Road Trip Summer 2014: The Deux-rango

Looking for next years’ summer road trip inspiration? Grab a companion and a six-pack of Tecate in a can to plan this epic vacation boasting folkloric potential for history buffs, curious-minded logophiles, or adventure enthusiasts who’ve done everything and are looking for something that’s not even chronicled on the world wide web.

Introducing the Deux-rango, a 1,064-mile road trip that begins in Durango, Colorado, and ends in its’ namesake city, Durango, Mexico. On your way to the birthplace of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, pass through Truth and Consequences, New Mexico, and eventually the US/Mexican border at El Paso/Ciudad Juarez. Keep heading south through the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, before arriving in the heavily forested mountains of the Sierra Madre and the town of Durango, Mexico. Please note: this trip is not limited to carbon-emitting automobiles. If you’re feeling super brave, opt to go by bus, hitching, walking, biking, or any combination of transportation. Remember, this has never been done before so there are all sorts of records to be set.

There are more similarities between the Durango’s than you might think.

  • These two mountain towns both rest just over 6,500 feet above sea level.
  • Durango, Mexico, is almost directly south of Durango, Colorado, which is just three-degrees more westerly.
  • The Durango’s each have a history steeped in both the silver mining and western movie industries.
  • As well, both feature the glorious natural playgrounds of mountains, canyons, and deserts.
  • You can find world-class mountain biking trails and UFO landing sites in and within 50-miles of each.
  • Both Durango’s are named after Durango, Spain, where Francisco de Ibarra (colonizer of Durango, Mexico) was born. Durango comes from the Basque word “Urango” meaning “water town.”
  • Delicious green chili accompanies dishes in both towns, though it is unconfirmed whether Durango, Mexico, has a green chili to rival the Durango Diner’s green chili. Probably.

And of course a few differences:

  • The 17,000 dwellers of Durango, Colorado, are referred to as Durangoans or Durangotangs, whereas the 1.7 million residents of the Mexican town would each be called duranguense.
  • Durangotangs are predominantly English-speaking, and Duranguense speak fluent Spanish.
  • Durango, Mexico, is about 300-years older than Durango, Colorado, which was founded in 1881 by a railroad company who dreamed of connecting the two towns together someday.
  • The Mexican-Durango flag boasts two wolves and a tall tree. Durango, Colorado, doesn’t have a flag but instead has a city symbol that consists of a pine tree, steam engine and mountain.
  • Durango, Colorado, has a motto: “Open Spaces and Familiar Faces.” Durango, Mexico, is simply known as the Land of the Scorpions.

Deux-rango Rules:

  1. The trip officially starts in Durango, Colorado, and officially ends in Durango, Mexico. It doesn’t count if you pick up the road in Albuquerque and end in Mazatlan.

What to pack:

  • atlas
  • flip-flops
  • passport
  • headlamp
  • camera
  • iodine pills or water filter
  • reliable way to listen to tunes or an open-mind to mariachi radio
  • travel coffee mug
  • weapon


  • Plan your trip around the Feria Nacional, an annual festival taking place in July that celebrates Durango, Mexico’s agricultural roots. Don your western duds for charreada (rodeo) and duranguense music and food.
  • The morning of your departure, eat breakfast at Durango Diner so you can fairly sample the green chili for comparison when you arrive in Durango, Mexico.
  • Stop at Trader Joe’s in Albuquerque to stock up on cheap, delicious road snacks like sinfully delectable trail mixes, dangerously edible cookies, and turkey jerky.
  • Throughout your travels, use caution, seat-belts, sunscreen, helmets, wisdom, and any other safety tools at hand.
  • Practice Spanish before you go.
  • Research desert plant and animal life or take someone with you who can explain such things. It takes imagination and knowledge to appreciate this harsh landscape – especially for a thousand miles. Or two, if you return the way you came.
  • Carry extra gasoline, patch kits for bikes, and adequate outdoor gear for long nights should you get lost or unexpectedly chased whilst in the desert.
  • Watch as many Mexican and Western films as you can between now and then – I suggest Blow, The Mexican, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Rango (even though they show saguaro cacti where they don’t exist), and anything with John Wayne, who owned a ranch in Durango, Mexico.

So with that info, you’re good to get started in the planning process. Remember to go lightly, highly aware of your surroundings at all times, and with a big smile – this’ll get you anywhere you want – maybe that universal rule applies in Mexico. Buena suerta, amigos! 

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