This place we call home... Durango,
La Plata County, Colorado USA on Planet Earth

A BLOG about what's happening around Durango (and a little about real estate) by your LOCAL GUIDE, Jim Wotkyns, Broker at The Wells Group.

Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area will open for the 2020 season

May 15th, 2020


Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area will open for the 2020 season with modified hours and recreational operations due to COVID-19. To ensure the safety of lake staff and the public, Lake Nighthorse requests that members of the public wear a face covering, bring a personal supply of hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing of six feet apart, and do not gather in groups of ten or more.


Season passes and 5-punch passes are available for purchase online and day passes may be purchased by credit card or exact cash at the entrance station.


The lake will be open Friday, May 15th, Saturday, May 16th, and Sunday, May 17th from 9am-4pm allowing the following watercraft only: stand-up paddleboard, kayak, and canoe. No trailers permitted. No exceptions. On-site rentals from Four Corners Riversports will be available.


Daily operations begin Friday, May 22nd from 9am-4pm. All watercraft with a valid green seal and receipt indicating that they have been inspected and if necessary, decontaminated, will be permitted. No full decontaminations will be conducted at Lake Nighthorse until further notice.




Durango from above!

May 15th, 2020













Photo credit:  Jerome Bleger






VALLECITO LAKE – What’s Open (with restrictions)

May 11th, 2020

Vallecito Lake is open for business. However, there are still health code restrictions and guidelines in place. Social distancing and personal safety are the greatest concern in our area at the moment, so in order to have a great summer and enjoy the outdoors, we must all do our part in being mindful of these guidelines that have been put into place. If you’re headed to Vallecito Lake this weekend, check out what is open, what can be utilized and most importantly how to follow these recommendations to keep us all safe, while still having fun at the beautiful Vallecito Lake.


THE BOAT RAMP  – The boat ramp located on the west side of the lake will be open. This is the only boat ramp open so please be patient with this process. Also, note that you will need to be passing normal boat inspections and to be sure that you have a Colorado regulated registration as well as a day or annual permit for your boat. More information on how to register your boat in Colorado can be found here. Free boat inspections will be held at the marina before boat launching will be permitted to ensure no invasive species are on your boat.


THE MARINA – The marina will remain closed until further notice.


FISHING – Fishing licenses can be purchased at the marina for either single day use or annual passes. However, at your convenience due to social distance restrictions, it is suggested that you purchase your license online.  You can do so here on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.


TOUR OF CARVINGS – The Tour of Carvings is an artistic construction of carvings surrounding the lake that was created after a devastating forest fire back in 2002. These carvings are unique, intricate and tell a fascinating story of a community’s rebirth after being so heavily affected by a natural disaster. Check out their website for a complete back story and an interactive map of where to find these magnificent carvings as you drive around Vallecito Lake.


DAY USE AREAS – Day use areas will be open around the circumference of the lake, however you must purchase day passes in order to utilize these areas. You can purchase a day pass at any of the several pay stations around the lake, at the marina, or you can visit the Pine River Irrigation District which is at just south of the dam before you get to Vallecito Lake.  Please be courteous of others and only park in designated parking areas.















RESTAURANTS  – It’s picnic time at the lake and LOCAL restaurants are open for carry out.

  • Fur Trappers Steakhouse
  • Vallecito Lake Country Market
  • Weminuche Woodfire Grill


CAMPING – National Forest campgrounds are to remain closed until June 1st or until further notice. Free camping areas in the backcountry are permitted, but there is a fire ban in effect with no open flames allowed.


HIKING – The Vallecito River Trail is open, located at the end of county road 500. This is a great trail along the river that can take you all the way to Silverton. Stop at any point, with views like this you won’t need to make a trek, but it’s a fun trail to enjoy on a nice sunny day.  The Lake Walking Trail loops around the entire circumference of the lake! Enjoy the lake at every angle without having to make the cold plunge into the water.


FIRE BAN INFORMATION – All open flame and campfires are strictly prohibited. If you are adventuring into the backcountry, please respect these rules and don’t tempt a campfire. If you have private property, you may have small fires and BBQ grills. You can find the complete fire restriction information guidelines here on the Durango Fire Department’s website.


BYOS (Bring Your Own Supplies) – For your own convenience due to social distance restrictions, it would be beneficial to bring your own supplies. It is going to be a busy weekend and stores only permit five customers in at a time. Therefore, try to bring your own drinks, snacks and other necessities for a great time out by or on the water!


TRASH – Please be advised that there are no public trash facilities currently open in Vallectio. Be mindful and respectful of the beauty around you and be sure to pack out your own trash.















Source:  May 8, 2020 | Faith Owen



Almost One Hundred Years Ago…

May 5th, 2020

The Wells Group building at 1130 Main Avenue, Durango Colorado 81301


The Wells Group block on Main Avenue almost 100 years ago.


Circa early 1920’s, since the Good Year Station sign says “Foley Tire Shop”, which changed the name to Model Tire in 1925.


Courtesy of La Plata County Historical Society



We will be ready for your visit…soon!

May 5th, 2020

Visit Durango Colorado




With 30% of our local economy fueled by tourism and 1-in-4 jobs in Durango being a byproduct of our tourism industry, we monitor travel trends in our area because it impacts real estate.


