Best College Resort: Durango

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010

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The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and one of its conductors. Photo by Matt Inden at Colorado.rom

Durango Ski Mountain, formerly known as Purgatory, has kept its laid back southwest Colorado status with the help of its main crew: university students attending Fort Lewis College. As a mountain resort Durango offers a fun vibe combined with the chill aspect of college-town living. It’s a beautiful paradise not only as a four-year academic, but also as a vacationer diving into a true Colorado college ski town.

Student-dominated terrain

The college student ID is priceless for Fort Lewis locals, and maybe more important than a driving license (just maybe). Students are given discounts like crazy, from day tickets to on-mountain grub, rentals and lessons. A college season pass is half that of an adult, and the practically back-door location drags in a huge chunk of Durango’s 45,000 population.

Both the Fort Lewis College Ski Team and Snowboard Club claim Durango as their practice spot, improving on-hill skills with race courses, three freestyle parks and a smooth pipe. An additional 125 acres has been added to Durango Mountain Resort, making the total number 1,325 skiable acres with 260 annual inches of snowfall.

Over half of Durango’s terrain is dedicated to intermediate groomed runs, though the terrain as a whole is spread out and offers variable terrain, from mogul runs to a challenging backside and easy beginner cruisers. Other winter activities include the Snow Coaster Tubing Hill, snowmobile excursions, moonlight snowshoe tours, the mountain’s well-known snowbiking, and also plenty of nordic trails.

Happening town

Because of its dense student population at Fort Lewis, downtown Durango is home to some of the best music venues and clubs in the mountains, and bands come from all over to jam out in the winter and summer.

Shopping is extensive and offers a lot of choice than other Colorado ski towns. Prices are notably cheaper, sales are frequent, and streets are lined with outdoor gear and college-souvenirs galore.

Dining on and off the mountain usually includes hearty meals and local micro brews in a rustic, earthy setting. Bistros like the Creekside Italian Kitchen and specialty bonuses like The Village Wine Cellar, Market & Deli are added surprises for visitors craving originality. Student rates, like seven-buck deli sandwiches at Purgy’s, are easy to find for budget savers on the mountain and even more in town.

Durango Mountain Resort packages and deals are always available, so consider a Durango vacation as a real Colorado Rocky Mountain experience in the snow.

Hotels in Durango

Historic Strater Hotel: This historic hotels is located in downtown Durango and carries a classic style from the late 1800s. The large antique collection and saloon-style lobby and restaurant sends visitors back to a time of rustic country western living. Rooms are beautiful, luxurious and have many amenities. Visit Historic Strater Hotel.

The Lodge at Tamarron: Places along the scenic Hermosa Cliffs, Tamarron is surrounded by natural and historic beauty. A fitness center and massage treatments are available, with picnic decks overlooking the summertime golf course and a stunning mountain view. Visit The Lodge at Tamarron.

The General Palmer Hotel: With a central Durango location, the General Palmer Hotel shines in comfort and class, with a striking Victorian decor throughout the building and rooms. Staff help ensure a peaceful and private getaway perfect for couples. Visit The General Palmer Hotel.

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