for entertainment schedule and more information about Durango's Canyon.
Photo: Durango’s Canyon Investor and General Manager Steve Brady stands in front of the 3,000 square foot stage and dressing room.
Photo and article by Porcha Giles
As the warm summer months approach, East Texas families are planning vacations filled with the great outdoors, entertainment and family fun. Area lakes, towns and recreational areas are on the short list of destinations. One nearby recreation park - Durango’s Canyon
– is working its way up that list.
The venue appeals to all ages. It’s located 31 miles north of Nacogdoches, at 1039 FM 1798 W., between Mt. Enterprise and Henderson, just off U.S. Hwy 259.
Part of the location’s appeal is its origin. As the story goes, thousands of years ago a meteor shattered the atmosphere above East Texas, plowed into the ground and scooped out an impressive crater.
“The crater is almost a perfect bowl on the side of a hill that is 300 yards across the top and 60 yards deep,” said Durango’s Canyon investor and General Manager Steve Brady.
The tourist and entertainment facility was founded about ten years ago by the late Ron “Durango” Wood and his partner.
“Durango was the one who had been in this is whole life,” Brady said. “He was the road manager for Willie Nelson, and he helped produce the Farm Aid concerts.”
Durango’s Canyon is currently owned by R.C.C. investors.
“It was just luck,” Brady said. “I happened on it one day, invested and been here ever since. There’s no background there, I come from the computer world.”
The 120-acre venue includes rustic camp sites, cabins, fishing ponds, walking trails, four wheeler ATV and golf cart trails, and an onsite restaurant overlooking the crater.
A large stage is built at the lower end forming an amphitheater with outstanding acoustics, holding 12,000 people comfortably. “When the conditions are right you can carry on a conversation across the 300 yards on the top using your normal voice,” Brady said.
Durango’s Canyon customer Sam Wehmeyer gave his insight during a visit to the RV Park. “It’s a good event spot, for me.” Wehmeyer said. “What makes it is the crater.”
Since becoming the canyon manger Brady has added 150 RV sites as well as cabins. He is currently adding rustic camping sites and is expanding the variety of entertainment shows.
Entertainment includes country concerts, bike rallies, rock concerts and cook-offs.
“Entertainment is what we’re really working to push,” Brady said. Some past performers include Willie Nelson and Miranda Lambert. “Miranda used to just sing for free to get exposure,” Brady said.
Entertainment promoter Sara Greenville of Cotton Valley Entertainment shared her Durango’s Canyon experience. “The atmosphere does it for me. I’ve put on a few concerts, and the fans just love the whole atmosphere. You can camp out, chill and watch live music,” Greenville said.
Brady believes that it’s essential to update his business and bring new attractions for customers.
“We are constantly updating our facilities and just recently got certification for the Good Sam RV Park Club. We are pursuing our liquor license for sales in the restaurant. and will be adding different types of performances on weekends,” Brady said
“The 50 amps and large full hook ups - nobody has that. It’s just a neat place to see,” Wehmeyer said.
Brady has faced challenges with the current economy and the difficulty of reaching potential customers. Still, he says he wouldn’t trade his business location.
“Being close to Nacogdoches puts us in the heart of East Texas,” Brady said. “We are less than an hour’s drive from every major city in East Texas.”
Durango’s Canyon customers agree. “It’s definitely a family place,” Greenville said. “A great place to get away and it’s not too far from anywhere, the small town or the big cities.”
While keeping the country atmosphere, Durango’s Canyon has expanded and grown since first opening. The atmosphere is constant, however. “Bright sparkling stars and peaceful quiet; I love this place.” Brady said.
The venue is available for rent to outside event planners. The RV Park is open all year for long term and recreational customers.
Venders can benefit from renting the Rose Mercantile building to sell products such as t-shirts and other items.
For those planning their outdoor summer vacation, Durango’s Canyon is getting noticed, for what’s there – and for what’s not. “You don’t hear the highway and the stars are out at night,” Brady said.
And that may be just what the family’s list of memories needs.