While planning our route to Durango from Santa Fe with our Macnally map we saw there are many scenic roads to the north of the city in the Carson National Forest. We planned to make a loop before heading north on the 84 to Pagosa Springs and then west on the 160 to Durango.
There weren’t many tourists in this area, maybe because of the time of the year or maybe it’s just not that popular a destination; but we really enjoyed the scenic drives and little hamlets; some places felt really European in the way that the roads winded around the houses in the villages. It was really different to what we are used to in the new world. Although we had a route planned, we never really stuck to it and just followed our nose and about lunchtime, made our way back to route 84. We happened to stumble upon the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, which if you have the time or are particularly interested in gas pumps is well worth stopping as it’s fun, quirky and build by someone with a passion for the subject (always like these kinda places). Basically its a garden and two roomed house full of gas station related stuff. Its a real step down memory lane and most of the stuff laying around you can buy too. In the main room of the house there is a wonderful light display of the old lights that used to atop the petrol pumps back in the 50’s. Check out the link if you want to know more, but it’s a fun place to stop and great for taking photographs.
Its a pleasant drive up to Colorado and it’s easy to observe the changing of the landscape from the dry deserts of New Mexico to the lush green and mountains of Colorado; there is also the temperature drop as you get higher in the mountains. As most people know Colorado is a mountainous state famed for skiing and hiking; but what I didn’t know was there are many spa towns around the mountains. We passed the vibrant spa town of Pagosa Springs which is buzzing with people that were obviously there for the summer hiking and the spa resorts. It looked like a great place to spend a few days, but our mission that day was to make our way to Durango.
I’m not sure which is the best way, even after all this time travelling, if I prefer to have my hotels booked and plan my route before hand or just to wing it. There are definite benefits to it, like not spending an hour or two in the evening trying to find accommodation, but sometime you stumble upon a place where you want to spend more time to enjoy whats on offer. There is also the opposite, where you end up somewhere you wish you never stopped (wait till I get to Idaho Springs) and you just feel like moving on.
When we arrived in Durango we enjoyed a late afternoon and evening of massive rain fall which kinda spoiled our visit; seriously there were rivers of water running down the streets. Unfortunately we couldn’t really get out and enjoy the city, but from what I was seeing while driving around, Durango looked like a cool place to visit and since it’s fairly close, could be a great stopover for people wanting to visit Mesa Verde.
We stayed at the Spanish Trails Inn, 3141 Main Avenue, Durango which was quite far from the centre and although looked a bit rough on the outside was actually quite comfortable, but a little expensive.