In an area long settled by Native Americans, nearby Mesa Verde National Park is an incredible monument to the Ute, Anasazi and other Peoples who once called this area home. An archeological treasure, Mesa Verde features ancient dwellings once inhabited by the areas Native Population and was named by National Geographic Traveler as one of The Best Places of a Lifetime to Visit.
Also explored by countless adventurers of old, Purgatory Mountain came into its modern day name in 1776 when several Spanish explorers traveling on the nearby Animas River. Some of their party were lost, and their bodies were never found. The other travelers believed the souls of the lost men would be relegated to Purgatory, and from this legend was born the designation, Purgatory Mountain. Following this legendary expedition, the river was named “El Rio de las Animan Perdidas” or the River of Lost Souls (now the Animas River). The ski area originally opened as Purgatory Resort in 1965, and we now operate as the year-round Durango Mountain Resort.
At its heart, the actual town of Durango is a railroad town with its history being derived from the famed Narrow Gauge Railroad era. Founded in 1880, Durango arose when the Denver & Rio Grande built a narrow gauge track to Silverton, thereby establishing Durango as a hub for smelting ore harvested from mines in the region’s mountains. Visitors can still experience the historic thrill and beautiful scenery of this narrow gauge track aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which has been in continuous operation for 125 years. Durango boasts the 12,000 square foot museum featuring the working portion of the Roundhouse and mint condition engines and railroad cars and bountiful railroad memorabilia.