Stepping into a natural hot spring is like taking a bath hand-drawn by Mother Earth. Given that Pagosa Springs, the quaint mountain town an hour outside of Durango, is home to the world’s deepest geothermal aquifer, it’s no wonder why hundreds of thousands of people flock there each year to experience the healing mineral water themselves. In fact, Pagosa Springs was named by the Ute Indians. “Pah” means “water” and “gosa” means “boiling” — today the accepted definition of Pagosa is “healing waters.”
Despite its roaring popularity in the hot springs community, Pagosa Springs is still a hidden gem when it comes to Colorado mountain towns. While the trek takes five hours by car from Denver, the road trip down Route 285 is filled with breathtaking views and interesting pit-stops. For the most easeful experience, leave the city early morning and stop at the Blend in Buena Vista for a quick and healthy breakfast. You’ll reach Wolf Creek Pass by early afternoon and can stop at the scenic overlook for a peek into the lush valley that’s waiting beneath you. In just a half-hour you’ll be down to the springs ready to soak away your time in the car.
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of town, The Springs Resort offers lodging on-site, a full spa, salon, eateries and plenty of hot springs to dip in and out of. All rooms include 24-hour access to the soaking pools, which feel like personal little nooks of nature, and unlimited robe and towel exchange. Daily wellness activities like aqua yoga and forest bathing hikes are also complimentary.
Discovered by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the 1,002-foot-deep Mother Spring feeds her therapeutic water to 25 individual hot spring pools adorned with natural landscapes and views of the San Juan Mountains. The water literally reeks of sulfur but in the best way possible. Many guests believe the water’s remarkably high mineral content offers therapeutic benefits like pain and stress relief. The San Juan River is steps away if you want to take a cold plunge to test your mental and physical strength. If you’re more on the spiritual side, ask the front desk about a Crystal Sound Bowl experience to induce a relaxing, Zen-like state that sets the mood for your trip.
If you’re looking to really treat yourself, the resort spa features an array of treatments that complement the hot springs. The Magnesium Muscle Melt spotlights magnesium, one of the 13 minerals in the geothermal waters from the Mother Spring, for its ability to ease muscle tension and uplift the spirit. It’s 60 minutes of body scrubbing, massaging and pure bliss.
Rooms range from your choice of classic, deluxe or luxury and prices vary. Day passes to the hot springs are $49 for adults and $25 for children. Masks are required indoors and not in the pools.
What To Do
While Chimney Rock National Monument is closed to visitors in the winter months, the archaeological site reveals the sacred history behind this southwest Colorado town. Chimney Rock features the ruins of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings and allows visitors to walk primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. The half-mile hike to the top boasts dramatic 360-degree views of Colorado and New Mexico and lays the groundwork for an intimate connection to the encompassing land. This energy of discovery certainly weaves its way into downtown Pagosa, which is about 20 miles away and serves as a nod to its culture and heritage. If you’re there after May 15, book a tour and experience the magic yourself — just remember to wear sturdy shoes.
Pagosa Street is a short strip home to some impressive local makers. Voormi, the sustainable outdoor clothing brand, is based there and features high-performance backcountry gear. When you visit remember to take it slow — Pagosa is on “mountain time” and stores don’t always open right on time.
If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, Wolf Creek Ski Area is an incredible spot with its smaller crowds, fresh powder and great tree skiing. This year Wolf Creek was the first resort in Colorado to open for the 2021-22 season. Lift tickets are available online and in-person: $82 for adults, $51 for seniors, $41 for children.
What to Eat + Drink
Grab a beer at Riff Raff Brewing Company, the second brewery in the world to have spring-fed geothermal energy. Locals and tourists alike make the vibe there super friendly. After you’re feeling the buzz, don’t stay for the food. Instead, head to Alley House Grille which arguably has the best, and priciest, cuisine in town. If you’re looking for something more casual, Kip’s Grill across the street has delicious and fresh homemade tacos at an affordable price. Vegans and carnivores alike can enjoy the Mexican menu and the customer service is top-notch.
For breakfast, grab a crepe at the resort’s Cafe if you want to stay barefoot, or take a short walk across the bridge for some espresso at Root House. The hip shop features Colorado-roasted beans, lattes of all kinds and eats like avocado toast and house-made cinnamon rolls.
The Springs Resort is located at 323 Hot Springs Blvd., Pagosa Springs. Book your stay here.