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Top 10 Things to Do in Pagosa Springs

When it comes to things to do in Pagosa Springs, the list is endless. The town is truly one of the hidden gems of Colorado. Luckily, we’re local experts of the area and have narrowed down the list to the top 10. Whether you are planning a relaxing trip for the whole family or looking for exhilarating outdoor recreation and craft breweries, Pagosa Springs is your one-stop shop. Keep reading for things to do in Pagosa Springs in summer and year-round. 

1. Hike to Piedra Falls: 

This waterfall is one of the most highly-visited sites near Pagosa Springs, and for good reason! Take a beautiful meandering drive up the Piedra River valley, stopping on roadside pullouts to gaze straight down at the cold Piedra River. Signs to the trailhead are well-marked. This hike is perfect for the whole family, even young children, as it’s just a half mile to the falls. The road can become impassable during the wetter months and is not recommended early summer.

Local’s Tip – Stop at Sportsman’s Campground General Store for ice cream and see where John Wayne filmed scenes from the movie, The Cowboys.

2. Float the River on a Tube

three women riding a wave on orange river tubes in the river

One of the most popular things to do in Pagosa Springs in summer is floating the San Juan River and is fun for the whole family. You can rent tubes of various sizes from Pagosa Outside, located just across the street from the river. Simply grab a tube for the day and set your own shuttle or walk back to the shop. Or upgrade your trip to a deluxe float trip. This includes a shuttle, free lockers, free life jackets, free river shoe rentals, and photos. If you are looking to get a little more technical, checkout Pagosa Springs paddleboarding!

Local Tip – If the water is chilly, warm up at the free Hippie Dip hot springs near the Pagosa Springs Visitors Center.  Locals have stacked rocks to make riverside pools that catch hot water flowing from the springs.

3. Take a Dip in Piedra Hot Springs

Head west on Highway 160 to the Sheep Creek Trailhead and hike down for a mile and a half to some of Colorado’s best natural hot springs. While a bit more of a trek than Pagosa Springs’ commercial hot springs, you’ll find the atmosphere and natural setting much more rustic and peaceful than the bustling downtown pools. The number and quality of pools depends on conditions but it is recommended late summer so the Piedra River is low enough to expose the pools. You can even camp nearby at the Lower Piedra Campground or Piedra Hunter Campground.

Local’s Tip – Check out the ThisIsPagosa vlog and watch out for poison ivy that grows along the Piedra River.

4. Watch Friday Night Junk Show 

The cover of a Youtube video with a man on a raft with a helmet

Checkout Matt Martin’s Junk Show promo video and blog.

Be sure to stroll along the downtown riverwalk trail and keep an eye out for the town’s popular Friday Night Junk Show. The event takes place in the town’s iconic “Chamber Wave,” one of a series of manmade surf waves downtown. Local river enthusiasts hike their rafts, tubes, and kayaks down to the river to deliver the best show for spectators. Watch as they flip, swim, surf, cartwheel, and generally make fools of themselves for the whole town to see. If you like what you see, pickup a Pagosa tube rental from Pagosa Outside for yourself and host a Junk Show of your own. Or, try your hand at kayaking Pagosa Springs

Local’s Tip – Respect the river: know your own skill level, don’t attempt without the proper training, experience and equipment. Be aware of the San Juan River flow Pagosa Springs conditions.

5. Visit a Brewery

A bartender pouring a pint of beer from the tap.

After a day of adventuring, there’s nothing like a tasty cold beer to cap it off. Pagosa Springs is home to two breweries, both featuring a number of award-winning beers. Riff Raff Brewing has two locations downtown. Their huge warehouse-like brewpub offers riverside seating in the warmer months, where you can watch rafts, kayaks, and bird life make their way down the river. Have a taste of their El Duende Green Chile beer to add a little spice to your day. Pagosa Brewing is uptown. Be sure to sample their Lumbertown Pilsner Lager, which won a gold medal at the Colorado State Fair. 

