Travel to Southwest Colorado – Episode 663

categories: USA Travel

Travel to Southwest Colorado (Podcast)

Hear about travel to Southwest Colorado as the Amateur Traveler talks to Kelly Beasley and Marshall Wendler from about road trips they have made to Durango and Silverton.

Kelly says, “being from Florida I’ve been very mountain deprived so coming into the state, first of all, it felt right. It almost felt like home. I could see the mountains in the distance and was internally freaking out seeing the snow on top and could not wait to get there. That is one of the biggest draws to the state. The western part of the state is cover in mountains and it’s incredibly beautiful.”

Marshall adds, “it’s one thing to see these mountains in a picture or in a YouTube video, but in person, there is some extremely jaw-dropping scenery in the state. You have to come here at least once in your life.”

Kelly and Marshall recommend a few days based in or near Durango and a few days in or near Silverado. Durango is at 6,522 feet in elevation and Silverton is even higher at 9,318 feet. So while both destinations offer some great outdoor activities, you should pace yourself for the first couple of days. A great activity for the first day might be a ride on the Durango to Silverton railroad which is a steam train that was built to support the mining in the area.

Chris also recommends a side trip from Durango to Mesa Verde National Park and to Chimney Rock National Park which have some very interesting Native American ruins. Mesa Verde, in particular, has a large collection of ruins. At its peak, it may have had around 5,000 residents. 

You can go mountain biking, white water rafting or hiking near Durango. You can also go offroading in a 4×4 or on a local tour.

Near Silverton, Marshall shares some of his favorite drives like the million-dollar highway which is not for the faint of heart as there are no guardrails on this winding mountain road. You can also enjoy a beautiful drive to Clear Lake if you have a 4×4. He also shares some great ideas for hikes including hikes to alpine lakes like Ice Lakes. They have seen moose, bear, beavers, and porcupines in the area.

You can also visit an old mine in Silverton on the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour or visit one of Colorado’s many mining ghost towns.

We talk about where to get great sandwiches, pizza, and funnel cake. Kelly shares her favorite bars, restaurants, and a speakeasy where you have to have a password to get in.

Kelly and Marshall like to visit the area in their RVs where they camp for free on public land. Whether you are boondocking or staying in a grand hotel like the Historic Strater Hotel in Durango, there is much to do (especially outdoors) in this beautiful mountainous part of the Centennial State. 

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Show Notes
Travel to Colorado – Episode 155
Travel to Denver, Colorado – Episode 419
Durango, Colorado
Silverton, Colorado
RGPs – Famous For Our Flame Grilled Wraps
The Bookcase & Barber
Animas River Trail Map
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Vallecito Dam
Colorado Road Trip – Denver, Pagosa Springs, Chimney Rock, Mesa Verde, Durango
Purgatory Resort
Hotels at Purgatory Resort
Historic Strater Hotel, Durango
Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour
Avalanche Brewing Company
Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory
Colorado Ghost Towns
U.S. Route 550 (Million Dollar Highway)
The Hold-Your-Hand Guide To Boondocking Without Fear


Jeff Ohlfs on Travel the Northern Mississippi River Valley – Episode 658 :

Great program on the Upper Mississippi. We spent a couple of weekends there over one Christmas.

I must highly, highly recommend the Alexander Mansion. Richard took excellent care of us, we went back and stayed a second weekend. We had 4 inches of snow which was out of our desert element.

One attraction in Winona often overlooked is the Polish Cultural Museum. While I enjoyed the museum, the real gem is the second floor (by invitation) which houses the collection of a Catholic priest. He managed to save art, fixtures, and just about anything else from churches that were being remodeled or demolished. He has paintings, pews, statues, stained glass, vestments, confessionals, and hundreds of other items stored here. It really is a treasure trove. 

Also, a diversion may be to Caledonia, Minnesota, for the Barn Quilt Tour. 


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Travel to Southwest Colorado (Podcast) | What to do in Southwest Colorado | What to do in Duango and Silverton #colorado #durango #silverton #mesa-verde #chimney-rock #camping #travel #trip #vacation #what-to-do-in #restaurants #with-kids #train #hiking

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

8 Responses to “Travel to Southwest Colorado – Episode 663”

Maunish Patel


I need a transcript for the episode no 662…Piedmont

Chris Christensen


Sorry, I don’t routinely publish transcripts because it costs money and time and I did not see enough value when I did.

Kelly Beasley


Great show Chris! You are a master editor and clearly have a great eye for wonderful destinations.

SW Colorado is a gem of activities, outdoor adventures, wildlife, and gorgeous scenery. Never have I ever felt so at home in any particular state without having a homestead to land on. Thank you for sharing this loved and a bit off-the-beaten-path destination!

Mark Havens


As a Colorado native, I just wanted to update the pronunciation of Ouray. It’s YIR-Ay, not oo-ray, and yes, it’s a bucket list mining town. Southwest Colorado has the most “dramatic” scenery of the state, in my opinion. It isn’t swamped with the tourists and money that central CO is (Vail, Aspen, etc., though Telluride obviously could be lumped with those).

Chris Christensen


I can’t take credit for the editing. Most of my episodes, including this one, are edited by one of two editors who work with me.



The ember catchers didn’t do their job last summer. The Durango Silverton train is blamed for the huge 550 wildfire.

Michael Johnson


I loved the episode. As a current and recent resident of Durango, I felt as if you did a great job explaining the landscape.

Chris Christensen


Thanks, Michael! That’s always a bit of a relief to hear.

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