Colorado - Utah Trip 2014

Part 4: Durango

July 10th


We left Arches National Park, stopping in Moab to gas up the van, and we left town about 12:30, a bit later than planned, but still workable. We travelled south to Monticello, Utah, then headed east toward Colorado. We bypassed Cortez and Mesa Verde, and arrived in Durango in time to check in to our motel, then get showered and changed so that we could be at the gate at the Bar D Chuckwagon Dinner by 5:30 PM to pick up our tickets for dinner. The Bar D Chuckwagon is the only reason we went to Durango. Yes, it would have been nice to take a day to ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad up to Silverton, but our time was limited, and we had to choose our activites carefully.

Dinner isn't served until 7:30, but being there early to pick up your tickets is important. The first tickets picked up get the best seats by the stage. So, the earlier you get there, the better the seats you get for the show. They have gift shops on the premises so that you can browse and shop while waiting for dinner.

These chuckwagon dinners are quite something to see, and I am not just talking about the music show, either.  Meals consist of either chicken or beef, with baked beans, applesauce, a biscuit, and a baked potato. This is all served on a tin plate. The applesauce is where you want to hold the plate, because it will be the only cool spot to hang on to! They manage to get several hundred people through the line in about fifteen minutes, and in a very organized manner, too.  Dirty dishes are collected in a similar manner, and then the show starts.

The Bar D Wranglers: Matt Palmer, Richard Lee Cody, Gary Cook, Joel Racheff.  The Bar D Wranglers, L to R: Matt Palmer, Richard Lee Cody, Gary Cook, and Joel Racheff

Cy Scarborough, the owner of the Bar D, started his business in 1969 after working for a time at the Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs. He modeled his chuckwagon dinner after theirs, but with a few differences. The Flying W Ranch sadly was lost to the Waldo Canyon wildfire several years back. The Flying W had two stages and eating areas, one outside and one inside, under a roof. Summer shows were held outside but would be moved inside in the event of poor weather. Well, old Cy decided that the guests should not have to move if it started to rain, and instead the roof should move. As a result, he designed a huge canvas roof that can be extended to cover the guests without even stopping the show! There were trusses made of steel tubing that would support the roof, and those trusses were on wheels. To close the roof, the canvas and the trusses would follow tracks on the top of two short walls, a rather simple but very effective design.

I have visited a number of chuckwagon dinners, and they are always a highlight of every trip:
Flying W Ranch, Colorado Springs, CO - August 2002
Bar J Chuckwagon, Jackson Hole, WY - July 2003
Fort Hayes Chuckwagon, Rapid City, SD - June 2007
Bar D Chuckwagon, Durango, CO - July 2014

Picking up your tickets works the same way at each of the shows, be sure to arrive early for your tickets!

After dinner, the music show begins. Much of the music is western or 'cowboy' music, but some of it is more modern with the band's own little twist. They have songs that appeal to all ages. One my favorites is Matt Palmer's Misfit Farm. You can see and hear it for yourself right here:

Video courtesy of YouTube member ElDuroTuco






After the show it was back to our motel room to turn in for the night. We had to be up early the next morning to be in Ouray by about 7:30 AM to pick up a rental Jeep so that we could tour the high country in the San Juan mountains.


Click on "Part 5 - Ouray" to continue


Home Page Trip Contents Part 1 - Getting There Part 2 - Hotchkiss Part 3 - Moab
Part 3 - Moab - Page 2 Part 4 - Durango Part 5 - Ouray Part 5 - Ouray - Page 2 Part 6 - Buena Vista