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Trip Report Durango Area Trip Report

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We celebrated my son’s high school graduation with a six night family vacation to the Durango Colorado area June 20-24.

Durango Mountain Resort –The resort consists of several condominiums, a small plaza of shops, lodge with swimming pool and hot tub, and an outdoor restaurant. All of this is located at the foot of the mountain where you can chairlift up to mountain bike or enjoy the alpine slide. There are other summer activities that are available including a rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline, mechanical bull, miniature golf and jumping house for kids.

I was a bit disappointed in the aesthetics/landscaping etc of the resort. When I hear “resort” many trips to Orlando and Disney come to mind where everything is so well groomed with beautiful landscaping and plantings etc and that was not true here. For example the miniature golf course was just flat, unkept course with no decorations. There were areas that were very nice like beautiful hanging baskets outside of the shops but it was not consistent. There seemed to be a lot of construction fences, equipment etc but we never saw much work going on. It is possible that the lodge/plaza area is new and that the resort is just not finished, I am not quite sure. But in spite of this we enjoyed the resort, the location and had a great time.

Elk point III Condos: Our party of ten all stayed in a three bedroom Elk Point III condo. When searching for a condo that would accommodate all of our party one of my top priorities was to have a bed for each person. This was tricky because we had my young adult children with boyfriends/girlfriends traveling with us and brothers and sisters that want their own beds instead of sharing with siblings etc. I thought that Elk Point was going to be a good fit for us because we were promised the addition of two roll away beds, but when we arrived after our 16 hour drive they were not there :(. Needless to say we were all very tired and really wanted to sleep. I called the manager and was directed to an air mattress and a fold out cot. We have rented condos and houses several times in the past and I have learned a lot about what questions to ask before booking. My lesson this time (and my error) was not being specific enough on what a “rollaway bed” is. In my mind a rollaway bed is a twin sized bed that hotels provide that fold up and have wheels on the bottom, hence the roll away term. The manager claimed the cot provided was a rollway. The cot would have been fine for a seven year old, not so good for my 6’3’ 175 lb son and no one was interested in sleeping on the air mattress. When I asked if rollways could be provided the next day I was told no. We did not let this ruin our trip and just made do with what we had, but the lack of comfortable sleep really did put a damper on the vacation. Unfortunately that was the last I heard from the manager as well. She never did follow up on the phone call. I requested a partial refund since returning home and received a credit of $25.00. One other issue was the lack of a club with hot tub that was advertised as just outside of the condo. This club was closed due to the opening of the new lodge. Not a big deal but not as advertised. Other than the bed and hot tub issues we were pleased with the condo. It was very clean, has two master bedrooms and a decently equipped kitchen. The location of the condo in the resort is great, a two minute walk to the pool/plaza area. We had a lot of family fun hanging out and playing games each evening. If you need a fun family game I highly recommend “Loaded Questions.” We are still laughing! :)

Outlaw Tours ATV’s :The location where you depart on the tour was just a few minutes away from the resort and they were very accommodating in doing the paperwork from this site instead of requiring us to go to the office in town which is the norm. After a short lesson on how to operate the vehicles and some safety tips we followed our young, personable guide up a rocky, winding mountain road. When booking the tour I asked if we would spend the two hours actually riding and was told yes. Unfortunately this was not the case. I was traveling with several young adults who were more interested in the driving of the ATV’s and less in the beautiful scenery. Our tour began with the initial instructions and then included THREE stops where the ATV’s were all turned off and the tour guide talked. The first stop I could not figure out at all, it was basically on the side of the road in view of a pond five minutes into the ride, the second stop made more sense it was an area with an incredible view and the guide spent about 10 minutes talking about the building of the roads, mining areas etc but then just few minutes later we stopped again. After this third stop we headed back down the exact same road and finished the tour in exactly one hour and thirty nine minutes. The tour was fun, the guide was very nice but our group of 10 spent over $800.00 for the tour! Our vacation dollars are precious and I do not think we received a good value for that much money.

Silverton: We took a drive up to Silverton one morning which was a nice way to spend a few hours. The town of Silverton is basically tourist shops and restaurants, with a few shops that had some locally made jewelry and artwork. We enjoyed browsing and had a picnic lunch in a very pretty park. Too late I noticed that there is information on a self guided walking tour. It would have been interesting to learn the background on the old buildings and some of the history. Next time. :) My niece enjoyed a stagecoach ride and I was entertained by a young man with a wagon of rocks for sale. He told me that he found all of them himself and I was impressed that he knew what kind they all were. Part of his entertaining sales pitch was the information that he needed to make $7 so he would get to eat lunch. I was told later that his mother owns one of the busiest restaurants in town. I wonder if she charges him for lunch? :)

Bar D Chuck Wagon Dinner Show: We attended the Bar D show the last time we were in Durango which was over 30 years ago. I don’t think it has changed much and I mean that in the most positive way! We were served a barbeque dinner outside on picnic tables and then were entertained by the singing cowboys. Listening to my 10 year old niece laugh was a highlight of the trip and although my young adult kids were quick to declare the Bar D corny, by the end of the show they were laughing as hard as everyone else. We certainly felt like we got our value with the $20 tickets for the dinner and show. Good clean, family fun!

Full Blast Zip line: In my trip research I learned that Durango has two options on zip lines and Full Blast won by default because there is no way we could afford Soaring :). I didn’t participate but the consensus of the group seemed to be that it was fun but not quite fun enough for the $145 per person price. The main complaint was it was very crowded with several groups on one platform at a time making the wait long. We also had the bad luck of hitting a very warm afternoon, the hottest of our vacation, and I think that affected the experience. In hindsight I think it would have benefited for me to ask when reserving for the least busy time and to schedule in the early morning or late evening when it was cooler. Learn from my mistakes!

Mesa Verde: I had read a lot of information on the importance of arriving early and being prepared for hot weather. We arrived at the visitor’s center about 9:45, forty five minutes later than I intended, but I was happy to see that there were only three or four people in line ahead of us. By the time we made it to the ticket booth the line was out the door around the building. Get there early! I would also add to be prepared not only for hot weather but also for cold. We were FREEZING and I was very worried that we were going to be so miserable with the cold that we were not going to enjoy the tours, but thankfully by the time we made it to Cliff House, our first tour, it was warming up a bit and I think it made a difference to get out of the wind down in the cliffs. We toured Cliff House, stopped for a picnic lunch and then toured Balcony House. Both tours were excellent and I was glad we did both. After Balcony House the ranger directed us to a path to follow where we could look across and see the Balcony House which was a great addition. When touring you climb down into the house so do not get the great view of the house before you tour as you do at Cliff House. Additional tips would be to book tours that have different guides. We ended up having the same guide for both tours. He did a great job but a lot of the information was the same, same jokes etc. It would have been nice to hear someone different. When we purchased the tickets the ranger was very helpful on timing, where to stop for the picnic etc. Maybe he could also help on scheduling different guides? The other thing I would change about our visit would be to plan more time in the museum. We only had about 15 minutes which was not time to do it justice. I did purchase a biography about Richard Wetherill, one of the men who discovered the houses and his experiences digging for artifacts. The book has given a whole different perspective than the ranger tours, very interesting.

We had a great family trip to Durango. Lots of beautify scenery, great weather and fun activities.

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