I have finally convinced my travel partner to contribute to the blog and this is his first article entirely written in English (!) about his ski trips in spring in North America. Out of our #Take12trips Challenge, this is his April trip.
In order to experience some of the best spring skiing in North America, one must travel to the town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This gem of a city is nestled in the southwestern corner of the state, just a 45 min. drive from New Mexico. The charm of the southwestern united states isn’t lost in Pagosa and reminds one of scenes from spaghetti western film; updated with a modern tinge. A single road connects all of Pagosa, allowing residents and tourists alike to easily navigate the town. As the name would suggest, Pagosa Springs is home to marvellously relaxing hot springs and boasts itself as home to the deepest geothermal hot springs in the world. The pools accessible to the general public however, are maximum 3 ft deep and vary in temperature from 90F-115F. Nothing is better than a relaxing soak after a day of mountain activities which are no scarcity in the area.
The prominent ski resort closest to Pagosa Springs is Wolf Creek Ski Area. To get to the ski area from Pagosa, one must drive the 24 mile pass which can be tricky in inclement weather. The pass to the ski resort offers breath taking views and steep climbs, not for the faint of heart. Because the resort is a bit of a drive from the town of Pagosa, the ski area is one of the least crowded in all of Colorado- allowing skiers and snowboarders alike to skip dreaded lift lines. Wolf Creek Ski Area is on the smaller side but has plenty of back country skiing and typically sees the most snow out of any resort in all of Colorado. It isn’t uncommon for storms to dump 12-15 inches in a single day. For this reason, Wolf Creek is a powdery dream of a ski resort, great for beginners who find the powder is much lower impact than packed snow.
Getting to Pagosa Springs from Denver is about a 5-hour drive and while scenic, is exhaustingly far considering the number of high quality resorts just an hour drive from Denver. However, it’s always been worth the trip for us though, this being now the 3rd year in a row that we make the trek for the spring conditions.
There are a number of delicious restaurants and breweries in Pagosa proper, plenty to keep you craving more and more delicious (and healthy!…kind of) southwestern cuisine. Fresh creamy avocados, beautifully ripened cherry tomatoes, crisp, spicy jalapeños and fresh greens make their way into almost every local dish. Also, by virtue of being 24 miles from the mountain, the town sits nicely in a valley, offering breathtaking mountain views with the benefit of sunny, mild weather. In march, one typically experiences ~70F weather in Pagosa while ~30F weather up on the mountain.
Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Ski Area are well kept secrets resting in the corner of the Southwestern United States. Gone are the lift lines, impatient locals and pretentious attitudes, in their place are discounted lift tickets, a ski area with personal space, and yes, commute times. If you’re looking for a ski area that is close to your hotel/timeshare, has a terrain park and costs an arm and a leg, Pagosa Springs & Wolf Creek are not your places. If you want a laid-back, inexpensive (relatively) ski trip with (almost) guaranteed snow and sunshine, Pagosa is your place.
This is our experience with Pagosa, which resort would you recommend if we were to ski elsewhere in America?