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10 Durango Destinations the Locals Love

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For Matt Wilson, the best thing in Durango will always be the Animas River. But a man can’t live off whitewater alone, so we picked Wilson’s brain to find out what he loves to do, eat and drink when he’s not paddling through rapids with his company, 4 Corners Whitewater.

By Ellen Ranta Olson

Matt Wilson, owner of Durango-based 4 Corners Whitewater, takes a break from the rapids to share his favorite spots in southern Colorado’s Animas Valley. Photo by Brumley + Wells.
Matt Wilson, owner of Durango-based 4 Corners Whitewater, takes a break from the rapids to share his favorite spots in southern Colorado’s Animas Valley. Photo by Brumley + Wells.
Where to Go for Extra Adventure

Vallecito Creek

Wilson’s day job is, by nature, far from boring. But when he’s looking for an extra rush of adrenaline in the summer, he takes a kayak out to nearby Vallecito Creek for its Class V rapids.

Favorite Post-River Nosh

Tacos Nayarit

“An ideal day includes hours on the river followed by tacos and margaritas. This place has the best authentic Mexican food,” Wilson says.

Best Beer for a Summer Day

Ska Brewing’s Mexican Logger

Refreshing and easy to drink, but with actual flavor, this local lager is perfect after (or during) a day in the sun, Wilson says.

Best Cup of Coffee

Raider Ridge Café

For most Durangotangs, it usually comes down to Durango Joe’s or Durango Coffee Company. Wilson takes the road less traveled and gets caffeinated at Raider Ridge, which is nestled at the base of one of the town’s most beloved biking and hiking trails.

Favorite Sports that Aren’t in a Boat

All of Them

According to Wilson’s rules, if you’re living in Durango and not getting outside a lot, you’re doing it wrong. “Skiing in the winter, running rivers in the summer and mountain biking year-round — we’ve got it all,” he says.

Best Ski Spot

Silverton

When there’s snow, Wilson heads to the neighboring town of Silverton for its stunning backcountry trails.

Best Mountain Biking

Horse Gulch

“The Horse Gulch area is so convenient for mountain biking and really varied as far as difficulty,” he says. “There are trails for every level of biker. But I also love to head out on the high-country rides in the summer for something more unique.”

Where to Go for Gear

4Corners Riversports and Pine Needle Mountaineering

Unlike Wilson, most of us aren’t equipped for Durango’s many adventures. “If you’re heading out on the river on your own, start with rentals from 4Corners. Pine Needle is my go-to for winter gear.”

Sport to Try if Rapids Aren’t Your Thing

Stand-up Paddleboarding

For a more Zen-like river experience that’s still a hell of a workout, grab a board, a paddle and your best sense of balance — and head to a slower section of the Animas.

Favorite Place for Date Night with His Wife

The Office Spiritorium

“She’s in school to be a physician assistant, so date nights aren’t happening a lot lately,” Wilson says. But when they do get out, they hit up this swanky cocktail lounge for drinks and live music.

Click here to take a (virtual) trip down the river.
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