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Thread: Durango

  1. #1
    stevebecky Guest

    Default Durango

    We are planning a journey taking us the full length of highway 160 from Monument Valley AZ to Walsenburg CO, spending a few days at Durango en route. Can any of you kind folks give us pointers to sights along the way, and particularly what road conditions to expect early March. This will be the last leg of a trip Denver - LV - Denver, before flying back to the UK. Thanks for any tips.

  2. Default Southern Colorado

    I posted a thread on this area last summer when I took a several days trip there. If you want a taste of the flavor of the area, check it out here.

    First of all, Mesa Verde Natl Park, of course. Plan to spend a day there exploring the ruins and the culture of the Anasazi. I recommend also driving SR145 and SR62 from Cortez to Ridgeway, and return on US550 through Silverton to Durango. There are a couple of great little German Restaurants in Dolores (One pink, one blue; I ate at the one called Old Germany). One other possibility, although a bit out of your way; south into New Mexico from this area, you could visit Chaco Canyon, site of ancient dwellings and an archaeological gem. It is more out of the way and less-visited than Mesa Verde.

    This is a very scenic route. You could take a little time to explore Telluride as well, while you're up there. The Durango and Silverton Railroad runs from Durango, up the High Line to... you guessed it, Silverton. If you like old trains, this one is the most famous. Until May each year, the train only goes as far as Cascade Canyon, but the ride is worth it. In Durango, you haven't really been there unless you stay at the Strater Hotel!

    Going on east from Durango, you'll enjoy a visit to Pagosa (hot) Springs. Stay at the Resort and soak in the waters! The road heads up Wolf Creek Pass out of Pagosa, and there is construction along this road that will slow you down a bit. Once up on top the Pass, watch for a turnout a few hundred feet beyond that takes you up a graded road to the Lobo Overlook. If the road is passable (March is still winter in the San Juan Mtns), the view from up there is spectacular.

    From South Fork, there are two great ways to go. If you continue with US160, you can see the Jack Dempsey Museum ( a great American boxer) near Manassa, and visit the Great Sand Dunes NP.

    My own choice of route would be a bit different however -- I'd go north out of South Fork on SR149 to Gunnison, then US50 to Pueblo or go north a bit more and use US24 to Colorado Spgs. These are more scenic in my opinion, than is US160 from Alamosa east (keeping in mind that NOTHING in Colorado is ugly, my comments are only relative).

    Besides the scenery, on US50 you can visit Royal Gorge, but if you do, spend the $$$ for the train ride. Some folks consider this privately-held attraction to be a tourist trap and waste of time, but I've heard from riders that the train ride is spectacular, and not that expensive. On US24, take the side road to Cripple Creek, an old mining camp. There is also the Florissant Fossil Beds along this route. Both of these are worth a look.

    All these major roads are passable in good weather in March -- but are at the same time subject to the capricious whims of Jupiter Pluvius (and snow storms) at any time through June.
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 10-08-2005 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Added a link for the Million Dollar Highway (US550)

  3. #3
    stevebecky Guest

    Default Durango

    Thanks a lot, Bob.

    Have looked at all your ideas, and they fit the bill fine (particularly the Dempsey connection!).
    I`m not sure if this is the place to ask this question, but has anyone got any recommended motel chains? Research seems to suggest that $50 a night for double and breakfast is fairly common, and buys reasonable quality. As this is about half the UK price, I was wondering what all you experts pay? Many thanks for all the help I`m getting. Great site.


  4. Default Agree

    I'd agree that $50 usually buys about all you need! I have paid more and gotten less. $50 is about the outside (top end) of what I like to pay, but I am pretty frugal when it comes to lodging. I don't ever go for the luxurious accommodations -- in my mind it is just not worth it for a stupid bed. Others may feel differently of course!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Another view

    Quote Originally Posted by stevebecky
    Research seems to suggest that $50 a night for double and breakfast is fairly common, and buys reasonable quality.
    It is a pretty rare night that I ever spend less than $75.00 for a room. The quality of the bed and the access to high-speed Internet access is prime consideration for me. As a general rule I usually budget around $100 per night and there are a number of inns around the USA that can intice me at a reasonable multiple of that sum.

    It is possible to spend less and obtain great lodging, but that generally takes more time than I am willing or able to spend on a road trip.


  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by stevebecky
    has anyone got any recommended motel chains? Research seems to suggest that $50 a night for double and breakfast is fairly common, and buys reasonable quality. As this is about half the UK price, I was wondering what all you experts pay? Many thanks for all the help I`m getting. Great site.

    I hardly ever pay more than $50, I go for the Motel 6 usually, basic accomodation but no internet. Many of the smaller independent places now have high speed internet in the same price range if you need that but you never really know what you are getting into, Motel 6 is the MacDonalds of motels, reliable and boring. As for breakfast, it's not like the British B&B or hotel scene, normally a minimal continental breakfast (in this price range) and often just some doughnuts bought from the supermarket with awful coffee. Full breakfast is very rare.

  7. #7


    I also usually budget around $75/night for a hotel stay, it seems to depend on the volume of traffic and local competition also. I've never been disappointed with either the Super 8 or Motel 6 chains for basic lodging, but don't ignore a nice independent motel -- usually better service at much lower rates!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default Motels

    I rarely pay more than 40$ for lodging when on long road trips. I just think it is not worth it to spend hundreds of dollars when you're only spending 8-9 hours sleeping and then take off. When I want to spoil myself, I go to a spa-hotel thing with a nice big room and spend a few days there and relax. Motel 6 is probably the most reliable cheap motel chain in the US, you will find them everywhere. Budget Host Inn are usually very cheap but a little bit harder to find. I also found King's Inn and Rodeway Inn to offer relatively unexpensive accomodations.

    You can grab some motel discount coupons at visitors center, they will give you an idea of the price range for a certain area. But be aware that the motel owners don't always honor those coupons for some reason (weekends, holidays, special event of some kind, etc.). I don't like to spend a lot of time shopping around for a motel and I'm a very bad bargainer so I usually stick to Mom & Pop Motels (always ask to see the room first) and some chains. I'd rather pay more and sleep comfortably than sleeping in a dirty place though.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    I'm with Gen! When I stay in motels, I rarely pay more than $40/night either. Motel 6, Super 8, and Days Inn seem to be in the "$40 and under" price range more often than some of the other chains. I do tend to have the best luck with prices at Motel 6. I've never had any problems with cleanliness or other conditions at any of these chains. They offer simple, but comfortable, lodgings.

    I've yet to be impressed with the breakfasts offered at hotels that include breakfast yet. Mostly bad pastry. If you're lucky, you'll get bagels and cream cheese, muffins, cereal/milk, and some fruit options. But these seem to be rare. I've yet to see a full breakfast with some hot food choices. But, who knows? Maybe there is somthing like that out there. Of course, if I stayed in a more expensive motel, I might be more likely to find a yummy breakfast included, right?

    But I'm not a big breakfast eater so it wouldn't be worth it to me to pay more for a higher-priced hotel just to get a good breakfast. I usually just eat something like fruit and maybe a granola bar out of my cooler. Just give me lots of coffee to get me going and I'm good.

    I've travelled in England and stayed at bed & breakfasts and the lodging where people offer a room in their homes (we usually found out about these at the train stations). We had lots of good breakfasts included in our room price at those places. Not so here in the US unless you pay for a nice bed & breakfast. However, in the US, those tend to be rather high-priced and aren't budget choices. They can be quite lovely though. If you're looking for ambience, you usually can't beat the comfort, decor, amenities, and service at a good B&B.

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