Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Photo by Derek Key

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

Southwest of Denver lies the San Luis Valley, an 8,000-square-mile high-elevation expanse extending from the Continental Divide southward to New Mexico. It’s an area so enormous, it generates its own weather and geography, including the main attraction at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve. 

This valley is a destination in its own right, and also gateway to Pagosa Springs, a key anchor on the Historic Colorado Hot Springs Route. There are three places to soak in the famed waters of the mother spring, all in downtown Pagosa: The Overlook Hot Springs Spa on Main Street, Healing Waters Resort & Spa, and Springs Resort & Spa. 

Springs Resort is the largest, with 24 pools next to the San Juan River, each a different temperature (83–114 degrees Fahrenheit) and size. The enriched water is drawn from the deepest hot spring in the world, and the resort is one of the largest in Colorado. 

To boot, Pagosa Springs is a mere 25-minute drive to Wolf Creek Ski Area, just over the pass, a smaller, outlying ski area renowned for the quality and deepness of its powder. There’s nothing quite like that ski-soak combo day – ripping turns all day then sitting for hours in the hot, sulfur smelling water next to the river. If that all gets old, the region is also famous for its fishing, camping, hiking and outdoor festivals as well.