In the heart of the mountain town of Durango is a rambunctious, roaring hotel called the Strater that has been open for more than 130 years.
During the Colorado Silver Boom of the late 19th century, the Strater was built as a winter retreat for local miners as well as those from the nearby towns such as Silverton. Just around the corner from the Strater Hotel lies the terminus of the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway that carried miners and ore back and forth through the Animus River Valley during working season.
Much later, during the Prohibition Era, cunning and conniving bootleggers built secret liquor caches into the walls, staircases, and fixtures. Many of these are still usable, but you’ll probably find candy inside rather than illegal alcohol.
Over the years the Strater has hosted several important politicians and diplomats, but one room in particular was often reserved for the author Louis L’Amour, who stayed there while writing many of his Western novels. Today, room 222 is named after Louis L’Amour.
If you visit, be sure to take a drink or order the specialty prime rib in the authentic Diamond Belle Saloon downstairs, and listen to the pianist play some period-appropriate tunes.
Know Before You Go
The closest international airport to Durango is in Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ), which is about 3.5 hours drive from Durango. Durango does have a small domestic airport for regional commercial flights.