Durango Mountain Resort, as it has been called the last few years, is a fine, modest-sized, snow sports center in the dramatic San Juan Range of southwestern Colorado. It does not boast huge vertical (just over 2,000 feet), nor acreage (1200 skiable acres), but generally gets good snow and offers up a fairly wide range of terrain (everything but super steep or treeless bowls). The views across the wide Animas Valley to Engineer Peak and other craggy summits is breath-taking, as is the view to the southwest and north where other clumps of high summits rake the skyline.
It also has a compact base village--which is in the process of a significant expansion--with a handful of places to eat and some excellent slopeside accommodations. I’ll never forget hanging out in a hot tub atop one base property years ago looking out across the region as the sun set into a season-ending blizzard.
It has some tough bump runs on the original portion of the mountain, like Styx with its all-a-tilter planes, and Hades. These names—and others scattered about the resort-- reflect back to its early name of Purgatory—a hard to sell that to some folks, I guess. But you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven to be here on a good powder day. The mountain’s generally modest terrain, with a stair-step character, makes for easy-going descents spiked with some fun rollovers and airs—if you choose. The glens and glades of The Legends area are particularly alluring during a storm, and if you like hucking yer meat—there are some substantial cliffs scattered about. You can also ski aspen forests here as beautiful and fun as Steamboat’s famed tree runs. And for park rats, there are two well-designed terrain gardens here.
The combination of pitches and flats can prove challenging for snowboarders, however, especially on the traverses required to get to the resorts further realms.
A high-speed six-pack and a quad, and a handful of older, fixed-grip triples (and even a few doubles) spreads out the crowds fairly well. Other nice touches include the white-linen dining service at Café de los Pinos on the mountain.
For those who don’t like to downhill, the region also offers up a commercial cross country skiing operation (just across the highway from the resort), the chance to ride a shortened version of the famed Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, gambling at an Indian casino, and shopping in the charming town of Durango—just a half hour down the road. Durango also greatly widens the resorts lodging and dining options, from bargain basements to the luxurious Strater and General Palmer hotels. Likewise, nightlife. There's not much going on in the resort village, but town harbors many lively bars, movie houses, theater and other attractions.