Explore Pagosa Springs - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
19 days ago

Freezing day, but almost had all the dunes to ourself

hiking
23 days ago

We loved this hike! When we went in April the falls were half frozen so we were able to walk on the ice and stand next to the falls. We could hear the water rushing under our feet.

hiking
23 days ago

The frozen falls are spectacular. You will need traction aid to walk on the frozen creek. We had Yaktrax and they were barely sufficient. I could slam my foot down on the ice and the Yaktrax wouldn't dig in. My wife had trekking poles and those helped her.

The trail is wide and has a moderate incline. It is rocky with some loose rock. When we went, it was about 30% packed snow and the rest was clear. I would rate this trail 'easy' - unless your 150 pounds overweight and live on the coast.

The road up is rocky, but does not have sedan-eating-washouts. Low clearance cars can make it with caution.

Accident at Zapata Falls Dec 2018 (located on US Bureau of Land Management)
Not well Maintained.
Pre-injury plans and History:
We are couple from Atlanta who loves to Hike and visit places. We planned to start our trip on December 5th 2018 to Boulder, CO. Plan was to explore places around Denver till December 19th 2018 and fly to las Vegas, then visit grand canyon, Antelope canyon and drive to Los Angeles on December 23th 2018. Planned to explore Los Angeles till Jan 31 and fly back to Atlanta from Las Vegas on Jan 31th night.
On Day of Injury:
As part of our plan, on December 15th 2018 we drove to Zapata Falls, CO. Before starting our trip to Zapata Falls from Boulder CO, we checked and made sure Zapata Falls hike Trails are open to public. We reached Zapata Falls Campgrounds around 1 pm MST, parked our car at Campground and hiked way up the trail. Trail was covered with Snow although it was sunny day. It’s a 1 mile hike up to Zapata Falls from Camp grounds where we parked our Car. After 1 mile hike me and my wife reached Zapata Falls around 2 pm MST, we took some pictures and started to head down to camp ground where our car was parked. At Zapata Falls, there was ice formation below which is completely covered with Snow, despite being careful at Zapata Falls, my wife slipped on ice, lost balance and broke her ankle at Zapata Creek. Injury was quite severe, her ankle bone was broken on both sides, and her left foot was dislocated and twisted. It was impossible for her to take a single step after injury. At the time of injury there was nobody there to help us, but few minutes after injury, there were 4 people who came to incident location. While they were taking care of my wife, I hiked back to camp ground and found a volunteer who works for Zapata Falls with 4X4 ATV. He drove me to Zapata fall (injury location) along the trail, we got my wife in ATV with People’s help and Volunteer dropped us at our Car. He mentioned closest hospital was in Alamosa and he said he would also call Sheriff and Hospital personnel to expect us.
After injury:
We drove to Emergency ward in SLVRMC hospital in Alamosa and doctors admitted my wife, did X-Ray of her left Ankle and confirmed she fractured her left ankle. They said we must wait at least 5 days for inflammation to come down before they do a surgery to reconstruct her left ankle. They also recommended Surgery is needed no later than 10 day once the inflammation in ankle has reduced. Doctor aligned her dislocated foot and put a splint on her foot, so it does not move till surgery. After that she was discharged, and we drove back next 4 hours to Boulder,CO .
After First Medical attention:
On Monday December 17th, started doing our search to get best treatment around Denver for her surgery. We found Dr Thomas Clanton MD, at Steadman clinic Vail CO, has most experience in ankle and lower foot. We got appointment with Doctor on Tuesday December 18th. His team X-rayed her ankle again to see if it was in place, checked my wife’s ankle inflammation and said the surgery can be performed on Wednesday December 19th, 2018. We ofcourse cancelled all our plans of vacation and now hoping that my wife will have a fast-complete recovery.
Surgery day:
On December 19th 2018 Wednesday, At 3 PM MST my wife was taken to operation room at Vail Valley surgery Center in Edwards CO. Surgery was performed till 7 PM MST. Doctor said they reconstructed her left ankle with Screws and plates as necessary. They said it would take 4 months for her to just start to put weight on her left leg. She must take complete bed rest till 3 months. After 4 months, with help of physiotherapy, it could take any where between 7 to 10 Month for my wife to start walking. After 1 year she could get back to her daily activities as usual and there is a slim chance of her hiking like before again.
Plans after Surgery:
We stay Boulder CO for 10 days till December 28th, 2018 allowing my wife to heal a bit and then have a follow up session on December 28th Steadman clinic Vail CO to make sure things are fine after surgery. After it planning to Fly back to Atlanta.

What to get from this?
We Recommend, even if Parks are open to Public, if you think Icy or unsafe Conditions may exist, don’t go.
Parks Owned government entities should take extra measures to close trails which might be un safe for public to visit. In this case it was open to Public.
Be extremely careful, when walking on ice. One slip could wipe away smiles in your life.
Family is most important, and everything comes next.
Stay Strong when in Problems or in Pain.
Let your Painful Experience be a lesson or Precaution to Others.

