If you’re looking for something a little bit different this summer, why not head to a part of America that is usually reserved for winter vacations, Pagosa Springs in Southwest Colorado. It is true Pagosa Springs is a prime spot to visit during the winter months. That is when the hot springs are beckoning, the ice skating rinks are in prime condition and the favorite activities include cross-country skiing, ice fishing, skiing and snowboarding, sleigh rides, sledding and snowmobiling.
The fall period when the temperatures are just starting to drop is also very popular with hunters who hope to harvest elk, deer and other game animals. The summer time is often when vacationers will head towards the beaches and lakes, away from the prime winter destinations. But what if you tried something a little different and looked into all Pagosa Springs has to offer for the summer time?
Situated along the San Juan River and surrounded by the San Juan National Forest, the Weminuch Wilderness and the Rocky Mountains, the natural beauty of Pagosa Springs is simply breathtaking. The area is located north of the New Mexico border and is situated on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide creating an unusually mild climate compared with the surrounding Southwest towns.
The area is named after one of the largest and hottest natural springs in the world, which continues to attract people year round for its relaxation and therapeutic powers. Aside from relaxing in the hot springs, other summertime activities include fishing, hiking and rafting.
Starting at the beginning you’re going to need somewhere to stay. I recommend the Luxury Log Cabin on the Golf Course. This stunning 2,100 sq ft cabin boasts four bedrooms and two bathrooms, comfortably sleeping 12+ guests. Perfect for big family getaways or a vacation with friends. You can overlook the fairway from the extra-large deck or the second story balcony, while the morning hot air balloons drifting past. Perhaps you might even want to go for a ride! For the times you’re not out enjoying all Pagosa Springs has to offer, the home has satellite TV, wireless internet and a fully equipped kitchen.
Once you’ve sorted your accommodation you can plan your trip! Perhaps you want to start by doing a little fishing! There are numerous rivers, lakes and reservoirs around the area which offer endless hours of quality fishing. The area offers warm, lower-elevation waters to fish for catfish, bass, perch and pan fish as well as the higher cool and cold-water lakes, ponds and creeks packed with pike, kokanee salmon and trout. The Piedra River in particular is a canyon river west of Pagosa Springs and the East Fork of the San Juan are packed with fat brows and foot-long stocked rainbow trout. Other great areas to check out are the Echo Canyon Reservoir, Lake Capote Recreation Area (no state license is required and permits are only $8 for adults), Navajo Reservoir and Williams Creek Reservoir.
If you’re not into fishing but love water activities, there’s plenty for you to do in Pagosa Springs. The many rivers, lakes and reservoirs are the perfect places to get out on the water either kayaking, jet skiing, whitewater rafting, canoeing, floating or motorized boating. Navajo State Park is a favorite reservoir for water sports as it boasts 15,000 acres of water surface and even extends into New Mexico. Williams Creek Reservoir, Big Meadows Reservoir and Echo Reservoir are the perfect places to take out your canoes or kayaks. Here you can enjoy breathtaking views in a quiet and peaceful surrounding. But for those thrill seekers out there, whitewater rafting on the San Juan River is the way to go. At the start of the summer (May and June) the river is flowing heavily with snow-melt, providing excellent conditions for whitewater rafting. When the temperatures get hot and the river calms down, the best way to cool off is by enjoying a floating trip. Float tubes can be rented and a few hours on the river is a perfect way to spend a day with the family.
If you’re the golf type, you certainly don’t need to go far. Just steps away from the Log Cabin is the 18-hole Pinon course and the 9-hole Ponderosa at the Pagosa Springs Golf Club. Of course if you’re looking for a mini golf style course, there are two of those within the Pagosa Springs area for good family fun.
Of course one of the biggest draw cards of Pagosa Springs is the stunning scenery, natural wonders and of course, the wildlife. With over 3 million acres of national forest of scenery and the Rocky Mountains just in the backyard begging to be explored also, there’s plenty to see and you could spend weeks exploring it all. While there are plenty of scenic drives you can take, the best way to experience it all is to get out on foot, on a bike, or better yet, on horseback! There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Pagosa Springs area simply begging to be walked or run. You can choose between trails through high alpine meadows, along the river, in the canyons or through dense forests. The Turkey Springs area is said to have some of the best tracks in the region.
Biking is another excellent way to see Pagosa Springs, and with the numerous paved roads, single tracks and forest roads there are plenty of opportunities to see the amazing views from your bicycle. For something a little different, check out the area on horseback. The area is a favorite with horse enthusiasts and seeing the area while horse trekking adds something a little extra special to your sightseeing. While you’re exploring the great outdoors it is almost guaranteed you will come across various wildlife species living within the national forest so make sure you take a camera!
There are plenty of other great activities to enjoy in Pagosa Springs, particularly if you’re there with children. The historic train ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad or the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is always a favorite. Both railroads provide museums with history of the trains and various adventures and activities for the whole family. A hot air balloon ride is something the kids are bound to love, and gives you a spectacular view of Pagosa Country. The Chimney Rock Archeological Area is also an excellent attraction which features ancient Pueblo Indian ruins. The area holds numerous events throughout the summer including Native American festivals, full moon programs and educational tours.
For a bit of culture in your vacation, why not catch a live performance at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. If you’re interested in the history of the area, be sure to check out some of the local museums, including the San Juan Historical Museum, the Fred Harman Art Museum or the Parelli Natural Horsemanship World Headquarters and Museum. The Historic Liberty Theater on the main street is also a good place to visit, particularly if you want to catch a movie. Established in 1919, the theatre is the fourth oldest in Colorado! There are also plenty of art galleries, such as Pagosa Photography, the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts Gallery, Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts and the wild Spirit Gallery which are worth checking out, particularly if you’re struck with a rainy day.
Before you leave Pagosa Springs make sure you stop by The Choke Cherry Tree to pick up some home-made candies and chocolates. Pagosa Springs has a lot to offer its summertime visitors, and there is no doubt the visitors will leave the area with a grin on their face after a fantastic summer vacation.
Why not give Pagosa Springs a try this summer!