Love to explore deep canyons? Want to see the best of the Four Corners? Looking to visit National Parks or experience American Indian culture and history? Maybe you want to mix in some hiking or mountain biking? There are no shortages of amazing landscapes to explore in the Four Corners area, and we have developed some exciting itineraries. However, if you have something special in mind and need some help planning a trip, we can also help with creating customized itineraries to match your interests and time.
Heading out of Durango to the west you will soon arrive at an amazing area for camping and hiking in some truly unique landscape. The Grand Gulch area has plenty of day hikes with Anasazi Ruins, rock art and amazing camp spots. Natural Bridges National Monument is nearby and not to be missed. If time permits you may acquire a backcountry permit and enter Canyonlands National Park for some more challenging driving and hikes down to the Green or Colorado River. If weather permits there is a great river crossing and then you have your choice to continue towards Moab or return through the Comb Ridge and visit Mesa Verde National Park on your return. We recommend five to seven days for this itinerary.
Mountains and Canyons
Durango is on the doorstep of the majestic San Juan mountains. Upon leaving our facility, the views astound on one of the most scenic roads in the country which will deliver you to the historic towns of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. We highly recommend a day trip around the Alpine Loop where hiking and boondock campsites abound – as a bonus you see Lake City along the way! After exploring the old mines and mountain passes in the area you will make your way to the Uncompagre Plateau where easy travel on dirt roads (turn up the volume and take in the vistas) will lead to the canyonlands around Moab, Utah. If you have time, stop in Gateway, CO to see one of the finest auto collections in the world at the Gateway Auto Museum. The La Sal mountains are close by, and might be a great place to boondock and enjoy the solitude of the Wild West. Make a full circle and return through Cortez with a stop at the impressive Mesa Verde National Park. We recommend seven or more days for this itinerary.
Ancestral People and Places
This itinerary starts by heading south from Durango towards Aztec and Chaco Canyon to explore the cultural center of the Anasazi or “Ancient Ones”. As you head west towards Shiprock you will start to see how the incredible rock formations become sacred to the Navajo culture. To delve deeper into the culture and landscape you can meet a guide to explore the mystery of the ancients inside Canyon de Chelly. After stocking up in Chinle, head north to find ruins and other hidden treasures around Cedar Mesa, don’t worry, we’ll give you some tips. There are amazing opportunities in this area for boondocking under beautiful cottonwood trees, hiking in canyons and exploring ancient cliff dwellings. Natural Bridges National Monument is nearby and not to be missed and on the return you will also have the opportunity to pass through Mesa Verde National Park. We suggest seven to fourteen days for this itinerary.
Rocky Mountain’s Best
This itinerary covers a lot of ground including some more difficult terrain. You will really get a feeling for the majesty of the Rocky Mountains on this loop. Heading north into the San Juan mountains from Durango first brings you to the old mining town of Silverton with high passes, mine ruins, and beautiful scenery. There are great backcountry campsites from here all the way to Lake City and the chance to day hike a 14,000 ft peak! Lake City has a bakery with fresh goodies to stock the pantry with before heading north to Gunnison. There are great opportunities to rent mountain bikes here and ride in the famous Hartman Rocks park. Continuing north is Crested Butte. Spend time in town shopping or dining before heading up to Schofield pass. This is one of the highlights of the area especially in the springtime with the huge open fields of wild flowers. From here you can spend several days in the backcountry exploring the area around the Maroon Bells Wilderness area or head towards Pearl Pass or the Taylor Lake area. These areas are full of day hike opportunities and beautiful boondock camp spots. At some point you may want to return towards Gunnison or Montrose to restock and as you head back toward Durango stopping at the hot springs in Ouray will feel like a real treat! You might have one or two more nights in the backcountry as you come back through, passing Telluride or Ophir. We suggest seven to fourteen days for this trip.
Grand Canyon and Grand Utah
This itinerary is very long and there is a moderate level of difficult driving terrain. Drive northwest from Durango to access some of the most amazing geology and scenery in North America. After crossing through the Navajo reservation you will arrive at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. You will be amazed at how close to the edge you can set up camp! There are plenty of great day hikes and easy access to the National Park as well. From there head north into Utah where Dixie National Forest, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon are all accessible. Crossing through Dixie National Forest you will be treated to beautiful scenery most people miss, fantastic mountain biking in Red Canyon, and some very remote camping options. Crossing through Capitol Reef National park is a highlight of any trip and you may find yourself relaxing on the banks of Lake Powell in Glen Canyon afterwards. From here more difficult driving is accessible in Canyonlands National Park, or continue to National Bridges National Monument or Ceder Mesa for some canyon exploration. This trip has a considerable amount of distance to cover and you may want to take fourteen days or more to cover all the terrain.