Durango and Fun Valley: Long Train Running

Who said chicks can’t drive rigs? Someday soon, I’ll be able to do the entire trip on my own… But it’s so much more fun when you have an awesome spouse to do it with.

On our long drive from the Grand Canyon to Durango, we stopped near the Navajo National Monument. We briefly considered going to check it out and get a stamp in my passport book before realizing it would add at least 45 minutes to our already long day. Instead, we took a quick potty break and got a few cool photos of this amazing graffiti/art/political statement on the walls of some abandoned buildings right on the corner.

Durango, CO

In Durango, we stayed at Alpin Rose RV Park. We stayed there last year and found it a great fit because of the 2+ acre dog park for Rizzo to really stretch her long legs.

The next day, we dropped Rizzo off at a doggie day care in the area for the day. It was a much better alternative than keeping her in her kennel for 10+ hours while we rode the Durango Silverton train.

The train ride is a must when staying in Durango. The scenery is beautiful and well worth it.

But here are a few quick tips if you decide to go:

  1. Book the gondola car so you can get much better photos.
  2. Bring glasses. If your car is near the front of the train and you take the steam train, you may get coal in your eyes.
  3. Try to find out which seats are on the East side of the train and book those. You’ll have a much better view on the way up.
  4. If you got the East side going up, skip going down by train and take a bus. The 7 hour round trip is exhausting and a bus ride back can shave off over 2 hours.
  5. Remember that this was once the most efficient way to travel long distances. Appreciate the ride!

Even this guy thinks it’s a long train ride!

But, as my newly acquired Yellowstone shirt suggests, it’s better than the alternative! Wait, you haven’t seen Yellowstone? Well get on that! It’s totally amazing.

Our second day was a leisurely day catching up on laundry, running errands and getting in some bowling, of course!

Travel Tip

If you haven’t noticed, we like to find great places to stop on longer drive days. This gives you a chance to see some sites you might otherwise miss and also take a break while grabbing some lunch. Our stop between Durango and Fun Valley was a road side waterfall called Treasure Falls. A short ¼ mile hike up let us get right to the base of the falls.
The hike was dog friendly, kid friendly, and easy enough to wear strap on sandals. There are a lot of people on the trail though, so be prepared for some cozy encounters.

Fun Valley

Next stop was a place called Fun Valley near South Fork, CO. We have a friend who is camp hosting there so decided to stop in over night to break up the drive.

This campground is located along the Rio Grande River. Open since 1959, families have been coming to Fun Valley for more than one generation. They offer an incredible array of activities for everyone. Go fishing in one of the many stocked ponds around the property. Enjoy a game of Texas Hold Em. Check out the lighted bike parade around the property. Or go tubing down the Rio Grande! (Warning, do not watch video if you get motion sick easily!)

Bishop Castle

On the way to Colorado Springs, we took another short detour. What would you do if you had a lot of time and energy? Would you spend it building a castle?

Well that’s just what Jim Bishop has done with his time giving birth to Bishop Castle. According to Wikipedia, Bishop purchased the property when he was 15 years old for $450 in 1959. That would be the equivalent of over $3500. I don’t know that many kids these days that would save up $3500 to buy a piece of property in the middle of nowhere.

There are two things to keep in mind when considering visiting Bishop Castle. It’s not for the politically correct. There are plenty of signs suggesting that Jim is very strongly opinionated and not afraid to share his opinions with those within ear shot.

It’s not for those with a fear of heights. The main tower is over 160 feet tall and you can actually climb all the way to the top.

There’s a bridge on the backside that doesn’t appear all that sturdy. Even those of us that don’t fear heights opted to not stay on it for long as it swayed slightly back and forth.

It’s actually pretty amazing to see what this guy has built in the last 50 years.

Next up, checking out the sites in and around Colorado Springs.