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Durango is located in La Plata County in the southwest corner of Colorado. Located in the Animas River Valley and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, Durango is close to the Four Corners area, where Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona meet. The city of Durango comprises 4.37 square miles, while La Plata County is 1,700 square miles.
With a population of approximately 15,000, Durango is the largest community in Southwest Colorado and serves as a hub of commercial activity for a regional population of more than 60,000. Durango’s elevation is 6,500 feet; it is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, yet it is only 50 miles away from the deserts of the Southwest.
Durango enjoys an ideal four-season climate with moderate temperatures year-round. Winters are mostly mild and sunny.
January's mean daily minimum temperature is 14.4 degrees F. Cold-snaps are short-lived and rare. Winter snowfall is an average of 71" a year, but because of low elevation and great solar exposure (300 days of sunshine per year) snow removal is only an occasional chore of manageable size. At higher elevations, like Purgatory Resort, snowfall averages 250" per year. Springtime brings warmer weather with rain (annual precipitation of about 18" per year) to brighten up greening lawns and high country meadows. During summer, temperatures seldom reach more than the high 80s and then just for a week or two.
Rivers and reservoirs stay relatively full in summer, due to deep snow accumulation in the surrounding mountains. Fall days are cool and dry, perfect for a mountain hike or drive to see the golden aspen and red-orange scrub oak.
The Main campus sits atop a beautiful bluff overlooking historic downtown Durango. Dubbed the “Campus in the Sky”, Fort Lewis’ setting is second to none. Its vistas to the north, west, and south are absolutely stunning. To the east lies Raider Ridge, which acts as a backdrop, framing the campus along its westerly slope.
Fort Lewis shares its bluff setting with a municipal 18-hole golf course to the north. A small ski slope sits northwesterly adjacent to both the golf course and the campus, indicating, just how steep the westerly slope is into downtown Durango.
Both to the east and south lie residential communities. The southern most community consists of older residences. Many of these, which lie between the campus and Main Street Durango, have historic value and are upper scale single family residences. The residential area to the east is typically newer multi - family, higher density housing that serves many Fort Lewis College students.