Pagosa Country Recreation Guide

Pagosa Springs derives its name from the Ute Indian name “Pagosah” which roughly translated means healing or boiling waters. The Ute’s discovered the healing power of the Hot Springs, and to this day, Pagosa welcomes travelers looking to soak away whatever might be plaguing them.

The area offers numerous recreational opportunities within thirty minutes or less of the charming town of Pagosa Springs. In the vast playground of Colorado’s largest wilderness area, the Weminuche Wilderness, you will be able to experience hiking, fishing, biking, rafting, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and horseback riding or quietly enjoy viewing abundant wildlife. Don’t forget your camera!

Some of the highest and most dazzling waterfalls in the state of Colorado are found throughout the area. Some provide unique hiking challenges and all provide exquisite photographic opportunities!
We hope the information in this guide will be helpful to you in your quest for outdoor recreational adventures in the Pagosa Country “Paradise for all Seasons.” We encourage you to take advantage of all that Pagosa offers to make your vacation experience with us unforgettable.

Navajo Lake – located just 30 minutes south, is considered one of the best-kept secrets in Southwest Colorado. This peaceful area offers water skiing, boating, fishing, and camping, cruising on a houseboat or simply relaxing while taking in the quiet beauty of a Colorado Sunset.

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area – the magnificent Anasazi Indian ruins, are just 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs. Four two-hour guided walking tours are offered daily, seven days a week from May 15 to September 30. The fire lookout tower at Chimney Rock offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the rugged San Juan’s.

The San Juan River – Courses through the heart of Pagosa Springs, has been newly restored and offers thrilling kayaking, rafting and fishing opportunities to all levels of interest and expertise.

Archuleta County Fair and Taste of Pagosa – The first weekend in August, see the products, arts and crafts of this area. Experience the “Taste of Pagosa” and watch the 4-H rodeo and livestock show. Also, the 4-H barbecue has become a traditional event.

Ballooning – Nothing is more awe-inspiring than floating the winds in a wicker basket above the lush meadows of the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Each flight is a unique experience. Ballooning is one of many activities that contribute to a mountain adventure. One of the best times to enjoy the hot air balloons is during the Colorfest – which is near the end of September when Mother Nature dresses our mountains in glorious fall colors. While the mountains are ablaze with the gold of the Aspen, you can enjoy our annual Balloon Rally, Community Picnic and Music Festival. Also, available are guided or self-guided tours by vehicle or airplane.

Biking – Mountain biking is one of our most popular outdoor experiences. There are miles of maintained mountain roads and trails that offer unlimited riding for the novice to the experienced rider. Tours and rentals are available.

Camping – The area is blessed with an abundance of campsites to be enjoyed by the entire family. You may want to stay in one of the many private or Forest Service campgrounds. A backpack and adequate maps will allow you to explore the vast wilderness Area. Please adopt the “leave no trace” practice. If you pack it in, pack it out.

Creede Repertory Theater – This renowned legitimate summer theater offers plays and Musicals for the whole family and is located in a nearby historical mining town.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – This scenic, narrow gauge train trip across the Continental Divide from Chama, New Mexico, to Antonito, Colorado, is North America’s longest and highest narrow-gauge steam railroad.

Durango-Silverton Railroad – Ride an 1882 vintage train to historic Silverton, Colorado. Travel through remote areas, which are accessible only by foot or horseback.

Echo Lake State Park – This well-stocked lake tests the expertise of all fishing enthusiasts.

Fishing – All ages and skill levels can enjoy the unique fishing opportunities available locally. Echo Lake, Navajo Lake and numerous mountain streams, beaver ponds, and lakes are located in the area. The San Juan River that flows through the heart of Pagosa has been restored to improve fish habitat.

Fred Harman Art Museum – Open daily. Enjoy the original western paintings by Fred Harman, creator of Red Ryder and Little Beaver. Rodeo, movie and western memorabilia are also on display.

Four Corners Folk Festival – An annual event held over Labor Day weekend atop Reservoir Hill. This outstanding music festival features two days of music by regional, national and international acts, plus camping, arts and crafts, food and workshops.

Golf and Tennis – A championship quality, 27-hole golf course and tennis complex will challenge your skills. Nothing is more refreshing than a round of golf or a tennis match with a beautiful mountain backdrop.

Hiking – Our well-marked and maintained trails in the San Juan National Forest offer a rewarding and exhilarating experience. The invigorating mountain air is great for attitude adjustment. Maps are available at the Visitor Center.

Hunting – Archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunting are available during the fall, big game season. Don’t miss this challenging outdoor adventure.

Ignacio – Mesa Verde – A short side trip will enable you to explore the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi. This site has become an intentional attraction. The Sky Ute Casino is also located in Ignacio and offers slot machines, fine dining, and bowling.

“Pagosah” Hot Mineral Springs and Baths – Since the days of the Indians, these mineral springs have been famous for their healing qualities and are reputed to be the world’s hottest mineral springs. They were recently added to the Guinness Book of World Records as the deepest natural hot springs. The hot mineral water provides geothermal heating for the Town of Pagosa Springs and is available for bathing.

Red Ryder Rodeo, Parade, Carnival, Arts & Crafts – Pay tribute to Independence Day with our jam-packed annual 4th of July celebration. Over 70 vendors display their hand-made wares in two town parks. Music and fireworks end the day’s many activities.

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park – You will get an up-close view of native wildlife at this growing park. The accompanying museum and gift shop offer a display of mounted animals, western and wildlife art, furs and photography. The best time to visit the wildlife park is at 4pm, which is feeding time so that you are guaranteed to see all of the animals.

San Juan National Forest – This is our most prized possession. Fishing, hunting, camping, hiking are but a few recreational opportunities afforded by these public lands. Photography, rock climbing, birds watching, mountain biking, etc.

Shopping – Antiques, classic stoves, gift stores, jewelry, art galleries, health foods, gourmet items, books, sporting goods, western wear and much more are available in our local stores and shops.

Tours – A variety of tours have been established for your enjoyment. Take a self-guided historical tour of the town or a pleasant stroll along the River Walk on the banks of the beautiful San Juan River. Nature trails are being developed for your added pleasure.