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USA Pro Challenge host city, Durango: facts and fables

February 10, 2012

Stage 1 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge departs from Durango on August 20th. Whether fact or fable, here’s a few interesting things about Durango you might want to know if you plan to visit this city to see the race. Think about bringing a shovel, an appetite with a sweet tooth, and your meditation cushion.

Food and more from

Honeybee at work

  • “The name Durango comes from the Basque word “Urango”, which means “water town.” This name is fitting for Durango, as the Animas River runs through town.
  • “The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad uses approximately 10,000 gallons of water per round-trip and 12,000 pounds of coal, which is shoveled one shovelful at a time.
  • “The honeybees at Honeyville live for 6 weeks and work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can also fly at speeds as fast as 14 mph.
  • “Durango is the hometown of the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • “Several well-known movies were made in Durango, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhanger, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Night Passage, Ticket to Tomahawk, Around the World in Eighty Days, How the West Was Won, and Tracker.”
  • Be an agricultural tourist in Durango. According to, the Durango area has over 25 farmers or ranchers, some organic, who produce fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, grass fed and organic beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, churro wool, yarn, flowers, and artesian and goat cheeses. People can visit a working ranch, an organic farm, a local brewery, or a honey maker. The tourism office (at 1-800-463-8726) provides information; you may need to contact the farmers and ranchers yourself to schedule a tour and tasting on the days of the week they welcome visitors.

View along the Million Dollar Highway (photo by Mary Topping)

Motorcycle adventure

Route 550 from Durango to Ouray, also known as the “Million Dollar Highway,” earned 4th best motorcycling road in the U.S. from the American Motorcyclist Association. Red streaked mountains, the remains of mines, and a fast-moving roadside creek elicit “ohs” and “ahs” whether viewed by bike or car.

Some have mentioned this road as a possible USA Pro Cycling Challenge route from Durango to Telluride; the consensus is the race will travel over Lizard Head Pass instead.

Build karma

The Durango Dharma Center (DDC) offers a Monday evening “sitting group” from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Meditate for 40 minutes and listen to a Dharma talk from one of the center’s leaders or a guest. The DDC is Vipassana (Insight) focused.

Treasure stories

Since 1905, prospectors and treasure seekers have told stories about an abandoned mine still rich with gold and protecting the skeletons of three men, located in the Nettleton area 30 miles from Durango. It’s a romantic story of discovery and disappearances, just one of many in Colorado, where the remains of old mines and ghost towns are popular destinations for hikers and 4-wheelers.

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