Discover the Best of Pagosa: Heritage

Pagosa Springs provides depth in heritage travel:
  • Designated a Preserve America Community
  • Over 125 years since Pagosa was incorporated, colorful history spanning 150 years
  • The World's deepest geothermal hot springs feeds over 30 pools of varying temperatures in downtown Pagosa between three facilities


Explore Pagosa and Southwest Colorado's Past

Pagosa Springs was first incorporated in the late 1800s. Long sought out for the healing powers of the Great "Pagosah" Hot Springs, Southwest Colorado and Pagosa Country have a colorful history (read more). Below is a list of favorite historical activities and heritage sites in the area (in no particular order):

Downtown (self-guided) Walking Tour

Take the self-guided Historic Walking Tour through downtown Pagosa Springs. Discover the interesting history of many of the buildings and meet a few shopkeepers running some of Pagosa's oldest businesses. The tour is an easy walk covering less than 1/4 mile.

Chimney Rock National Monument

Designated first an Archaeological Area and National Historic Site in 1970 and a National Monument in Septmber 2012, Chimney Rock lies on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The site was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago and is of great spiritual significance to these tribes.

San Juan Historical Museum

This museum displays how pioneers of Pagosa Springs lived from the 1890s to the early 1900s. The museum is located in downtown Pagosa Springs at the corner of 1st and Pagosa Streets, near the bridge and is open mid-May through mid-September. Admission is free, but donations are suggested.

Fred Harman Art Museum

This museum features a display of original Fred Harman Paintings, Red Ryder® & Little Beaver® Comic Strips and other Rodeo, Movie & Western Memorabilia. The late Fred Harman was one the founders of the Cowboy Artists of America.

The Great "Pagosah" Hot Springs

These springs were sacred to the Ute Indians for their healing and restorative qualities.  Today, travelers with sore muscles or simply seeking some relaxation, are encouraged to experience the same mineral rich springs in one of 3 downtown hot springs facilities.

Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum

Experience the unique history of the Ute people through their eyes at the Southern Ute Cultural Center. The main gallery provides valuable insight into defining stages of Ute History. The collections include photos, recordings, as well as research and historical material. Located in Ignacio, Colorado. (learn more)

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, located 45 miles from Pagosa, was originally constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension, which served the silver mining district of the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through spectacular & breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest for an unforgettable year-round adventure.

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Take advantage of Alamosa's 100 year old steam engine with its powerful wheels and colorful sounds with a ride over a historic mountain pass with tunnels, around horseshoe curves, with abundant wildlife along the way.

Pfeiffer Memorial Marker

The historical Pfeiffer Memorial Marker, the site of a duel between Indian tribes for the ownership of the famed Pagosa Hot Springs, is a great stop on Hwy 160, just west of town.

Mesa Verde National Park

This National Park is a wonderful cultural site located a beautiful 2-hour drive from Pagosa Springs. Mesa Verde provides a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. There are over 5,000 archeological sites to visit, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

Learn more

Click here to check out all of our Best of Pagosa lists. For more detailed information on area heritage, visit

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