WinterFest events set for Jan. 21-23


By Mary Jo Coulehan | Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

WinterFest will take place this weekend, Jan. 21-23. This year’s event is chock-full of activities for those that want to participate or just spectate. There are opportunities to raise money, engage the family in participation or just bundle up and watch the festivities. 

The Chamber welcomes those hearty hot air balloon pilots on Friday evening, Jan. 21. We have almost 20 pilots registered. Skis and Saddles will also be welcoming their registrants on Friday evening. 

The hot air balloons will be launching on Saturday, Jan. 22, and Sunday, Jan. 23, at around 8 a.m. from the west side of town, weather permitting. There is no downtown launch on Saturday — only a launch from the west side of town. 

Pagosa Springs SUN photo/Randi Pierce
WinterFest balloon rally.

The pilots will stage in areas around the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association recreation center, nearby business parking lots and those areas that don’t have an abundance of snow so that they can lay out their balloon envelopes with minimal damage exposure. With all the snow this year, photo opportunities of the snow-capped mountains and lakes should be stunning. 

Saturday, Jan. 22

Skijor Pagosa is back with the event’s fast-and-furious pace and they have a new race location — the Archuleta County Fairgrounds. With plenty of parking, a new race route, food trucks, seating and snow, this year’s skijoring is expected to really rock. Come and watch teams compete as skilled riders with their horses pull skiers and boarders through a timed obstacle course. It’s a fun event you don’t want to miss. 

Skijoring also continues on Sunday throughout the day. Skis and Saddles will also host a concert Saturday night at 7 p.m. with western musical artist Chancey William. Tickets are available in advance at 

Photo courtesy Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
Skijoring will return to the WinterFest lineup this year, with two days of action set to take place at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds.

The Pagosa Nordic Club will host a Cross-Country Ski Clinic on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Cloman Park. The location could change, so stay tuned in case of any changes. These classes also fill up fast, so register in advance at 

At 11 a.m., animal lovers can celebrate the winter season with their pets by participating in the Barkus Parade. Dress them up in costume or just warm clothing and head down to the Riverwalk for the parade. Participants are requested to make a small donation and they can also receive a cup of gumbo at The Lost Cajun. Interested participants can just show up in Town Park by the gazebo area around 10:30 a.m. to register. 

For those nonprofit agencies looking to raise a little money, the Penguin Plunge takes place on Saturday with registration around noon at the Visitor Center and the plunge taking place at 1 p.m. Application and pledge forms for the Plunge are available on the Chamber’s website at under the WinterFest snow globe graphic. The parking lot at the Visitor Center will be closed off to the public to make room for our emergency services and participants. Spectators for the Plunge can view the antics from the Riverwalk area. 

Photo courtesy Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
This weekend’s WinterFest will feature the annual Penguin Plunge, where plungers dip in the frigid San Juan River to raise money for charity. This year’s plunge is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday downtown.

Registration forms for the Sledz on Rez are also available on the Chamber’s website under the WinterFest activities. Sledz on Rez is hosted by the Build Pagosa building trades group. Homemade sleds fly down the course on Reservoir Hill. Store-bought sleds are not eligible, but they can be modified. Find out the details on their registration page or download the application from the Chamber’s WinterFest page. This race begins at around 2:30 p.m. There will be plenty of awards including Best Crash, Best Decorated and Fastest Time. Don’t miss the fun. 

Sunday, Jan. 23

The hot air balloon launch is back on the west side of town for another invigorating morning with great photo opportunities. 

The Pagosa Nordic group will host the annual BB Gun Biathlon at Yamaguchi Park on South 5th Street. This race is for a range of ages and cross-country skiing ability. There is a 16km race beginning at 10 a.m., a KidsK at 11 a.m. and a 4km Citizens Ski starting at 11:30 a.m. No shooting experience is necessary and participants will have the opportunity to test out shooting at the targets 30 minutes before their schedule race start time. 

Enjoy another day of Skijoring at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds. Spectators can enjoy the contestant costume contest on this day. The award ceremony will take place at the fairgrounds at 4 p.m. 

Most of the applications for the various WinterFest events, start times, locations and more details can be found under the WinterFest graphic on the Chamber’s homepage. Invite your out-of-town friends to come and enjoy a festive, funky and fun-filled weekend in Pagosa Springs. You can contact the Chamber for more information at (970) 264-2360.