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Destination
Durango, Colorado: Fun and Adventure at 6,500 Feet

If you are unfamiliar with this beautiful mountain town, Durango is located in the southwest corner of Colorado. It is located about 340 miles from Denver, Colorado, 215 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico and 240 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The population in Durango, as of 1999, was just under 15,000 residents living within the city limits. The elevation of Durango is just over 6,500 feet and the daytime temperatures average in the mid-40's during the winter and around 80 during the summer. The scenic dog-friendly Animas River Trail runs through the town of Durango. And the dog-friendly San Juan National Forest borders up to the town so you can find plenty of mountain trails for hiking.

According to the Durango Chamber of Commerce, this town was orginally founded by the Anasazi Indians and later named Durango after a town in Mexico which means "water town" - probably because of the river that runs through this city. This Western town was established back in 1880 to serve the coal mining town of Silverton, located just north of Durango. Nowadays, Durango is very popular with tourists. A variety of activites and places to visit welcome you and your dog to this mountain destination.

If you are visiting from out of town, stay at the dog-friendly Rochester Hotel at 726 East Second Avenue in downtown Durango. Built in the late 1800's, this renovated hotel is decorated in the theme of old Western movies and TV shows that were filmed in the Durango area. Westerns made in this area include City Slickers, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, just to name a few. The hotel offers smoke-free rooms with high ceilings, private baths, telephones, cable TVs and more. Located right in historic downtown Durango, you can walk to several dog-friendly outdoor cafes and restaurants. Only two of their fifteen rooms are pet-friendly rooms, so you'll need to make a reservation early in advance. There is an extra $20 per day pet fee. Room rates range from approximately $109 to $209 per night depending on the season. Summer season has the higher rates.

In the morning, when you are looking for a place to eat breakast, look no further than The Buzz House located at 1019 Main Street. It is located less than 1/2 mile from the Rochester Hotel. Buzz's welcomes well-behaved leashed dogs at the tables on their outdoor patio. This cafe will get your day going with a cup of coffee, expresso, or a fruit smoothie. They also serve a variety of pastries and for lunch offer vegetarian and lowfat meals.

At this point, you may want to go for a walk, or at least your pooch probably does. There are two walking trails that we suggest. First, the Animas River Trail is a 5 mile paved trail that runs along the river and through Durango. It's a popular trail with walkers, runners, in-line skaters and of course, dogs. If your pooch wants to cool off along the way, he or she can take a dip in the refreshing river. The north end of the trail can be found at 32nd Avenue and East 2nd Avenue. Second, if you want a more strenuous hike, try the Animas City Mountain Trail. This is a 5-6 mile dirt trail that rises up to the top of a mesa where you can get a great view of the area. Please note that there is a separate trail for mountain bikers and for hikers. From downtown Durango, head north on Main Street. Turn left on 32nd Street and then right on West 4th Avenue.

If you opt more for a casual day, go for a stroll around historic downtown Durango. Window shop or go inside with your well-behaved pooch to some of the dog-friendly stores like Waldenbooks-Downtown, Southwest Book Trader, Toh-Atin Gallery, Half-Price Tees, The Shirt Off My Back or Mountain Treasures Gifts. Or perhaps treat yourself to a horse and carriage ride. Carriages for Hire offers two different 30 minute carriage rides. One will take you and your well-behaved pooch on a tour of the historic district of Durango. The other ride takes you on pleasant country roads. Rates are subject to change, but when we checked the cost was $10 per adult, $8 for teens, $6 for kids and free for your pooch. The carriage rides are located at the corner of 7th and Main, across from the Strater Hotel.

If after exercising, you are ready for a bite to eat, the Cyprus Cafe in downtown Durango welcomes dogs at their popular garden patio. This award-winning Mediterranean restaurant serves lunch and dinner. Try the grilled salmon sandwich, lamb, chicken salad, or gyro for lunch. If you come for the dinner, they serve a variety of entrees including rock shrimp linguini, roasted butternet squash risotto, and portabello mushroom. In addition to the delicious food, you and your pooch can enjoy the live jazz on the patio. This cafe is located within a block from the Rochester Hotel.

If you have an extra day to play in Durango, we recommend a mountain adventure in your own rental Jeep. Four wheeling is a pretty popular summer activity here in Durango. While there are some guided Jeep tours, we didn't find any that welcome dogs. However, you can rent your very own 4x4 Jeep Wrangler, get a map of area backroads and head off for a day of fun and excitement in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. There are some great off-road trails which pass by several old ghost towns in Silverton, about an hour and a half drive north of Durango. Rent A Wreck of Durango allows dogs in their Jeep rentals. Don't let the name fool you, they actually do rent NEW 4x4 Jeep Wranglers. According to Rent A Wreck, they are the only year round off-road 4x4 rental in the area. The charge for a one day Jeep rental is approximately $110 which is pretty much the going rate for a 4x4 in Durango. There is a $20 extra pet fee if the Jeep has lots of doggie hair upon return. Reservations are not required, but it's probably a good idea to reserve a Jeep about a week in advance just in case.

If you want adventure or relaxation, you and your pooch will find it all here in the old western town of Durango. Don't forget that the popular season is the summertime, so if you go, make your reservations early.

Please Note: We want to save dog lovers some time by noting the following places in and around Durango are NOT dog-friendly: Mesa Verde National Park (cannot even seen any points of interest from the road, which is the only place dogs are allowed-and there is not much shade there), Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Durango Mountain Resort. But with all of the other fun dog-friendly stuff, who needs these places anyway?

For more information:

Lodging:
Rochester Hotel, 726 East Second Avenue, Durango, CO, 970-385-1920
For more dog-friendly lodging in Durango, look here

Restaurants:
The Buzz House Cafe, 1019 Main Street, Durango, CO, 970-385-5831
Cyprus Cafe, 725 East Second Avenue, Durango, CO, 970-385-6884

Attractions:
Carriages For Hire, 7th and Main Ave, across from the Strater Hotel, Durango, CO, 970-247-5699
Rent A Wreck of Durango, 21760 Highway 160 West, Durango, CO
970-259-5858

Stores that allow well-behaved dogs only:
Half-Price Tees, 758 Main Street, Durango, CO, 970-259-5601
Mountain Treasures Gifts, 108 East 5th Street, Durango, CO, 970-375-9270
Southwest Book Trader, 175 E. 5th Street, Durango, CO, 970-247-8479
The Shirt Off My Back, 680 Main Street, Durango, CO, 970-247-9644
Toh-Atin Gallery
, 145 West 9th Street, Durango, CO, 970-247-8277
(Art gallery specializing in Native American and Southwestern arts and crafts.)
Waldenbooks-Downtown, 104 E. 5th Street, Durango, CO, 970-247-3838

Parks/Recreation:
Animas River Trail, 32nd Avenue and East 2nd Avenue, Durango, CO
Animas City Mountain Trail, West 4th Avenue, Durango, CO



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