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For many people, history is a major part of the travel experience. For these people, a trip to southern Pennsylvania would not be complete without a visit to Gettysburg and a trip to San Antonio would not be complete without a visit to the Alamo. What is in store for these travelers when they visit Durango and the Four Corners region? Here are a few facts about southern Colorado and its history:
Many Native American Bands Inhabited the Area
The Ute people were the first inhabitants of the areas around Durango, Colorado. In fact, the Ute people inhabited lands across Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. The Utes traded with other Native American tribes in the region, including the Peubloans and Navajo, as well as the Spanish after their arrival in the area.
Today many of the Ute people live on the Southern Ute reservation and Ute Mountain Reservation. Visitors who wish to experience the culture of the Ute people can visit the Southern Ute museum in Ignacio, Colorado. To experience life the way the Ute people did, fishing, kayaking, and raft trips along the Colorado, San Miguel, and Animas Rivers will take travelers through the areas where the Ute people would make their winter camps. The Ute Mountain reservation sits adjacent to Mesa Verde National Park, which preserves early dwellings of the Puebloan people who also inhabited the area.
The Four Corners Region is Unique
The boundaries of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah were effectively set in 1863 when Congress separated the Arizona Territory from the New Mexico Territory with a line running due south from the corner of the Colorado Territory. This guaranteed that four states would meet at a single point, the Four Corners, when the territories were later admitted to the U.S. as states. The Four Corners Monument marks the only location in the United States where four states meet. In addition to four states, four Native American tribal nations, Navajo, Ute, Hopi, and Zuni, cover the area around the Four Corners region. In fact, the Navajo nation placed the bronze disk marking the actual four corners where the states meet in 1931 and assumed responsibility for administering the monument in the 1960s.
Durango Was Established to Support the Railroad and Mining
Durango was founded in 1880 to serve as a rail stop because of its access to water and coal. Silver and gold mines had operated in the area since 1872 and mining operations opened smelters in and around Durango because they too required easy access to water and coal. Durango, Colorado was named after Durango, Mexico by Alexander Hunt, a former governor of the Colorado Territory, because the areas resemble each other. “Durango” is derived from the Basque word “Urango” which refers to a town near water. This access to water makes tourism and recreation, such as kayak and raft trips, the largest industry in present-day Durango.
The Animas River, or River of Souls
A popular attraction for raft trips, the Animas River was named by a Spanish explorer in 1765. The Spanish name for the river is Rio de las Animas which translates to River of Souls. In a series of newspaper articles published in the 1890s and early 1900s, reporters and editors sensationalized the Animas River as the River of Lost Souls. Since then, many legends, mostly unconfirmed, have grown up around the Animas River as being haunted or cursed. Despite these ghost stories, the Animas River has become a popular spot for rafting and fly fishing trips near Durango.
The San Miguel River
Another popular river for raft trips is the San Miguel River. The San Miguel River is a tributary of the Dolores River. The Dolores River flows into the Colorado River which, at 1,450 miles long, is the only major river in the southwestern United States. The San Miguel River starts in the mountains above Telluride near a mining town called Pandora. The mines around Pandora originated during the 1870s during a gold and silver rush in the area. The mines and mill in Pandora continued to operate through World War II to contribute zinc and lead to the war effort. The mine and mill eventually closed in 1978 and Pandora is presently a ghost town.More Gallery Images
Durango is a tourist town located in Colorado and near New Mexico border. It has an approximate 16,000 people, which means it is a small town with vibrant tourism activities. From lake fishing, parks, and museums, here are some of the top places you can visit in the late Apollo 14 astronaut home.
1. San Juan National Forest
This is one of the landmark natural features that you will find in this region. It is an attractive natural phenomenon for many people who have never been to Colorado. With thousands of tree species and bird species, San Juan National Forest will be a wonderful tour to remember. However, you need ATV rentals to manage to move around the rocky hills and valleys around the forest.
2. Animas River Trail
Animas River Trail is another breathtaking experience you can get when you are in Durango. Visitors enjoy the seven-mile river flowing before the river wades into the forest and rocky areas that are hard to access, unless using ATV trails. Fishing in the Animas River is not prohibited, which means that this could be the best place for family fishing trips. Kayaking is a common feature, especially during the summer so you can organize a kayaking trip with your family and get to enjoy the sun kayaking.
