You’ve likely cruised through tiny Pagosa Springs on your way to ski “the most snow in Colorado” at Wolf Creek. If your only stop was for gas, then you made a terrible mistake. This high desert town in the upper San Juan Basin merits several hours, if not days, of attention.
About Pagosa Springs
Although Pagosa Springs is only 22 miles (35 km) from big mountain skiing, the Archuleta County seat is immediately surrounded by three million acres of San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness Area. Also, Pagosa is just 35 miles (56 km) north of the New Mexico border along the western slope of the Continental Divide and sits at 7,126 feet.
This area offers dozens of miles of singletrack and groomed cross-country trails for snowshoers of all abilities. Check out Pagosa Nordic for a comprehensive trail listing, and Visit Pagosa Springs for information on where to rent snowshoes. Furthermore, just an hour away, Durango, Colorado, offers one of the area’s best snowshoe races. Steve Ilg’s Winter Warrior 10K is a United States Snowshoe Association national qualifier that usually takes place each February.
The Springs Resort
One of the Pagosa area gems is the Springs Resort, a 79-room hotel just off the main drag. Health and wellness are at the core with rejuvenating hot springs, spa and wellness activities, and nature out your door.
The Hot Springs
The hot springs are a key to the Springs Resort as the only thing between your room, and the San Juan River is 25 soaking pools. In fact, the resort was built around the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring. The 144-degree Mother Spring is at least 1,002 feet deep—likely much more, as the plump line ran out before reaching its bottom. Furthermore, this spring is the feeder for all 25 mineral pools on the property.
Although soaking is not allowed in the Mother Spring due to high temperatures, the other pools are open to guests 24/7 and to the public via day pass between 9 am and 9:30 pm. There are various temperatures to choose from as the other pools vary from 83 to 114 degrees (28 to 45 C).
The pools’ water contains minerals ranging from chloride to zinc and has been proven to relieve arthritis symptoms, eliminate body toxins, strengthen bones, and aid digestion. It’s also just about perfect for winding down after a day on the trails or even after a tasty beverage from the local Riff Raff Brewing Company.
Water continually circulates through each pool, and many feature otherworldly rock formations created by mineral deposits. During the day, the pools also offer a front-row seat to the rafters and kayakers paddling down the Rio.
Spa and Wellness
The Springs Resort offers spa and wellness activities, including yoga, meditation, and hikes through nature. After your activity, head to their spa for over a half dozen types of massage or three types of facials.
When not engaging in the wellness activities on the resort, head outdoors to connect with nature in Pagosa Springs.
In the spring and summer, enjoy multiple river sports along the Rio, hike the trails in the area on foot or horseback, experience Chimney Rock National Monument, or climb some world-famous rock formations.
Checking out at 11 a.m. but need someplace to shower after your midday snowshoe or hiking adventure? Hotel guests have access to the springs all day long. So head for the hills (we like the Piedra River trail) and then come back to the resort to soak and rinse off before heading home.
Dining On and Off the Resort
In addition to the activities, the hotel offers a complimentary beverage bar and several on-site dining options, including the Carefoot Grill, Canteen, and Cafe. Or, head east on Main Street to Pagosa Baking Company for handcrafted quiches, bread, and pies.
On your way out of town, grab a meal at Pagosa Brewing that starts with the crispy fried green beans or the beer-battered fries. Then, move on to burgers and pizza. Also, taste from at least a dozen different beers on tap, ranging from Powder Day IPA to the Soaker’s Stout. One of the most popular, Poor Richard’s Ale, was the commemorative beer recipe for Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday at the National Constitution Center and incorporates ingredients, such as molasses, that Franklin would’ve used to brew beer in the 1700s.
We like to think that Franklin—who exercised religiously—would’ve enjoyed the hot springs, too, had he ever made it this far west.
Would you or have you stayed at The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs? What was your experience? Please share any thoughts or recommendations in the comments below.
This article was originally published on September 23, 2014. Susan Wowk updated it with new links and added information on the resort’s spa and wellness activities on June 17, 2021.
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