The state of Durango is located in northwestern Mexico and is a natural corridor to the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, which occupies the western and central part of the state. The word “Durango” has a Basque origin meaning, "Fertile lowland bathed by rivers surrounded by elevations or mountains", and that pretty much describes the state’s beautiful landscape with its majestic mountains, enormous canyons, large lakes, fantastic waterfalls, and meandering rivers.
Durango’s geographical diversity is popular with sports enthusiasts who enjoy kayaking, mountain biking, camping, and hiking, as well as the extreme sports of abseiling and rock climbing.
In addition to its many great tourist attractions, Durango is famous for being the “Land of the Scorpions” due to its multitude of scorpion species, which can be found frozen in the clear resins of plastic keychains, adorning belt buckles, in decorative tiles, and every other conceivable souvenir product.
It’s also known for its popularity with film producers and the film sets constructed in the towns of Chupaderos, Pueblo del Oeste, and Rancho La Joya, in which over 120 film productions, many of them Westerns, took place. Some call it the “Mexican Movieland”.
An interesting side note is that the beautiful scenery of Durango drew in the American actor, John Wayne, an icon of Western movies. When shooting the films: The Sons of Katie Elder, The War Wagon, and Chisum, among many others, Wayne spent so much time filming in Durango that he acquired a ranch in the state.
Anyone visiting Durango will have a great time in its cities, touring ancient architecture and participating in adventure sports, among other things. Simply taking in the picturesque landscape is enough to draw many tourists to these areas. Following are some of Durango’s most important towns that you should consider adding to your travel plans.
The beautiful city of Victoria de Durango, the state’s capital, is situated in the Guadiana Valley in south-central Durango. The city offers some great 17th and 18th century architecture for your viewing pleasure, such as the baroque-style Catedral Basílica de Durango (Cathedral) with its twin towers and the Government Palace with magnificent paintings hanging on its walls. The city is also home to several wonderful parks with games for kids and swimming pools.
Also, don’t miss the beautiful waterfalls and dams located nearby, such as the La Presa Peña, where you can fish, swim, and partake in a number of water sports!
Gomez Palacio is located 253 kilometers northwest of Durango City and has some fine attractions to offer its visitors, including the Modern Art Museum, the Culture House, and the 19th century Santa Rosa Ex-hacienda.
Mapimi is located 64 kilometers northwest of Gomez Palacio, and anyone visiting here should not miss the 16th century Jesuit Mission, the 17th century Santiago Apostol Temple with its baroque-style façade, or the incredible Puente Colgante Ojuela (Hanging Bridge of Ojuela), which is the third largest hanging bridge in Latin America!
Zona del Silencio (Zone of Silence), located in the semi-desert region of Bolsón de Mapimí, owes its name to the fact that sound, radio, and magnetic waves seem not to travel or penetrate here, similar to that of the Bernuda Triangle. The area is also known for the frequent occurrence of meteorites and other strange phenomenon.
El Salto is located 100 kilometers to the west of Durango City and is known for its beautiful landscapes as well as its El Monasterio, an ex-convent, used as a movie set for the film industry’s westerns. Here you can rent a cabin in the woods of the nearby El Soldado or in the
El Tecuan National Park.
Some great excursions to the mountains depart from El Salto where you can view fantastic scenery, waterfalls, and huge canyons. Hunting and fishing tours are also popular here.
La Ciudad is located 46 kilometers to the west of the village of El Salto, and is the seat of the municipality that covers portions of the Sierra Madre Occidental. La Ciudad’s main attraction is the Mexiquillo Ecological Park, famous for its deep canyons, beautiful waterfalls, and basaltic rock formations. Also here is the Mexiquillo Lagoon, with its crystal clear waters and the enigmatic Valle de las Piedras (Stone Valley), with its huge rock formations of strange shapes and sizes.
Ciudad Lerdo (Lerdo City) is a small city in northeastern Durango, known for its pretty gardens and parks, as well as for its fresh ice-cream made with milk from local dairies.
Vicente Guerrero is a bustling city boasting 200 restaurants and many amusing attractions, including museums and historical buildings, such as the baroque-style Parish of St. Anthony of Padua.
The state of Durango is a place for those who appreciate beautiful landscapes and wish to dwell in harmony with nature amongst its mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. Whether you pitch a tent, rent a cabin, or stay in a fine hotel, you are sure to enjoy this scenic state.