Beyond the Slopes: The Best Things to Do in Pagosa Springs, CO
Just like most mountain towns you’ll find in Colorado, Pagosa Springs makes for a memorable winter getaway. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Because this town has more to offer than the perfect ski down the mountain, it’s a destination that shines no matter the season—especially during the summer.
So if you’re looking to head to Colorado for a different experience, here are the best things to do in Pagosa Springs—beyond the slopes.
1. Soak in the Hot Springs
Obviously, this is a no-brainer given the name of this town. So, stop at any of the following spots to truly get a feel for what makes the city of Pagosa Springs, well, Pagosa Springs.
- Overlook Hot Springs: With several pools, tubs, and soaking options, this hot springs spa creates the perfect recipe to rejuvenate. Relax as healing waters surround you in the rooftop tub, offering scenic views. Or, head inside where you can unwind and destress with a massage.
- The Springs Resort & Spa: Offering mineral soaks, body treatments, facials, and more, pampering and relaxation take on a whole new meaning here, making leaving a difficult challenge to overcome.
- Healing Waters Resort & Spa: Open since 1950, this resort and spa will treat you like family and is the perfect place for you and your littles to take a dip in a hot springs pool.
2. Dine Al Fresco
How should you spend your meals in this little town? On the patio, with the wind in your hair and an adult beverage in hand. Not sure where to go? Try one (or all) of these yummy mealtime destinations to get a taste of what Pagosa has to offer.
- Riff Raff Brewing Company: This brewpub and eatery is located in a historic 1898 Victorian house in downtown Pagosa Springs. Run by quirky, fun-loving people, it makes the perfect cozy spot to pause your day for a tasty bite.
- 2 Chicks and a Hippie: This breakfast, bakery, coffee, and lunch cafe centers around family and food. Not sure what to order? Give their locally-roasted coffee a try, and take your pick from fresh-made green chili, house-made cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns (from an old family recipe!).
- Mountain Pizza & Taproom: They may be relatively new to the biz, but this yummy spot is fulfilling a long-time dream of bringing artisan brick oven pizza and an excellent variety of craft beers and wines to Pagosa Springs. What makes it so unique? Each pizza is handmade right in front of you, and you’re welcome to pour yourself a beer from the tap wall while you wait.
- Kip’s Grill and Cantina: This unique spot started operating out of a caboose on the side of a highway in 1996, and now, it has two locations, with one being in Pagosa! We have a feeling you’ll love the baja-style street tacos and the selection of margaritas.
3. Float Down the San Juan River
Here in Pagosa Springs, there’s no better way to cool off than with a float down the San Juan River. The springtime offers prime white water rafting conditions. But come summer, the mountain snow melts away, and the water slows anywhere from 90 to 150 cubic feet per second. You know what that means, right? The summertime creates the perfect conditions for a family-friendly water adventure.
Don’t have a raft to ride? No problem. Venture into downtown Pagosa where you’ll find plenty of rental options, whether you’re looking for a tube, kayak, helmet, life jackets, or all of the above.
4. See Native Wildlife in Their Habitat
Want to get up close and personal with Colorado wildlife natives? Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park provides the perfect opportunity to see a few of those furry animals that might, in other conditions, have you running. With daily tours centered around feeding time, your kiddos will love the chance to watch a bear gently pick food from his or her bowl or a mountain lion growl! One thing is for sure; this is one stop in your summer vacay you won’t forget.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Feeding tours occur daily: 4PM in the summer (May 15 – Oct 14).
- NO reservations required, and there is NO additional fee for the tour.
- Visit the park’s website for up-to-date tour rates for adults, children, and seniors.
5. Chase Some Waterfalls
Do TLC’s lyrics come to mind? Contrary to what they say, chasing actual waterfalls in Pagosa Springs only leads to jaw-dropping scenery you won’t forget. There are four different ones in the area, and each one is worth the trip.
- Treasure Falls: This 100-foot waterfall is visible from Highway 160 and makes it easy for even the littlest in your family to appreciate. Plus, the story behind the name sets it apart from the rest. VisitPagosaSprings.com shares, “as legend has it, a group of Frenchmen was rumored to have been pursued by a band of Spaniards or Native Americans. Just before their capture, the Frenchmen allegedly buried the chest, and it remains unfound to this day.”
- Piedra Falls: Just a 30-minute, half-mile trek will lead you to this waterfall that rushes down volcanic cliffs. It’s doable for everyone in your travel tribe, making it one of the most visited waterfalls in the area.
- Fourmile Falls: The hike to this double waterfall offers a variety of breathtaking views. With a clear visual of Eagle Mountain and Pagosa Peak, you’ll have stunning scenery to motivate you up this three-mile hike. The climb level is considered easy to moderate, and it might be better suited for the slightly more experienced adventurers in the family.
- Silver Falls: This gorgeous waterfall requires several water crossings followed by a steep trail with loose debris. Though the view is worth it for some, the little ones in your crew should probably sit this one out.
6. Hike to History
Wondering where your outdoor adventurer and history buff sides come together? The answer is Chimney Rock National Monument. This intimate, off-the-beaten-path archeological site offers a rare view into an ancient world. Just a 30-minute drive west of Pagosa Springs, you’ll be able to set your sights on the ruins of the ancient peoples who called the Southwest of Colorado home. With the San Juan National Forest as your backdrop, you’ll follow pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. And if that doesn’t give you chills, then the site of over 200 ancient homes will.
7. Day Trip It to Durango
Pagosa Springs to Durango is about 60 miles. But with scenic detours (which, let’s face it, you’re going to want to make), you’ll add about 40 or more miles. So, why Durango? Because it’s the epitome of the “Old West.” Before the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, there was no town. It was the sound of trains chugging near and far that breathed life into the area and created the romanticized visions of cowboys, horses, and women wearing big, delicate cotton dresses we often picture today.
If you’re up for it, don’t miss doing the following:
- Take a step back in time and explore the local history with a visit to the Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum. Roll down the tracks on a steam train ride, learn about the local mining history, and explore the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.
- Before you venture back to Pagosa, fuel up at one of Durango’s favorites, Steamworks Brewing Company, to enjoy a delicious meal and a cold beer.
We also have access to Wyndham Durango if you’re looking for a longer stay!
Where should you stay?
Wyndham Pagosa, obviously! Set on more than 18,000 unspoiled, high country acres, this resort will provide you with a perfect recipe for solitude and family fun. Here’s why we think you’ll love staying here:
- Lakeside fishing on-site for your enjoyment.
- Luxurious saltwater tubs to soak in, accompanied by a seriously relaxing sauna.
- A variety of fun activities offered here, including hot air balloon rides, rafting, and more.
- Spacious and affordable one- and two-bedroom suite options, complete with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, a private balcony/deck, and plenty of home comforts.
A trip to Pagosa Springs in the sweet summertime is the perfect way to escape the daily grind and fill your day with adventure (quickly followed up with pure relaxation). And with all kinds of excitement, it’s certainly a trip the kids will appreciate between the school years. So what do you say?
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