20 Things To Do In Pagosa Springs

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Nestled between the tall peaks and verdant canyons of southern Colorado is the interesting town of Pagosa Springs, a popular spa and resort destination thanks to its many geothermic springs from which the town gets its name. Pagosa Springs is less than 30 miles (48 km) from the New Mexico state border, allowing travellers to explore the very best attractions and picturesque landscapes that northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have in store.

There’s plenty of history and nature to discover in and around this charming Colorado resort town, while its popular hot springs provide great relief when you’re looking to escape from city life, making it one of the most fascinating and relaxing places to visit in Colorado. Here are some things to do in Pagosa Springs. 

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

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20 Things To Do In Pagosa Springs

1- Hit The Slopes At The Wolf Creek Ski Area

Wolf Creek Ski Area is Pagosa Springs’ premier skiing destination and one of the best skiing spots in Colorado. 

Wolf Creek receives more high-quality snowfall than most other ski areas in the state, allowing Wolf Creek to open much earlier in the year compared to your run-of-the-mill ski resort.

While ski spots in Aspen and Vail attract huge crowds during ski season, Wolf Creek prides itself in its family-friendly offerings and less crowded slopes, creating a better skiing experience overall. 

With over 1,600 acres (647 ha) of mountainside and 77 different ski runs at your disposal, there’s no end to the amount of wintertime fun at Pagosa Springs’ go-to ski resort.

Wolf Creek Ski Area is at US-160 E, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. 

2- Relax And Rejuvenate At The Springs Resort & Spa

The most famous attraction in Pagosa Springs is the Springs Resort & Spa, a rejuvenating and relaxing destination that takes full advantage of Pagosa’s natural geothermic hot springs. 

The resort straddles the banks of the San Juan River and is right in the heart of downtown Pagosa Springs, providing travellers with easy access to some of the best hot springs in Colorado. 

With 25 separate geothermal pools and a 74-room boutique hotel at your disposal, the resort is the pinnacle of relaxation in Pagosa Springs, with stunning Rocky mountain peaks and lush forests to gaze at.  

The Springs Resort & Spa is at 323 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

3- Explore The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park

Elks grazing
Seeing wildlife is one of the things to do in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park is a stunning outdoor retreat that serves as the home of rescued animals unable to live freely in the wild due to neglect or injuries. 

Opened back in 1986, the park takes care of animals such as lions, wolfs, grizzly bears and elk, which visitors can see and learn more about with self-guided tours of the entire park.

There is also plenty of picturesque Colorado scenery to take in all around the refuge, which can easily be enjoyed thanks to the park’s extensive network of pathways and trails accessible to hikers, cyclists or horseback riders. 

Privately owned and open year-round, the park is an absolute must-visit destination in Pagosa Springs that’s bound to delight visitors of all ages.

The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park is at 4821 US-84, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

4- Experience Pagosa Springs’ Hot Air Balloons

Few things are as synonymous with Pagosa Springs as the myriad of colourful hot air balloons which can be seen around the clock on sunny mornings in the skies above this picturesque Colorado town. 

Hot air balloons are a regular sighting in the town.

Pagosa Springs hosts the annual Colorfest and Winterfest balloon rallies, which draw dozens of hot air balloons to this southern Colorado town throughout the weekend. 

Interested in hopping on a hot air balloon yourself?

Check out any Pagosa Springs operators who organise hot air balloon tours, such as Rocky Mountain Balloon Adventures, who use large-basket balloons to take passengers on three-hour-long trips to see Pagosa Springs from above.

Rocky Mountain Balloon Adventures is at 565 Village Dr, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

5- Uncover Ancient History At The Chimney Rock National Monument

view up a mountain to Chimney Rock
Admiring the view of Chimney Rock is one of the things to do around Pagosa Springs.

Roughly halfway between Pagosa Springs and Durango, the Chimney Rock National Monument is a scenic 4,726-acre (1,913 ha) outdoor landmark that overlooks some of Colorado’s most picturesque unspoilt natural surroundings.

The monument is perched within the San Juan National Forest.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its rich archaeological significance in understanding the native Anasazi peoples who once inhabited the area.

Made up of sandstone rock, the natural monument is as majestic as it is historic and is open for guided tours throughout the day. 

There’s even an on-site visitor’s centre where travellers can learn more about the monument’s former inhabitants, so be sure to add this unique Pagosa Springs attraction to your Colorado itinerary. 

6- Marvel At The Striking Treasure Falls

treasure falls framed by trees
Going hiking to Treasure Falls is one of the active things to do in Pagosa Springs.

Treasure Falls is a stunning 105-foot-tall (32 m) plunge waterfall roughly 15 miles (24 km) east of downtown Pagosa Springs. 

The falls can easily be reached thanks to a ½-mile long (800 m) hiking path accessible to climbers of all skill levels. 

