Durango is a state in Northern Mexico.
|“||The glittering treasure you've been dreaming of day and night lies buried over yonder, beyond that there mountain.||”|
—Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Durango is composed of Chihuahuan Desert in the northeast, Altiplano in the central interior, and the Sierra Madre along the western edge of the state. The Sierra Madre of Durango was the setting for the famous B. Traven novel (later adapted into a Hollywood film), the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. One of the great novels about northern Mexico, the book serves as a good introduction to the area to this very day.
- 1 Durango (Victoria de Durango) – the city of Durango has been declared a national monument by the Mexican government thanks to over 1000 well-preserved historic buildings, many dating back to the colonial period. The city was built on a rectangular street grid during the colonial era; it was not until the 1990s and much of the first decade of the 21st century that the city's government decided to clear some of the narrow colonial-era streets to build parks, plazas, and wider avenues that today continue to act as roads between the city's sprawling neighborhoods. Also, many Mexicans consider Durango to be something of a spa city because of the many hot springs in the area as well as the natural beauty and wonderful climate the city enjoys.
- 2 Nuevo Ideal - Nuevo Ideal is a town and municipality north of the City of Durango.
- 3 Pinos Altos
- 4 El Salto
- 5 Gómez Palacio
- 6 Guanaceví
- 7 Santiago Papasquiaro
- 8 Santa María del Oro
- 9 Tepehuanes
- La Quebrada - Though everyone talks about the Grand and Copper Canyons (both to the north), La Quebrada is actually the deepest canyon system in North America - it's such a steep canyon system that even the Spanish were never able to penetrate the area, so it lacks the historic mission churches like those found in the copper canyon, and modern tourism has yet to really take off. But if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, know how to use climbing gear, and aren't concerned with the large scale drug cultivation that goes on in the area, this is easily one of the wildest and most rugged areas in North America. (note: La Quebrada is a popular Spanish name and the one in Durango should not be confused with the more famous La Quebrada diving rocks in Acapulco.)
- Santiaguillo is a nearly 45-km-long lake about an hour's drive north of the City of Durango. Much of the southern section of the lake is dry, but the northern part near Nuevo Ideal has more water in it. You will have to take Mexican Highway 23 north and turn right on the main road at Guatimapé to get a good view of the lake.
Durango is really only now being discovered by tourists. The state has tremendous eco-tourism potential. In many ways the north of the state is very similar to the Copper Canyon area. There are canyons, Mennonites, and Tarahumara. The biggest difference is there are almost no foreign tourists or backpackers here - less infrastructure and less camaraderie but better opportunity for exploration and interaction with locals.
Mexican Route 40D runs through the State of Durango.
The Mexican Route 23 goes north from Durango (city) to Nuevo Ideal and Pinos Altos, as well as going south.
- 1 El Tecuan National Park, Mexico Federal Highway 40, ☏ . 08:00-20:00. This park is in the pine-covered hills west of the City of Durango.
- 2 Mexiquillo Natural Park, Mexico Federal Highway 40 (140 km west of Durango next to town of La Ciudad), ☏ . Another mountainous park in the Sierra Occidental featuring a waterfall, natural rock garden, lakes, and railway tunnels with lodging on site and in the town of La Ciudad immediately adjacent. You might think you're in Colorado.
- Mexico Highway 40. The section of the highway from Durango towards Mazatlan is perhaps the most scenic drive in all of Mexico. This section of the highway is narrow with many curves and has been replaced with the new Fed. 40D. The old Fed. 40 can take up to 8 hours to travel, while Fed. 40D should only take 3 hours. During the winter months there is the added danger of ice. When going eastbound, Mazatlán to Durango, after reaching the top of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Fed. 40 becomes more linear, and it goes through the towns of La Ciudad, El Salto, and El Soldado. It continues in a line up to a point around 30 km from Durango, and it again goes downhill with many curves. In all the downhill sections, the use of engine brake is advised.
The state of Durango is seriously plagued by trouble with the drug cartels, though this very likely won't be an issue for tourists who stay in the city and don't venture into the backcountry.