Pagosa Springs is located approximately 35 miles north of the New Mexico border, nestled at 7,000 feet on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide. This combination of high desert plateau and dramatic Rocky Mountains to the north and east creates an unusually mild climate, especially in the summer months, when compared with much of the surrounding Southwest. Pagosa is favored with around 300 days of sun each year, as well as four distinct seasons.
The town is located in the upper San Juan Basin, surrounded by the 3 million acre San Juan National Forest, and adjacent to the largest wilderness area in the state of Colorado, theWeminuche Wilderness.
The town is named for the sulfur springs located there, including the world's deepest geothermal hot spring. This "Mother Spring" feeds the pools hosted by three local hot spring soaking locations within town. The largest is at The Springs Resort & Spa which hosts the mother spring. Other hot springs facilities in town are the Healing Waters Resort and Spaand the Overlook Hot Springs Spa. The mineral-rich water continues to be celebrated for its therapeutic powers. The Utes called the sulfur-rich mineral springs Pah gosah, meaning "healing waters", and visitors from all over the world come to enjoy its hot baths. Some come to cure ailments, others to simply relax in the mineral-rich waters.
Other recreational activities in the area include downhill and cross country skiing at nearby Wolf Creek ski area. Snowmobiling in the surrounding National Forest is also quite popular. Summertime activities include fishing, hiking, and rafting. Come autumn, the area is a popular destination for hunters, who harvest elk, deer, and other game animals.
"Downtown Pagosa Springs" was the final destination for a duo of truckers in the 1975 country song "Wolf Creek Pass" by C. W. McCall. U.S. Highway 160 from the pass to town goes through a vertical drop of around 5,000 feet, and is described in the song as "hairpin county and switchback city".