By Sandy Long with input from Kathy Fackler, Gail Harriss, and Andrew Zeiler (Durango CCL members)
It’s the last month of the summer and we are finishing our road trip by exploring Durango and learning about the local CCL chapter. Although Durango is over six hours from Denver by car, it’s a pretty drive and there’s lots to do when you get there with outdoor recreation as the primary draw. The Durango tourism website is a great place to start planning (https://www.durango.org) as is the Durango Chamber of Commerce (https://www.durangobusiness.or...).
Purgatory, the local ski area, is about 30 minutes north of town. Established in 1965, Purgatory has 12 lifts and enough terrain to make it interesting, but nowhere near as frantic as Vail/Aspen/Telluride. In the summer, Purgatory has a variety of activities (mountain coaster, zipline, hiking, etc.), plus nature walks led by the San Juan Mountain Association volunteer naturalists every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:45 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
There are lots of water activities around Durango with several reservoirs nearby, plus the Animas River (“The River of Lost Souls”). Kathy likes to paddleboard on the lakes and the quieter section of the Animas. Durango has a new whitewater park downtown for more adventurous surf-paddleboarding, kayaking, and rafting. Animas River Days is a fun yearly event in early June centered around white water river competition.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been voted the #1 best scenic train ride in the US. Sandy thinks it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado. For its 140-year history, the D&SNG shoveled coal into its steam engines which definitely helped tourists experience the 1880’s. The huge 416 Fire in 2018 was likely sparked by a D&SNG coal burning locomotive prompting D&SNG to shift to oil-burning and diesel engines this summer.
There are many hiking and mountain biking trails both in and around Durango, as well as in the nearby mountains. Other activities include: ziplining, horseback riding, off-roading, trail running, and soaking in the Durango Hot Springs. For a bit of culture, check out Music in the Mountains.
Nearby national parks and monuments include Mesa Verde, Canyon of the Ancients, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Aztec Ruins, Four Corners, and Hovenweep.
Durango has a lovely main street area with shops and restaurants. Be sure to check out Visit Durango, CO for a list of local restaurants and bars. Here are some favorite places of CCL members:
The Durango CCL Chapter was formed in 2017 by Andrew Zeiler. Susan Atkinson responded to his bulletin board post and they started the chapter together. Durango CCL uses a team leadership model to share leadership duties. Gail Harriss leads the chapter/district meetings and puts out the monthly chapter newsletter. Susan Atkinson is media director for the chapter and does training/outreach to other chapters in the region. Andrew represents the chapter in CCL leadership Zoom meetings.
Over the past four years Durango has been a very active chapter. Some highlights of their activities include:
Media: The chapter has several active writers and they have been published dozens of times in the local Durango Herald. They’ve also appeared in the Grand Junction Sentinel, Colorado Sun, Denver Post, Pueblo Chieftain, and Pagosa Springs Sun. Chapter superstar writer Susan Atkinson has been published in numerous papers across the U.S
Outreach: The chapter has built support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) and CCL through presentations to local organizations such as the Rotary Club and Fort Lewis College environmental forums, tabling at the Durango Farmers Market and local activities like the Earth Day Parade, and organizing many climate-related film screenings at local venues.
Endorsements: Chapter members have focused on building support for the EICDA through outreach to local small businesses and organizations, and they have secured endorsements from a brewery, outdoor industry companies, wellness practices, and a local church.
Lobbying: Durango CCLer John Purser has served as the liaison to their District 3 representatives in recent years. Many chapter volunteers have traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby their MoCs and have also met with district offices. During the pandemic, chapter volunteers produced a video with statements of support for the EICDA from constituents from across the political spectrum, which they shared with their MoCs.
The Durango chapter meets via Zoom at 6 p.m. on the 3rd Thursday of the month. They have quarterly Zoom meetings with the other CCL chapters in CO-D3 (Grand Junction and Montrose).
Check out their website at https://durangoccl.org/.