We have vacationed in Crested Butte during the summer for 5 years now, and every year we drive through Silverton, Ouray and then into Gunnison before reaching Crested Butte. I HIGHLY recommend this route as the Million Dollar Highway is an incredible experience.
However, this year we decided to drive through Pagosa Springs, then Wolf Creek Pass and over to Buena Vista to go White Water River Rafting along the Arkansas River. Pagosa Springs sits on a few Hot Springs. However, they haven’t commercialized them into a community pool like so many other places. Instead they kept it natural, allowing people to tube down the river and sit in the pools. They do have a few hotels that take advantage of some of the hot springs, however they aren’t the only hot springs available.
After walking along the river and exploring a few shops, we stopped into Riff Raff Brewing Company for Happy Hour. I’d highly recommend this place as it has some great happy hour prices. We had the pulled pork nachos (which are the best nachos I’ve tasted!) and a couple of mules. They make their own ginger beer and have a variety of liquor choices such as Jalapeño Tequila! Yum!
After exploring Pagosa Springs, we made our way to the Blue Spruce Ranch, where we made a tent camping reservation. The Blue Spruce Ranch was a very nice area. They have cabins, RV camping and tent camping sites. Tent camping is $30 per site (up to two people) with an additional $5 per person. It includes access to the showers and potable water, in addition to FREE firewood, you just have to chop it. They also have laundry on site for $1.25.
After settling in, we drove up Hwy 160 about a 1/4 mile to Treasure Falls. You can see the falls from the parking lot, or hike up 1/4 mile to the bottom of the falls. The trail is fairly easy, although they do have two routes; one being a primitive trail. There and back, it will take you about 45 minutes. Afterwards, we headed up to the continental divide and Lobo Overlook for an incredible view (the photo above). On our way back down we saw 4 timber bucks in velvet which was exciting.
The next morning we hiked the Rainbow Trail (also known as Wolf Creek Trail) which is 5.5 miles one way. It was a beautiful hike, however we couldn’t find the natural hot springs that were suppose to be somewhere off the trail. We did see 2 Grouses along the trail which I had never seen before and some beautiful wildflowers. About half way, there was a creek crossing where we took a lunch break and got a chance to cool off in the ice-cold, but refreshing water. Overall the trail was gorgeous but we were definitely exhausted afterwards from a full day of hiking. If you are interested in the trail and hot springs, check in with the forest services in town for more instructions on the trail.