Does soaking in natural hot springs surrounded by stunning mountain peaks sound like an absolute dream? Then you have to visit Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and make it a reality.
Beyond the incredible hot springs, you’ll discover a long list of fantastic things to do in Pagosa Springs, a lovely destination nestled in the spectacular San Juan Mountains.
I’ve lived in Colorado for nearly 15 years, so I have had plenty of chances to visit Pagosa Springs.
That means I know the inside scoop on all the best things to do in Pagosa Springs if you want to travel like a local, not a tourist in one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns.
About this Guide to Things to Do in Pagosa Springs
Inside this local guide to the very best things to do in Pagosa Springs, you’ll find:
- Where is Pagosa Springs & how to get there
- When to visit Pagosa Springs
- Why Pagosa Springs is popular
- The best things to do in Pagosa Springs
- Additional local Colorado travel resources
Where is Pagosa Springs?
Pagosa Springs is located on the Western Slope in the southwest corner of Colorado in the heart of the San Juans, which is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado.
When to Visit Pagosa Springs
It’s hard to pick the best month to visit Pagosa Springs since you’ll find cool things to do in Pagosa Springs, CO all year long.
Summer is probably the most popular season to explore a lot of the outdoor areas, and Pagosa Springs is a great spot for a Colorado summer vacation.
Fall is lovely for milder weather and checking out fall colors in Colorado, and if you’re a skier, winter is also a wonderful time to visit Pagosa Springs.
Local Tip: We love to visit during the fall and winter since it’s the perfect season to soak in the warm waters!
What Is Pagosa Springs Colorado Known For?
Pagosa Springs is probably most famous for having some of the best hot springs in Colorado.
In fact, the name “Pagosa” came from the Ute word “Paqhosa” which described the look of the bubbling springs that can be found in the area.
While the many hot springs make Pagosa one of the popular places to visit in Colorado, its location in the San Juan mountains means there are lots more awesome things to do in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
The Best Things to Do in Pagosa Springs in Summer
From visiting a national park to playing on the San Juan River, you’ll discover tons of fun things to do in Pagosa Springs in the summer.
1. Tour the Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park
One of the must-see attractions in Pagosa Springs is Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde NP stands out from other national parks in Colorado by showcasing the incredible history of the area.
Here you can tour ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings, including Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
Local tip: To enter the cliff dwellings, you must be part of a ranger-led tour that run from mid-May to mid-October. Tickets can be purchased at recreation.gov, and advanced reservations are required.
2. Stand in Awe of Treasure Falls
Check out this epic waterfall, which is rumored to have gotten its name from a chest of gold buried nearby.
Treasure Falls can be seen from Highway 160, but you really should visit it up close if you can. This Colorado waterfall hike is only around a half-mile round trip, so it’s absolutely worth it and a great trail for families.
3. Go Rafting on the San Juan River
One of the most exhilarating things to do in Pagosa Springs is white water rafting on the San Juan River.
You can take a quick trip through the downtown whitewater park or start in the rapids of the West Fork of the San Juan before a nice float to end downtown. Mesa Canyon also offers a cool rafting experience.
4. Tube the Not-So-Lazy River
You can have a mellower adventure on the San Juan River by tubing from the River Center to Yamaguchi Park.
Rent a tube from a local outfitter or hire them to guide you on a fun float trip. Check the river flow guide to make sure the river isn’t running too fast, then have a blast!
5. Take a Scenic Drive Over Wolf Creek Pass
Enjoy one of the best scenic drives in Colorado over Wolf Creek Pass which runs from Pagosa Springs to Alamosa.
You’ll head up high on this mountain drive, since the top of the pass is on top of the Continental Divide. Be sure to stop at the Lobo Overlook (when it’s open) for the truly stunning views of the San Juans.
6. Explore Chimney Rock National Monument
Visiting Chimney Rock National Monument is like stepping back in time to the landscape of the region a thousand years ago when it was home to ancestral Puebloans.
Two trails provide access to archeological sites – the short, paved Mesa Village Trail and the more challenging gravel Great House Trail.
Of course, you’ll also want to spend some time appreciating the towers of Chimney Rock and Companion Rock (but hiking or climbing these rock formations is prohibited).
