Summer Vacation Filter: Pagosa Springs Edition!
May 23, 2012 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Summer Vacation Filter: Pagosa Springs Edition! BF and I will be staying in Pagosa Springs during the first full week of June and have never been to the area before. Any tips or recommendations for activities to make our trip great?

We will have a rental car and we already have tickets for the Durango-Silverton train ride and I definitely want to do the hot springs. We are fairly fit and like to be outside (but are city mice in real life), and would like to get the most bang for what little buck we have. Is it worth driving down to Santa Fe for a day? Driving up north into the State Parks? I've seen previous threads about driving through the area but if I missed one for local activities please let me know. Any and all suggestions welcome, and thank you!
posted by PaulaSchultz to Travel & Transportation around Pagosa Springs, CO (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Santa Fe is a bit of a drive; if you're big into art, definitely go, otherwise it may not be worth the hike. Do check out Durango while you're in town for the train ride though; it's a cool area. Lots of hiking to be done in the area, as easy or as difficult as you want. I'd drive over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and check out Valley View Hot Springs if you're interested in some hippie hot springs, in addition to the mainstream springs in Pagosa. Good fishing in the area as well, if that's your thing.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:22 AM on May 23, 2012

Hm, I think I was thinking of the drive to Albuquerque; Santa Fe is 3 hours out. Might be worth the drive in that case, especially if you want some good green chile.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:23 AM on May 23, 2012

there is so much to do and it is such a beautiful area, i would make santa fe a seperate trip instead of spending that much time on the road. unless of course you are into the art. if you want to take a beautiful drive, go up through wolf creek pass and then on to creede for the day. The road through the pass from pagosa to south fork goes through some spectacular mountains. You can raft down the Rio Grande. Not especially for thrill seekers because it isn't white water, but fun. We used Mountain man rafting if they are still there. There are also places to take a guided 4 wheeler drive up into the mountains. Off roading is pretty big in the area around south fork and creede. On past creede are the head waters of the Rio Grande. there isn't much in south fork, but creede is an old mining town with shopping etc.

there are lots of accessible lakes in the area - any visitor center will provide you with maps to them. Same with hiking trails.
posted by domino at 9:41 AM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: There's not a lot to do in Pagosa, which is part of the charm. It's less about things to see and more about just relaxing. There are some beautiful hikes in the area (head up to the Continental Divide or Chimney Rock) and in the summer there are often festivals and outdoor concerts and things. If you're not used to being at altitude, don't forget to drink plenty of water (especially if you're spending lots of time in the hot springs) and take it easy on alcohol for the first few days. Durango is a fun wander, and Santa Fe is lovely, though I don't know if I'd do the drive.
posted by judith at 9:42 AM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: There is so much in the area without going to Santa Fe/Albuquerque. I grew up in the southwest and I don't get everyone's fascination with Santa Fe. It is just another small new Mexican town surrounded by typical scenery of New Mexico (which is spectacular but the area around Santa Fe isn't that special by local standards). Albuquerque does have the best restaurants in the world (if you grew up eating new Mexican food...) Wolf Creek Pass and Mesa Verde National Park to the west. While you are over their Monument Valley, Canyon De Chelly and the Goosenecks are worth seeing. To the north Denver is about as close as Albuquerque. Cripple creek/leadville is not too far away. I would just stay local and take it easy though. Plenty to see, use google maps/earth to find nearby attractions and discover the intermountain west. Be prepared for really, really cold nights and warm days. Pagosa Springs is about 7k feet in elevation and it is the low spot around their. If you aren't used to it it will kick your ass, and might make you sick. My wife gets sick everytime we cross the continental divide due to altitude sickness. Be prepared.
posted by bartonlong at 9:48 AM on May 23, 2012

Theres' a couple breweries in town; I don't recall their names offhand. Durango's got four.

You might consider going up to Creede, Lake City, Gunnison, Montrose, then back down 550 through Ridgway, Ouray, Silverton... It's a couple days if you stop at all the cool places. Highly worth it. Find things to do on the way. This time of year the trees are just starting to bud out, and the flowers are still under snow (or maybe not, this year) but you can get a sense of the enormity of the San Juan Mountains mass.
posted by notsnot at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2012

There is the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, NM, and lots of art south of there in Abiquiu, where Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch is located.
posted by interiority at 12:29 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: Pagosa Springs brewing company! Last Summer, they had a coconut porter that I am still obsessing about. Their other beers have won national awards, too. Oh, and they serve food, which is pretty good.
posted by annsunny at 7:08 PM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback, everyone. We ended up staying local to Pagosa Springs and Durango. The Silverton train ride was great, Pagosa Springs brewing company was REALLY good, we enjoyed the hot springs, and also the Fred Harman Art Museum. That was a surprise highlight of the trip. Oh we also drove up to the Continental Divide, Wolf Creek Pass, and it was lovely. Snow! In June!! The whole area really is so beautiful, just sitting on the front porch was amazing. Hope this helps anyone else who is searching in the future!!
posted by PaulaSchultz at 4:01 PM on September 17, 2012

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