4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Pagosa Springs, CO: hot springs, cool mountains

All-seasons getaway in southwest Colorado.

Soaking it all in at Pagosa's The Springs Resort & Spa.
Soaking it all in at Pagosa's The Springs Resort & Spa.

There’s an “almost” secret place in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, also known as the San Juan Mountains, where sulfuric-laden hot springs bubble to the surface, spewing forth therapeutic heat and mineral-rich waters from the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring.

A slice of natural paradise, the town of Pagosa Springs is located at 7,000 feet, in pine-peppered high desert plateau framed by majestic, waterfall-laden mountains.

Fight for the springs: a history

Pagosa Springs has a fascinating history. The Utes and the Navajos both revered the healing powers of the hot springs: the Utes laid claim to the land generations prior to the Navajo challenge, but shared the springs because of their sacred origins. A peaceful coexistence was not meant to be, and in 1866, the Navajos and Utes battled for control of the territory.

A certain Colonel Albert Pfeiffer volunteered to broker the dispute by suggesting that each Indian nation contribute a warrior to fight to the death for eternal rights to the springs. Because Pfeiffer revered the Utes, he volunteered to represent them in a fight against a “giant” and much younger Navajo. The Utes agreed to his representation. He also stipulated that the fight be to the death and with Bowie knives only.

Legend has it that Pfieffer also demanded that both of them fight completely naked. (Some accounts say that they fought naked from the waist up only).

Whether the 44-year-old expat German was superior to the younger Navajo is questionable. But, again, legend has it that when the Navajo warrior saw the multitude of battle scars and gunshot wounds on the elder Pfeiffer, the younger fighter was quickly intimidated and just as quickly defeated by death. Thus Pfeiffer prevailed and gave the land to his beloved Utes.

Where to soak

Fact or fiction, it really doesn’t matter: the geothermal-based therapeutic waters pools in Pagosa Springs attract an international audience.

Today, there are three ways to test the waters – each has a different look and feel as well as price point. Save money by bringing your own towel and water bottle. And be sure to wear flip-flops as many of the walking areas are wet with slick surfaces.

Also, know that sulfuric hot springs have a tell-tale “rotten egg” smell, which is caused by sulfur dioxide gas escaping into the air. (The smell is mild compared to other hot springs I have visited.) So don’t even try to ask for a refund due to the smell because you will only look foolish!

1) My favorite is The Springs Resort & Spa (left), which is located smack on top of the mother sulfur springs. With 23 terraced pools overlooking the San Juan River, you can literally choose your view and your temperature, ranging from 83 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. An adult-only “VIP” area is available for an additional fee. General Admission is $24.50 for adults, with discounts available for military personnel and seniors over 55. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. An outdoor bar serves smoothies and drinks with light lunch and snack foods.

2) Overlook Springs features scenic rooftop tubs and five indoor pools in a Victorian-type setting. They also offer exclusive private tub rooms for intimate bookings as well as massages on site. Customers especially enjoy the selection of beers and wines as they relax and soak. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the hot mineral baths cost $10 per person. The action's on the rooftop.

3) Healing Waters Resort & Spa. This is where the locals go. The $10 admission gives you use of a mineral water swimming pool, outdoor soaking tub and indoor hot baths. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the place is rustic and, unfortunately, has seen better days. Service can also be spotty.

Afterwards, a massage can be just the right treatment. Though all the above offer massages and some spa services as well, my personal favorite is San Juan Sports Massage. I’ve had many massages in my life, including a memorable mud wrap massage at the Dead Sea, but this is the first where the operator had what I would call “healing hands.”

Suds, grub and more

All that soaking can build up an appetite. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of dining options in Pagosa Springs.

For an excellent selection of award-winning craft beers and pub food a step above the usual, try Pagosa Brewing Company for lunch or dinner. Try their Chili Verde Cerveza with the Sausage Sampler. Or try the Riff Raff Brewing Company for a full spectrum of craft beers and delicious goat and lamb burgers, as well as more traditional burgers.

For the best sushi in town, head for The View Restaurant at the Quality Resort. Chances are you might see pilots from the local airstrip sharing a mug over happy hour.

The best place in town for fine dining is The Alley House (). Their Colorado-style fusion cuisine features local products like the Grilled Colorado Rack of Lamb.

Pagosa Baking Co.'s lentil salad with goat cheese.

If you need a boxed lunch for a picnic on one of the scenic 4-wheel drive roads such as Piedra Road to Williams Creek Reservoir, head to the Pagosa Baking Company for the freshest and tastiest sandwiches in town.

And the best breakfast in town, hands down, is at the Elkwood Manor Luxury B&B. Of course, the catch is that you have to stay here to enjoy the full three-course gourmet breakfast as well as the complimentary wine and appetizers served every evening at 5 p.m. in the Elkwood Manor’s Wine Tasting Room. But it’s worth the splurge.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Have you ever had a decent Mudslide?

That’s darn interesting from a pop pseudo-anthropology standpoint.
Next Article

Caribe Welcome joins the Coconut Club

Inspired by what is considered the original piña colada
Soaking it all in at Pagosa's The Springs Resort & Spa.
Soaking it all in at Pagosa's The Springs Resort & Spa.

