Durango, CO | Bend, OR | Bishop, CA | Ely, MN
Gainesville, GA | North Conway, NH
Durango, Colorado: Put the Mountains First
BY THE NUMBERS:
Elevation: 6,512 feet (1,985 meters)
Median Home Price: $357,000
Nearby Activities: Climbing, skiing, hiking, biking, kayaking, canyoneering
Main Industries: Tourism, higher education (Fort Lewis College), health care, construction
For multisport adventurers seeking a home that has it all, Durango feels like the center of everything. Head uphill and you're in the Rockies, hiking, skiing, and ice climbing in legendary alpine terrain. Hit the lowlands and you're in the Southwest, with year-round access to mountain biking, Anasazi ruins, and slot canyons. Hang around town and you'll discover Main Street's Wild West character and a thriving community euphoric about life in America's premier outdoor hub.
Unlike other recreation boomtowns throughout the West (such as Bend and Moab), Durango's population has remained nearly constant since 2000. But that's about to change: This summer, builders broke ground on Three Springs, a 2,300-unit development that could increase Durango's population by a third. The project means more affordable housing in a market brimming with $500,000 homes; it also means even tighter competition for jobs in the service-oriented economy. As Durango grows, the most successful transplants will be those with independent or telecommuting careers.
Plan on becoming proficient at several outdoor activities here. Your options include paddling the canyons of the Animas River with Durango River Trippers ($25 for two hours; www.durangorivertrippers.com) or climbing the East Animas sandstone with SouthWest Adventure Guides ($155 a day; www.mtnguide.net). But the true jewel of Durango is the Colorado Trail (www.coloradotrail.org)—winding and climbing for more than a hundred miles as it travels near town, it's the definition of easy-access backcountry and the reason why you'll never tire of Durango. "There's gonzo downhill and flatter, easier trails," says Patti Zink, a 20-year Durango resident and owner of Durango Mountain Bike Camp (www.bike-camp.com), which offers custom multiday tours. "And you can ride it all from home."
Getting There: Durango is 340 miles (548 kilometers) southwest of Denver. America West Airlines connects to Durango-La Plata County Airport through Phoenix; United Airlines, via Denver.
Where To Stay: General Palmer Hotel ($85; www.generalpalmerhotel.com) is a
19th-century Victorian landmark in the center of town.
Where To Eat: Try the bison bratwurst and the Iron Horse oatmeal stout at Carver Brewing Co. (www.carverbrewing.com).
Moving There: Durango Chamber of Commerce (www.durangobusiness.org). Check www.bcarllrealty.com for real estate listings.
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