3. James Ranch
If you have been looking forward to visiting a ranch in Durango, this is the best ranch that you can visit in this area. It has everything that you could have ever wanted in a ranch. Some of the things you will see in James Ranch include grass-fed beef, grazing Jersey milk cows, and spruce tree nursery. A memorable experience is that James Ranch is located on Animas River Valley so you will continue seeing crystal-clear flowing water and you can engage in some fishing activities.
4. 4 Corners Whitewater
4 Corners Whitewater offers one of the most memorable experiences that you would have ever wanted; whitewater rafting. There are thousands of white water rafting trips in this region throughout the year. It is a social activity that sees all people, regardless of age and skill level, are allowed to participate and have some great time. There are various difficulties levels offered, which depends on skill levels and age. Rafting is a wonderful water experience that was introduced as an official sport in the Munich Olympic Games of 1972.
5. Durango Fish Hatchery
If you are fishing enthusiastic or you are interested in fish, Durango fish hatchery has been made for you. It has been in existent since 1881, which explains why it is currently managed by the Wildlife Museum. There are 19 hatcheries in the same region that are all geared towards ensuring that fish population in Durango and entire Colorado has been maintained.
6. Ice Pirates Snowmobile Tours
If you are looking for scenic locations, especially during the winter, why don’t you head to the ice pirates snowmobile tours? This is a snowmobiling experience and adventure in a vast piece of land, over 55,000 acres. This is an area that gives visitors an experience they will struggle to get in any other state around the state. There are amazing photo opportunities, some of them even above 12,000 feet above sea level.
7. Animas Museum
Besides the animals, river fly fishing in Animas River, Animas Museum is another tourist destination that offers visitors a peek into the local history. This is one of the oldest museums in the area and was started in 1904 in a converted school building. The Animas Museum is filled with an extensive research library, photo archives, and exhibits that are not likely to be found in any other museum in Colorado. You will also come across locally inspired basketry, beadwork, and weavings, among others.
8. Durango Craft Spirits
There is no doubt that you will need somewhere to quench your thirst after long trails and fishing expeditions. Durango Craft Spirits is your best bet. Here, you will find some of the Durango’s finest offerings. The spirit company also offers some old spirits so that visitors can taste and get the feeling. Some of the brands that you will find in the tasting room include Mayday Moonshine and Soiled Doves Vodka, among others.
Planning a family trip can be difficult. Depending on the size and age of the members of your family, you may be frustrated with planning a trip that will entertain and enrich. Of course, you also want to create lifelong memories. If your family is more of the adventurous type, or if you are looking for something truly unique, consider taking a rafting trip. Rafting trips are a great way to enjoy nature, have an adventure, and teach your family a new skill.
Rafting along the Colorado River offers a wide range of travel opportunities. The Colorado River runs through 11 American national parks. The river starts at the Rocky Mountains, then it runs southwest for 1,450 miles and ends in northern Mexico. Some of the parks, the river touche son its route are the Rocky Mountain National Park, Canyonland National Park, the Dinosaur National Monument, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. These parks and the river offer plenty of opportunities for fun and memories.
Rafting trips begin in the Spring. Once the weather begins to warm up the Colorado River swells the access water of the melting snow and makes the perfect conditions for rafting and adventures along the river. The intensity of your adventure will be affected by the time of year and where on the river you decide to take your trip. In May and June, when the snow first begins to melt, the river is more intense and is great for families with teenagers and older children that are ready for an adrenaline rush. By August and September, the river is calmer and there are more spots where you can cruise along leisurely and enjoy the river scenery.
In addition to white water rafting, other activities to include on your outdoor vacation are kayaking, ziplining, and river fly fishing. All of these activities will allow you to spend time outside, on the water and detach the stress and struggle of everyday life.
Rafting trips are a great way to bond with your family and perhaps even inspire a new hobby. Rafting is extremely enjoyable and combined with other activities, will expose your family to a more active and adventurous lifestyle.