Pagosa Springs is home to stunning landscapes, natural getaways, lively festivals and a million other wonderful things to do. It’s another hot springs town that has a lot of tourist attractions for visitors. There’s a nice downtown section lined with shops, restaurants and history. Local legend says “Pagosa” is an Indian word meaning “boiling water”.
Along with an excellent R&R scene, Pagosa offers visitors all the major recreation. Nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area gets the most snow in Colorado. Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and really every other winter activity is close-by. Summer has it all as well. Pagosa is also home to Growing Spaces, maker of year round, eco-friendly greenhouse domes, which they’ve been producing for more than 25 years.
Undoubtedly, high up in the San Juan Basin, nature and culture find an expert balance in Archuleta County. Whether you are searching for black diamond trails or simply a cozy spot to take in the gorgeous scenery, this Coloradoan, high-altitude getaway checks every box so come out and stay awhile. Unparalleled adventure awaits.
Nestled over a mile above sea level, Pagosa Springs offers a breath of some of the freshest mountain air in the Rockies. Complete with picturesque skies and legendary powder slopes, this hidden gem might fool one into thinking that is all there is in store for those who stumble upon it.
Hot Springs – Named for their natural geothermal springs found just downtown, Pagosa Springs is renowned for relaxation and the healing of mind and body. The Springs Resort is the largest in town with over twenty soaking pools and one of the nicest hotels in town. Also downtown, Overlook offers a retreat from the crowds, along with exceptional views of town. Healing Waters is another resort and hotel in town.
Wolf Creek Ski Area – With snowfalls averaging 465 inches every season, it’s no wonder pros and amateur snowsport enthusiasts alike flock to the lifts throughout the ski season. This ski resort is not one of the most renowned in Colorado, making it one of the state’s best kept secrets. It provides top notch skiing only thirty minutes from downtown. Even though Wolf Creek Ski Resort is lesser known, it actually boasts the highest snowfall in all of Colorado.
Yet, while a visit to the unmatched trails at Wolf Creek would be a trip of a lifetime on its own, the quaint village offers more than just winter experiences. Year-round, Pagosa Springs creates a world ideal for any outdoorsman.
It’s no secret that the San Juan mountain range lays way to countless exploits. Thrill-seekers will find their days will be reminiscent of summer camp trips filled with fishing on the lake, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and the warm feeling of the satisfying soreness after a long, arduous hike.
Summer temperatures averaging in the 80’s allows for long rides along the Eight Mile Mesa-one of many mountain biking trails-and rock climbing at Piedra River Trail. Watersport fans may fill out their days with kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and jet skiing at the many lakes found throughout the majestic Navajo State Park.
- There are numerous campgrounds and sites for dispersed car camping on the way to Williams Creek Reservoir. It’s a 25 mile trek from downtown. Drive west to Piedra Road (FS 631). Follow that 23 miles north to the lake. Campgrounds are Bridge, Williams Creek, Teal and Cimarrona. The closest dispersed camping is on Turkey Springs Rd, just north of Hatcher Reservoir. Campsites are anywhere back here on the side of the road. There are also spots right on Piedra Rd close to Williams Creek Res.
- San Juan River cuts through downtown, with ample opportunities to cast a line.
- Williams Reservoir listed above is a remarkable day trip or overnight visit. There are also numerous other lakes on the drive back to William Res including Sullenburger, Hatcher and Dunnagan reservoirs.
1. Hike the Piedra River Trail
Admire some of the most spectacular views that Pagosa Springs has to offer by heading to the Piedra River Trail. This canyon, located 16 miles north of Hwy 160 on Piedra Road, is a local go-to. With trails suitable for all ages and activity levels, the Piedra River Trail offers an easy hike with jaw-dropping views. Prepare for your hike by wearing long pants to ward off poison ivy and ticks, and don’t forget to bring plenty of water. While this hike can be squeezed in between other activities, many visitors recommend dedicating a half day in order to thoroughly enjoy the spectacular scenery and catch the best views.
2. Hit the slopes at the Wolf Creek Ski Resort
Along with plenty of fresh powder, Wolf Creek operates with quick chairlift lines and a friendly staff. Slopes are clearly marked and range from beginner level to expert. For those looking to improve their skills, classes are available for all ages and level of experience. After an afternoon on the slopes, retire to the lodge for some warm comfort food and coffee. With the inexpensive cost of the lift ticket, you’ll be able to enjoy all the excellent amenities Wolf Creek has to offer.
3. Tube along the San Juan River
The San Juan River is a must-see destination for any time of the year. In the summer months, rent an inflatable tube and float down the river as you admire the Pagosa Springs landscape. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, the trails that follow the shore of the river are perfect for long, scenic walks and lead to downtown Pagosa Springs. Along the way, stop by one of the several natural hot springs for a relaxing soak, then head to town for a quality meal and to stroll through local shops.
