| A common denominator among resident parents — whether recent transplants or natives with roots reaching back generations — is that they agree Pagosa Springs is a great place to raise kids.
And small wonder: in an area surrounded by national forest, dotted with clear mountain lakes and criss-crossed by crystalline mountain rivers and streams, Pagosa kids enjoy a day-to-day lifestyle that most youngsters only read about — or see on TV.
Given the almost limitless opportunities for fun and recreation, families continue to return to Pagosa Country as a preferred destination, year after year. While numerous pages in this guide will point you to endless outdoor activities for the entire family — camping, hiking, fishing, biking, boating and sight-seeing — there is an abundance of activities or programs in Pagosa Springs, most within the downtown area and within walking distance, guaranteed to entertain kids of all ages.
Throughout the summer, the Pagosa Springs Youth Center (adjacent to Town Park) provides a day camp for children ages 5-12 and offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. From fishing, horseback riding and swim lessons (as well as a bicycle and skateboarding clinic) to cooking lessons and crafts, the camp’s curriculum changes from day to day and week to week, keeping things fresh and exciting. Drop-ins are welcome (although advance notice is encouraged, for staffing purposes) and parents can sign up their children by the day, week or for all summer long. The camp runs Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and immunization records are requested for enrollment. Contact Joanne Irons at (970)946-7545 for information, reservations and prices.
For more intensive programs, Wild Pagosa seeks to educate elementary school-aged children (grades 1-6) about environmental awareness through experience and teaching. Participants learn about all aspects of nature through hands-on learning, from the ground up (geology and hydrology) to flora and fauna. Many programs include day hikes into the wild and even overnight campouts. Space is limited for Wild Pagosa programs, and advance reservations are strongly encouraged. For more information, visit wildpagosa.homestead.com, or call (970)946-8612.
Not a day camp, but a wonderful day trip, the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park gives visitors a chance to see local wildlife in their natural habitats. Located five miles south of Pagosa Springs off U.S. 84, tours are conducted at feeding time (and last about an hour), but longer stays are available with horseback rides. By no means a zoo in the general sense of the word, the park houses mostly indigenous animals. Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park is home to animals that, for whatever reason, cannot be re-released into the wild. Featuring raptors and other birds of prey, wild cats, bears, and all types of local wild animals, the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park is a nature preserve that will inspire awe in all family members. Call (970)264-5546 or visit www.rmwildlifepark.org for more information on tours or other excursions.
While Pagosa Country is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine a year, there still are plenty of indoor activities to keep the kids entertained. Early in the summer, the Ruby Sisson Library offers a summer reading program for everyone in the family, from pre-school aged children to adults. This year, the program offers a water-based theme, with “Make a Splash at the Library” offered for pre-schoolers through sixth-graders, “Make a Wave at the Library,” geared towards seventh-graders through late-teens, and “Water Your Mind” available for adult readers.
The programs integrate literature, music, stories and crafts to provide an integrated and enriching experience for all ages. Participants can sign up at the library after Memorial Day, but drop-ins are welcome without registration. Furthermore, the Ruby Sisson Library cooperates with other regional libraries in summer reading programs, so visitors who began a summer reading program in another community may be able to “transfer credit” from that program to Pagosa Springs — or vice versa. Children who complete the program are eligible for prizes and get a “beach party” to celebrate a summer of books!
Contact Christine at the Ruby Sisson Library, 264-2209, for program details and times. Other library programs and events are posted weekly in The Pagosa Springs SUN, the community’s weekly newspaper, with daily updates online at www.PagosaSUN.com.
For the less artistic and ambitious, Pagosa Game Space (located on the southeast corner of U.S. 160 and 6th Street) offers all manner of video games, RPGs, FPSs, Wii, Xbox (ask your kids for clarification), concessions and a wide-screen TV to entertain the parents — all for $2 an hour.
Rain or shine, there’s nothing like a quick round (or three) of miniature golf. Pros and duffers alike can prove their putting prowess at Bogey’s Mini Golf, located just off U.S. 160 on Put Hill (no pun intended) at Pike Drive — just head west of downtown Pagosa Springs and watch to the right.
As the evening winds down, take the opportunity to enjoy the traditions of a small western town. No evening is complete without catching a movie at the Liberty Theatre. Located in the heart of historic downtown Pagosa Springs, you can leave the Cineplex behind as you step back in time for a classic cinematic experience. Watch the marquee (another blast from the past) for show times; family films are always featured first, and, on Tuesdays, an extremely retro price of $4 a ticket is featured for Family Night.
There’s no doubt that your vacation in Pagosa Country will be memorable: in a recent survey, over 70 percent of our visitors have been here before. How it impacts your children, however, is just as important, as we invite them — and their children — to come back, year after year, to experience some of the most beautiful landscape anywhere, the ambience of a small, western town and an endless array of activities.
We can assure you that you’ll never hear, “I’m bored,” but we do guarantee that you will hear, “I’m tired!”