Living in Colorado I’m spoiled with the close proximity of the mountains. It’s easy to let wanderlust take over and head into the Rockies for an adventure, no plane tickets necessary. One of my favorite Denver weekend trips is through the mountains to Durango, Colorado.
Located just inside the state line, Durango is a marriage of history, agriculture and the Fort Lewis College student’s who call the town home during the school year. The six hour drive winds through beautiful canyons, providing ample sightseeing opportunities on the journey and making Durango the ideal Denver weekend trip. During the fall, you’ll be able to catch the change of the aspens as they ripple through the mountainside from green to gold.
Established in 1880, Durango was a hub of activities during the silver boom. Today, modern adventurers can experience a taste of what the town might have been like with a stay at the historic Strater Hotel on Main Street.
Just down the street from Narrow Gauge railroad (a still operational stream engine train), the Strater has evolved with the town while maintaining it’s prestige as a historic destination. Built as a boarding house in 1890, the property boasts an eclectic history, including housing hidden compartments for liquor in the lobby during the Prohibition. It wasn’t until the current owners, the Barker Family, took possession of the hotel in the 1950’s that it was truly transformed into the gem we know today.
While most of the building has been heavily renovated through the years, much attention was paid to maintaining the character and style of the Victorian era when the building was constructed. As you walk through the property, its easy to see the love of history that the Barker Family has endued throughout the hotel. From the antique displays throughout the lobby to the walnut furnishings in the rooms it’s easy to imagine how beautiful turn of the century travelers might have experienced their time in the mountains.
It’s said that The Strater is one of the most haunted hotels in Colorado, but during my stay I didn’t happen upon any spirits aside from those being served in the Diamond Belle Saloon.
Three restaurants are located on property, each with their own personality. The Diamond Belle is home to the Belle girls who serve drinks in iconic saloon girl attire while ragtime piano plays in the background throughout the summer. Ideal for a nightcap, you can sit at the bar and imagine exactly what the music would have sounded like when Louis Lamore listened while writing his novels on the floor above.
For more traditional dining, the Mahogony Grill provides full service dining all day long. On the opposite side of the lobby, serves post work cocktails and is known for the best happy hour specials in town.
My room on the second floor was beautifully decorated, with antique walnut furnishings and stunning hand stenciled wallpaper. Larger than most modern hotel rooms, the bedroom included a small sitting area and a secondary dressing space. Each room includes a guest book, allowing you to experience memories from past visitors celebrating anniversaries, graduations or just traveling through town.
I love history so stepping back in time with The Strater was a ton of fun. I can’t wait for my next trip to Durango!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary room during my stay at The Strater. All experiences and opinions are my own.