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Downtown Durango, Colorado

The City of Durango ( ) is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of La Plata Countymarker, Coloradomarker, United Statesmarker. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 15,501 in 2005.


The town was organized in September 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) to serve the San Juan mining district. The D&RG chose a site south of Animas City for its depot after Animas City allegedly refused to pay a dowry to the D&RG. The city is named after Durango, Mexico, which was named after Durango, Spain. The word Durango originates from the Basque word "Urango" meaning "water town".


Durango is located at at an elevation of 1988 metres (6523 feet). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.8 square miles (17.6 km²).


Durango is nestled in the Animas River Valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. The Animas River—El Río de las Animas Perdidas or the River of Lost Souls—runs through downtown and boasts gold medal fly fishing waters, and is popular for whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Durango is also popular for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backpacking, rock climbing, hunting, off-roading, year-round fishing, kayaking and golfing.

Durango is near five major ski areas, including Purgatorymarker at Durango Mountain Resortmarker, located twenty-five minutes north of downtown. Located thirty-five miles west of Durango is Mesa Verde National Parkmarker, a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site known for its Ancestral Puebloan Cliff Dwellings.

Durango is known for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroadmarker, a heritage railway which travels from Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton, Coloradomarker on steam-powered trains with rolling stock dating back to the 1920s and before.

Durango hosted the first-ever Mountain Bike World Championships in 1990.

Durango is also home to the Snowdown Festival , an event which includes fireworks and a parade. The parade is the centerpiece and usually occurs the last Friday of January or the first Friday of February. The city is also home to the annual Music in the Mountains summer music festival, which features performances by many of the world's finest classical musicians.

Transportation and Business

Durango is served by U.S. Highway 160 (the Old Spanish Trail) and U.S. Highway 550. Part of U.S. 550 offers high-speed access (primarily a 4-lane, divided highway) to Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker. North of Durango, 550 is nicknamed the Million Dollar Highway.

Durango has a regional shopping center and is served by a major regional airport for southwestern Colorado—La Plata Regional Airport (actually located near Ignacio). Durango-La Plata County Airportmarker is serviced by Lynx Aviation (Frontier Airlines), United Express (United Airlines), and US Airways.



As of the census of 2000, there were 13,922 people, 5,492 households, and 2,603 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,052.4 people per square mile (792.8/km²). There were 5,819 housing units at an average density of 857.8/sq mi (331.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.84% White, .50% African American, 5.51% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 4.12% from other races, and 2.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.31% of the population.

There were 5,492 households out of which 22.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.6% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city, 16.6% of residents are under the age of 18, 26.1% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 29 years. For every 100 females there are 104.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 103.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $34,892, and the median income for a family is $50,814. Males have a median income of $31,812 versus $25,022 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,352. 17.2% of the population and 7.3% of families live below the poverty line. 11.2% of those younger than 18 and 8.9% of those 65 and older live below the poverty line.

Notable residents or natives

Sister cities

References in fiction

  • The 1999 movie Durango Kids describes a time tunnel in the old mines outside of Durango.
  • Durango is the home of Alexander Mahone's wife and young son in the television series Prison Break.
  • Some episodes of Blueberry are located in Durango.
  • A scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed just outside of Durango. The scene where they are jumping from a cliff into the river—the actual jump is not that far and the river is very, very shallow.

See also


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