Travel Colorado: Pagosa Springs


Of all the Springs in Colorado, Pagosa Springs may be the most charming.

Thrill-seeking outdoor enthusiasts, couples looking to unwind, the young, the wise, and everyone in between find Pagosa Springs a mecca of vacation-worthy fun. The hot air balloon festival is in just two weeks, and it’s the perfect time to check out this quaint and peaceful nest tucked inside the beautiful San Juan Mountains.

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Getting there

From Colorado Springs, take I-25 south to Walsenburg. When you hit Hwy 160, head east. Four and a half hours and one turn. Super easy and insanely beautiful drive. An alternate route provides an opportunity to drive through Canon City and past the Royal Gorge turnoff. There’s a small airport in Pagosa Springs for those with a private plane, and a larger one in Durango, too.

Five Must-Dos

Treasure Falls   This 105’ waterfall is easily accessible and hikeable by children of all ages, and is it ever beautiful. Pack a towel incase the water is really flowing, and take sunflower seeds to share with the ground squirrels and chipmunks.

San Juan River/Piedra River  Whether you’re a fisherman or want to float some rapids, these rivers have lots to offer. Rafting outfitters are happy to guide you through the water, or if you’re exploring on a budget, stop at a department store, buy a tube, buckle your life jacket and go. Kids of all ages float from the end of May through early September. The water is cold, but a perfect match for the Colorado heat. Both rivers are full of trout, making it a great place for anglers to hang. On the downtown banks of the San Juan you’ll even find pockets of hot springs which are available to soak in at no charge.

Hot Springs  If you find yourself loving those free hot springs, consider popping into The Springs Resort and Spa for a day of relaxation. Pool prices begin at $14 and end with you in total refreshment.

Williams Creek Reservoir  Bald eagles swoop to catch Kokanee salmon as the mountains stand by watching. Hands down, this is the most beautiful place in Colorado. Kayak, paddle board climbs nearby 12K-footer or hike to the dam to sit on a blanket and read, but don’t rob your eyes of this serene splendor.

Sally’s Overlook  The canyon northeast of Pagosa is a remarkable place to hike. For a long hike ending at Sally’s Overlook, start at trailhead 639 off Piedra road. For more info click here.

Five Family-Friendly Activities

Colorfest Weekend Hot Air Balloon Festival (Sept. 14-16, 2018)  Sunrise balloon ascents and sunset glows make this weekend a prime time to check out Pagosa. Eat a food truck lunch and burn it off during the 5K. Just make sure you find a hill and bring a thermos of hot cocoa one morning — the view from the outskirts is gorgeous. Check out their website for updated info.

Hunt for Geodes  These turtle-shelled rock formations are awesome to bust open. Once you find one, you’ll find many. Look for large rocks that literally look like turtle shells, typically around wooded areas and moist ground.

Snow Ski or Sled  Pagosa receives an average of 124″ of snowfall per year, making it the ultimate place for skiing and playing in the snow. Wolf  Creek is an excellent place for ski for people of all skill levels. Look into pricing here. Not into skiing? Neither am I. Find a spot on the nearby National Forest and sled all day.

Shop  The Pagosa Springs downtown area offers an array of cute boutiques, bakeries, souvenir outlets, antique and thrift shops. The Made In Colorado store and are our family favorites.

Picnic near a Waterfall or Riverbank at Sunset  Call me cheesy, but there’s something so special about spending time in nature under its own lights. Piedra Falls is an easy hike, and there’s water everywhere. Pack some meat and cheese and a bottle of wine, and enjoy the peace.

Five Great Eateries

A vacation this cool must be accompanied with good grub. The following five spots are bound to light up your palette.

Boss Hoggs   This BBQ haven will leave you stuffed and still craving more.

Chavalos Taqueria   You can’t go wrong with the enchiladas, but visit for the fried ice cream. Out of this universe!

Two Chicks and a Hippie   This Breakfast spot will fuel your morning. Have a cup of life-giving coffee for the ultimate win.

The Malt Shoppe   A greasy burger, fries and shake are like the holy trinity of the diner scene. This one won’t let you down. Add the fried onions, and go big on the chocolate malt.

Kips Grill and Cantina   Say hello to fish taco. The Esteban Special is excellent as well.

Five Places to Stay

The Springs Resort and Spa   This is the place for relaxation and pampering. Book your room here.

Vacation Rentals By Owner   Choose a house for 16 or a bedroom for two. VRBO provides endless possibilities.

Cabins   There are lots of options for cabin rentals in and around Pagosa. From homestead style to glamping, its got it all.

Timeshares   While I don’t have a time share, my understanding is that there are properties in Pagosa. Before you book elsewhere, if you’re part of a time share, check into that option.

Tents   With National Forest land all around. the camping choices are limitless. Consider the adventure.

Like this series? Read more “Travel Colorado” posts here!

We at Colorado Springs Moms Blog love to travel this beautiful state. We suspect you do, too. Our newest series called "Travel Colorado" highlights our writers' favorite spots, in no particular order. We hope this compact, virtual guidebook provides you with the inspiration and the tools for your Colorado adventures. First up? Last month: Fort Collins. Next up: Salida.