Pagosa Hot Spots

Our guest post comes from Danni Scully, who has lived near the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona for the last forty years.  She enjoys writing, painting and spending time camping with family and friends. Her website is

There is a chill in the air and the breeze through the now bare aspens whistles where leaves once stood.  White, mountain peaks promise snow flurries at any moment and I am reminded to ask Steve if he brought along snow chains.

Winding through town, campers and ATVs have given way to snow mobiles and parkas.  The crisp mountain air tickles my nose.  Bare limbs and an occasional patch of snow are telltale signs of coming winter.  The majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains in December beckons us to this small town nestled at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass.  While the pass has already received its first blankets of snow, the steam continues to rise from the hot springs.

Meandering through town I am reminded of many mining towns throughout the Rocky Mountains and the smell of the hot springs draws me closer.  Parking the car next to The Malt Shoppe, we walk over to survey the water rushing below.  The frigid waters once held the screams of laughter from inflatable rafts, and are now quiet as they meander south towards New Mexico.

Frying hamburgers beckon and my stomach reminds me that I am starving.  The screen door to The Malt Shoppe opens and invites me to sample their cuisine.  The tattoos on the chef remind me of biker rallies past as I walk up to the window.  I place an order for two double, green chili cheese-burgers and one homemade strawberry shake, and one chocolate milkshake.  We decide to share a basket of hand-cut fries. I look around for a table, and for a moment I am unable to find one.  The noise of the small hamburger stand greets my ears and I finally find a table in the corner.  The patio remains quiet in the chill of December.

“Order for Steve” breaks through my thoughts and I retrieve our lunch.  Melted cheese slides down the side of the burgers, and with it a cascade of green chili.  Cool milkshake puts out the fire of the chili.  I smile at Steve as he hands me the basket of crunchy potatoes.

The smells of The Malt Shoppe now behind us, as we close the screen door and head back to the truck where Duchess, our somewhat impatient dog, awaits her portion of cheeseburgers and milk shake.
wolfcreekpic-stvl1With a year round population of just over 1,500 people who live in Pagosa Springs, the town bustles with nearly 12,000 more who live in the county.  Nestled at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass, summer camping and winter skiing, along with the hot springs bolster the economy.  The town of Pagosa Springs is 7,079 feet above sea level and less than twenty miles from the Wolf Creek ski area.  Summer temperatures average a balmy 74 degrees while the winter is much colder and can dip to below freezing in a very short time.  Annual snowfall for the town averages 131 inches while Wolf Creek Ski area can go as high as 435 inches in a years time.  Wolf Creek boasts 1,600 ski-able acres with 55% dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers, the more advanced skiers will not be left out with 45% of the mountain dedicated for a more treacherous run.

Parking the truck, we put Duchess on her leash and begin the walk down the path to the river.  Being careful of slippery spots this time of year, we stay on the path and proceed to the foot bridge, that spans the San Juan River.  We walk across amidst the steam from the hot springs below.

pagosaThe hot springs are said to benefit those with arthritis, balance disorders, circulation, stress and a whole host of other ailments.  The mineral waters are soothing and maintain a balmy 94 degrees year round.  The mineral waters are rich in chlorides and are said to be good for the skin. With rates for the hot springs beginning at just $5.00, for anyone with a military ID, the rates for children and senior citizens as well as adults are not much higher.

Lodging prices range from $50.00 a night for the smaller motels to triple digits for the better hotels.  Whether you are vacationing on a budget or want some comfort with the finer things of life.  Pagosa Springs offers a wide variety of things to do, places to go and wonderful food in the winter-time as well.

It was originally thought that Pagosa meant warm or hot water, but it was soon learned that the Indians called it “Pah Osah”, meaning healing waters.  Surrounded by the largest wilderness area in the United States as well as the San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Springs gets over 300 days of sunshine each year.