A Weekend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.



From soaking in a natural hot spring to soaring high above the mountains in a hot air balloon, Pagosa Springs offers travelers relaxation and adventure – all within a charming, small-town setting.

Located in Southwest Colorado, this historic town is the perfect playground for a weekend away. And while a peaceful soak in one of the many hot springs should definitely be on your agenda, the quaint boutique shops of downtown and the San Juan Mountains’ natural beauty make this a must-visit destination for travelers.  

Here’s your two-day itinerary to maximize your adventures in Pagosa Springs.

Getting To Pagosa Springs

There is no commercial airport in Pagosa Springs, but don’t worry! Getting here is a simple task. First, fly into Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO), which is served by both American Airlines and United Airlines. 

You’ll need to pick up a rental car from the airport for your trip to Pagosa Springs. Then, head east on Hwy 160 for about an hour, and you’ll drive right into town! 

Where to Stay in Pagosa Springs

Whatever you seek in vacation accommodations, you’ll find them in Pagosa Springs. Head to the wooden lodge at Elktrace Bed & Breakfast for simple ranch living with beautiful mountain views. For those looking for comfort and spa treatments, consider a stay at Healing Waters Resort and Spa. Rooms are simple and affordable, and the large outdoor pool is filled with 100% natural mineral water. Follow your soak with a soothing massage! 

If you prefer a more modern place to rest, the recently-restored The Nightingale Motel blends trendy chic with the allure of a 1950s roadside motel. Drop into the Neon Mallard Bar onsite for specialty cocktails in a comfortable saloon. And for waterside views and easy downtown access, the rustic RiverWalk Inn on the San Juan River is next to a 1.9-mile nature walkway stretching from the town center to Yamaguchi Park.

Day 1: See the Sights Around Town

Ditch the car for your first day in Pagosa Springs—you won’t need it. The town is best explored on foot! 

While you explore, go for a uniquely Pagosa Springs adventure with the Bicycle Planter Scavenger Hunt. Search for the charming bicycle-shaped flower planters around local businesses—and win a prize. To play, download the Pagosa Springs mobile app for iPhone or Android. Then, follow the map to find each planter and check them off on the app. When you discover them all, head to the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center to claim your Pagosa keepsake. 

Two Old Crows Gallery in downtown Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

For breakfast, head to The Rose, a relaxed family diner serving hearty omelets, savory biscuits and gravy, and thick French toast. Once you’ve fueled up for the day, head to Two Old Crows Gallery. This lodge-like showplace for local artists and craftspeople has one-of-a-kind jewelry, fine art and photography inspired by the surrounding landscape, and more. So take a bit of local flavor home with you! 

Next, walk down to the Pagosa Springs History Museum to learn about the area’s history. Exhibits take you back to homestead life from the 1890s to the early 1900s, including a typical kitchen, general store, and blacksmith shop. The museum is open from May through September.

The Pagosa Springs History Museum in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

Take a break for lunch at the East Side Market & Food Court, open daily through the summer season. Place your order with one of the onsite food trucks, such as Lochera Don Jose, serving up tacos and burritos, and relax in the picnic area. On weekends, the market welcomes local craftspeople with handmade goods like metal art, unique clothing, and Native American crafts. 

After lunch, spend the afternoon shopping in Pagosa Springs’ charming boutiques. Wander the packed aisles of Antiques on Main to peruse knick-knacks and home goods of all descriptions from long past. Goodman’s Department Store has been family-owned and operated since 1899 and still offers family fashions, gifts and leather goods. Get a pair of Colorado-appropriate cowboy boots to really fit in. Next, browse at Home Again, a charming housewares and gift shop with art, jewelry, candles, and kitchen goods—many made locally. Then check out  High Altitude Closet, a boutique clothing shop with casual attire and handmade jewelry.

The Neon Mallard in The Nightingale Hotel. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

After your busy day, enjoy an evening of fun and entertainment. Start with dinner at Alley House Grille, a high-end eatery specializing in fresh seafood and prime steaks. Sit on the breezy deck or in the open dining room with a massive skylight overhead. After dinner, support the community theater at Curtains Up Pagosa, which produces multiple plays and musicals each year starring local actors, singers, and musicians. Finally, end your day at Neon Mallard for after-show cocktails. Eclectic plush furniture and cozy lighting make this a place to slow down and settle in for the night. 

Day 2: Explore the Great Outdoors 

For your second day, explore the beauty of southwest Colorado. Start your day on a high note—literally—with a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight. Actual experiences depend on weather and windspeed, but you could splash lightly over a lake, climb high for expansive views of four states, or spot Bald Eagles and Red-Tailed Hawks. Then, back on land, enjoy a champagne toast and continental breakfast while you learn about the history of ballooning. 

The Opal Lake trailhead. Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

Next, pack a picnic lunch from the build-your-own salad bar at local grocery Joy’s Natural Foods, and drive east to the Opal Lake trailhead. This 1.2-mile out-and-back trail is not too challenging and rewards hikers with epic scenery, including the San Juan Mountains, aspen groves, and a vast meadow. It’s beautiful any time, but especially worth a visit in the fall when the leaves put on their golden and red display. Enjoy your picnic lunch at the lake before heading back down the trail. 

After a busy morning of flying and hiking, you will have earned a relaxing afternoon. Visit one of the three downtown hot springs for a soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters. At Overlook Hot Springs Spa, the many soaking tubs are small and intimate, so you and your friends can have a private soak together. Rooftop tubs overlook the San Juan River and Pagosa Springs below. The Springs Resort includes 25 different soaking pools ranging from 45 to 114°F. The vibes vary, with some pools earmarked for calm and quiet and others more suited to swimming laps and socializing. And Healing Waters Resort & Spa includes indoor and outdoor baths and offers excellent rates—perfect for a family soak session.

The Mother Spring in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

Before or after your soak, visit The Mother Spring. This is the source of all the bathing springs around Pagosa Springs—but it’s not safe for bathing, with temperatures recorded as high as 144°F. The Mother Spring is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Deepest Hot Springs Aquifer in the world…but no one knows how deep. A plumb line sunk to 1,002 feet in 2011 and never hit the bottom. 

After relaxing, head to Kip’s Grill & Cantina for a delicious dinner of Tex-Mex-inspired dishes and margaritas. Dine on delicious tacos, such as the Esteban Special with marinated top sirloin and chipotle sauce. Or, build your own burger, hot dog or bratwurst. The restaurant also has a moderate selection of craft beers and wines.

Starry Night at Chimney Rock.
A starry night at the Chimney Rock National Monument. Photo Courtesy of Visit Pagosa Springs.

End your weekend in Pagosa Springs with a night of stargazing at Chimney Rock National Monument, a 20-minute drive from town. Depending on the night sky’s brightness due to the moon’s phase, visitors can view deep-sky objects like star clusters, far-off galaxies, and colorful nebulae.

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