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An adventurous summer in Durango



Major: Business Administration –
Agricultural Business Option
Minor: Biology
Hometown: Centennial, CO

Year: Senior

During my Junior and Senior years of high school, as I started looking for colleges, I wanted to find a school where I would never be bored and could always find something exciting to do.  Durango is probably the most exciting and challenging place to explore that I have come across. Year-round, there are all sorts of different adventures to embark on. I’ll try to explain at least some of what I have come to love doing in Durango. 

I’ll first say that summers around here are not limited to only when you’re out of school.  During the start of school in the fall and the end in the spring, there are plenty of “summer” things to do.  Let’s first start off with the river, since even the name Durango comes from the Basque word urango meaning “water town.”  Between tubing the river, rafting, kayaking, or being creative and finding your own way to float it, the Animas River is a great resource for getting out and active.  If you do have a way of driving to nearby lakes or creeks, a few things I have found are huge rope swings, boating, fishing, and cliff/bridge jumping (at my own risk of course).  Half the fun of these things is finding them on your own, so I won’t spoil where they are. One of the great things about Fort Lewis College is that many of the outdoor activities are encouraged by the school. On top of Outdoor Pursuits being one of the best programs a college can have to help students get active, there are even some classes for it.  My freshman year I took “Intro to Kayaking.”  The entire class was just learning the basics of kayaking so that you would have a skill base to attempt it on your own.

Yet another adventure: I caught this fish while I was out
goose hunting in a kayak!

So what if you're not a huge fan of water? The location of Durango (another reason I came here) is right between the high San Juan Mountains to the north, Moab and Canyon Lands in the desert to the west, and Navajo Reservoir to the South. When I first started going to school at Fort Lewis, it was almost overwhelming to have all of this open land to explore. There are trails everywhere to hike, bike, or go 4-wheeling on. Another amazing outdoor class I have taken is “Desert Backpacking.”  For the class, we learned all about the different equipment needed for backpacking and different benefits they provide.  For the final, we went on a weekend backpacking trip in Utah and learned about the landscape and how to use it while camping.  That class further excited me about hiking, backpacking, and camping around Durango.  One random trail my sophomore year led me to a small cave entrance.  Of course, when you come across a small dark cave, what are you supposed to do besides use your phone light and go in?  After wandering around in the dark, I decided to go home and do some research.  I found that there are lots of caves around Durango and the nearby areas.  I made it my goal this last summer to find as many as I could and to be way more prepared to investigate all of them.  So far I have found five or six different caves within an hour of Durango.

As you can probably tell I love that I am able to go to school at a college as great as Fort Lewis and live in a place as amazing as Durango.  I know there are a lot of people that enjoy the outdoors as much as I do and hope I can convince at least one or two of you to take a closer look at Fort Lewis.

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    Posted @ Thursday, March 21, 2013 by Holli
    Holli's avatar

    Wow Erik! Your adventures sound like a blast. I too came to Fort Lewis because I love the outdoors. I grew up going to a wilderness and backpacking camp near Durango, so I knew the town and terrain well. I have had so much fun being able to participate in the incredible outdoor activities like rafting, backpacking, and skiing, that Durango has to offer year round rather than just the summer, and do so with my new found friends at FLC.

    Posted @ Monday, March 25, 2013 by Makena
    Makena's avatar

    Erik, your story reminded me of one of my own. Last Spring some friends and I decided to float the Animas River on a couple of tire tubes. I didn't know what I was in for on several levels: the freezing temperature of the river and the somewhat giant rapid of Smelter! While the water was pretty cold, it was so much fun! The rapids were a blast and it was just a fun way to spend a Saturday morning in Durango!

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