Experience the Healing Waters at the Springs Resort & Spa in Colorado
Soak. Relax. Repeat.
Written byLinda Grasso
I’ve been to a lot of spas and resorts aimed at health and wellness, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like The Springs Resort in picturesque Pagosa Springs, Colorado, population 2,000.
Situated about an hour’s drive from the cowboy town of Durango (closest airport) on the banks of the trout-filled San Juan River, The Springs is built around a true natural wonder: the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world.
The sight is mesmerizing: a large rock formation emits steam amid a vibrant, aqua-colored pool. The Mother Spring, as locals call it, feeds 25 smaller pools. The water originates from 6,000 feet below the surface—a result of volcanic activity. It contains 13 minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, lithium, iron and manganese. Such mineral-rich water promotes healthy skin, lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones and muscles, and increases energy.
The town of Pagosa Springs is 35 miles north of the New Mexico border on the western slope of the Continental Divide, at 7,126 feet above sea level. This combination of high desert plateau and the Rocky Mountains creates a mild climate, especially in the summer months. Pagosa sees around 300 days of sun each year, as well as four distinct seasons.
I visited in fall and got a chance to see the leaves changing. Another great time to go: July or August, when wildflower season is in full swing. If you choose to visit in winter, wrap your stay around skiing at mom-and-pop Wolf Creek Ski Area; it boasts the most snow in Colorado and is just a 20-minute drive away. After taxing your muscles, you’ll welcome a rejuvenating soak in The Springs’ healing waters.
Don’t expect high-end dining and restaurant service at this resort. The food is tasty and fresh, but uber casual. As are the rooms—clean and comfortable, but rudimentary. This place is all about the wellness benefits of the hot springs–with a little local fun mixed in. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a three-night visit.
Go easy after a day of travel and dine outside overlooking the soaking pools and San Juan River at the resort’s Barefoot Grill.
After dinner, dip into one of the pools, which range from 98 to 104 degrees. If you book the Crystal Sound Bowl experience, you’ll soak to deeply relaxing, reverberating sounds of crystal singing bowls being played by a resort therapist.
Kick off the day with 8 a.m. aqua yoga. During class you are right-side up and fully immersed in deep stretching and muscle toning.
Grab a bite at the on-site Cafe eatery. Splurge on crepes, a specialty. Take a leisurely stroll along the paved Riverwalk as it snakes along the water. Veer off into the charming town, where you’ll find shops and eateries.
Back at The Springs, take a quick soak and then luxuriate in a spa treatment or two. The wellness program has recently been redesigned by industry veteran Sharon Holtz, formerly of Terranea in Palos Verdes. I tried the signature 60-minute Magnesium Muscle Melt because I’m a big believer in the benefits of that particular mineral. The treatment was heavenly. After a complete body exfoliation, a shea body butter is applied, followed by a massage with a woodsy, citrusy aromatic oil.
Take a 20-minute drive to the scenic overlook of the Pagosa Valley for some Instagram pics. Or even better, have the front desk arrange a sunset hot-air balloon ride for some mind-blowing views.
Head over to local hot spot Riff Raff Brewing Company. Order an artisan flight and sip beer produced by geothermal energy. (The brewery harnesses the heat from the resort’s Mother Spring.) Try the green chili ale—just the right amount of heat.
Stroll through town and choose an eatery that suits your fancy. The Mexican food at Kip’s Grill & Cantina is excellent.
Back at the resort, take some time to enjoy the night sky. Gaze up at the vibrant formations while listening to a lecture from the local astronomy experts, the San Juan Stargazers.
Head across the bridge to the popular, mountain-chic Root House Coffee + Shop for breakfast. Walls are reclaimed barn wood; seating includes plush leather Murano chairs. The cute married couple who own the coffee house—interior designers by trade—are about to be featured in their own HGTV show. Don’t miss their homemade cinnamon bun.
Walk off those calories with a guided Forest Bathing Hike on Reservoir Hill. The idea is to bathe yourself in the sights and sounds of the forest.
Keep your hiking shoes on to walk in the footsteps of the Ancestral Puebloans at Chimney Rock National Monument, a 20-minute ride away. On your guided tour, learn about the archaeological structures and artifacts, how they lived and how they survived—their average lifespan was 30 years. The site contains 200 ancient homes and ceremonial buildings. At the peak, you’ll revel in 360-degree views of Colorado and New Mexico.
Enjoy a leisurely dinner at Pagosa’s upscale eatery, Alley House Grill. Surroundings are elegant; the Americana food is fresh and delicious. A nice wine selection and inventive cocktail menu cap off the experience.
On your way out of Pagosa, stop at Blondie’s Fruit Stand for local goods. Pick up a dried Hatch Chile ristra and a bag of sweet Adobe Milling Anasazi pinto beans.
If time allows, explore the charming town of Durango, only 20 minutes from the airport. With friendly store clerks and throwback prices, Durango is a distinctive experience. Much, in fact, like The Springs Resort & Spa.