Traveling with younger children can limit opportunities when it comes to outdoor adventures. Multidimensional TravelingMom, Kristi Mehes, recently visited Durango, Colorado with her family, including her almost 5 year old son. They found that outdoor activities aren’t just for families with older kids. Families with younger children won’t feel left out when visiting Colorado – there are plenty of family friendly activities in Durango.
Family Friendly Activities in Durango, Colorado
My family and I are not extremists when it comes to the outdoors. However, we do enjoy outdoor activities that are family friendly. This is easier said than done, though. For example, do you want to go horseback riding with a 5 year old? You’ll have to wait. And rightfully so – safety should always come first. But just because you have a younger child doesn’t mean you have to stand at the sidelines. Cities like Durango, Colorado, have several kid friendly activities for families traveling with younger children. From train rides to jeep tours to river rafting, there are plenty of family friendly activities in Durango!
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train
If you’re looking for family friendly activities in Durango, then the Durango & Siverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train should be on your list. Prior to my family’s visit, I heard from several people that it ranks up there as one of the most scenic train rides in the United States, if not the world. We wanted to check it out for ourselves and we weren’t disappointed.
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There are a few options when booking the train ride. Guests can take a motorcoach bus to Silverton, a small mining town, and then return to Durango via the train. Or guests can book a round trip ticket for the train. We opted to take the bus ride to Silverton, instead of taking the round trip train ride. I recommend families with younger children choose the same option – the train ride is a long one, especially round trip, and younger children may become extremely antsy.
The motorcoach bus leaves from the train depot in Durango to Silverton. It’s about 1 1/2 hours to Silverton, and the bus driver provides a narrative of Silverton’s history. Once passengers arrive in Silverton, they have free time to spend in the town before checking in for the train ride back to Durango.
We arrived in Silverton in time for lunch. We ate at the Black Bear Cafe, and then walked around a bit after buying ice cream cones. My son enjoyed Silverton, especially the horses and stagecoaches. Afterward, we checked in at the train depot for the train ride back to Durango.
The train ride is, without a doubt, breathtaking. The train climbs at a higher elevation and gives a great view of the Animas River down below. There are classes of service available, including first class and standard class, depending on your budget. We sat in a deluxe car, called the open-air observation gondola. We like that the seats face outward, towards the scenery. And while the gondola is covered, there are not any enclosed windows, which make it easy for taking pictures. Because you’ll definitely want to take pictures!
One way on the train ride is about 3 hours long, which can seem like a long time for a young child. For that reason, the ideal age for the train ride is for kids 5 years and older. An activity and coloring book is available for purchase on the train and I highly recommend buying the book, especially if you are traveling with younger children. Not only does it keep children occupied, but it keeps them interested in the train ride. The coloring book allows children to color the different places they see on the train ride and it also has information regarding the train’s history.
When I was doing my research on Durango, I was happy to see that there are other family friendly activities in Durango, like a Jeep tour and river rafting. I highly recommend Mild to Wild, which is a tour company that operates in Durango, as well as other states like Arizona and Utah. The Jeep tour is guided and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the area. We brought our son’s car seat with us, which worked out really well. While the Jeep tour is bumpy at times, my son was safely secure in his car seat. He enjoyed taking pictures of the local wildlife he saw, including a marmot.
Because the tour is guided, passengers are able to learn more about the history of the area, as well as see the remains of old mining claims. Not to mention admire the beautiful Colorado landscape! Mountain peaks, small waterfalls, and wildflowers are just some of the highlights of the tour.
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The Jeep tour also stops at certain locations, which allows younger children to burn off some energy. An added bonus? The beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
I love whitewater rafting, but we’ve skipped whitewater rafting trips due to my son’s age. However, Mild to Wild has rafting trips available for families traveling with children 4 years old and older. We took the Lower Animas Rafting Tour and initially, I wasn’t sure how my son would do. The thought of being on a raft with a young child for a couple of hours is enough to put the fear in any parent. However, I was really impressed with Mild to Wild. The guides make it a fun experience, especially for the younger children. Children are provided with a child’s size oar, and while they can help paddle the raft, they don’t have to. My son loved being a part of the team.
Safety is also the number one priority. Life vests are provided before the rafting trip begins and I received a checklist in preparation for our rafting trip. You’ll definitely want to bring water shoes with you or wear closed-toed shoes. The rafting guides also goes over the Dos and Don’ts prior to leaving on the raft.
We had a great time in Durango. It has just the right amount of adventure for our family and it is hard to pick a favorite. The activities are all so different, and while they are fun, they are also educational in their own ways. My son still talks about our family friendly activities in Durango!