The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado is a place I didn’t know I needed to visit until I saw the phrase “24 hour access to 25 pools in our healing waters.” The hotel is in the middle of this small mountain, mine-like town with a main street that’s scarce yet complete. It’s incredible that these geothermal, natural pools are in the center of town for everyone to take advantage and relax. While the resort is open and populated year round, winter is the prettiest time to visit because of the picturesque setting with the snow. Also, the “fun” contrast of walking outside wrapped in the hotel’s soft, teddy bear like robes and then stepping swiftly into the 100 degree plus waters to melt down is unlike any physical experience. The Springs Resort is an escape from reality, but as you rub elbows with the locals “chilling” in the pools you are exported to their tame and satisfying lives in this town, and they are all full of knowledge and great life stories. The hotel feels like a Colorado lodge with dark colors inside, a crowded lobby bar with live country music on the weekends (we met some of the musicians in the pools the next day) that is packed with dancers, and then a plethora of guided activities to keep you whole and mindful during the day. They have yoga, mediation, guided river walk & stretch, roll and recover, daily gratitude ceremony, etc.
The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado
There is so much history here, as The Mother Spring, which lays in front of the hotel entrance, is the deepest hot spring in the world passing 1,000 feet and reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the pools heated around the hotel so you can actually get your skin in the them, they slowly pump in the water which helps ease the temperature (they never manipulate the actual water and it even heats up buildings in town!). They take the temperature of the pools every two hours and have signs near each one to alert guests. They ranged from about 97 to 107 when we were there. The hottest one we went in was probably 104— I could not take the 107! The reason why people flock here and soak all day is not only to mentally check out, but the 13 elements in these natural pools, are oh, so rejuvenating for your body and soul. They include:
- Lithium which produces positive effects in mental balance and gastro conditions
- Potassium which eliminates body toxins and promotes healthy skin
- Manganese which nourishes nerves and the brain + acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of fats and cholesterol
- Magnesium maintains normal heart rhythms and maintains muscle tissue and hormone levels
- Sulfate rids the body of toxins and promotes the health of bones, hair, nails, fluids in joints as sulfur is an anti-inflammatory
- Silica strengthens bones, boosts immune system, treats acne and migranes
- Boron boosts brain activity and strengthens bones
- Zinc promotes wound healing and aids in digestion
- Iron increases resistance to stress and disease and promtes good skin tone
The water feels different than a hot tub (although some of the pools in the Adult VIP area accessible to hotel guests only do have buttons for bubbles!) p.s. you can get a day pass for $49 for adults and $25 for kids to the springs if you aren’t planning to sleepover or if you want to apres ski after the Wolf Creek slopes and take a warm dip for your muscles. They also have monthly/yearly memberships which of course all the locals do for $36 per month.
One of my favorite days was with the yoga and meditation instructor Will who had energy like an omniscient Buddha. We started with his Aqua Yoga class at 8 a.m. holding poses like you would on land but in the warm pool that had steam flying out of it to where we almost couldn’t see anything but our own hands that early in the morning. We practiced poses such as dancer, half moon, warrior two, hip flexor binds, and even did a vinyasa flow into downward down with our arms and elbows placed against the wall. We recited a meditation with Will saying “I flow with the rhythm of the river of life” which also translated to just trickle along, go fast, go slow, and if you need to pause, you can wait for another option or just go with the speed. We practiced feeling all 5 of our senses while moving our bodies in the fluidity of the water. The main take away from all this water business is that it’s all about cultivating relaxation, rejuvenation, and a therapeutic experience. It’s truly so nice to have someone else force you to relax and be present and The Springs Resort does that for you!
Then we hung out in the pools, grabbed a frozen cocktail at the bar because why not, and got ourselves ready for Will’s Cold Plunge in the river at 12 p.m. So we started out soaking in the 100 degree pool and then went into the cold river (48 degrees) running right along the resort. We hung out Wim Hoff style for 4 minutes over two rounds. I felt pretty confident going into this since I swim at Barton Springs (link to shop) daily but that is still 20 degrees warmer! While it was cold, it was warmer than the crisp air. It’s way more fun doing this with a group while listening to Will tell us about the benefits of a cold plunge—the cold water promotes mental clarity, burns fat cells, and enriches immunity. Thank you for that!
The next day we did Forest Bathing with a woman named Sabra which was a 2 mile hike up through the woods that entailed putting metal spikes on our shoes so we could easily move through trail and up to the top. Hiking is one of my all time favorite activities, and doing it this way was incredibly exhilarating. Hearing the spikes hit the ice and then seeing deer about 10 feet away who didn’t even flinch when we walked by was super rad. The goal of this Japanese technique is to walk in silence, be present in nature, and pay attention to your surroundings. Nothing that we don’t already know but they are putting the science behind it in Japan and even subscribing it to people.
