Have you dreamed of taking your kids to a magical place for real family adventure? Not the plastic adventures of Disney World, but real mountains, real rapids and real trains. Put Durango, Colorado on your must-list, because this town has that, and much more to keep a family actively entertained.
Durango is a medium-sized town nestled in sky high mountains; it’s a casual place where the locals are happy to have you. Durango is home base for the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad operating continuously for 126 years. The Railroad runs vintage steam locomotives, rising up 11,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains. You can ride in an open-air gondola or fully-enclosed coach for the three hour trip to the tiny mining town of Silverton. This trip offers jaw-dropping cliffs and a spectacle of nature certain to impress. Although the tracks were constructed to haul gold and silver, visitors soon realized the views are what made this railroad so special. The train has starred in dozens of famous Westerns.
After a day riding the rails, dinner awaits the hungriest varmints at the Real Texas Barbeque restaurant overlooking the Animas River. While parents relax and watch, the kids can play miniature golf or drive go-carts. The next morning, stop in the friendly Durango Coffee Company for some gourmet smoothies before you try whitewater rafting. We signed up with Outlaw Rivers/Jeep Tour Company.They offer a rafting through class-one to class-four rapids, that is secure enough for small children. Expert guides insure that everyone will go home safe, but wet. You can spend the day picnicking on the river, but bring a wet suit if you plan to swim. Even in August, the Animas is freezing. After the tour, you return by bus to downtown Durango, where Outlaw Tours offers photos of your group riding through the most thrilling rapids. The photos capture the exhilaration and fear on every face, so although overpriced, they are hard to resist. We bought a CD of all four pictures and still laugh when we look at them.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.