Whitewater Blog

Best Camping near Durango

Camping is a great way to spend a relaxing time in nature while vacationing! Durango is located in a beautiful and diverse region of the Southwest.  To the north of Durango are the jagged San Juan mountains full of old mining roads, hiking, and high alpine lakes. To the west are the beautiful peaks of the  La Plata Mountains with expansive views stretching all directions. To the South, the land opens up into mesas and eventually desert. 

 There are many camping areas within a short drive of Durango. Some of our favorite camping spots are the La Plata Mountains, Junction Creek, and Haviland Lake!  They all are awesome camp areas that fit different wants, recreational needs, and styles of camping. 

Camping in the La Plata Mountains is great if you plan to visit Mesa Verde and the Four Corners Monument.  There is one 4 wheel drive road that snakes its way and gains elevation through La Plata Canyon all the way to Kennebeck pass on the north end of the La Plata Mountains. This road is popular with off-road vehicles and sightseers. There are two campgrounds at the entrance to La Plata Canyon, these are Snowslide and Kroger camp area. Snowslide campground has shady sites next to the La Plata River. The Maximum RV size is 35 feet. Potable water is available at Kroger campsite just up the road. There are no trash services at this campsite. Two Vault toilets are available for use.  Kroger Campsite is a bit less busy than Snowslide. It also has no trash services but it does have potable water and a vault toilet. This campsite is not suitable for large RV’s. These Campsites are about 17 miles outside of Durango. There is a restaurant (Kennebeck Grill), gas station and post office just down the road from these sites in Hesperus.

Junction Creek is close to the town of Durango, about  5 miles away. There is plenty of camping here with RV hookups, group sites and plenty of availability. This campground is on a forested hillside with Junction Creek a quarter-mile below. Junctions Creek Campground is a great base camp close to town. Junction Creek has toilets, potable water, and trash service. Horseshoe and volleyball nets are on site as well.

Haviland Lake  Campground is about 18 miles north of Durango as you head towards Purgatory Resort and Silverton! This campground has a lake which is great for canoeing, swimming, and fishing. The campground has views of the Hermosa Cliffs and many sites have views of Haviland Lake. There are tent sites as well as hookups for RV’s. There is also potable water and trash services.  This is a beautiful campground with a good location near to Durango, Purgatory, and Silverton!


For more information here are the links to these great campgrounds!

Kroger Campground


Snowslide Campground https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sanjuan/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=43232&actid=29

Junction Creek Campground


Haviland Lake Campground


Raft Trips Through Colorado’s History

raft tripsFor 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.

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8 Unbelievable Places You Need to Visit in Durango, Colorado

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 Vacation? Then Consider a Rafting Trip

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.

Five Reasons To Take Family Fishing Trips

Almost everyone remembers a great family trip from his or her childhood. But do we remember why it was a great trip? If those great family trips were family fishing trips, the answer is probably “they were fun.” But here are five more reasons to take family fishing trips:

Experiences Make Us Happier Than Possessions

In a study conducted at San Francisco State University, assistant professor Ryan Howell found that happiness in a new possession fades over time, about six to eight weeks on average, while experiences create memories that last a lifetime. Moreover, experiences can be easily shared, which is exactly what you want out of a family trip. Family fishing trips will make you much happier than that new phone and, unlike the new phone, family fishing trips can be shared by the whole family.

Family Fishing Trips Mean Family Time

Family fishing trips are experienced together, as a family. This does not necessarily happen on other kinds of family trips. Experiencing an amusement park, for example, usually requires the family to split up into different age groups. The family may divide even further with some family members shopping while others eat or experience rides. There are no distractions from family time during family fishing trips.

Family Fishing Trips Mean Learning Something New

Guided family fishing trips are a perfect opportunity to learn something new. Guides are expert instructors who know geography (like the Colorado River is the only major river in the southwest United States at almost 1,450 miles long), nature (like black bear can have fur that is blond, cinnamon, brown, or black), and, most importantly, fishing (like Durango fishing trips often focus on the Animas River because of its reputation for easy access and large rainbow and brown trout). Your kids will thank you for the fun you had on family fishing trips, while you secretly know that they were actually educational experiences in disguise.

Family Fishing Trips Aren’t All About Fishing

Family fishing trips can give your family the opportunity to try something new. Once you are in the outdoors, many recreational opportunities await. Adrenaline seekers may want to try a guided ATV tour, a kayaking trip, whitewater rafting, or ziplining. Less adventurous families may want to look into rafting day trips with local rafting guides.

Someone Has to Catch All the Fish

Family fishing trips would be disappointing if there wasn’t at least some fishing. Animas river fly fishing trips, for example, consistently reward anglers with 10 to 15 inch rainbow trout and produced a former state record brown trout weighing over 20 pounds. Whether your family’s tastes run toward bait fishing or river fly fishing, someone has to catch all the fish.


Family fishing trips can help your family spend time together, learn, try new things, and make memories to last a lifetime.

Adventure for the Whole Family, Rafting in Durango

While on your next trip to Durango, you would be remiss if you didn’t include white water raft trips on your bucket list.

Durango is one of the top Southwest destinations for Colorado white water rafting trips. The reason for this is in no small part to the Animas River. The Animas is the perfect locale for rafting trips. But this river is also a key aspect of Colorado’s breathtaking landscape.

Although exciting and fun for people of all ages, it is important to know that there are different classes of water rapids you should be aware of. Before you sign up for river rafting, check out this guide on rapid classifications:

  • Class I: Small waves, moving water with minor ripples. Raft trips in Class I are ideally suited for beginners.
  • Class II: Open channels and easy rapids with small waves, no higher than three feet high.
  • Class III: Narrow, more constricted channels than Classes I and II. Erratic and unpredictable waves moving at high speeds. At this level, rapids are powerful enough to capsize a canoe.The Lower Animas are Class III that provide just enough of a challenge for the intermediate rafters, kayakers, tubers, and fishermen to enjoy. Great for families and large groups, the Lower Animas begins at the north end of Durango and finishes about 5 to 10 miles downstream.
  • Class IV: Long, narrow, and difficult to navigate. These rapids usually have obstructed riverways and should be scouted beforehand.
  • Class V: This class is for only the most experienced navigators. Extremely grueling, difficult, and long. These violent rapids may pose life-threatening conditions.The Upper Animas River are a great example of Class V rapids. While rough and long, cascading down these waters offers unparalleled scenic views of the San Juan backcountry.
  • Class VI: Should never be attempted to navigate.

Join explorers from all over the world and come to Durango for a myriad of activities such as rafting day trips, kayaking, family fishing trips, ziplining, and guided ATV tours.

When visiting Durango and floating down the Animas, it is a good idea to do so with an experienced guide at your side. Ready to book your Colorado white water rafting trips with 4 Corners Whitewater?


Best Outdoor Activities in Durango, CO

The weather is finally getting warmer and sunnier here in the great state of Colorado, so it may be time to finally plan that family trip you’ve been putting off. Whether you’re looking for white water rafting trips for the adrenaline seekers in the family, or something more low-key like family fishing trips, we have the best outdoor activities in the Durango, CO area.

A big draw to this area of the state is the Colorado River. As the only major river in the Southwest, the Colorado River is about 1,450 miles long and crosses through 11 national parks. Many visitors flock to the Colorado River for all the great activities the river provides.

Kayaking Trip

Kayaking is an easy way to explore the river and its landscape in the Durango, CO area. Up to two people can use one single kayak, and we recommend a double kayak like that if it’s your first time.

White Water Rafting Trips

For those in the family looking for something more exhilarating, white water rafting trips are available in the Durango, CO area. An inflatable raft is used to navigate down the river, and the ride usually consists of some rougher water.

White water rafting is great in building teamwork between everyone on the raft, so families with older kids are sure to enjoy this outdoor activity.

ATV Tours

If you’re more interested in staying on land rather than on water, there are ATV tours available in the area to explore the ever-changing landscape. ATV rentals include single, double, or side-by-side seaters, so you can choose how to pair up your family.


Want to experience both the water and the land? Experience it all from above with a zip line tour. You’ll zoom through the Colorado wilderness from high above with some of the best views Colorado has to offer. While ziplining is completely safe, we don’t recommend it for those who are prone to a fear of heights…maybe stay on the ground for this one!

Summer will be here before you know it, so be sure to plan ahead on your summer trip and keep in mind these great outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy.

The White Water Family Experience: 3 Tips To Guarantee A Fun Ride

Family vacations offer opportunities for bonding through adventure. Whether you’re headed across the ocean or simply a few towns away, there are a number of activities that the whole family can take part in. When it comes to the great outdoors, your options are basically limitless: take a kayaking trip, teach your kids the joys of fishing, or fly over the treetops on a zipline course. If your children are old enough, you can even share the thrill of white water rafting.

