Cortez was our base for visiting Mesa Verde and also where we were on the Fourth of July, one of America’s favourite holidays.
Cortez is the largest town in Montezuma County, being first established in 1886 to house laborers for the Dolores River diversion project. The damming of the river allowed farmers to use the water for irrigation.
On the Fourth we decided to drive 70km to Durango, as there seemed to be more celebrations there.
We weren’t disappointed, as the town was full of locals, and tourists, many dressed in red, white and blue or sporting flags and bunting on their vehicles.
There was also a large group of Harley riding bikers. These aren’t the outlaw motorcycle gangs that we hear so much about, but mature men and women who are out for a days ride in the country.
In 2014 there were nearly 500,000 new bikes registered in the US, with Harley Davidson having a huge market share of over 36%.
Durango is an old mining town, founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company. The tracks from Durango to Silverton were completed in 1882 and is still operating today, unlike the tramcar, that once ran up and down Main Avenue.
This has been sadly replaced by diesel powered facsimile.
The town sits at the base of the Animas City Mountain and is a thriving tourist village that’s home to both winter and summer activities. There are ski fields nearby, as well as whitewater rafting, Ziplining and water sports on Lake Nighthorse.
Back in Cortez we caught a glimpse of the celebratory fireworks. We thought that they would be all over in a few minutes but they went on and on.
For a small town Cortez put on a great show for the fourth.