Since the release of “Pokemon Go” on July 6, Pokemon fever has taken the nation by storm – and Durango is no exception. On any given day – or night – Pokemon trainers can be found wandering around the city, looking to catch the game’s fictional creatures.
For those not in the know, “Pokemon Go” is an augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic Inc. and published by The Pokemon Co. Available to download free on Android and iOS phones, it uses GPS coordinates and the phones’ cameras to make characters from the hit video game, trading card game and cartoon series leap into the real world.
To play “Pokemon Go,” players visit real-world locations, such as parks, bodies of water or simply random locations on the street to find elusive creatures called Pokemon. The game uses the players’ physical location to determine what kinds of Pokemon they’ll see – rock-type Pokemon like Geodude might be more common on a mountain trail, while water-type Pokemon like Magikarp are more common near a river.
When players find a Pokemon, they fling an item called a Poke Ball at the creature to attempt to catch it. If they’re successful, the Pokemon is theirs to train and to use to battle other players’ Pokemon at locations called gyms scattered throughout the world. To get more Poke Balls and other helpful items, players can visit places called PokeStops located at easily recognizable landmarks such as murals, sculptures and churches. Players can also purchase items such as lures to draw Pokemon closer to PokeStops.
So, with that out of the way, where are the best local places to catch Pokemon?
1. Downtown DurangoWith an abundance of landmarks and public art, Main and East Second avenues are easily the best places for players to start their search.
“Downtown is a really good hot spot with all the PokeStops you can get,” said Durango resident and Pokemon trainer Austin Scalf, who caught his best Pokemon, the fire-type Arcanine, near the Jack Dempsey mural on the side of El Rancho Tavern at 10th and Main.
The intersections of Main Avenue and Ninth and 10th streets are particularly popular because they both have three PokeStops in close proximity.
“Right now, Main street seems to be your best bet because you’ve got those places with three PokeStops and when somebody drops a bunch of lures there, that’s three places at once where not only can you catch a bunch of Pokemon, but you can also keep getting Poke Balls every 10 minutes or so,” said Taibi Giarratano, a Pokemon trainer and La Plata County resident.
2. Durango’s residential areas and parksThe problem with staying downtown is that players will keep encountering the same types of Pokemon over and over again. Giarratano recommends heading away from the center of town to find new ones.
“Changing locale is kind of a good thing,” he said. “Maybe have your main base where you can catch a bunch of stuff and level up fast, but then branching out every so often is going to be very helpful.
“I’ve caught a lot of Pokemon that you don’t catch on Main (Avenue) on the grid, but just on the fringes. Like Onix and Rhyhorn and all sorts of stuff,” he said. “I’ve heard there’s a Pikachu by the high school.”
When it comes to parks, Santa Rita has not just Pokemon, but nine PokeStops to keep players’ Poke Balls in stock. There are also eight stops between Rotary Park and the fish hatchery, and the Durango Public Library has four stops along the river trail.
Where not to go1. Rural areasAs players move farther into less densely populated areas of La Plata County, Pokemon become a lot rarer.
“If you’re out in the countryside, it’s hard to find a single Pokemon,” Giarratano said.
This strikes him as ironic.
“It’s so funny. The places you would actually find Pokemon, you don’t,” he said.
Even the area surrounding Fort Lewis College seems light on Pokemon, said Durango resident Shawn Haught. “There isn’t much up by the college.”
2. WalmartThe Walmart on the south end of Durango also may not be a prime Pokemon-catching spot.
“I’ve been out to Walmart; there’s nothing out there,” Haught said.
Giarratano said he has seen a lot people playing out by Walmart, but as for the Pokemon, “nothing too out of the norm: mainly Cubone and Rhyhorn you see a lot more over there, a couple more rock Pokemon.”