4. Go on an adventure with Pagosa Outside
Enjoy a guided experience through Pagosa Springs’ nature by signing up for an excursion with Pagosa Outside. This popular tour company offers a wide range of activities for all interests and experience levels. Choose from whitewater rafting, kayaking, tubing, or mountain biking led by skilled guides who are trained to keep you safe while you explore the best Pagosa Springs has to offer. For those looking to venture out on their own, Pagosa Springs also offers rental equipment for paddleboarding, kayaking, and disc golf.
5. Explore Treasure Falls
Enjoy a Kodak moment with a visit to Treasure Falls. This natural waterfall is the most spectacular in the spring and fall when the greatest amount of water is flowing, but locals are known to visit year-round because of the popular walking trails. Those who are able to hike have the option to choose between the steep trail or the main trail. While both of these options lead best vantage point of the falls, those who are unable to hike will still enjoy this natural attraction as Treasure Falls is visible from the parking lot.
6. Ride horseback at Diamond Hitch Stables
Many local Pagosa Springs residents choose to visit Diamond Hitch Stables for an afternoon of family fun. Located on the outskirts of the city, this stable is known for its well-behaved horses and friendly trail guides. From spring to fall, Diamond Hitch offers 30 minutes to 2-hour trail rides led by experienced wranglers who are comfortable working with all levels of experience.
7. Fly fish
Many people who visit Pagosa Springs are shocked to find that outdoor adventures can be found in all parts of the city, even downtown. The stretch of the San Juan River that passes through the heart of the Pagosa Springs is stocked with fish multiple times each year, making it the perfect place for those who like to fish daily. If you’re looking to cast a reel with a breathtaking mountain backdrop, head outside of downtown Pagosa Springs to the Williams Creek Reservoir. This destination just north up Piedra Road is known for its kokanee salmon and trout fishing.
8. Go on an aerial excursion
While many visitors choose to explore Pagosa Springs by land or water, others choose to enjoy the landscape from new heights on a hot air balloon tour. Rocky Mountain Balloon Adventures treat their guests to an all-encompassing view of Pagosa Springs’ canyons and valleys. From the sky, many guests spot wildlife like deer, elk, and turkeys far below while birds like eagles, hawks, and osprey fly past.
9. Explore the scenery by dog-sledding
And you thought skiing was the best way to enjoy winter? One of the most unique ways to explore the scenery of southwest Colorado is getting pulled through the snow by a team of Alaskan Malamutes. Pagosa Dogsled Adventures offer a variety of dog-sledding tours, whether from private to shared tours and sunset or full-moon dinners.
10. Take a scenic drive
Pagosa Springs always has plenty to offer those who enjoy taking long car rides no matter the time of year. With 3 million acres of wilderness and national forest areas, there is no shortage of beauty to see just off the road. Local guides recommend the following roadways for the most impressive scenic vistas: Piedra Road, Wolf Creek Pass, Blanco Basin, Summitville, Elmwood Pass, Pagosa Junction, Mill Creek to Quartz Lake Trailhead, and the Lobo Overlook.
If you’ve never been to Colorado it’s time to put a pin in your map just above the southwestern rim and be transported to a rugged paradise.
Dining and Shopping
After an afternoon spent working up an appetite, head downtown to grab a bite to eat at Smoken Moe’s Unreal BBQ. When the day gives way to night, stop in for live music for a flight of locally crafted brews at Riff Raff Brewing Company which features six flagship creations including their Hopgoblin American IPA, and don’t forget to grab a growler to go.
For an authentic experience, follow the lead of the locals and head uptown to grab a slice at Rosie’s Pizzeria before making a trip to the prized retro arcade downtown. Visit the classic theaters and art galleries or check out the shopping district where you will find local favorite VOORMI, a company that manufactures in the U.S. and offers high performance natural fiber-based apparel that is ideal for any active body in Pagosa Springs.
Jun – Pagosa Folk ‘n Bluegrass – Three days of bluegrass and camping in the middle of June.
Things to do near Pagosa Springs
- Sky Ute Casino (49mi)
Hot Air Balloons:
Made in Colorado:
- Treasure Falls (15mi)
- Wolf Creek (24mi)
- Navajo (39mi)
- Alamosa (89mi)
- Arboles (34mi)
- Bayfield (41mi)
- Creede (63mi)
- Del Norte (58mi)
- Durango (60mi)
- Ignacio (50mi)
- Monte Vista (72mi)
- South Fork (42mi)
Pagosa Dogsled Adventures: Get Your Mush On! – Can you imagine celebrating an engagement, anniversary, or birthday under the full, January moon, racing across fresh snow on a sled pulled by 12 Alaskan Malamutes? The mushers and Malamutes…