Something for everyone
Whatever your soul seeks — skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, fishing, snowmobiling, soaking in the hot springs, shopping, sleeping and satiating your appetite for food or drink — Pagosa Country offers choices that are sure to please you and everyone in your family or group.
Nestled at an elevation of 7,079 feet alongside the San Juan River, Pagosa Springs is surrounded on the east and north by the craggy spires of the Continental Divide, the Weminuche and South San Juan wilderness areas. “The most snow in Colorado” falls upon the majestic San Juan Mountains and Wolf Creek Ski Area more frequently than any other mountain range in the state. Yet, it is here in Pagosa that uncommonly blue skies prevail more often than not.
Wolf Creek Ski Area, considered by many as one of the best-kept secrets in Colorado, offers skiers and snowboarders an abundance of powder and packed powder on sun-drenched slopes. Guests love it because the lift lines are short, the runs are long and the prices are lower than most areas in Colorado. You will also find more snow here than just about anywhere else in the state.
Throughout the ski season, the Wolf Creek Ski Area calendar is jam-packed with myriad activities designed for fun and families and all levels of expertise. The ski school is renowned for its excellence, and there are plenty of fun programs for skiers and boarders of all ages.
Fans of snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, telemark and alpine touring often find themselves just plain giddy when they discover the beautiful, pristine backcountry areas available for their adventures. You can bring your own equipment, book a tour with an outfitter or rent whatever you need at a number of sporting goods shops in Pagosa.
Beginner and more relaxed cross-crountry trails surround Pagosa Springs. For those seeking a “wilder” experience, there are cross-country trails in the vicinity of Wolf Creek Pass and in other parts of the San Juan National Forest. With plenty of trails and an abundance of snow, there are innumerable opportunities for the skilled and well-equipped backcountry adventurer.
If alpine skiing isn’t your forté, the Pagosa Nordic Club undertakes an ambitious program to bring a variety of groomed classic cross-country and skate skiing opportunities to the Pagosa Springs area.
In town, the club grooms trails in Yamaguchi Park. Cloman Park and the Laverty Ranch, and the West Fork trailhead located east of Pagosa Springs offer scenic views. The Pagosa Ranger District grooms Coyote Hill and Wolf Creek Ski Area grooms Alberta Park for more Nordic skiing opportunities.
If you would like to improve your Nordic skiing skills, there are clinics held throughout the winter months and a number of family-oriented race events. For event and trail information, visit the club’s website at PagosaNordic.com.
If braving the cold to catch perch, trout or bass is your sport, then try ice fishing at one of the spots favored by locals, such as Williams Creek Reservoir or Echo Lake.
Numerous businesses and sporting goods stores sell fishing licenses and can give you the inside scoop on winter fishing.
During the height of winter, when a day on the slopes is (for whatever reason) out of the question, people trade in their boards for a pair of blades and head to the ponds.
Located at the eastern edge of town, just north of U.S. 160 next to the San Juan River and adjacent to the River Center shopping complex, ice skating is available to visitors and locals alike on the lower west-end pond at the River Center Park.
The pond is usually groomed for skaters from about mid-December — just before the Christmas break rush — until mid-February (depending on weather conditions, of course).
The Pagosa Multi-Purpose Pavilion Winter Ice Rink, located at South Pagosa Park on South 8th Street, opens for ice skating, hockey, curling and broomball.
Mineral hot springs
A long, relaxing soak in Pagosa Springs’ world-famous healing waters is the perfect way to end a day of winter fun. Visitors and locals alike laud the waters’ curative powers. Three mineral hot springs facilities are enjoyed by thousands of guests year-round.
If you happen to be in Pagosa for the holidays, you’re in for a treat. Merchants traditionally roll out the red shopping carpets to help you find the perfect gifts, and the governments, businesses and nonprofits work to make the holidays magical.
Christmas in Pagosa Springs is a special time of year with holiday lights twinkling throughout town. Santa sightings occur throughout December in town, at the visitor center, at Wolf Creek Ski Area and other locations. Join us for a downtown tree lighting on the Friday after Thanksgiving at dusk, as Santa arrives at the Visitor Center on a fire truck to greet kids and light a tree. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the festive decor displayed at many businesses and residential properties in the surrounding area.
The annual Festival of Trees hosted by the Ross Aragon Community Center benefits numerous nonprofits in Pagosa Springs. Attendees can marvel in the beautifully and creatively decorated trees, enjoy the music and delicious food and get caught up in the “bidding wars.” It is certainly a festive night while benefitting our community nonprofit agencies. This year’s auction event is set for Dec. 3, with the public viewing set for Dec. 2.
As the winter season progresses, the community welcomes visitors for WinterFest, which is set for Jan. 21-23.
WinterFest blows the blahs out of everyone as challenging sports, fun games, contests and antics are held all over town. Colorful hot air balloons decorate the blue skies with a background of snow-capped mountains on Saturday and Sunday mornings from the west side of town. Enjoy the Sledz on Rez Race as homemade sleds “race” down Reservoir Hill. The Penguin Plunge brings the hardiest or craziest plungers out to take a swim in the frigid San Juan River — all to raise money for their favorite charity. The Nordic Club hosts a bb gun biathlon race for kids, novice or more-experienced cross-country skiers. If you are a cyclist, try your hand at the fat tire bike race. The Skis and Saddles Skijoring event returns this year. Watch the fast-paced action as riders on horseback take skiers through an obstacle course all while being timed. It is a family-fun weekend where you can participate or spectate.