My dingy Ford Taurus made it up the 3 mike drive. We went in mid December, and the Waterfall was gorgeous. It was frozen over and tucked in a slot canyon. Completely worth the drive and short hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful 360 view at the top. Would be a great place to star gaze and watch the sunset.

Took about an hour to get to the top. 50 min to get back.

Beautiful scenic view at the very end. Aspens just happened to be turning. Gorgeous! ♡

backpacking
2 months ago

A wonderful trail! Slightly longer than what AllTrails says, but worth every step. One of the best we’ve ever tackled.

Best short hike I’ve ever done. Don’t worry about getting lost. You are always able to see the visitors center from the dunes.

hiking
2 months ago

After driving 6 plus hours to get there, it definitely was a good trail to stretch not only the legs but the entire body on! Such a fun trail!

camping
2 months ago

Love it

A hike with everything you could ask for. Flat open areas to rocky narrow inclines. took my wife and I about 3 1/2 hrs with frequent small breaks and 20 min at the falls. Amazing views throughout and very cool end at the towering falls. The last 30 min to the falls is the toughest. Hike back is much easier than the hike in. highly recommend

Great little hike! The drive up is rough gravel but there’s a Honda Accord that made it up here in dry conditions (early October).

3 months ago

Great hike, short though. We were advised to bring shoes to wear in cold water and we were happy we did.

Beetle kill trees along the beginning but stunning 360 view at the end. Changing aspens were a treat.

hiking
3 months ago

The AllTrails map is not accurate! Just be aware that it is often off the actual trail by quite a bit (like a hundred meters). However, it's relatively easy to figure out where to go and to keep the trail. Follow the ridge line. I suggest that after you summit Conejos Peak that you hit the second 13er and then follow the ridge of the bowl all the way around and above Tobacco lake. Great views!!!

Would be a really slow, long drive to the trailhead if you don’t have an SUV. Road is really rocky. But the hike is quick and the falls are beautiful. We took off our shoes once we got to the creek.

Its a beautiful trail. A few steep inclines but all and all good hike. Up and down in 3 hours with a 30 min lunch at the falls.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing views for a relatively short hike. Bonus points because we didn't see another person on the trail the whole day!

hiking
4 months ago

Simply great!

You can get right under the falls which is really neat. Great views on your drive up to the trail. Lots of ups and downs and pretty rocky. This time of year there was not allot of water coming off the falls.

Beautiful hike with great views. Worth repeating any time. This is must do hike. Put it on your list.

hiking
4 months ago

Excellent short hike to scenic waterfall. I recommend bringing hiking poles and a change of shoes if going into the creek to see the falls. The water in the creek is quite cold.

hiking
4 months ago

very easy hike with great payoff!!! The falls are hidden and fun to get to through the river. if you are careful, you can step on rocks and avoid having to step in the cold water. my boyfriend and I both left with totally dry shoes and socks. road to get to trailhead was definitely rough for low clearance vehicles with normal tires, take it slow and it's not impossible

trail was great. trail starts at tower. we went off by the overlook. still a great trail. beautiful scenes.

hiking
4 months ago

The dunes are always a great time. We hiked Sunday mid morning to late afternoon. Definitely a leg burner. Be sure to bring sun screen, sunglasses and extra water! It’s almost worth wearing long sleeves and pants as the wind can pick up the sand pretty quickly. Incredible views

Fun trail. It took me 3 hours including a 20 min break at the falls. I will definitely be back during run off season.

hiking
4 months ago

Completed this trail in a little over 2 hours, so the estimated time is pretty spot (I don't consider myself a super adept hiker). Additionally, I went on a relatively cloudy day, which turned out to be beneficial because it definitely lowered the temperature and kept the sun from beating down on us the entire time. It seemed that 90+% of the people that made it to high dune did not venture further to the Star Dune (tallest in NA). I ended up continuing to Star and it was undoubtedly pretty difficult. There are a fair amount of large dunes between the two points (I believe it's roughly 1.5 mi past High Dune). Overall, hiking up Star Dune, itself, was challenging, since the grade was steeper than I had anticipated. If you do continue on to Star- be sure to bring plenty of water. Good luck!

hiking
4 months ago

Great stop on the way to Great Sand Dunes if you have the time. The river was flooded when I visited, but the trail has wide open views of the mountains, valleys, and dunes, and the falls are worth the little climb to get to them.

Outstanding 360 degree views of Rocky Mountain peaks. Was just under 3 miles up and 3 miles down. Took us about 3 hours to do the whole thing. Well worth it once you get to the peak!!! It’s pretty forresty and shady, but the trees are pretty dead once you’re up at the top of the ski lift. Truly one of my favorites though.

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