Mountain Living in Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs is nestled below the rugged mountains of southwest Colorado. Altitude is about 7000 feet with surroundings peaks reaching to 12,000 feet. It’s a four-season, Sun Belt climate – with 300+ days of blue skies and sunshine annually. The area is a huge natural playground surrounded by 3 million acres of San Juan National Forest and two Wilderness Areas. Rivers, lakes, mineral hot springs, and abundant wildlife all add to creating an outdoor recreational paradise. Area attractions include Wolf Creek ski area, known for the “most snow in Colorado” and a 27-hole championship golf course.
People come to Pagosa Springs for many reasons: the majestic views of the great San Juans (Continental Divide), the sunny four-season climate, the lure of vast outdoor recreational opportunities during summer and winter, the relaxing atmosphere of the local lifestyle.
Snow is part of the allure for most people living here year ’round … fluffy white stuff to play in through the crisp sunny winters. It does take some preparation to enjoy the winter months. Four-wheel drive vehicles, snow tires or chains, a blade or snow blower, or a snow-removal contract for your driveway are considerations to stay mobile. Typical annual snowfall is nearly 100 inches around town and around 500 inches up at Wolf Creek.
We like to tout Pagosa’s pleasant four-season climate. Actually, there is a fifth season that gets much less press. In the springtime all that snows melts, ushering in the mud season. This also relates to a rural economy that has not supported many paved roads. So, clean-car buffs need to compensate, or relax , to deal with muddy roads.
By definition, living in the mountains requires thriving at high altitude. Some people’s health problems are aggravated by the altitude and thinner mountain air. Gardening definitely requires a new skill-set for those of us transplants from the Midwest, where you plant seeds and they just grow!
Wildlife is abundant. No lions or tigers here … bears, bobcats and cougars, yes. Trash containers, BBQ grills, and bird feeders attract the bears, so some lifestyle adjustments need to made to keep these guys from becoming nuisances or getting into big trouble with the authorities (Division of Wildlife). Also, sadly, more deer and elk are killed on the highway between Pagosa Springs and Durango each year than during hunting season. Vigilant driving please – hitting an elk will ruin your day and the elk’s, and usually damage your vehicle.
These are just a few realities of living in a small mountain town. They are not drawbacks for most of us choosing to live here. One or more of them became real problems for many who moved here – and then left. It’s worthwhile spending some time visualizing what daily life will be like and seeing that you will probably thrive, BEFORE moving to the mountains.
Information and Photos courtesy of OwnPagosa.com