West of 105 Magazine - - Destinations -


Many peo­ple visit Cortez be­cause of its prox­im­ity to Mesa Verde Na­tional Park (Read more about the park on page 55), but also nearby is the 176,000-acre Canyons of the An­cients Na­tional Mon­u­ment. With the high­est known ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site den­sity in the United States, it is just 10 miles west of Cortez and is a real undis­cov­ered gem.

As for Cortez it­self, there are of course places to get a good beer (WildEdge Brew­ing Col­lec­tive; J. Fargo's Fam­ily Din­ing & Mi­cro Brew­ery; and Main Street Brew­ery & Res­tau­rant), as well as plenty of op­tions for cof­fee and ca­sual din­ing on Main Street

About 15 miles west of town is Sut­cliffe Vine­yards. With mul­ti­ple 90 point re­views, Sut­cliffe has been named one of the top 500 pro­duc­ers in the U.S. The tast­ing room is a great place to visit for a few hours of seren­ity in a beau­ti­ful set­ting. Open year round be­tween 12 pm – 5 pm daily, a four-wine tast­ing costs $10 per per­son.

There are two golf cour­ses in the area and No­tah-Dineh, a trad­ing com­pany that works closely with Na­tive Amer­i­can artists to of­fer unique pieces in­clud­ing hand­made Navajo rugs, kachi­nas, sand­paint­ings, cra­dle boards and moc­casins.

Driv­ing around Cortez is par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful. Con­sider driv­ing on the Trail of the An­cients Na­tional Scenic By­way and the San Juan Skyway Scenic By­way if you can ( page 30).

If you aren't stay­ing at Far View Lodge in­side Mesa Verde or camp­ing there, or at the Canyons of the An­cients, the Retro Inn at Mesa Verde on Main Street is a quirky op­tion.


The Danny DeVito to Du­rango's Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, Sil­ver­ton is a fan­tas­tic lit­tle moun­tain town and sits, very con­ve­niently, at the end of the Du­rango & Sil­ver­ton Nar­row Gauge Rail­road. It's pretty small too with an area of less than one square mile and a pop­u­la­tion of around 600. It is also one of the high­est towns in the United States at 9,318 feet.

Sil­ver­ton is also a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark - the whole town, that is - and part of the amaz­ing San Juan Skyway Scenic By­way (for more info on Scenic By­ways, see page 30). It is also a pop­u­lar jump­ing off point for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing raft­ing, back­coun­try tour­ing, jeep­ing, ATV and OHV rid­ing as well as fish­ing, hik­ing, bik­ing, raft­ing, horse­back rid­ing and camp­ing.

When you fi­nally dis­mount your steed, what­ever it may be, you will need to be fed and wa­tered. Han­dle­bars is a no frills Western-themed eatery with elk and buf­falo on the menu, and there are two brew­eries in town (Avalanche and Golden Block) to help you quench your thirst. There are also three soak­ing pools at Shangri-La Soak­ing Pools (lo­cated in­side Smed­ley's Suites). As for where to stay, Sil­ver­ton has more than 30 lodg­ing op­tions.

If you take trip from Du­rango dur­ing your visit, make it Sil­ver­ton and make sure to at least ar­rive or leave by train.

As fan­tas­tic as Du­rango is, there are some other in­ter­est­ing and amaz­ing places and towns nearby. If you have enough time, con­sider spend­ing a day or so trav­el­ing to see some nearby at­trac­tions.

Photo: Matthew In­den / Miles

Photo: NPS

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