Situated just off Highway 160, the falls are perfect for stretching your legs when road-tripping through Pagosa Springs or for planning a day trip excursion outside downtown Pagosa Springs, making it worthy of an addition to any Colorado itinerary. 

7- Catch Some Rest And Relaxation At The Overlook Hot Springs Spa

The most recent addition to Pagosa Springs’ already long list of hot springs resorts, the Overlook Hot Springs Spa offers travellers a blissful spa experience in a Victorian-style venue. 

Situated right in the centre of downtown Pagosa Springs, the intimate venue is just a stone’s throw away from nearby Springs Resort & Spa, however, despite their proximity to one another, neither resort offers guests the same spa experience. 

As the name suggests, the Overlook Hot Springs Spa is famous for its breathtaking views of the nearby San Juan River and the distant peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which visitors can enjoy in complete relaxation in any of the venue’s several rooftop geothermic pools.

The Overlook Hot Springs Spa is at 432 Pagosa St, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

8- Drive Along The Scenic Wolf Creek Pass

view from the west fork valley overlook
Going on a scenic drive is one of the lovely things to do from Pagosa Springs. Here’s the view from the West Fork Valley overlook.

Named after Wolf Creek, a nearby tributary to the San Juan River, the Wolf Creek Pass is an incredibly scenic overland stretch of Highway 160 that connects Pagosa Springs with the town of South Fork over the San Juan Mountains. 

The pass was constructed between 1911 and 1916 by engineers J. E. Maloney and Ed Riley and was initially just a 12 feet wide (3.6 m) unpaved road. 

It was paved 20 years after opening and has been expanded over the years, with the newest addition being a 900-foot long (274 m) tunnel opened in 2004. 

The roadway passes by some of southern Colorado’s most picturesque surroundings and iconic outdoor landmarks, such as Treasure Falls and the Chimney Rock National Monument, so be sure to add a trip along Wolf Creek Pass to your Pagosa itinerary. 

9- Catch A Theatrical Performance At The Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts

A performance venue and art gallery rolled into one convenient destination, the fascinating Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts is a hub for the region’s local arts and culture scene, hosting everything from Broadway plays to locally-produced dramas and comedies.

The centre is home to the Thingamajig Theatre Company, Curtains Up Pagosa! and the Creede Repertory Theatre, and can comfortably accommodate up to 200 patrons on any given evening. 

Whether you’re stopping by for a dance recital, a jazz concert or a touring drama, the centre is always an entertaining place to stop by whenever you’re in Pagosa Springs.    

The Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts is at 2313 Eagle Dr, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

10- Learn About The Region’s Rich Past At The Pagosa Springs History Museum

For a Pagosa Springs history lesson like no other, stop by the fascinating Pagosa Springs History Museum, where there is an extensive collection of historical artefacts and trinkets that recount the region’s past better than any other venue can.

The museum is within Pagosa Springs’ former Water Works facility and was opened in 1970 to showcase and preserve the region’s past for future generations.

Some of the museum’s more notable exhibits include the Oppenheimer chair, parts of the Red Ryder and Lil Beaver art collection, and reconstructed rooms depicting everyday life during the 1800s.    

The Pagosa Springs History Museum is at S 1st St, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

11- Discover The Beauty Of The San Juan River

Goosenecks Of The San Juan River aerial view
Relaxing along the San Juan River is one of the things to do in Pagosa Springs today.

The San Juan River is an important waterway that runs for roughly 383 miles (616 km) from Colorado’s Archuleta County to Utah’s Glen Canyon, passing through several towns, including Pagosa Springs.

Several of Pagosa Springs’ most popular geothermic spas are dotted along the river’s shoreline, including Overlook Hot Springs Spa, Healing Waters Resort and the Springs Resort & Spa.

Apart from being a vital cog in southern Colorado’s agricultural sector, the river is among Pagosa Springs’ most scenic natural features, with trails and walkways lined along the river as it slices the town in half through downtown Pagosa Springs.

12- Learn About The Ancient Puebloans At The Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Exploring Mesa Verde National Park is one of the things to do near Pagosa Springs.

The spectacular Mesa Verde National Park is a truly unique Pagosa Springs attraction that is as scenic as it is historic. 

Mesa Verde provides travellers with a glimpse into the past to see how the Ancestral Pueblo people lived in the area for over 700 years, between 600 AD and 1300 AD. 

The park is home to more than 5,000 archaeological sites related to the Ancestral Puebloans, many of which are some of the most important and best-preserved Puebloan sites in the United States.

Mesa Verde, which means ‘green valley’ in Spanish, is a must-see landmark around southern Colorado and a real treat for history buffs and curious travellers. 

13- Escape The Rat Race At The Healing Waters Resort

A family-run mainstay in Pagosa Springs since it opened in 1950, the Healing Waters Resort in downtown Pagosa Springs is among the region’s most popular geothermic resorts with fantastic hospitality that’s hard to match.

The resort straddles the banks of the San Juan River and is conveniently just a stone’s throw away from Overlook Hot Springs Spa and the Springs Resort & Spa.