Rafting trips are exciting and eye-opening. The experience of racing down a river — even on one of the gentler tours — can introduce your children to nature in a truly engaging way. To make sure your family trip goes smoothly, follow these white water rafting tips.

  • Follow packing list guidelines. When you book a trip with local rafting guides, you’ll be sent a packing list describing items you’ll want to have with you. Do your best to follow it to a T, and try not to bring anything that isn’t expressly needed; that being said, it’s always a good idea to bring some cheap sunglasses — just in case they fly off and end up at the bottom of the river.
  • Let your kids take some risks. White water rafting has a reputation for being dangerous, but that’s why we trust and depend on guides to see us safely through. As impartial judges of the situation, they’ll be able to encourage hesitant kids to push their limits and gently nudge confident kids in the right direction. If you’re concerned about something, you need only ask your guide for a second opinion.
  • Don’t rush to get home. Rafting trips are exhausting. Rather than hopping in the car to head home or jumping on a flight, ensure that your family has the evening to recover from their exertions. This extra time will allow everyone to truly relax and discuss their favorite moments from the trip.

Although you may not be experiencing the kind of rapids that were seen when rafting was introduced to the Olympics in 1972, the sport is nonetheless highly enjoyable for people of all ages. When a family trip is filled with adventure, excitement, and the great outdoors, everyone goes home happy.

Colorado River Rafting Trips: From Tame to Insane!

Extending nearly 1,450 miles and winding through 11 of the United State’s national parks, the Colorado River is the Southwest’s solitary major river. For those eagerly planning their Colorado white water rafting trips, here’s some information to help you choose the best type of river rafting trip for you.

1. Family-Friendly.

This trip along the Lower Animas is ideal for families and larger-sized groups. It’s also appropriate for children four years of age and older.

On the Lower Animas ride, you’ll go through smaller Class II rapids along the way, and there’s a large rapid called Smelter at Santa Rita Park. Depending upon the height of the water at this point, it may be necessary to walk small children around this rapid. After passing Smelter, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted small-sized rapids and lovely views of majestic cottonwood trees and flourishing vegetation.

2. Adventure-Loving.

If you’re in the mood for a more adventurous trip, complete with spectacular scenery, the Upper Animas Raft ‘n’ Rail (“Middle-Upper) is what you’re looking for. This trip is more suitable for those who are at least moderately fit, and prior river rafting experience is recommended.

The adventure takes you to the San Juan National Forest of Southwest Colorado. Because there is no road access here, you’ll hop aboard the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway and ride through the majority of the Animas River Gorge. The water portion of the trip begins with the Broken Bridge rapid. Lots of additional Class III and Class IV rapids are right behind this one, and there are also some smoother sections of river and stops at historic landmarks. During May and early June, the high water season brings cooler temperatures along with large, wild rapids. The temperatures are typically warmer and the rapids are calmer in late July and August.

3. Holy-Moly!

Adrenaline seekers, hold on to your hats! White water rafting trips like this are geared toward individuals having above-average levels of fitness and endurance, previous experience with white water rafting, and proficient swimming skills. This is particularly important during May and early June, because it’s likely that you’ll portage at least one of the rapids. This means that you must have the ability to assist with carrying the boat. Based on the flows or the participants’ skill and fitness levels, 4 Corners Whitewater reserves the right to transfer individuals to a Middle-Upper rafting trip.

This wild one-day ride runs over 25 miles of Class III, Class IV, and Class IV rapids. You’ll also travel through the San Juan National Forest and have breathtaking views of nearby mountain peaks measuring 14,000 feet. Then comes the Class V Tenmile rapid, the No Name Rapid, and the Broken Ridge rapid. Depending on the flow, and on how high your level of craziness is, you can also add the Rockwood Box, making this an ultra-marathon to remember!

Armed with this information about white water rafting trips, you, your family, and friends can plan an exciting Colorado river rafting vacation that suits all of you perfectly.

Huge Snow Pack!

2019 is going to be an incredible year for rafting in Durango! We are already at 100% of snowpack for the year and still have 2 more months to reach our historic peak snowpack totals. This is a far cry from last winter where we only received 50% of historical snowpack. What does this mean?? ….Huge splashes and long season for an Animas rafting .

With all this snow the San Juan Mountains have seen a ton of avalanche activity. Here’s photo I took in Telluride on Febuary 23.  I just happened to be at the right place at the right to see this avalanche occur.  This is the headwaters of our San Miguel river trips. Luckily I was a safe distance away.



Stay tuned for more updates as the the river season approaches.