p in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado near the New Mexico border, tucked under the majestic San Juan Mountains, is a charming little town that embodies the spirit of the Old West– the Wild Wild West. Do you want to see cowboys and Indians? Want to ride behind an authentic steam locomotive through the mountain passes and valleys where the mountain men once trapped beaver? Want to attend an authentic American rodeo, full of bucking broncos and wild steers and jangling spurs? Come to Pagosa Springs.
Come to Pagosa Springs also if you want to be blissfully spoiled in a spa, shop at one-of-a-kind boutiques and craft shops, explore the ancient history of the Native Americans, go horseback riding, water skiing, fishing, snow skiing, golfing, hiking, swimming…
You get the picture.
At an elevation of 7079 feet (2158 meters), Pagosa Springs has a suprisingly mild climate for the Rockies. Annual precipitation averages 18 inches. Snowfall amounts are relatively low, with the exception of the nearby Wolf Creek ski area. Surrounded by 3 million acres of National Forest, the recreational adventures are nearly unlimited.
Cowboys still work at local ranches, and the evidence of Native Americans is everywhere. The Southern Ute tribe has the greatest Native American presence here, though the Navajo, Apache and Shoshone are also represented. The name Pagosa comes from the Ute language and means “boiling water”. Describing the appearance of the boiling, bubbling spring, the ancient Utes called it Pah-gosa (“pah” = water, “gosa” = boiling.) But more modern useage (ever looking for a better spin) has changed the meaning to the more esthetically pleasing “healing waters”.
The Utes were not the first inhabitants of the area. Archaeological evidence at the Chimney Rock Indian ruins indicates that the Anasazi lived in and around the site until about A.D. 1125. Anasazi simply means “The Ancient Ones”, and present day tribes themselves have no knowledge of who these people were. They had a thriving civilization here, though, and had already disappeared when the area was rediscovered and settled by other tribes. There is evidence of several kivas and pueblo-like residences in the area. The two pinnacles of rock that gave Chimney Rock its name may have been of religious significance to the Anasazi and the reason for a civilization being located there.
A short side trip to Mesa Verde will let you explore the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi and get an idea of how sophisticated they really were. Mesa Verde has become an international attraction.
Over the 4th of July weekend, Pagosa Springs “busts at the seams” when it hosts the annual Red Ryder Roundup. More than just a rodeo, this is an event that draws thousands of spectators from around the state, around the region, and around the world. Named after the famous comic strip character, Red Ryder – the creation of noted western artist Fred Harman, the Red Ryder Roundup is “The Event” in Pagosa Springs – and the oldest community event of the summer. There is also a museum and gallery in town that showcases the work of this artist— both the comic book work and his more serious art. Red Ryder was made famous again in recent years thanks to the classic movie “A Christmas Story”, in which the main character requests one for Christmas, but is repeatedly rebuffed with the warning “You’ll shoot your eye out”.
In addition, there is a parade, a carnival, an arts and crafts show, music and fireworks. Altogether an old-fashioned and fun-filled way to spend Independence Day in the United States.
Or you can ride the historic Silverton-Durango railroad through the canyons and mountains. This is a trip that people rave about, both for the experience of riding on such an old-fashioned train and for the spectacular scenery it hauls you through.
For the shopaholic, there is plenty to browse through and plenty to buy. Antiques, classic stoves, gift stores, jewelry, art galleries, health foods, gourmet items, books, sporting goods, western wear and much more are available in the local stores and shops.
During the month of June you can experience the area’s Spanish cultural heritage during the week-long Spanish Fiesta, culminating in a day of feasting, dancing and singing. Since Pagosa Springs is near New Mexico, the famous chile peppers of the region are readily available and you’ll find them used in many of the Spanish and Mexican-influenced dishes at local restaurants.Hot air ballooning is popular in the summertime, floating above the lush meadows of the beautiful San Juan Mountains. And so is fishing at Echo Lake, Navajo Lake and the numerous mountain streams, beaver ponds and lakes located in the area. The San Juan River that flows through the heart of Pagosa, has been restored to improve fish habitat.
You can play a few rounds at the championship quality 27-hole golf course, or strengthen your game at the tennis complex.
Come winter time, and the second weekend in February brings out the best activities of winter for visitor and citizen alike at the annual Winter Fest. Participate in or spectate at cross-country skiing and downhill races, events with sleds and snowmobiles, ice sculpting and hockey, indoor and outdoor games for the whole family.
The nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area boasts that it has the best powder skiing anywhere! The ski area has an average snowfall of 435 inches and is 10,600 feet at the base and 11,775 feet at the summit.
And summer or winter, spring and fall, try a relaxing hot mineral bath at The Springs, located in town, while watching the San Juan River flow by.
Whatever your desire you can fulfill it here.
A fine place to stay is at The RCI-affiliated Wyndham Pagosa, a beautiful resort in a beautiful spot, with the biggest bluest sky up above and lush greenery all around. This resort offers beautifully furnished one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites, complete with fully-equipped kitchens including a stove with oven and full-sized refrigerator, washer, dryer and sleeper sofas in the living area. Other features include:
- Multiple TVs, stereo and DVD players
- Semi-formal dining rooms with seating for 6
- Microwaves, dishwashers and other small appliances
- Complimentary wireless internet available in guest rooms
This is a very large resort comprised of different “sections”, built along the shores of Blue Moon Lake, each section with a different style of building. These sections are:
- Eagles Loft
- Elk Run
- Master’s Place
- Mountain Meadows
- Teal Landing
- Village Pointe
The resort is run and maintained by the Pagosa Vacation Owners Association, and each section has a Board of Directors. Note that when recent reviews (as of late 2011) remark on the age of the resort and that the unit interiors are dated (but clean and well cared for) and could use refurbishing, you must take into account that refurbishment was in fact ongoing (or in some cases completed) within various sections at that time. At the Elk Run portion of the resort, for instance, a major refurbishment project will be completed by February 2012 consisting of new carpet, furniture, interior painting, window coverings, bedding and electronics throughout all eighteen condos.
Amenities at the resort include: Indoor swimming pool, children’s pool & spa; picnic & BBQ area; playground, miniature golf course and tennis courts; and a fitness center with a full weight room, cardio room,pool and raquetball.
With its location in the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Wyndham Pagosa gives you an incredible 18,000 acres to discover. Tailor made for the adventurous spirit, Wyndham Pagosa offers easy access to an enormous array of attractions and activities in the great outdoors, such as: San Juan National Forest; Downhill & cross-country skiing; Horseback riding; Golf; Hiking; fishing; boarding; hunting; four wheeling; and snowmobiling.
The problem with staying at a resort like this, in a place like this, is that you don’t want to leave.
Some Web sites with information on the area:
- http://www.wyndhampagosaresort.com/ –Wyndham Pagosa
- http://www.visitpagosasprings.com/ –The official visitors site for Pagosa Springs
- http://www.pagosa.com/ –About Pagosa Springs
- http://www.pagosaspringschamber.com/ –Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce
- http://www.swcolotravel.org/page.cfm?pageid=15584 –Vacation Attractions in Archuleta County
- http://www.utemountainute.com/ –The Mountain Ute Tribe website
- http://www.durangotrain.com/ –The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway
- http://www.chimneyrockco.org/ –Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, with photos
- http://www.harmanartmuseum.com/ — The Fred Harman Museum, home of Red Ryder
"On the Road" is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of "On the Road" is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. 5-Star quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out--- enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
Readers are encouraged to contribute their own stories and photos. Email email@example.com and put "On the Road" in the Subject line so we'll know what it's about.