Open year-round, the venue treats visitors to stunning Rocky Mountains views in the distance and is within a short walk from the shops and restaurants in the town’s bustling downtown.

The Healing Waters Resort is at 317 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. 

14- Hike The Piedra River Trail

Stretching for over 11 miles (18 km) past some of southern Colorado’s most scenic meadow, mountain and canyon landscapes, the Piedra River Trail is among the best ways of uncovering the stunning natural features surrounding Pagosa Springs. 

The gravel trail is open year-round, with winter allowing for excellent snowshoeing and winter hiking opportunities, while spring and summer bring the region’s lush greenery to the forefront.

The trail features the North Trailhead and the First Fork Trailhead.

Both offer hikers the opportunity to enjoy unique natural features and spectacular visas no matter which trailhead they decide to start hiking from.

15- Hop Aboard The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Historic Steam Engine Train riding through the mountains
Riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the things to do in the Pagosa Springs area.

While not technically in Pagosa Springs, the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in nearby Durango, roughly 60 miles west of Pagosa Springs, is well worth the effort to experience.

The railroad provides passengers with a one-of-a-kind ‘Old West’ train-fairing experience to get a feel for what Colorado used to look like during the late 1800s and early 1900s, complete with authentic train cars and a beautifully preserved steam locomotive.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, the journey passes by some of Colorado’s most stunning landscapes and rugged rocky cliffs.

It is, without a doubt, a major highlight of any visit to southwest Colorado.    

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is at 479 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301.

16- Stroll Through Yamaguchi Park

Yamaguchi Park is the destination of choice among Pagosa Springs families looking to reconnect with nature without straying too far away from the town’s downtown area. 

The park features several play areas for kids, a gazebo, football fields, a basketball court, a child-friendly rock climbing wall, and a ½-mile (800 m) paved walkways to stroll or jog for some fresh mountain air.

Situated adjacent to the San Juan River, this downtown outdoor staple is always fun to visit and is just a stone’s throw away from Pagosa Springs’ popular hot springs and downtown attractions.

Yamaguchi Park is at 684 S 5th St, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

17- Spend An Afternoon At The Williams Creek Reservoir

The Williams Creek Reservoir is a favourite outdoor recreational area among Pagosa Springs locals.

It is situated in the incredibly scenic San Juan National Forest, roughly 26 miles (42 km) northwest of downtown.

At 8,250 feet (2,515 m) above sea level, the reservoir is very much an alpine lake and measures roughly 1 mile long (1.6 km) and ½-mile wide (800 m).

Williams Creek Reservoir is a no-wake lake, meaning motorboats and jet skis are prohibited, however, smaller rowing boats and paddleboards are permitted.

Among the most popular activities around the reservoir are camping and fishing, with the lake a rife spot for Kokanee salmon fishing during the summer months.

18- Catch A Historic Interstate Train Trip At The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Cumbres And Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado, USA
Riding the Cumbres And Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the things to do from Pagosa Springs.

Situated in northern New Mexico, roughly 48 miles (77 km) from downtown Pagosa Springs is the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, a 64-mile long (103 km) railway journey between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado.

Much like Colorado’s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a designated National Historic Landmark recognised as the longest and highest steam railway journey in the entire United States.

The historic train journey crosses the Colorado-New Mexico state border no less than 11 times during a single trip, passing by some of the two states’ most picturesque gorges, cliffs and evergreen forests.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is at 500 South Terrace Avenue, Chama, NM 87520.

19- See The Shimmering Opal Lake

san juan mountains reflected in the lake
Enjoying lakes and the San Juan mountains is one of the things to do around Pagosa Springs.

The majestic Opal Lake, about 22 miles (35 km) east of downtown Pagosa Springs, is one of the region’s family-friendly favourites for outdoor recreational fun.

Accessible via the picturesque 1.2-mile long (2 km) Opal Lake Trailhead, the lake is nestled between several dramatic San Juan Mountain peaks, providing eager travellers with endless amounts of enviable photograph and sightseeing opportunities.

Named after the lake’s opal-like colour, the lake features a laundry list of fun outdoor activities to keep you busy, ranging from the regulars like fishing, kayaking and hiking to more unique activities such as horseback riding through aspen forests.  

20- Catch A Film At Historic Liberty Theater

The historic and immensely beloved Liberty Theater has delighted Pagosa Springs residents with vaudeville films, silent films and Hollywood blockbusters since this iconic downtown venue first opened its doors in 1912. 

Liberty Theater is one of the oldest movie theatres still operating in Colorado and is always a great place to stop by if you’re a movie buff looking to rewatch a classic or catch a brand-new release.

The lifeblood of downtown Pagosa Springs’ nighttime scene, the theatre is both historic and fun to stop by, making it an easy addition to any southern Colorado itinerary.

The Liberty Theater is at 418 Pagosa St, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.