It's easy to drive right past Pagosa Springs, a town of around just 2,000 residents in southwest Colorado. But you won't want to miss being surrounded by the lovely San Juan Mountains or some time to slow down and soak up the natural environment.
Pagosa Springs, about an hour away from the beautiful bigger town of Durango, centers around natural hot mineral springs and the (much cooler) San Juan River.
The community is tranquil, by size and location, so it's a wonderful destination for a relaxing wellness vacation or a nature-centered family excursion. Since you'll be at 7,126 feet altitude, bring some sunscreen and extra drinking water to make your visit smooth.
Here are five of the best things to do in Pagosa Springs.
1. Stay at The Springs Resort & Spa
This luxurious resort is a favorite place to stay. The rooms are walking distance to 23 hot spring pools spread along the banks of the river, almost like a peaceful water park. The pools all have different temps and atmospheres, so you can find what best fits your needs, or pool hop.
Beyond the mineral water, The Springs is a full-service spa and its EcoLuxe Hotel was Colorado's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified hotel.
For lodging with a Victorian touch, check out the Overlook Hot Springs Spa on Pagosa Street.
Visitors who want an authentic Western experience may enjoy the High Country Lodge and Cabins. Located in the scenic San Juan Mountains between Pagosa Springs and the Wolf Creek ski area, it's a popular home base in winter for guests who want to alternate their cold skiing with toasty waters. Request a cabin for a true Colorado adventure.
2. See The Mother Spring
The "Mother Spring," also called "The Great Pagosah," at The Springs Resort & Spa, was named the world's deepest geothermal hot spring by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011. It's more than 1,000 feet deep (the measuring line ran out before it found bottom) and reaches temps of 144 degrees Fahrenheit.
Swimming is not allowed in this hot spring given the temperatures, not to mention the terrifying depth. Ask about its sacred history as a healing center for native residents.
3. Visit Chimney Rock National Monument
You'll know it when you see it. Chimney Rock is marked by an odd-shaped, skinny rock mound perched atop a narrow mesa.
Look for thousands of acres of artifacts and archaeological remnants from the Ancestral Puebloans who used to live here. See ancient buildings, an underground kiva (a room for meetings and ceremonies), a pit house, and homes.
Chimney Rock is one of the nation's newest national monuments—it is considered sacred and still has spiritual meaning to many tribes.
For something special:
- Look for the Chimney Rock Full Moon Program, to watch the full moon rise at the Great House Pueblo site to the live sounds of the Native American flute.
- On special occasions, like the fall equinox, you can view the sun rise from the ruins and listen to stories about the ancient residents here.
4. Attend the ColorFest
Every fall, the town of Pagosa Springs comes to life with live music, wine, beer, and hot air balloons. Try food from the region at the Passport to Pagosa Wine & Food Festival, witness a "battle of the brews" between local microbreweries, sign up for a 5K color-run race, and take photos of two hot air balloon ascensions.
5. Jam Out at Folk Music Festivals
Music is big around here. FolkWest organizes music festivals in Pagosa Springs. One highlight is the Four Corners Folk Festival in the fall. In June, Pagosa Folk 'N Bluegrass brings more musicians to town for a three-day event.
In the summer, kids and adults can also improve their pickin' at the Pagosa Folk N' Bluegrass Jam Camps.