Roadtrip: Colorado Springs to Pagosa Springs
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the weekend, look no further. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family adventure, driving from Colorado Springs to Pagosa Springs makes for the perfect weekend escape with stops in some iconic Colorado areas. From hot springs and whitewater rafting to coffee shops and some of the best eats in Colorado, keep reading for a unique road trip itinerary.
Stop 1: Colorado Springs
There’s much to see in Colorado Springs, and it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, the peak dominating the view is a good place to begin. As one of the only drivable 14,000-foot peaks, you’ll follow Pikes Peak Highway for 19 stunning miles up the Peak before reaching 14,115 feet of elevation.
Fuel your journey up Pikes Peak with a stop for a hearty green chile breakfast burrito at Mo’s Diner in Manitou Springs. This classic American “hot rod” diner has been open since 1947 and only takes cash.
Not to be missed on the way from Colorado Springs to Pagosa Springs is the Garden of the Gods at the start of your journey. You can check out a state-of-the-art nature center to learn about the geological wonders of the park as well as the ecological rarities found there. There’s even rock climbing there for the thrill-seekers in your group.
Stop 2: Eleven-Mile State Park
Pull over on your roadtrip from Colorado Springs to Pagosa Springs to see the beautiful Eleven-Mile Reservoir. For the anglers in your group, check out the reservoir to reel in brown trout, rainbows, cutthroats, as well as kokanee and pike. If that’s not your thing, there’s also five miles of hiking and biking.
If you’re making your road trip to Pagosa Springs a multi-day event, you can camp at Eleven-Mile as well. For snacks and camping supplies, you can head to the nearby 11-Mile General Store for s’mores supplies and fishing tackle.
Stop 3: Buena Vista
After getting to the intersection of Highway 285 in Antero Junction, take a right at Johnson Village to head to the mountain town of Buena Vista, named “good view” for a good reason! The town is bordered by the Sawatch Range, which has the lower 48’s highest concentration of peaks over 14,000 feet. You can take a hike for miles through the riverside Barbara Whipple trail system for even better views of those mountains. Make way for mountain bikers on these trails, or bring your own!
Grab a quick pick-me-up before carrying on with your road trip from Colorado Springs, at the Brown Dog Coffee Company. If you’re there for dinner, you’ll want to check out the Surf Hotel for more upscale fare and cocktails.
Stop 4: Penitente Canyon
There’s no place better for the geology buffs in your group than Penitente Canyon near Del Norte. You’ll meander through the beautiful San Luis Valley, the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range on your left, before heading west toward Pagosa Springs. There’s hiking throughout the canyon as well as highly-developed rock climbing.
Stop in Del Norte after your hike or your climbing session and have a beer at the Three Barrel Brewing Company. Be sure to try one of their popular seasonal beers like the Barrel Aged Smoked Blackberry Smoked Porter or the Peach Wheat while you enjoy your wood fired artisan pizza.
Stop 4: The Final Stretch
The last leg takes you over the continental divide at Wolf Creek Pass for some of the most spectacular high country views in the state. Crank up CW McCall’s 1975 hit song, Wolf Creek Pass for the ultimate experience. Take note of Wolf Creek Ski Area because you’ll want to come back to ride “The most snow in Colorado” this winter. Keep your eyes peeled for a few different filming locations from the classic National Lampoons Vacation movie as you pass by Shaw Creek Rest Area and Kamp Komfort aka The RiverBend Resort as you coast down Wolf Creek pass towards Pagosa Springs.
Stop 5: Pagosa Springs
You did it! You’ve completed your Road trip from Colorado Springs! Now it’s time to really get into the action. If you’re looking for a thrill, you can head downtown to the top Pagosa Springs Outfitter, Pagosa Outside for rafting and tubing trips as well as various river rentals.
Later in the summer, pop in for a Pagosa tube rental for a fun trip through downtown’s splashy surf waves. If you’re looking for a more chill day, we recommend Pagosa Springs disc golf at one of Pagosa’s local courses.
After a day on the water, head uptown to Rosie’s Pizzeria to fill up on the best pie in town. There’s also a great brewery with two locations in downtown Pagosa called Riff Raff, which are both chock full of tasty beers and good eats. No day in Pagosa Springs would be complete without a soak in the namesake hot springs. Check out the Hot Springs Resort for a more upscale soak or brave the free riverside “Hippy Dip” hot springs just upstream from the Resort.
Heading back to Colorado Springs
On your road-trip back from Pagosa Springs to Colorado Springs, mix up the scenery and activities with a different route. Stay east on highway 160 straight to Alamosa’s best burger at the Rubi Slipper to fuel up for adventures at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Splash through Medano Creek on your way to the top of the High Dune and don’t forget your sand-board for the way down. It’s a quick jaunt over La Veta pass and up I25 to get back to Colorado Springs.
To celebrate your weekend road trip to Pagosa Springs, the Caspian Cafe is a great place for the whole family to reflect on the adventure. Choose from a range of options that span from the Mediterranean to the Greek classics.
There’s no lack of activities, adventure, amazing sights, good food and unique experiences if you choose to take a road trip to Pagosa Springs. We hope our advice will give you and your family plenty of fun and entertainment. Let us know about your favorite discoveries on the way!