lodging.

Anyway, there is a lot of lovely country, and much to see and do if so desired.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 04:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jchasse View Post
For the record, this has never happened to me since we moved here.
Well, it's happened to me about 4 times in the last 4 months. All but about 3 of the times I've been through Durango in that period--those three times when traffic was low being either very late at night or early in the morning. It's even worse during tourist season.

As Idunn points out, Durango is close to some superlative geography--that I've never argued. I just like more authentic and less crowded places to stay when I'm exploring that geography. For the record, though, I don't need yuppie bars and restaurants, tourist trinket shops, fancy shows, or Western fakery to be content. In fact, I avoid all that crap as much as possible--if I want that stuff, I take a trip to Denver. For me, the attraction for southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico is not that stuff, but rather the places that DON'T have it, but do have superlative scenery, abundant wildlife and a minimum of human intrusion.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Durango, CO
169 posts, read 302,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
"when it can take 20 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic"
The only way it would take more than 10 minutes to traverse the mean streets of Durango is if the battery on your Hoveround wasn't properly charged. Hell, the free trolley runs on 20 minute cycles and it's NEVER late, so it's inconceivable that an adult of sound driving ability should take longer than a ten-ton trolley making a dozen stops. Does Colorado pull driver's licenses at a certain age? If not, this thread makes me think it should. 20 minutes?...bwahahahaha.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 07:53 PM
 
11,675 posts, read 22,314,761 times
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Driving down 550 through Durango at the heart of tourist season (as I did) is certainly an authentic no by-pass, tee-shirt shop experience, yes. Yes, there are latex mountain bikers and a sort of non-authentic look to a lot of the signs over shops. This is all along Main Street, again, at least during tourist season.
I think almost anywhere where people would want to visit, especially for a major event like a honeymoon, is going to have place(s) to stay and places to eat that are not from the old days, unless it's a place that used to be fancy (like Ouray during the mining) and that is now more tourist-fancy.
Places change. There are way too many people in this country compared to a few decades ago, and people in the baby-boom age are the leading edge of the problem. If you're not living where you're from, you're part of the problem of other places building up. (I was part of the problem and knew it, as an early south Jersey suburban dweller, watching the farms go down one by one over time).
Jazz, I think the word "yuppie" was long ago retired for lack of meaning. (To me, it meant a go-go business/financial person in New York who had a poster of Lee Iacocca on his dorm wall at Harvard). Not everyone visiting is coming from the mines or fields or working railroad, and even the wonderful Silverton line is only for tourism now. I do realize there are levels and degrees of the obnoxiousness development (and I am not so pro-growth or anything as some other poster(s)) but if people weren't visiting Durango, there'd be little there for people to make money from. I know ag and animal husbandry and all are genuine businesses, but don't they rely on the water that is slowing, if it's due to climate change (and worse, if it's due to suburbs further north).
I guess this gets me because I am a frequent visitor to the area, I am not from there, and if I moved there, it would be with my earnings from life on the East Coast. (Although, since I make a living washing Alzheimer's butts and dodging punches with my license, I don't think I'd quite make it as a yuppie by any definition).
I think the OP's would love a honeymoon headquartered in Durango. The additional suggestions of places to go sound wonderful for any kind of trip. I'm taking notes.
 
Old 03-14-2012, 07:57 PM
 
11,675 posts, read 22,314,761 times
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For the OP, another suggestions. Valley of the Gods B&B, technically in Mexican Hat, Utah, but really in the middle of some 300,000 acres of federal land. The original ranch house with several acres was retained in private ownership and rehabbed into a several-room B&B, complete with a tiny apartment in the root cellar. It was quite a feeling, dining by candlelight on the porch, with no one else but the few visitors and hosts around. The cook at the time was a retired woman who also ran archeology classes from Crow Creek Canyon Arch., in Cortez. It's a fascinating drive from Durango to the B&B and absolutely worth the drive (and the reservations).
Best wishes on the trip.
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