Durango Colorado

 (1)
Durango, population approximately 17,000, is a favorite destination for a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including cyclists, rock climbers, kayakers, white river rafters, skiers, horseback riders, zip-liners and just about anything else that can be enjoyed in scenic, mountainous terrain. Situated in the San Juan Mountains, the largest range in the Rockies, Durango is a genuine, old western town where a river, the Animas, truly runs through it.

Sizeable trout can be fished from the Animas, a tributary of the San Juan River, right from pedestrian footbridges in the heart of town. A short hour’s drive south from Durango is the San Juan River, a highly productive tailwater that attracts anglers from around the globe. A little farther west, about an hour ½ drive, is the challenging Delores River, and for those willing to drive a little over two hours, you can fish the alluring upper Rio Grande.  

Ancestral home to early Native Americans, the surrounding area is filled with cliff dwelling archaeological sites, a perfect activity for anyone traveling with you not interested in fishing. Durango came to life in the late 1880’s with the Denver and   Rio Grande Railroad expansion, built to move travelers, miners and tons of ore from nearby mines. Today the town is home to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway Museum that offers a 9-hour railroad tour of the area and is a major tourist attraction.

Located near the San Juan National Forest, Durango is surrounded by high mountains and lush greenery. To the northeast is the Rio Grande National Forest while the Lizard Head, South San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness Areas are also close by. Add Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument and the Ute Tribal Park to the list of things to see and do and it’s easy to see why Durango is such a popular place to fish and explore.

There are many options for getting to Durango, including:
  • Fly to Denver International Airport and drive for approximately 6 hours
  • Fly to Grand Junction Regional Airport and drive for approximately 3 ½ hours
  • Fly to Four Corners Regional Airport (Farmington, NM) and drive for 1 hour
  • Fly to Albuquerque International Sunport (NM) and drive for about 4 hours
 
Fishing Waters
 (1)
About an hour’s drive from Durango, the San Juan River tailwater, a result of the Navajo Dam completed on Navajo land in 1962, is another happy accident for trout lovers. It originates ... morein Colorado’s San Juan Mountains on the western side of the Continental Divide, winds its way through northern New Mexico and Arizona, and ends in Utah where it empties into the Colorado River at Lake Powell. Although it crosses all 4 of the Four Corners, most agree the best place to fish is in New Mexico, below Navajo Dam at Navajo Lake.

While fishing is good for at least 10 miles below the dam, the most coveted area is a mere 3½-mile run. What this mileage lacks in length, it makes up for in fish. Known almost reverently as the “Quality Water,” many anglers consider this the holy grail of trout fishing. Releases from the dam keep the water temperature a near constant 42-45 degrees year round, and unlike the Delores, the San Juan can be experienced throughout every season.

Initially, New Mexico game officials stocked the river with brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Because the water is rich in nutrients and the conditions are so near perfect, the fish have flourished. Stocking rainbows has continued over the years although browns have reproduced on their own. This has resulted in one of the highest fish counts of any North American river, estimated at approximately 20,000 fish per mile in the Quality Water section.

Most of the year this section of river can be easily waded or fished from a drift boat, although it is strictly catch and release with a 2 fly limit on a single barbless hook.
Game Fish Opportunities:
 (1)
This 241 mile tributary of the Colorado River begins its journey high (over 11,000 ft.) inside the boundaries of the San Juan National Forest, about 5 miles south of Lizard Pass. Initially ... morethe river flows southwest to the confluence with the West Dolores and then continues until it reaches the McPhee Dam. Eventually it is joined by the San Miguel River and keeps running through to Dewey Bridge where it empties into the Colorado.

//

Many consider the Delores a well-kept secret and wouldn’t mind if it stayed that way. It came to the attention of trout lovers after the completion of the McPhee Dam and the release of cold water created a world-class tailwater. In response, the Colorado Division of Wildlife introduced thousands of rainbow, brown and Snake River cutthroat and since then they have thrived.

The initial 12 miles down from the dam are limited to catch and release, lures and flies only, but the area is well signed and access is easy. The scenery here is also dramatic and beautiful, running through a steep, rocky canyon that is blanketed with Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, juniper and majestic cottonwoods. Waders will find the low gradient water welcoming with rifles, pools and slow bends, although pocket water tends to be scarce.

Trout average about 10-15 inches although much larger fish are there to be caught. Water can be low in the winter months, depending on how flows are managed at the dam, and it’s not uncommon for the river to ice over. As a result, in contrast to many other tailwaters, the Delores is not a year round fishery.
Game Fish Opportunities:
 (1)
Where can you find a fly fishing haven that is oddly urban in character yet runs through 3 ghost towns, is a winter home to migratory bald eagles and you have to take a train to get ... moreto some of the best water? Well the answer is Durango, Colorado where the Animas River flows right through it. Here it’s possible to successfully cast off a pedestrian bridge in the middle of town, wander down stream on well-marked trails to wade, or take a train through the mountains to fish. 

//

High in the San Juan Mountains, at the ghost town of Animas Forks and the confluence of the North and West forks, this tributary of the San Juan River begins. It continues on past the ghost towns of Eureka and Howardsville and at Silverton, flows into Animas Canyon, a steep walled passageway. After Durango, the river flows south into New Mexico where it joins with the San Juan River at Farmington.

North of Silverton the Animas is more stream than river. It gathers momentum as it nears Hermosa but because of a steep gorge, getting to the waters above Hermosa requires taking a train, a route once used to transport ore from nearby mines. Past Hermosa the river opens up, and at times is more than a 100 feet wide with rifles, long runs and deep pools.

At Purple Cliffs, approximately 3 miles downstream from Durango, the river is regulated but very accessible and the boulders and rifles here provide ideal habitat for trout. In 1997, this section of the river was classified by the State of Colorado as a Gold Medal River, meaning it contains a minimum of 60 pounds of trout and more than 12 trout over 14 inches per acre. Fish ranging from 16-20 inches are not uncommon here.
1 reviews   0 comments
Culinary
(5.0 of 5)
Accommodations
(5.0 of 5)
Family Friendly
(5.0 of 5)
Spouse Friendly
(5.0 of 5)
Transportation
(5.0 of 5)
Top Fly Fishing Town in the US
Rated as one of the top trout fishing towns in the US byBob Mallard, author of 25 Best Towns - Fly Fishing for Trout
Culinary
Accommodations
Family Friendly
Spouse Friendly
Transportation
0
0

Discover Your Own Authentic Fly Fishing Experience

With top destinations, guided trips, outfitters and guides, and river reports, you have everything you need.