There’s an “almost” secret place in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, also known as the San Juan Mountains, where sulfuric-laden hot springs bubble to the surface, spewing forth therapeutic heat and mineral-rich waters from the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring.

A slice of natural paradise, the town of Pagosa Springs is located at 7,000 feet, in pine-peppered high desert plateau framed by majestic, waterfall-laden mountains.

Fight for the springs: a history

Pagosa Springs has a fascinating history. The Utes and the Navajos both revered the healing powers of the hot springs: the Utes laid claim to the land generations prior to the Navajo challenge, but shared the springs because of their sacred origins. A peaceful coexistence was not meant to be, and in 1866, the Navajos and Utes battled for control of the territory.

A certain Colonel Albert Pfeiffer volunteered to broker the dispute by suggesting that each Indian nation contribute a warrior to fight to the death for eternal rights to the springs. Because Pfeiffer revered the Utes, he volunteered to represent them in a fight against a “giant” and much younger Navajo. The Utes agreed to his representation. He also stipulated that the fight be to the death and with Bowie knives only.

Legend has it that Pfieffer also demanded that both of them fight completely naked. (Some accounts say that they fought naked from the waist up only).

Whether the 44-year-old expat German was superior to the younger Navajo is questionable. But, again, legend has it that when the Navajo warrior saw the multitude of battle scars and gunshot wounds on the elder Pfeiffer, the younger fighter was quickly intimidated and just as quickly defeated by death. Thus Pfeiffer prevailed and gave the land to his beloved Utes.

Where to soak

Fact or fiction, it really doesn’t matter: the geothermal-based therapeutic waters pools in Pagosa Springs attract an international audience.

Today, there are three ways to test the waters – each has a different look and feel as well as price point. Save money by bringing your own towel and water bottle. And be sure to wear flip-flops as many of the walking areas are wet with slick surfaces.

Also, know that sulfuric hot springs have a tell-tale “rotten egg” smell, which is caused by sulfur dioxide gas escaping into the air. (The smell is mild compared to other hot springs I have visited.) So don’t even try to ask for a refund due to the smell because you will only look foolish!

1) My favorite is The Springs Resort & Spa (left), which is located smack on top of the mother sulfur springs. With 23 terraced pools overlooking the San Juan River, you can literally choose your view and your temperature, ranging from 83 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. An adult-only “VIP” area is available for an additional fee. General Admission is $24.50 for adults, with discounts available for military personnel and seniors over 55. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. An outdoor bar serves smoothies and drinks with light lunch and snack foods.

2) Overlook Springs features scenic rooftop tubs and five indoor pools in a Victorian-type setting. They also offer exclusive private tub rooms for intimate bookings as well as massages on site. Customers especially enjoy the selection of beers and wines as they relax and soak. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the hot mineral baths cost $10 per person. The action's on the rooftop.

3) Healing Waters Resort & Spa. This is where the locals go. The $10 admission gives you use of a mineral water swimming pool, outdoor soaking tub and indoor hot baths. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the place is rustic and, unfortunately, has seen better days. Service can also be spotty.

Afterwards, a massage can be just the right treatment. Though all the above offer massages and some spa services as well, my personal favorite is San Juan Sports Massage. I’ve had many massages in my life, including a memorable mud wrap massage at the Dead Sea, but this is the first where the operator had what I would call “healing hands.”

Suds, grub and more

All that soaking can build up an appetite. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of dining options in Pagosa Springs.

For an excellent selection of award-winning craft beers and pub food a step above the usual, try Pagosa Brewing Company for lunch or dinner. Try their Chili Verde Cerveza with the Sausage Sampler. Or try the Riff Raff Brewing Company for a full spectrum of craft beers and delicious goat and lamb burgers, as well as more traditional burgers.

For the best sushi in town, head for The View Restaurant at the Quality Resort. Chances are you might see pilots from the local airstrip sharing a mug over happy hour.

The best place in town for fine dining is The Alley House (). Their Colorado-style fusion cuisine features local products like the Grilled Colorado Rack of Lamb.

Pagosa Baking Co.'s lentil salad with goat cheese.

If you need a boxed lunch for a picnic on one of the scenic 4-wheel drive roads such as Piedra Road to Williams Creek Reservoir, head to the Pagosa Baking Company for the freshest and tastiest sandwiches in town.

And the best breakfast in town, hands down, is at the Elkwood Manor Luxury B&B. Of course, the catch is that you have to stay here to enjoy the full three-course gourmet breakfast as well as the complimentary wine and appetizers served every evening at 5 p.m. in the Elkwood Manor’s Wine Tasting Room. But it’s worth the splurge.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Animal Kingdom back in Oceanside to shoot sixth season

Security guards keeping locals away from Pope’s skate ramp
Next Article

A recording studio right next to dad’s bedroom

Tape Deck Mountain, Jonathan Karrant, Tennessee Kamanski, The Forty Nineteens, Biggie Babylon
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close