Southwest Colorado is home to several charming mountain towns, one of which is Pagosa Springs. The town can be enjoyed year-round, offering many outdoor recreation options during the summer and hot spring soaking in the winter. It’s also quite close to Wolf Creek Ski Area.
Pagosa, or in Southern Ute dialect “pagosah,” translates to healing waters. This name is quite fitting, as the town is home to the world’s deepest geothermal pool, according to Guinness World Records.
Whether a visitor is looking to relax on a cold winter day or itching to hit the trails in Colorado’s breathtaking San Juan mountains, Pagosa Springs is an excellent adventure hub. Here’s a look at how two days of adventure can be filled in this town.
Editor’s Note: This piece is designed to be evergreen in nature. Please check for local restrictions and rules that may be in place prior to planning your trip.
Power up for the day with handmade baked goods and nourishing meals from Pagosa Bakery and Cafe. This dining spot serves up dishes made from local organic ingredients, including breakfast quiche, burritos, and sandwiches, along with cinnamon rolls, muffins, and scones.
After a quick breakfast, take a stroll from the bakery to a lively downtown scene. Depending on the season, downtown Pagosa Springs offers tubing, rafting, fishing, hot spring soaking, and more.
Save the hot spring dip for later – it’s time for morning adventures, first. Use the morning to explore Chimney Rock National Monument, a destination where adventure meets ancient culture.
The archaeological ruins at this site are left behind from the Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon. The area is open for observation May 15 through October 15. There are more than 200 preserved structures that were used as homes and ceremonial purposes. The hike to the top of Chimney Rock is a half-mile to 7,000 feet in elevation where you’ll have views of both Colorado and New Mexico landscapes.
WINTER NOTE: Many travelers also choose to visit Wolf Creek Ski Area during the day. This is typically an all-day experience. If visiting during the winter, stick to the advice in this guide related to skiing and hot springs, and note that mentioned trails can have snowy, icy, and dangerous conditions present in the winter.
Ready for a rush of cold water? Head over Wolf Creek Pass (Colorado Highway 160) to Treasure Falls. As the story goes, a treasure chest is buried somewhere in the surrounding hills.
The hike is a short, steep, loop complete with a bridge and viewing stage of the falls. Be careful during snowmelt season or rainy days when the trail gets muddy and slippery. The falls plunge about 100 feet down. View the falls from the stage and practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the fragile beauty of the area.
Those 21 and over can end the day on a bubbly note. Choose from three craft breweries in Pagosa Springs: Riff Raff Brewing, Pagosa Brewery, or Break Room Brewing Company. Riff Raff adds a unique twist to the brewing process, proudly serving “Earth Powered Beer.” Its operations are powered with the area’s thermal geologic activity. According to the brewery’s website, a geothermal heat exchanger is located in the basement of the 1890s Victorian building. The exchanger supplies heated water and air to the building.
Call it a night at one of the three hot springs lodges or try another spot, like Fireside Cabins or the RiverWalk Inn. Fireside Cabins offers private locations onsite to fish in the San Juan River. RiverWalk Inn features direct access to a walking path along the river, two ponds, and a hot tub and sauna.
Wake up early and cast a line or start the day with a nature walk through town. If you’re hungry, grab ‘Country-Style Eggs Benedict’ (homemade fresh buttermilk biscuits, topped with two poached eggs, and cream-style gravy) from Cafe Colorado for breakfast, or choose from other dishes of the southwest region.
Walk off a full stomach by visiting one of three local waterfalls.
Piedra Falls cascades down two large steps of volcanic rock about a half-mile from the trailhead. North of Pagosa Springs, find Fourmile Falls via an approximate 3.5-mile hike through a narrow gorge. Silver Falls is also a popular destination. Find this spot east of downtown Pagosa Springs, take East Fork Road off of Highway 160 (4x4 vehicle recommended) to get to Silver Falls.
Once it’s time for a more relaxing experience, choose from the three hot springs sites downtown that are within blocks of each other to finally relax.
The Springs Resort and Spa hosts the Mother Springs and has a terraced landscape optimal for the a great view. You can’t soak in the Mother Springs because it’s the one that feeds all the other pools with its hot water. There are 24 mineral hot springs to choose from at this resort that range in temperatures between 83 and 114 degrees fahrenheit.
Healing Waters Resort and Spa offers a large outdoor swimming pool, an outdoor hot tub and separate men's and women's indoor hot baths.
Overlook Hot Springs is Pagosa Springs’ newest soaking site. The hot rooftop pool offers a beautiful view of the surrounding San Juans. This location is also great for bone-chilling days with five indoor hot tubs of the mineral water.