Those who are so blessed to call Colorado home have some of the world’s most lauded vacation destinations in their own back yard – or at least just a short road trip away. From the celebrity-favorite ski villages of Vail and Aspen to lesser-known retreats in secluded pockets of the state, Colorado offers residents and visitors some incredible escapes for recreation, relaxation and Rocky Mountain rejuvenation.
In this issue we travel to Pagosa Springs, a Southwest Colorado paradise tucked against the San Juan mountain range and enveloped by more than 3 million acres of national forest and wilderness areas. Sited just 35 miles north of the Colorado-New Mexico border, the town of Pagosa Springs is home to just 1,600 or so residents, but the area’s many offerings draw visitors from all corners of Colorado and beyond. While tourism is Pagosa’s No. 1 industry, the town has retained a sense of unspoiled character that lends credibility to its tourism tagline: “Refreshingly authentic.” Pagosa and its diverse menu of activities make it an ideal place for a family-friendly getaway, a romantic couple’s escape or place to reconnect with friends and the great outdoors.
The name “Pagosa Springs” is derived from the Southwestern Ute word “pagosah,” which means healing waters – and rightfully so as Pagosa Springs is home to a collection of incredible natural hot springs pools. Indulge and unwind in the naturally therapeutic mineral waters at any one of the three major hot springs facilities in downtown Pagosa: The Springs Resort and Spa, Overlook Hot Springs Spa or Healing Waters Resort and Spa. Each hot springs offers massage and/or spa packages in addition to the restorative pools and a picture-perfect backdrop of the area’s mountain peaks and ragged red cliffs.
For those seeking to recreate before they rejuvenate, Pagosa Springs is an adventurer’s delight no matter the season. Winter visitors can navigate the 1,600 skiable acres of nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area (just 23 miles from Pagosa Springs) or explore the 50 kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiers and snowshoers.Advanced backcountry enthusiasts may revel in a Nordic trek to the Pass Creek Yurt, a one-of-a-kind lodging experience nestled deep in the Wolf Creek wilderness. Other popular winter attractions in Pagosa include snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding and sleigh rides.
Spring and summer brings a brilliant thaw to Pagosa’s Archuleta County and with it some of Colorado’s most scenic landscape is opened for visitors to explore by foot, bike, horse or ATV. Enjoy a mid-summer float trip down the San Juan River that runs through the center of downtown Pagosa, or browse the many art galleries and shops that line its main stree ts. Test your skills on the challenging 27-hole course of Pagosa Golf Club or take a historic walking tour of the deeply rooted town, which was incorporated 121 years ago.
And whatever the activity – spring, summer, fall or winter – don’t forget to experience the town’s first claim to fame: those soul-soothing hot-spring waters that put the “ahhhhh” in “Pagosahhh.”
Getting to Pagosa Springs:
By car – From Denver, take U.S. Hwy 285 S through Fairplay to CO-112 W to U.S. Hwy 160 W to Pagosa Springs (5 ½ hours; 277 miles)
By air – Private planes can land at the local airport, Stevens Field. Commercial flights come from Denver to Durango, which is 60 miles west of Pagosa Springs.
For more information: www.visitpagosasprings.com