Durango Stories and Tips

Days Three and Four

Are we in Scotland? Photo, Colorado, United States


Exhausted from the long drive of yesterday we decided to simply enjoy the lake. First, we sipped coffee from the deck with the mist rising into the tall pines as we read the news. Next, we plopped down with books on our deck, then lunch still overlooking the lake, and a walk next to the waters.

Dinner was take-out from Schank House Bar & Grill (17460 County Road 501, Bayfield). Juliana’s grilled chicken salad was a delight, but my "broasted" chicken was fried well but bland.

I fired up the laptop to begin my IgoUgo article, and opened the bottle of white Colorado wine, a Gewurztraminer from Cottonwood Cellars. Halfway through the article, and the nearly too-sweet bottle of wine, Juliana asked "I wonder if they use local water on the grape vines?" I pondered the amount of silver iodide now in my wine glass.


Awaking early, we herded sheep. Technically, on our way into town, just a few miles from the cabin, we became part of a herd being led from their summer pasture to their winter grazing fields. For a few moments we thought we were in Scotland as herders tried to clear a path for our car.

Sheep-free, we headed back to Durango to stroll the Animas River Trail, which is a hard-surface trail running seven miles to the south from 32nd Ave. and E. 2nd Ave. The trail crosses much of the city, through parks and across five bridges, one of which is an old footbridge relocated from nearby Smelter Mountain.

After fortifying ourselves with another French lunch (see my note on Jean Pierre’s Bakery earlier) we tried to locate a Colorado ghost town - I am a big ghost town fan.

The town was named La Plata. Here’s how to find it: Take 160 (also called the Navajo Trail) north out of Durango, past Hesperus into the San Juan National Forest. Turn right on county road 124. Look for two sign postings down in a small dip to the right of the road. You’ve missed it if the road turns into a teeth-rattling rut. Two wheel drive is okay to get to the ghost town, but to go further, you will need four-wheel drive. (Which we had but there’s no way we were going much further.) Do not try this in winter! Also, please remember that this is bear country. They can and will tear apart your car to find food. There are no disposal units so its best to eat lunch in town.

Like many Western towns, La Plata was established due to gold, which was first discovered in the area in 1775 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Rivera. The town sprang up a hundred years later when a larger gold vein was located. By the early 1900s the gold, and some silver, mining was in decline. One mine, the Bessie G, remained open until 1955. Now, the only remains of the town are the two posted signs explaining the history of La Plata. (La Plata is also the name of a river and a mountain peak nearby).

On your return from the ghost town, you’ll pass a large stream on one side and a decent-sized waterfall on the other. It’s the perfect place to play for an afternoon.

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