Local tip: Chimney Rock National Monument is only open from May 15 to October 15 from 9:00 am-4:30 pm daily.
7. Fish at Williams Creek Reservoir
Anglers will love casting a line at Williams Creek Reservoir which is home to rainbow, brown, and brook trout as well as Kokanee salmon.
You can also kayak on the reservoir, and there are lots of great hiking trails in the San Juan National Forest near this popular Colorado lake.
Extend your time at Williams Creek with a stay at Teal or Williams Creek Campground.
8. Visit Pagosa Springs History Museum
The Pagosa Springs History Museum showcases displays of what life was like in Pagosa Springs from the 1890s through the early 1900s.
You can walk through a blacksmith shop, a general store, a country schoolroom, and more.
The chair used by J. Robert Oppenheimer during his tenure at Los Alamos Laboratory is also displayed here.
Local tip: The Pagosa Springs History Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from May through September (closed Sunday and Monday).
The Best Things to Do in Pagosa Springs in Winter
You’ll find plenty of things to do in Pagosa Springs in winter as well, especially if you enjoy downhill or cross-country skiing.
9. Hit the Slopes at Wolf Creek
Wolf Creek Ski Area is definitely the highlight of things to do in Pagosa Springs in winter. With over 465 inches of snow falling in the winter on average, the powder days are plentiful here!
The trails are fairly even split in terms of terrain difficulty, so you’ll find something for everyone from beginners to experts.
10. Go Cross-Country Skiing
You can also glide around the snow on cross-country skis at Yamaguchi Nordic Track, an awesome beginner loop downtown.
In fact, there are over 50km of groomed cross-country trails in Pagosa Springs – all of which feature a track for snowshoeing if you prefer.
11. Drive a Team of Sled Dogs
If you’re looking for things to do in Colorado in winter besides skiing, dog sledding is the perfect adventure in Pagosa Springs.
You can drive a team of Alaskan huskies through the beautiful backcountry of the San Juans with the guides of Mountain Paws.
Dog sledding is a truly unique thing to do in Colorado that you will never forget!
The Best Things to Do in Pagosa Springs Year-Round
Here are some of the best things to do in Pagosa Springs, no matter the season you’re visiting Colorado.
Soak in the Hot Springs.
12. Soak in the Hot Springs
Exploring the hot springs is an absolute must-do when you visit Pagosa Springs, and you’ll find several soaking options to choose from.
Visit Healing Waters Resort & Spa to experience the healing properties of natural undiluted mineral water, or head to Overlook Hot Springs to soak in the scenic rooftop tubs with views of the San Juans.
13. Meander Around Downtown
Between your other adventures, be sure to take some time to explore downtown Pagosa Springs.
Stroll along the Riverwalk Loop to enjoy the scenery, and visit both the downtown and uptown districts to stop into the cute shops and gear outfitters.
When you’ve worked up a thirst or an appetite, stop into one of the two Riff Raff Brewing locations for excellent local beers and a Big Lebowski-themed menu.
14. Take a Ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
You can choose from a variety of scenic train rides departing from Durango and heading through the San Juans to Cascade Canyon or all the way to Silverton. Aboard the train, you’ll experience unparalleled and unique views of this incredible landscape.
The train runs throughout the year, and in the winter, there’s also a special Polar Express ride to celebrate the holidays.
15. Hike the Piedra River Trail
Hiking the Piedra River Trail is one of the best things to do in Pagosa Springs any time of year because it offers excellent views throughout with only a little elevation gain – which is rare to find on hikes in this area.
The trail runs for 11 miles from trailhead to trailhead, but most people will hike through the canyon and make the second bridge a turn-around point for a hike of about 7 miles round trip.
16. Explore Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park
The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park in Pagosa Springs is home to a variety of animals that are considered unreleasable in the wild.
Take a one hour feeding tour to see black bears, grizzly bears, elk, mountain lions, foxes, wolves, emu, and even a yak and a donkey while you learn more about these cool creatures.
17. Attend a Theatrical Performance
Pagosa Springs is home to a couple of theater companies putting on a variety of performances.
Check out what’s playing at Curtains Up Pagosa and Thingamajig Theatre Company at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts while you’re in town.
Additional Colorado Travel Resources
Looking to explore the best of Colorado like a local, not a tourist? Then check out these handy resources: