The winter of 2015 has been unseasonably warm and dry in the mountain west. Still while flying into Pagosa Springs, the snow-capped San Juan Mountains on the western side of the Continental Divide frame the sun drenched San Juan Basin. After traversing the Rocky Mountains, the 8,000-foot runway and the glowing PAPI at Stevens Field (KPSO) is a welcoming site.  

Over the last 10 years, Archuleta County’s Stevens Field has seen its fair share of improvements. The runway was widened and resurfaced. An Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) was installed while the FAA published the RNAV (GPS)-A circling instrument approach. Avjet Corporation took over fixed based operations duties and now occupies a new building. They now are able to offer everything one needs in FBO services including reasonable fuel prices and a heated hanger. The upgraded infrastructure is one reason to visit KPSO but Bob Goubitz, General Manager of Avjet, and his friendly staff that’s eager to please is the icing of the cake. Their crew car will be fueled, clean and waiting to transport you into town. 

Pasoga Springs is named for the world's deepest geothermal sulfur hot spring springs. The 144oF “Mother” spring runs under the town culminating at The Springs Resort and Spa. The resort optimizes sustainable and green hospitality. It lives up to is “Total Luxury Built with Total Responsibility” slogan. The new 29-room EcoLuxe Hotel is a gold certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building. Additionally, over 35% of electricity comes from green sources. It’s 100% geothermal heated and 100% cooled through ground water systems. Low VOC carpets, adhesives and paints allow for a higher interior air quality. They have consistently lowered energy costs and usage by installing CFL light bulbs that last 5 times longer than incandescent and Occupancy Sensors that control the thermostat when a guest is gone.

If you cannot partake in the healing waters or restorative spa services, at least walk the quarter of a mile across the San Juan River Bridge to the Rose Diner. The Irish Rose occupies a rather unassuming storefront on Main Street. It has a cliché, down-to-earth feel with a wood burning stove and warm brick walls that exudes coziness. Regulars intermingle with tourists providing a comfortable, hospitable atmosphere.

The Breakfast Quesadilla with house-made salsa and guacamole and the Huevos Rancheros with flour tortillas and picante chilies reminds you that you are only thirty minutes from the New Mexico border. They’re affordable, filling and down right tasty. A simple Biscuits and Gravy was light, airy and appropriately heavy on the locally made sausage in the gravy. This is one dish that is easy to screw-up but the kitchen staff met the challenge and excelled.

The Ham and Apple Panini, a grilled sandwich of ham, cheese, scrambled egg and tart apple, surprised. It tastes like both breakfast and lunch with a slight sweetness that was balanced rather than overpowering. The omelets are fluffy, three egg affairs the will be prepared to your liking. Ask for a side of Chili Cheese Potatoes and you’re appetite will be satiated until dinnertime. The Rose offers a good cup of Joe, sometimes hectic but responsive service, a substantial breakfast menu that is offered all day and one of the best slices of apple pie anywhere.

If you have the weekend free, Wolf Creek Ski Area is only thirty to forty-five minutes northwest of Stevens Field. Owner Kingsbury “Pitch” Pitcher, a New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame and Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee has a passion everything winter sports. For most of its seventy-five seasons, Wolf Creek has regularly averaged in the top ten in the nation in annual yearly snowfall. All that white powder translates into a plethora of possibilities. The resort has over 1600 acres of varied terrain allowing for almost flawless snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing. The rates are reasonable and family friendly, the slopes are well maintained and line can be no-existent.

Aspen, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Steamboat may be better known but Pasago Springs has Wolf Creek, Stevens Field and The Rose Diner. They are more in the moment. The small town hospitality, the undisturbed wilderness and the healing waters allow for both a “off the beaten path” feel while still being accessible. Go for the waters and come back for the breakfast.

 

Stevens Field Airport (KPSO)

Elevation: 7,664 ft.

Sectional chart: Denver

ARTCC: Denver Center

FSS: Denver Flight Service Station

Traffic Pattern Altitude: 8,664 ft. MSL

Runways: 1/19 – 8,100 x 100 ft.

CTAF/UNICOM: 122.7

WX ASOS-3: 127.175 (PHONE 970-731-0365)

www.stevensfield.com

 

Avjet Corporation

61 Aviation Court

Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147

Phone: (970) 731-2127

www.avjet-colorado.com

 

The Springs Resort and Spa

165 Hot Springs Boulevard

Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147

Phone: (800) 225-0934

www.pagosahotsprings.com

 

The Rose Diner

408 Main Street

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Phone: (970) 264-2955

Hours:

Monday – Friday 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM

Saturday and Sunday 7:30 AM – 1:00 PM

http://therosepagosa.com

 

Wolf Creek Ski Area

Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147

Phone: (970) 264-5639

www.wolfcreekski.com

Chef Stuart Stein is a graduate of the University of Illinois Business School and the culinary arts program at Chicago’s Kendall College. He has worked in France and the all over the US as a cook, executive chef, culinary instructor and restaurateur. Chef Stein is the writer of the book, The Sustainable Kitchen: Passionate Cooking Inspired by Farms,  Forests, and Oceans (New Society Publishers), and has written in countless culinary and aviation publications. Stuart is also a private pilot flying in southern California.

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Comment by Andrew Reynolds on June 18, 2016 at 6:54am

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