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Homes for the Holidays - Wonderful Destinations to Gather the Family

Homes for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and with them come travel plans and celebrations with family and friends. The team here at Vacation Rental Collective is looking forward to this joyous holiday season, and want to share two magical winter destinations with you!

When you think of postcard winter wonderlands, the towns of Durango and Ouray are hard to surpass. With majestic mountains, seasonal snow, and Colorado’s reputation for being one of the sunniest states in the country, these mountain towns are ideal for a holiday getaway.

Durango has been popular with vacationers for many years. A historic old west town, Durango residents organize various festive activities and celebrations to accentuate the seasonal charm. Here are some ways to spend your holiday vacation in this charming town.

Postcard History
This area of Colorado is full of ancient and contemporary history, from the Puebloan culture that made their homes here hundreds of years ago to the mining of the recent past.

  • The Polar Express: To experience the railroad that used to service the mining industry in the area, get tickets to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s annual holiday event, The Polar Express. Operating from November 18th to January 1st, the event lets participants enjoy the magic of The Polar Express story as it is theatrically performed aboard the train.
  • Snowshoes & Cliff Dwellings: There are many beautiful places to snowshoe, and for some added history, check out the options available at Mesa Verde, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can marvel at the ancient Anasazi ruins while you snowshoe, hike, or cross-country ski on one of the many trails.
  • Sleigh Bells Jingling: For an adventure that the whole family can enjoy, book a trip on a seasonal sleigh ride. Multiple outfits offer these, including Purgatory Resort. There is nothing like a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the fresh snow with the majestic San Juan mountains in the background.
  • Snow & Sun: If being outside under the brilliant blue Colorado sky is your idea of a vacation, Durango has much to offer in addition to sleigh rides and snowshoeing.
  • Purgatory is Heaven: Located north of Durango, Purgatory Resort is a visitor’s paradise. With over 1,600 acres of terrain serviced by 11 lifts, including two high-speed quads, snowmobile adventures, nordic skiing, and even a mountain roller coaster.
  • Cats & Dogs: Snowcat tours are a great way to see the San Juan Mountains during winter. There are numerous guides in the area, including snowcat skiing at Purgatory Resort. If you’re seeking something more “off-leash”, look no further than a ride on a dog sled tour from Durango Dog Ranch.

Ice Breakers
There are other winter activities in the region, and many require the freezing temperatures that the winter season provides.

  • Ice Fishing: Ice fishing enthusiasts will enjoy a peaceful day of mountain views, fresh air, and fishing action. Vallecito and Lemon reservoirs are some of the more popular areas, situated 18 and 15 miles from Durango, respectively.
  • Ice Climbing: The San Juans are home to endless options for the vertically-inclined adventurer. During winter, waterfalls freeze over, creating ice-climbing opportunities in areas like Cascade Canyon.
  • Chapman Ice Rink: Check out the family-friendly fun at Durango’s ice rink, Chapman Hill. They offer public skating hours, lessons, and a weekly Disco Night event. Chapman also has a small ski area with two rope tows, so you won’t even have to leave town to get a turn or two in.

Shopping, Dining, & More

Durango is a charming and lively town full of culture and entertainment. With the past and present mixing seamlessly, you can find something for everyone.

Historic Downtown: Downtown is an enchanting collection of restaurants, galleries, parks, shops, and more. Stop by the Diamond Belle Saloon for refreshments and ragtime piano while you enjoy the architecture and furnishings of one of Durango’s most iconic landmarks. You can also learn the haunted history behind these historical buildings by taking a tour from Ghost Walk Durango.

You’ll find outstanding dining and drinking options such as El Moro Tavern and Durango Craft Spirits throughout downtown. There are also fantastic galleries like the locally renowned Studio & Gallery, which will host the Bizarre Bazaar this December 9th-11th.

Durango is also home to unique enterprises like Toast Records and Bakes, a bakery and record shop where you can enjoy handcrafted pastries while perusing your favorite vinyl.

Here are more festivities you can find on the Durango holiday calendar:
November 26: Lets Talk Turkey Scavenger Hunt
December 02: Noel Night
December 10: Durango Farmers December Holiday Market
December 15: Bar-D Wranglers Christmas Concert
December 22: Santa and Mrs. Clause Visit the Mountain
December 31: NYE Torchlight Parade and Fireworks


Seventy miles north of Durango lies the quaint town of Ouray, a National Historic District. One visit to this high-altitude heaven will tell you why it has been affectionately nicknamed the “Switzerland of America.” With towering cliffs, waterfalls, hot springs, and a downtown full of eateries, breweries, and more, Ouray is ideal for holiday celebrations. Don’t forget to stop by the historic Wright Opera House for a December 16th screening of the holiday classic, A Christmas Story.

Winter Festivities
Ouray Yule: From 9 am to 7 pm on December 3rd, the town of Ouray will celebrate its annual Yule day. The day’s schedule is packed with exciting, kid-friendly activities to make memories and bring smiles to the whole family. The event will kick off with the classic “Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt” at 10 am, and contestants will have until 3 pm to search every corner of their event maps for the elusive elves.

In addition to fun activities like the scavenger hunt, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and a children’s “s’mores and crafts” event, there will be a raffle, a dance performance by the Weehawken Dancers, and picture opportunities with Mrs. Claus, The Grinch, and Cindy Lou Who.

The community Christmas tree lighting will commence at dusk, followed by the Main Street Holiday Parade. After a chili supper at the Ouray Elks Lodge, celebrants will gather at the historic Wright Opera House for a cozy story time with Mrs. Claus.

Soaking with Santa: The town of Ouray is home to various unique attractions, and the historic Ouray Hot Springs is undoubtedly one of the most beloved. With 750,000 gallons of geothermally heated spring water, visitors can find ample relaxation and rejuvenation.

On December 17th, from 4p-6p, the Hot Springs will host the Soaking with Santa event. What could be better than enjoying the snowy mountains from the hot springs while taking photos with St Nick? Images are $5, and the proceeds benefit the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.

Ouray Ice Park
World Class Climbing: The Ouray Ice Park is an international destination. Since 1994, the park has been operated by the nonprofit organization Ouray Ice Park, Inc, and offers free access to the public. Every winter, climbers from all over the world come to enjoy the largest human-made ice climbing park in the world, stretching for two miles through the Uncompahgre Gorge.

Ice Fest and Competition: The Ouray Ice Park is supported by memberships, donations, sponsorships, and events. The most significant event of the year, the Ouray Ice Festival and Competition, will occur from January 19th-22nd. There will be clinics, gear demos, a silent auction, and the star of the show, the climbing competitions. Athletes will test their prowess on the ice in two events: the Elite Mixed Climbing Competition and the Speed Climbing Competition. Spectators will watch in awe as the best in the world vie for the top spot.

When you're finished with your exciting day of activities in Ouray or Durango, relax and let sore muscles evaporate with the rising steam from the area’s natural hot springs. Check out the Durango Hot Springs Resort or the Ouray Hot Springs for more information.

Vacation Rental Collective is happy to offer our customers the best in class vacation rental services in either of these charming towns. We’ll help you find the perfect vacation home to gather together after your full day of celebrating the season. Simply put, we provide the best in class vacation rental services in the Southwest Colorado area, and we can’t wait for you to find out why.

Visit our website, and secure your reservation for your postcard holiday getaway!

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