The Ultimate Denver to Durango Road Trip
Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Denver for the weekend? Hoping for an awesome vacation that isn’t too far from home? A Denver to Durango road trip is just the thing! This short but amazing road trip will give you plenty of opportunities to see new things and have new experiences, all without even leaving the state.
The best way to take such a trip? By RV, of course! RVing from Denver for Durango is an absolutely fantastic vacation option that people of all ages will love. It’s the perfect way to really immerse yourself in the beauty of Durango and the natural areas along the way, while still living in comfort no matter where you land.
Before you leave home, it’s important that you do a bit of prep work. Here’s what you need to know before you head into the San Juan National Forest to check out the town of Durango!
Looking for a bit of inspiration before you hit the road? We recommend turning to Instagram for some eye candy that will get you excited about your upcoming Denver to Durango road trip.
The account of @blackadventuremom is an excellent place to start. This mama shares her family’s adventures in the Denver area and might even give you some ideas of things to check out before you ever get on the road.
@Larsleberphotography is based in Salida and shares gorgeous nature photos of the Salida area as well as other parts of colorful Colorado. These pictures are sure to get you pumped about the outdoor adventures you’re about to have!
To learn more about your final destination, we recommend checking out the @exploredurango account. Here you’ll find all kinds of info on local events and attractions, as well as some inspiring videos and images to help you decide what you’d like to do most.
RVing from Denver to Durango is a short and sweet adventure. The shortest route between the two is a mere 337 miles, which equates to about six hours behind the wheel. That said, because there are a couple of stops along the way that make the drive a bit longer, we think a Denver to Durango road trip is much more fun when the drive is split up over two days.
RVing from Denver to Durango is 100% the way to go if at all possible. If you don’t have an RV of your own, rent one and drive it to your destination. Or you can even have one delivered and set up for your arrival in Durango.
The second best option? That would have to be road-tripping in a car. This gives you the chance to see the awesome road trip stops along the way, so you aren’t missing much. Once you arrive in Durango, plan to stay in an Outdoorsy Bayfield glamping tent or an Outdoorsy RV rental in one of Outdoorsy Bayfield’s many awesome campsites.
Flying to Durango is our last pick. It just isn’t the same as a Denver to Durango road trip. That said, if flying is the only way you can experience the Durango area, go ahead and do it. Just be sure to book your Outdoorsy Bayfield accommodations before you take off.
You’ll likely spend a lot of time outdoors on your Denver to Durango road trip. Keep this in mind, pay attention to the weather forecast, and pack accordingly. Be sure to grab a swimsuit if you plan to swim in any of the rivers or lakes along your route, or if you want to hit the hot springs in Salida!
You’ll also want to check out this RV packing list for details on camping items to include.
Another thing you may want to pack? An “America the Beautiful” Pass. This is an annual pass that gets you into NPS sites, National Forest Service sites, and onto other government-owned lands without additional fees, making it an excellent investment for those who plan to visit a lot of these types of places in the next year.
The perfect Colorado road trip calls for the perfect Colorado playlist. No, we don’t mean you should blast “Rocky Mountain High” over and over again (although if that’s your thing, you should totally go for it).
Instead, you should check out the Colorado Songs That Aren’t Rocky Mountain High playlist on Spotify. This awesome Colorado-themed playlist by OutThere Colorado features songs about Colorado, pieces that were inspired by the state, and musical works by Colorado artists.
It’s the perfect choice for your Denver to Durango road trip and will provide the perfect soundtrack for your adventure.
Okay, now it’s time for the actual itinerary. Honestly, there are so many amazing little towns to explore and outdoor adventures to be had along this route, we couldn’t possibly include it all here—but here’s a taste of the fun that’s in store for you.
Image source: Bob Wick
Drive time: 2.5 hours
The leg of your trip takes you about halfway between Denver and Durango to the adorable town of Salida. Here, the historic downtown area features beautiful architecture and wonderful art galleries can be found around every corner. The food scene is excellent in Salida, and hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities ensure there are plenty of things to do.
The best thing about Salida? The amazing hot springs, of course!
Before you get to Salida, be sure to make a stop at Browns Canyon National Monument. This BLM site is stunning and a great place to get out and stretch your legs. We recommend leaving Denver as early as possible so you have time to catch the 1:30 PM half-day rafting trip with Browns Canyon Rafting.
Don’t love the idea of river rafting? This park also has some hiking, and we bet most people will enjoy exploring all (or part) of the Turret Trail as much as we did. Meanwhile, anglers might prefer to grab their gear and cast a line as they enjoy the scenery.
Once you arrive in Salida, you may be left wondering what exactly you should do. Use the to-do list below and we promise a great visit!
Salida RV Resort is our campground of choice when in Salida. This lovely RV park is located just five minutes outside of town. It’s a newer park so all amenities are in excellent condition, and the full-hookup sites are definitely appreciated. The park features mountain views and sits right next to a river.
Image source: Jeffrey Beall
Drive time: 3.5 hours
The next leg of your Denver to Durango road trip will take you to magical Durango. This incredible place is your final destination and is an outdoorsy person’s dream come true. Hikes are found around every corner, and the fishing scene is one of the best in the country.
For some unforgettable views of the stunning scenery in the Durango area, you’ll want to be sure to catch a ride on the Silverton & Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad. Additionally, Mesa Verde National Park is nearby and features some excellent hikes as well as history lessons. We highly recommend the ranger-guided hike into the cliff dwellings.
The drive from Salida to Durango is fairly short, but you’ll still want to break it up with a stop at Chimney Rock National Monument. This site is run by the National Forest Service, and they do an excellent job of presenting it. It features the remains of 200 ancient structures and helps tell the story of the people who once called this place home.
If you can, book a guided tour of the site through Chimney Rock Interpretive Association. This might mean a very early morning, but the tours are worth waking up for.
Can’t make a tour work? If you’re touring on your own, be sure to arrive by 3:15 PM. The gates close at 4:30 PM, and 75 minutes is the minimum amount of time required for seeing the park.
You made it to Durango! Now what? It’s actually pretty hard to be bored in a place like Durango, but if you need some suggestions to get you started, try using the list of options below:
Obviously, Outdoorsy Bayfield is the place to stay once you arrive in Durango. Whether you choose a luxury glamping tent or park your RV in one of the many beautiful sites, this campground is sure to provide you with a comfortable home away from home as you explore this gorgeous part of the country.
There you have it, everything you need to know to go RVing from Denver to Durango. Put our experiences and tips to good use, and we’re betting you have a fantastic trip that you’ll be talking about for years to come!