This week, Durango’s tourism entity, VISIT DURANGO, reported results from a traveler sentiment survey gauging the impact of Stay-at-Home in which 1,000 responded. Two-thirds said it will be at least one month after the order is lifted before they feel safe to travel. Although our nation was expecting a strong summer for drive-vacations due to low fuel prices, now international travel will be replaced by domestic “bucket list” destinations.


In addition, our area is better positioned for recovery for these reasons:




  • Durango area is considered a “drive destination” and stopover when visiting several national parks, like Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon.


  • Our nearby scenic by-way, the Million Dollar Highway, is breathtaking from within a vehicle.


  • Our area is rural, remote, less populated than urban destinations.


  • Our mid-tier pricing is less expensive than more luxurious spots and will be desirable by many due to less discretionary income.


  • Variety of lodging alternatives (boutique hotels, vacation rentals, RV camper parks) where sanitizing can be managed easier versus mega hotels in big resorts.


  • Quality and variety of outdoor recreation options allowing physical-distancing, like mountain biking mecca, scenic road cycling routes, river rafting, hiking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, boating, fishing, camping, hot springs, etc.


  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad expects to be operating this summer adhering to health regulations.




Travel ideas at VISIT DURANGO




May 1st, 2020

For an up-to-date RESTAURANT dining, delivery and take-out list, along with CSA (community-supported agriculture) for farm fresh food check out DURANGO STRONG.








UPDATE – 49th Annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic – CANCELLED FOR 2020

April 29th, 2020

Gaige Sippy, Director of Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, announced…

2020 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic has been completely CANCELLED.  It is the first time in over four decades that the IHBC has not held an annual event.  We are saddened by this disruption, but feel the overall uncertainty outweighs the possibility at this point. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our riders and communities, and this is the best decision we can make in that context.


Posted 4/29/2020

49th Annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic – delayed, but coming soon

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic race-the-train to Silverton has not only been an event in Durango for almost 50 years, but a weekend of biking festivities and fun around our community during the entire Memorial Day weekend. It will be missed this Memorial Day, but won’t be missed long – pending rescheduling.


Given the COVID 19 Pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic to a date to be determined, registration is closed. Please click here to enter your email if you would like an alert when registration reopens.

The Origins of the Iron Horse

Brothers Tom and Jim Mayer concocted the idea behind the first Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Jim worked as a brakeman on the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, which had operated the steam-powered line between Durango and Silverton since the 1880s. Tom was a young bicycling enthusiast who enjoyed riding alongside the railroad tracks.

One day in 1971, Tom challenged his older brother to a race to Silverton. Steam engine versus bicycle. They wagered a candy bar on the results.

When Jim pulled into the Silverton station, there was Tom, waiting for him. He’d beaten the train, despite having a longer road and having to climb two mountain passes. He won his candy bar, alright, and he had no idea that he had just started a famous race that would draw thousands of riders to southwest Colorado.


The First Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

Tom decided the best way to get others to try his favorite ride was to start a race. So in 1972, a group of 36 riders celebrated the train’s first run of the spring by accepting his challenge. Five of them managed to beat the train to Silverton, and it’s been all uphill since then.

For the last half-century, the Iron Horse has become one of the premier bicycle events in the West. Durango is centrally located between Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.

Now, riders travel to the Iron Horse from every state and several foreign countries. Each year, thousands of riders experience the thrill of descending into Silverton with hopes of beating the train. And whatever the results, simply finishing this classic ride is an accomplishment that keeps people coming back year after year to one of the best rides around.

Growth of the Iron Horse

Throughout the years, several events have been added to the traditional ride to Silverton. We now host Quarter Horse and Pedal Assist Quarter Horse rides to Purgatory, the Mountain Bike Race, the Kids Race, the BMX Straight Rhythm, and the La Strada La Plata Gravel Ride. We have events for professional racers and everyday enthusiasts. Memorial Day weekend in Durango is always full of cycling events and festivities. In 2018, we welcomed more than 3800 participants across all events, and we’re constantly evolving to welcome new styles of riding.





UPDATE: 2020 Ride The Rockies postponed until June 2021

April 29th, 2020

Regarding 1/13/2020 post below about Ride the Rockies…


2020 Ride The Rockies postponed:  The 34th Annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies will be postponed until June 2021 to ensure the health and well-being of all involved. Ride the Rockies has announced that the 2021 route will be the same as planned for this year. The ride begins and ends in Durango, with riders’ registration in town June 12, 2021 (and the race ending in Durango on June 18, 2021).


Questions? Deirdre Moynihan,



San Juan Basin Health – Pre-guidance for Businesses on “SAFER FROM HOME”

April 23rd, 2020
















Stage 1 of COVID restrictions in Colorado is scheduled to end April 27th

April 21st, 2020


Stage 1 of COVID restrictions in Colorado is scheduled to end April 27th. Stage 2 of precautions will begin with “safer-at-home” recommendations from the Governor’s office. In upcoming days retailers will be allowed to re-open with curbside pick-up and limited in-store customers who are social distancing.


Services like personal service providers and elective medical providers (wearing masks) will be allowed:


  • hair salons
  • dental offices
  • tattoo shops
  • child care
  • real estate showings (1-on-1 showings, not open houses)


Eatiers will be on a different timetable with opening dates mid-May



Link to full DENVER POST article:

Colorado to shift from stay-at-home to “safer at home” as some businesses can begin reopening next week



Check out all the Durango Lifestyle Blog posts!