It happened last week, the weather turned on a dime. It was noticeably cooler and had a feeling of fall in the air. That was our wake-up call and now we anticipate a long Indian summer with clear blue skies, comfortable daytime temperatures and a few frosty mornings. Autumn is my favorite season.
Those in the tourism industry also noticed a distinct change in visitors. Now absent from the downtown sidewalks are the families with school-age children. While at the same time, college students and their parents were arriving in Durango to begin to explore their new home away from home. Many parents will return as visitors in the months ahead for special weekends and collegiate sporting events.
In fact, the makeup of our tourists changes constantly all year long. In the coming weeks, visitors will come to Durango for special events, harvest festivals and mushroom gathering.
Later in September, Durango will host many groups and independent travelers that come to Colorado to drive scenic highways and photograph the annual blaze of high-country color. While the changing of the aspen trees usually gets top billing, I’m always impressed with the deep reds, oranges and russets of the ground cover.
Campgrounds, recently full of families and those wanting to escape the Texas heat, have become peaceful retreats of solitude and beauty. It’s a great time for RVs, campers and hikers to enjoy nature.
As the seasonal cycle continues on, hunting seasons contribute to the local economy. Early snows remind skiers and families it’s time to book their ski weekend and vacations at Purgatory. The winter ski season becomes the anchor economic driver from December through March. Throughout this same time of the year, the railroad complements its daily train trips to Cascade with many popular special event trains. These family friendly events continue to expand year over year and provide steady employment and a revenue stream for local businesses. And of course, the holidays bring visiting friends and relatives’ to town.
When spring does arrive, the rivers run at their best, and Durango attracts a different type of visitor from floating families to river rafting aficionados. Then the bicycles come out to play. Durango always emerges from winter with a full calendar of events and activities to delight locals and attract visitors. The month of May hosts many of our most popular special events, and by Memorial Day the town is steadily filling up. From June to Labor Day all of Durango’s elevated adventurers are in full operation.
The point is that seasonal changes and visitor turnover go hand in hand. This is one of the most amenity rich parts of the state, and we are blessed to be a community that people want to visit at all times of the year. Local businesses will say that it takes a steady year-round customer base of loyal locals and engaging visitors to keep their business humming.
email@example.com. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.