We drove about 20 minutes to find a hike called Treasure Falls which is essentially a giant frozen waterfall that makes you feel like you are in the Disney movie Ice Age or Frozen. My friend Bailey and I clawed our way up the snowy slope using All Trails although this time without the handy spikes. A little out of breath, we made it to the top of the gorgeous frozen falls. I’ve never seen anything so frozen, large, and still and it had a light seafoam green color to it. Then we kept heading onward as it was a loop, but to our downfall, literally, the trail disappeared so we did a lot of sledding on our bums and sinking into the ground through the snow. Overall, this was a blast and an adventure that truly kept us present with each step. Bailey and I probably took 50 videos of each other sliding, falling, laughing, bumping into small trees, but we made it down just in time to hit up the bakery.
I didn’t expect to be wow’d by the food in such a small town and was really just planning on catching up with Bailey in the geothermal pools without doing too much food research. However, I was impressed right away when we stepped into the newest restaurant Meander Riverside Eatery. We bundled up and took the 20 min power walk to this husband-and-wife owned spot which is a true farm-to-table experience. The inside feels modern and farm like with wooden fixtures and simple white tables. My favorite appetizer was the Marinated Olives paired with Valbreso Feta that was SO good with the local honey drizzled over it plus the griddled bread which you could tell was homemade—a little fluffy and a little crunchy around the edges. We split the “Greens and Grains” with Spinach, Kale, White Mountain Farm Quinoa, Roasted Veggies sand Tahini Vinaigrette. The real show stopper, however, was a dish I would NEVER order but sometimes on vacation I like to just go for something because it’s an adventure or there wasn’t something else that I felt compelled to order. The Crispy Duck Leg Confit was as tender as could be over a bed of Rice Pilaf, Orange Supremes, and Citrus Fig Gastrique. This dish warmed my entire body and prepared me for the chilly walk home. I loved it! To wrap up our lovely evening, the Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Espresso Fudge Sauce really made me smile, and to be honest, I did say how I wanted a second one for myself. I think they actually thought I was kidding 😉
This is the restaurant most people recommended. By the looks of the menu, it seems like steak house vibe, but the environment was warm, cheerful, and cozy! The staff is SUPER friendly and helped us with recommendations and wine that aligned so well with our tastebuds. We didn’t want this meal to be over. Start with the Roasted Beet Salad, and for mains, do not miss the Spaghetti Squash Enchiladas with Nopales, Roasted Poblano Mornay and Guac. I have NEVER had enchiladas like these. I like how the poblano added just the right amount of flavor, and they were not covered in cheese or too much sauce. I also liked the Seared Rare Ahi Tuna with Sriracha, Ponzu Sauce, Ginger, Sushi Rice, and the side of Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts. Go here if you want a killer wine list!
This was the one restaurant we had to drive to and one that is written about all over the internet. Yes, a Thai restaurant in this small village! Thai and Asian food are my favorite cuisine, so I was sure not going to skip this. The small restaurant is everything I wanted it to be and there are pages of menu items which aren’t always available in Austin like a Ped Nam Ma Kham, Zhu Zhee, Volcano Goong. We went with the Pad Khee Mao aka Drunken Noodles which were definitely the best I’ve ever had! The Thai basil sauce was super herby, light, and sealed the deal. Our waitress suggested we go for their signature Ped RaChiNee: Lightly fried Roasted Duck topped with seafood in Panang Curry on a bed of rice and steamed veggies. Yes, more duck ha. I preferred the seafood in this one, and Bailey and I left no traces of food in that bowl. The waitress talked us out of ordering a traditional red and green curry, and I’m so glad we tried something different. I love that Pagosa has such a fantastic Thai restaurant that is well known.
The Rose reminded me so much of the diner in Schitt’s Creek, and I enjoyed the bright windows with natural light beaming through just enough to highlight the ceiling rose wallpaper. The staff takes their job and hospitality very seriously and I’d recommend the Green Chili Omelets and Chocolate Chip Pancakes.
Stop in here for a Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookie, fresh bread, and the Chicken Hatch Chili Soup. They close at 2 p.m. on days that they are open. Then walk across the street to the Antiques on Main shop and get lost in bolos, fancy colored drinking glasses, beautiful turquoise jewelry, books, records, etc.
This was the nicest and most rustic coffee shop I’ve ever walked into. They actually had breakfast tacos, muffins, and the coolest homegoods for sale. All kinds of outdoor books, wooden cutting boards, candles, cards. I feel like this is THE local meeting spot to get stuff done, too.
HOW TO GET THERE
It’s not a bad travel day to get to Pagosa. From Austin, I took a United flight to Denver and then a smaller plane straight to Durango. You can rent a car or hire a private shuttle which was $140 one way. Three full days was the perfect amount of time to get here and enjoy all the benefits of The Springs Resort. I’d recommend it for a gals getaway, quick weekend trip to rejuvenate your body, or a stop over for a road trip or extra night after a ski/hiking trip.