Hope springs eternal, and I was hoping for some relief for my aching back in Pagosa Springs. The small town in southwest Colorado is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and forests and is known for its hunting, fishing and hot springs. Fishing or hunting were not on the radar for this trip, but we had our hiking boots and bathing suits and were prepared to enjoy our weekend stay. The tab: We spent $150 for a night at the Fireside Cabins, about $80 for meals and $56 for admission to the Springs Resort & Spa.
Fireside Cabins, on the eastern edge of town, has 15 cabins along the San Juan River. The décor: wood, wood and more wood. For 21st century softies, the cabins have Wi-Fi, cable TV and gas fireplaces. Our very rustic, western-style one-bedroom cabin had knotty pine walls, a well-worn couch, a potbelly stove and cowpoke art; the pièce de résistance was the cowboy chaps hanging over the bed.
We searched for a place to have dinner that didn't have a long wait and stumbled on Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill. I started with a fine barrel-aged rye Manhattan, and my husband had a salty caramel stout from its extensive beer list. The food was surprisingly good: a Meat Eater pizza (ham, sausage, pepperoni, bacon) and the best fish and chips I've ever had (wild-caught salmon in its Kayaker Cream Ale tempura batter with house-made rémoulade and coleslaw). In the morning, we stopped at Pagosa Baking Co. for coffee and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and croissants, an ideal start to the day.
Pagosa Springs is named for its mineral-rich geothermal waters. There are three hot springs locations in town; we chose the largest complex, the Springs Resort & Spa, which describes itself as "The World's Deepest Geothermal Hot Spring." The resort's 23 mineral pools are spread around terraced grounds overlooking the San Juan River, so you can soak in the view while you soak in the pools. Pool temps range from about 83 degrees to 114 degrees. I really enjoyed the Aspen, Crick Tub and Burg pools, which had tolerable heat levels. Be prepared to feel like a cooked lobster in the duly named piping hot Lobster Pot.
THE LESSON LEARNED
A nice soak can drain your wallet: Admission to the Springs Resort & Spa (free for hotel guests) is $28 and excludes the adult-only pools. Add-ons (locker, towels) can quickly add up, and there's a $14 reentry fee. The Relaxation Terrace package includes everything plus unlimited reentry for $53. The town's other venues — Healing Waters Resort and Spa, and Overlook Hot Springs Spa — are far more modest and cost far less, $12 to $14.
Fireside Cabins, 1600 E. U.S. 160, Pagosa Springs, Colo.; (970) 264-9204, bit.ly/firesidecabins. Cabins are not wheelchair accessible.
Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill, 118 N. Pagosa Blvd., Pagosa Springs, Colo.; (970) 731-2739, bit.ly/pagosabrewingandgrill. Dining room and patio are wheelchair accessible.
Pagosa Baking Co., 238 Pagosa St., Pagosa Springs, Colo.; (970) 264-9348, bit.ly/pagosabakingco. Limited wheelchair accessibility.