In the mountains of the southwest, monsoons are afternoon rainstorms that roll in, offer a welcome drenching of a thirsty landscape and some awe-inspiring thunder, and then they depart. And, while these drenching rains keep the fires at bay and the river raging, they can put a damper on pre-planned activities, unless you’re strategic.

So, here are 10 tips and tools for making sure the monsoons enhance (instead of inhibit) your vacation:

  • Get out early for outdoor activities! Hiking, biking and horseback rides should be scheduled for the morning
  • Hop aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Even if you’re doused with afternoon showers, the train offers enclosed cars and some awesome apple cider. Or, enjoy the sound and smell of the rain from the roofed open-air cars.
  • River trips: you’re already wet!
  • Take a 4 x 4 drive into the mountains. You’ll have the car to keep you dry if needed, and odds are, during a break in the storm, you’ll catch some breathtaking views of the mountains veiled in clouds. Talk to us about local Jeep Rentals.
  • Just south of town, visit the Southern Ute Cultural Center for history and inspiration (indoors!)RAINS
  • Enjoy a late lunch or happy hour at one (or many) of Durango’s bars and restaurants
  • Head to Trimble Hot Springs for a soak in natural hot springs, a swim in an Olympic-size pool, and a picnic under giant trees on a grassy lawn (where you can hang out if the rains come down too hard).
  • If you’re downtown when the rains start, take the opportunity to pop in one of downtown’s many galleries and enjoy the work of local and regional artists.
  • Head south to Mesa Verde for an Aramark Tour for morning or afternoon tours, walking or via bus.
  • The Henry Strater Theatre offers evening entertainment from June 23 – September 23. The summer 2016 lineup: Durango Western Music & Vaudeville.

And, wear layers! The rains don’t often last long and the weather is warm, so stuffing a light rain jacket in your bag means you won’t be turned around by a little shower.