Foodies And Ski Lovers Will Thrive At This Scenic Town In A Mountainous State

Just six hours from the Denver area in southern Colorado, Durango is a winter jewel famous for its backcountry-style skiing, untouched wilderness, and stunning winter vistas. The landscape transforms into a winter wonderland once the first flurries start to fall, with an annual snowfall of 71 inches. Despite the chilling temperatures, winters in Durango remain mild and sunny, imitating a shaken snow globe. Durango is home to three primary ski resorts within a 30-mile radius, including Purgatory Ski Resort, Hesperus Ski Area, and Chapman Hill.

Durango is known for sporting a bit of the best of everything. According to The Manual, Durango is ranked second for "Best Ski Towns for Foodies in America," losing the top spot only to Bend, Oregon. Not only is it a prime ski resort town, but locals also know the best places to satisfy your appetite after a long day in the snow. With all the action on the slopes, having a strong culinary scene is essential for refueling after the bitter cold of the outdoors. 

This world-class wilderness playground isn't just the stomping grounds for vacation homeowners looking for a quick weekend escape in the backwoods. Durango's prime outdoor scene attracts professional athletes from various arenas, including Ross Anderson, who is considered the fastest American skier, and professional biker Ned Overend. The rugged mountains and alpine lakes have also made their way onto the silver screen in several acclaimed films, including "The Sundance Kid," "A Ticket to Tomahawk," and "City Slickers" to name just a few.

Kick up some snow at some of Durango's top ski resorts

With no shortage of ski resorts to practice your craft, you have your pick when it comes to choosing a strong home base. Nestled among the icy glaciers in the San Juan Mountain Range, Purgatory is a popular ski resort on 35,000 acres of perfect skiing terrain and unparalleled views. In the spring and summer, Purgatory comes to life in a sea of wildflowers, with their famous alpine slide the star of the show. Wintertime breathes a different kind of beauty into the park, coating the land in a glistening blanket of fresh white powder. The Purgatory Snowcat Skiing Adventure offers some of the best guided backcountry skiing in Colorado, with 7,000 to 9,000 feet of vertical, most suitable for advanced skiiers.

Located just 15 minutes outside downtown Durango, Hesperus Ski Area is a beautiful ski lodge with an average annual snowfall of 150 inches! The grounds are home to 26 trails and 60 designated ski, snowboard, and tubing areas. Skiers are carried up the nearly 9,000-foot summit on a double chair lift before descending the vertical slope. 

While it may not be as large as its neighboring ski resorts, Chapman Hill Ski Area is a great municipal ski and skate facility. A refrigerated skating rink is available throughout the winter in the pavilion and used as a roller skating rink in the summer months. The ski hill is also home to an adaptable terrain park suited for skiers of all skill levels. The slopes paralleling Chapman are also a popular snow tubing destination.

A northwestern foodie paradise

If there are two things locals in this ski town can agree on, it's their mutual passion for wide open spaces and a good farm-to-table meal. With numerous cattle farms and local markets, it's not hard to track down quality, seasonal meals. Durango has a vibrant culinary scene that dances to the beat of several different cultural cuisines, including Japanese, Mexican, and Vietnamese.

A few steps up from the local diner in town, where jeans and a hoodie are acceptable attire, Seasons presents an elegant, yet casual fine-dining setting. This modern American eatery is the perfect spot for an upscale dinner out. Don't skip out on their crunchy fried rice paper or truffle fries when you visit!

Cosmopolitan is a relaxed contemporary Asian bistro founded in Telluride but expanded its market to include an outpost in Durango. The cozy indoor dining space is perfect for cold winter nights, while their outdoor dining patio comes to life in spring and summer. Their crispy salmon nori roll and crab-stuffed chicken breast are both impeccable choices.

A hidden gem on the outskirts of town, the Olde Schoolhouse Cafe is less than 10 minutes from Purgatory Ski Resort and specializes in some of the best pizzas in town. This family-owned pizzeria retained its "Schoolhouse" moniker to preserve the heritage of the local county, as the building was once a schoolhouse back in the day before it was renovated into a dining lounge.