A Pleasant Spot to Warm Up in the Colorado Rockies
Southern Colorado Rockies
High in the Rocky Mountains of southwest Colorado, hot sulfur springs bubble to the surface. The small resort town of Pagosa Springs sprung from these. With an elevation above 7000 feet, nights are cool and winters are long. The hot springs make a pleasant spot to warm up.
While the famous ski areas further to the north are popular and thick with tourists, the highway 160 corridor feels more authentic. This route includes the Great Sand Dunes, Pagosa Springs, Durango, and Mesa Verde. It really should be on the plans of many more travelers.
Not long after crossing west over the continental divide, highway 160 runs through the middle of the small, mountain town of Pagosa Springs. We were eager to warm up from the chill of the high elevation. Snow still clung to the high mountain passes. Arriving at The Springs Resort & Spa, the pungent smell of sulfur was thick in the air. Steam rose from behind the lobby.
The Springs Resort & Spa
There are three hot springs resorts in Pagosa Springs. By far the largest, with the most pools and the “mother spring” is The Springs Resort & Spa. We checked into our room adjacent to the lobby in the Spring Inn Motel building. It was damp and musty smelling. Returning to the front the desk, we requested another room. Our next room was in a slightly removed, much newer building called the Ecoluxe Springs. This room smelled and felt fresh and comfortable. The entire Ecoluxe hotel was beautiful.
The Springs Resort & Spa has 23 pools from which to choose. You do not have to have a room here to enjoy the pools. You can pay to visit the spas. We spoke with people who were camping, staying at other motels, and who had driven up from Durango. Unlimited access to the pools and springs comes with staying on site, though.
Eager to relax our muscles, we donned our bathing suits and the provided super-soft robes. The evening was quite chilly and we scurried the short distance to the pools. Pool names and temperatures are posted. Pool temps range from a warm 86 degrees in the Crick tub to an intensely hot 112 in the Paradise pool. Brave souls could also take a dip in the cold San Juan River at the back of the pools: 48 degrees. We had a wonderful, relaxing time switching from pool to pool. The robes and the heat from the springs kept us comfortable walking around in the cool mountain air.
Wait, There’s More!
In the summer, rafting and tubing down the San Juan River through the middle of Pagosa Springs is popular. The water stays cool, though.
Across the road from The Springs Resort & Spa you will find the wonderful Reservoir Hill Park. I took the chance to explore the park on my morning run. Single and double track trails wind all over the hill for runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. The pine forests and stunning views from the summits highlighted my morning. A wonder disc (frisbee) golf course covers the lower portion of the park. In the winter, cross country skiers enjoy further reaches of the park.
The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, a short drive south of town, cares for rescued, mostly native animals. See bears, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, elk, and more.
People who enjoy horseback riding will find miles of trails through the San Juan Forest. Several stables in Pagosa Springs allow those of us without our own horse to enjoy riding, too.
Our family thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The scenery is stunning and the hot, sulfur springs are relaxing. When visiting the Colorado Rockies, do not overlook the less touristy southern span. And, make sure to stop by Pagosa Springs.