Our plan was to hike about 8 miles south of Pagosa Springs to Opal Lake (4 miles round trip). Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. As soon as we reached Colorado, the dark clouds rolled in and the lightening filled up the sky.
And then there was this....
I've never seen the sky look like this in my life, and of course we were heading right for it. It brought us two hailstorms before we made it to Durango. We checked into our amazing studio, put some warmer clothes on, and headed down to historic, downtown Durango. One block off Main, on 2nd Street, is Steamworks - a great brewery with good food too! We managed to spend several hours eating, drinking, and watching football, before heading back to our studio for the evening.
Day 2 - Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The next morning, we woke up early to walk to the train station from our studio. It was a two mile walk along the Animas River Trail. I just love checking out different town's trail systems! Our early morning walk was right along the river and the train tracks for much of the trail. We stopped at Durango Coffee Company on Main Street for a delicious latte before catching the bus up to Silverton.
My dad and his girlfriend had done the train ride before and recommended only doing the train one way. The train ride is 3 1/2 hours long one way. I am so glad we did it the way we did it. 7 hours on the train is just way too long! Plus, the bus gave us an opportunity to see some different views. Also, the bus gets up to Silverton a little earlier than the train does, so it felt like we had the town to ourselves until the train arrived.
A couple tips about the train:
1. We got an online deal of 10% off the bus up/train back package. The standard tickets are $97 a piece before the discount, so the discount helped a bit.
2. I recommend sitting on the right side of the bus/train going up, and the left side coming back into Durango. Overall, the views are much better on that side.
Once we got to Silverton, we decided to grab a bite to eat before the crowds from the train arrived. There are plenty of options to choose from. I wasn't blown away by our choice, but it was a small mom & pop diner that seemed to be the locals' choice. After some breakfast for lunch, we took off to explore this adorable mountain town.
We took a short walk up the hill to the Christ of the Mines Shrine. It's a place where few people go and probably has some of the best views of the town and mountains.
We had 2 1/2 hours in Silverton. The bus arrived around 11am and we had to board the train at 1:35pm. This was a good amount of time to spend walking around and taking pictures. A lot of people spend that time shopping in the little shops, but that isn't exactly what Allyson and I call fun. Instead, we spent our time walking around and checking out the adorable houses and barns.
Before boarding the train, we stopped at a little jerky stand and splurged on some elk jerky. (I call $12 for a small pouch of jerky splurging.) Other options included alligator, salmon, venison, and beef. The elk was delicious!
After much deliberation and research online, I decided to book us seats on the open-air gondola on the train. I'm really glad I did. It wasn't that cold and the fresh air was nice when we were on the train for 3 1/2 hours. Not to mention, I could get a lot better pictures from there. The only negative is the soot from the coal. We both wore sunglasses and it wasn't really that bad.
For the first 30 minutes or so, the right side of the train had better views than the left. But I was patient. Below are just some of the amazing views we saw on our train trip back to Durango. Of course, some of it was just too incredible to capture by camera and required me to just soak it in without worrying about a picture.
Honestly, this day was beautiful and exhausting. However, mostly it was just a tease. The San Juan Mountains (which is where Silverton, Durango, Telluride, etc. reside) are full of incredible hiking and backpacking. I had tried to plan a week long backpacking trip to do before Allyson started her internship in Santa Fe, but we went home to the Bay Area instead. Now, having been here, I know we have to get back here for some serious backpacking. It's a must-do for any hiking enthusiasts!