Local Tip – Riff Raff Brewing, Colorado’s first brewery powered by spring-fed geothermal heating, hosts an annual Goat and Beer pairing dinner with the delicious champion goat and lamb from the local 4-H County Fair.

6. Enjoy the Local Restaurants

A local’s favorite, Kip’s Grill and Cantina features excellent Baja-style tacos, mouth-watering queso, and iconic margaritas. Be sure to arrive early to grab a table in the summer months and busier holiday times in the winter, as they fill up fast! For a bit of an upscale evening, you can check out the Alley House Grill on the main drag. A bustling dining area complements the lower-key bar-seating area. Don’t miss their happy hour from 4-5:30pm to get great deals on cocktails, beers, and appetizers. Before you kick off your day, you may want a tasty, filling breakfast. In this case, head to Two Chicks and a Hippie in uptown Pagosa Springs. Fill up on their breakfast burrito or biscuits and gravy while sipping on coffee and planning your day.

Local Tip – During peak seasons, restaurants in Pagosa can get quite busy.  A late breakfast/brunch or early dinner can usually avoid a long wait for a table.

7. Hire a Guide and Raft the San Juan River

a group of people on a raft laughing on the river in Pagosa Springs

If you’re looking for things to do in Pagosa Springs in the springtime, rafting season is in full swing! Pagosa’s own Pagosa Outside offers guided rafting trips for any experience level or age. For the thrill seekers, sign up for a West Fork Trip, where you’ll get a true taste for white water rafting Pagosa Springs. If you’re looking for a more relaxed float, you can sign up for the Mesa Canyon section. You’ll meander through riffles and around rocks surrounded by towering canyon walls. If you’re short on time, you can book a Splash and Dash trip. With this Pagosa rafting option, you’ll float past downtown Pagosa Springs through the town’s series of man made surf waves. 

Local’s Tip – For the biggest Pagosa rafting thrills, high water normally happens in late May.  Be sure to keep an eye on the river flow forecast

8. Spend the Afternoon Disc Golfing

Wind down after a day of hiking or rafting with a friendly game of disc golf. Pagosa Springs has two courses. The Reservoir Hill course is beautiful, navigating the ponderosa forest of Reservoir Hill. You’ll get fantastic views of the town as well as the snow-capped south San Juan Mountains. You can rent or buy discs at Pagosa Outside, which is within walking distance of Reservoir Hill. You might also consider heading to the Sneak a Peak course at Cloman Park for excellent panoramic views of the San Juans.

Local Tip – Use the app, UDisc for interactive course maps and current conditions.

9. Attend the Farmer’s Market

One of the more popular Pagosa Springs things to do in the summer is attending the farmer’s market. The market is well-attended every weekend by locals and visitors alike from May thru October at the East Side Market. Peruse the fruits and vegetables grown in the vast Four Corners area, or admire the jewelry, art, and crafts of local artists.

Local Tip – Shop Pagosa’s Farmers Market online if you can’t be here to get your favorite green chile spices or local honey in person.

10. Ski at Wolf Creek Ski Area

The base and lodge of Wolf Creek Ski area take from the mountain on a sunny day.

Boasting the most snow in Colorado, taking some powder laps at Wolf Creek Ski Area is not to be missed if you’re here in the winter. Lift tickets remain affordable in this small independently-owned ski area. There’s everything from flowy beginner terrain to steep, extreme terrain. Take lessons at the ski area’s ski school for excellent instruction from local skiers and snowboarders.

Local Tip – For the best experience, ski at Wolf Creek after the Christmas Holiday and before Spring Break to avoid the crowds and get the deepest powder.

Whether you’re in Pagosa Springs in the spring, summer, or winter, you’ll find no lack of amazing things to do. From the San Juan River, Pagosa Springs to land and snow, pick from one of many options for a fun-filled, adventurous trip for the whole family. At Pagosa Outside, we would love to help you choose the perfect Pagosa Springs activity for you and your family. Stop by our shop or find us online, we look forward to seeing you in Pagosa Springs! 

What did you think of our recommendations? Comment below if you think we missed something!