Nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, Pagosa Springs is one secluded weekend getaway that few know about. That being said, it’s packed with tons to do – especially for outdoorsy types. With a population of only 2,000, Pagosa Springs offers a small town feel with bountiful options for outdoor recreation, dining and shopping. This makes it the perfect combination of activity and relaxation. No matter which season you visit, there are plenty of activities to choose form.
To maximize your getaway time, take Friday off and use Thursday night for traveling. There are a variety of accommodation options in the town, from full-blown resorts to rugged camping to humble B&Bs. For a more private getaway, Hartland Ranch offers modern, standalone cabins equipped with kitchens, washer/dryers, and cozy gas fireplaces.
To start your Friday, grab some delicious pour-over coffee at the Lift Coffeehouse on Pagosa Street, then do a bit of shopping downtown. Check out the many antique shops and unique furniture stores. Shop local at VOORMI, which offers weatherproof activewear manufactured locally in Pagosa Springs.
After you’re hit your fill at the stores, try a quick, yet rewarding, hike to Treasure Falls. It’s an easy .6 mile loop trail off of Highway 160 that takes you to a vista point of the mountains and a waterfall. Not only is the hike kid-friendly, but dog-friendly as well.
If you’re an ice climber and in Pagosa Springs during winter, Treasure Falls is also considered the classic Pagosa Springs ice climbing experience. The waterfall actually dramatically freezes solid, allowing ice climbers to scale up the frozen water. It’s 140 feet to the top. While tempting to try something new and exciting, this isn’t an adventure for new ice climbers.
In the spring and summer, you can check out other rock climbing sites nearby, many of which are great for beginners. There are both sport and traditional routes in addition to ice climbing routes. This area has a lot of sandstone instead of harder rock, making for unique climbs. Lightning Crashes is a popular route that’s 70 feet tall, taking you over a varied route of boulders and ledges. Not much of a climbing? Try finding a local guide.
For dinner, try out RiffRaff Brewing, which offers unique protein options including yak and goat. Get a tasting flight of their craft beers. And don’t forget to check out their nacho collection – Redneck Nachos are a favorite.
On Saturday, roll out of bed and grab some brunch at River Pointe Coffeehouse on San Juan Street. You’ll find carefully prepared craft coffees and specialty teas here. Be sure to try anything with Hatch chiles for a unique southwest Colorado experience.
After breakfast, head out to the Piedra River trail, a popular path about 10 miles long. It will take you through a wide variety of landscapes common in mountain regions, from meadow to forest to river canyon. Accessible during any season, you don’t need a zoo when you’ve got the Piedra River trail. It’s known to be one of the best beginner trails in the area for spotting wildlife. For those that enjoy bird watching, bring along your binoculars. And it must be said, as a precaution for this natural area, be prepared for bears.
After your 8-mile hike, relax with dinner at Alley House Grille. Located in a quaint 1912 cottage, Alley House specializes in New American cuisine with fresh salads, pizza, and a variety of entrees.
If it’s winter, check out the skiing and snowboarding at Wolf Creek. With limited crowds, great terrain, and long runs, Wolf Creek will keep the most experienced skier/snowboarder happy all day long. There’s also a ski/snowboarding school if you’re just starting out. Fit in with the local ski community by checking out the locally manufactured VOORMI ski collection before hitting the slopes.
On Saturday evening, unwind with some live theater. For a relatively small town, Pagosa Springs has a lot of theater, offering three spots to choose from. There’s even a year-round repertory. After the show, grab a nightcap at Coyote Moon Bar & Grille, a local favorite and one of the few places open until 2 am, on Piedra Road.
Start your Sunday with a visit to The Rose on Pagosa Street for breakfast or brunch. It’s a quaint little café that offers vegan-friendly options, as well as the usual traditional fare, like biscuits and gravy.
Use the rest of your day to relax a bit by visiting a natural hot spring. There are several to choose from. The Springs Resort and Spa (where you may also stay) has mineral hot springs you can visit for a usage fee (free for guests). These are available all year round.
Healing Waters Resort also offers hot springs and swimming. You can also get a relaxing massage. Check ahead to make sure all their springs are open and for group rates.
For free hot springs and a good workout, go to Rainbow Hot Springs. The trail starts about 20 minutes out of town. It’s a 5-mile hike (10 miles round trip) by the San Juan River. Many choose to camp overnight at one of the campsites along the trail, but if you start early enough, you’ll be okay. Fair warning: As these springs are basically in the wilderness and hard to get to, they seem to have a local reputation as “clothing optional.” If you choose to visit this location, please follow the principles of Leave No Trace.
Alternatively, spend your Sunday on a horseback ride. There are many horseback riding outfitters in town. Backcountry Outfitters lets you choose your own adventure with both trail riding and horse pack trips. They head out on well-traveled trails or out into primitive countryside. You can do 1, 2, or 3 hour trips, or a half-to-full day excursion. Choose whatever fits in your time frame before you have to travel back home.
No matter how you decide to spend your weekend in Pagosa Springs, you’ll likely want to venture back for more! Visit during different seasons throughout the year for a completely different, yet still amazing, experience.
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