Get Away to Pagosa Springs for Relaxing Moments and Outdoor Adventures
Plan your visit to The Springs Resort to explore the outdoors, rest in natural pools and taste food from locals’ favorite spots
Words and photos by Alex Reichek
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 a 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 other physical experience.
The Springs Resort feels like a Colorado lodge with dark colors inside, a crowded lobby bar with live country music on the weekends and a plethora of guided activities to keep you mindful during the day. They have yoga, mediation, guided river walks and stretching, a daily gratitude ceremony and more.
There is so much history here, as The Mother Spring, which lies 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, they slowly pump in the water, helping to 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. People flock here and soak all day not only to mentally check out, but to experience the 13 elements in these natural pools that are rejuvenating for your body and soul, including zinc, magnesium, iron and more. The water feels different than a hot tub, although some of the pools in the Adult VIP area accessible only to hotel guests 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 sleep over 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 available 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 steamy, warm pool. It was 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. The Springs Resort does that for you!
Then we hung out in the pools, grabbed a frozen cocktail at the bar and got ourselves ready for Will’s Cold Plunge in the river. We started out soaking in the 100-degree pool and then went into the 48-degree cold river. We hung out Wim Hof-style for four minutes, over two rounds. I felt pretty confident going into this since I swim at Barton Springs 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.
The next day, we did Forest Bathing with a woman named Sabra. This was a two-mile hike through the woods that entailed putting metal spikes on our shoes so we could easily move up to the top. Hiking is one of my all time favorite activities, and doing it this way was incredibly exhilarating. The goal of this Japanese technique is to walk in silence, be present in nature and pay attention to your surroundings.
We tried the new Magnesium Melt massage which was pretty incredible. The treatment was more of a relaxing scrub down than a muscular massage. They used a magnesium forest blend scrub that melted into my skin to create relaxation and finished off with shea butter that smelled outstanding. I kept these elements on my body and skipped the shower before dinner so not to lose any of the benefits! I also bought some oils and bath salts from the Spa shop to take home.
We drove about 20 minutes to find a hike called Treasure Falls, which is essentially a giant frozen waterfall. 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. We kept heading onward as if it was a loop, but to our downfall, the trail disappeared. We did a lot of sledding on our bums. Overall, it was an adventure that truly kept us present with each step.
I didn’t expect to be wowed by the food in such a small town, however, I was impressed right away when we stepped into Meander Riverside Eatery. We bundled up and took the 20-minute 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.
We also split the Greens and Grains with Spinach, Kale, White Mountain Farm Quinoa, Roasted Veggies and Tahini Vinaigrette. The real show stopper, however, was the Crispy Duck Leg Confit, which was tender as could be and served 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 evening, the Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Espresso Fudge Sauce really made me smile.
This is the restaurant most people recommended. By the looks of the menu, it seems like a steakhouse vibe, but the environment was warm, cheerful and cozy. The staff is super friendly and helped us with recommendations for wine that aligned so well with our taste buds. 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 Guacamole. I have never had enchiladas like these. The poblano added just the right amount of flavor, and they were not covered in cheese or too much sauce. Go here for a killer wine list!
This restaurant is all over the internet. Yes, a Thai restaurant in this small village! Thai and Asian food are my favorite cuisines, so I was 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 and Volcano Goong. We went with the Pad Khee Mao, or 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 home goods 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 flight to Denver and then a smaller plane straight to Durango. You can rent a car or hire a private shuttle. 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 an extra night after a ski/hiking trip.
Alex Reichek is a hospitality PR and marketing expert working with several Austin brands to create awareness, partnerships and increase business. In addition, her website is filled with recommendations on where to dine, drink and experience the best of Austin, where she lives now, and New York City, where she lived for eight years after attending UT, as well as discoveries made on her travels around the world. Be sure to visit her instagram @ChekmarkEats to keep up with all of the best food and adventures in Austin and beyond.