Elk Trace Bed & Breakfast, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

It was time to leave Durango and we were now headed towards Pagosa Springs and our home-away-from-home would be the fabulous Elk Trace Bed & Breakfast. This is a log cabin designed, 9,000 square foot main house, with wraparound porches. Elk Trace is also a working ranch with horses and cattle, located 10 minutes from downtown Pagosa Springs.


The Town of Pagosa Springs is nestled in at an altitude of 7,000 ft. on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide. The combination of the high desert plateau and dramatic Rocky Mountains to the north, and east, creates an unusually mild climate, especially in the summer months, when compared with much of the surrounding Southwest. Pagosa also enjoys 300-days of sun each year, as well as four distinct seasons. Sounds like a little piece of Heaven!


Located in the upper San Juan Basin, Pagosa Springs is surrounded by the 3 million acre San Juan National Forest, and adjacent to the largest wilderness area in the state of Colorado - the Weminuche Wilderness. The Town is named for the sulfur springs located there, including the world's deepest geothermal hot spring. This "Mother Spring" feeds pools hosted by three local hot spring soaking locations in the Town. The Utes called the sulfur-rich mineral springs Pah gosah, which is commonly translated in modern documents as "healing waters". To this day, this mineral-rich water continues to be celebrated for its therapeutic powers.


Whether they come to Pagosa to cure ailments or simply relax and enjoy, visitors from around the world come to enjoy the mineral-rich waters. Pagosa also has many recreational activities in the area including downhill and cross country skiing at the nearby Wolf Creek ski area. Snowmobiling is also very popular and can be enjoyed in the surrounding National Forest; with summertime activities including fishing, hiking, and rafting. Pagosa Springs in autumn is a popular destination for hunters, who harvest elk, deer, and other game animals.


The small town atmosphere and endless beauty allows you to feel the true meaning of a vacation. It seems to refresh your spirit and allows you to enjoy simplicity on a grand scale.


As we drove through the gate to enter the Elk Trace Bed & Breakfast you knew you were on a working ranch. Surrounded by acres upon acres of beautiful pastures filled with wildflowers, horses and cows, it seemed like a dream come true. We felt at home immediately. Nestled in the beautiful San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains, Elk Trace has a front row seat to Pagosa Peak, and backs up against the National Forest. There’s plenty of range for riding and exploring.


Upon arriving we were warmly welcomed by our hosts, Evelyn and Tom Jones, and upon entering their beautiful home the first word that came to mind was “luxurious”. The 9,000 sq. house is truly magnificent and outfitted with just about anything and everything you could possibly want – even a hot tub, lap pool, workout room, sauna, pool table, library, Wi-Fi  and more!


Our room was very luxurious and beautifully decorated. It was extremely comfortable, private and quiet, and we even had a small deck to relax on. Sleep came quickly in the mountain air and we woke with a hearty appetite. Breakfast was Belgian Waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream – delicious and filling. Hats off to Chef Evelyn! Everything was prepared fresh and from scratch.


Evelyn always makes a special effort to bring guests together over coffee or wine and the atmosphere is so relaxing. You can dine inside or outside on the wrap-around porch with views extending to the mountains. The porch (15ft wide) which wraps around three side of the large house, the atmosphere of the first floor, with its open plan and panorama views through the large windows, make this home/B&B perfect for socializing or simply finding that perfect spot to birdwatch and have a good read.  Elk Trace has a commendable library for you to browse through. We felt perfectly contented, pampered and happy. Caution though - you may never want to leave!


The scenery is unsurpassed and if you’d rather there is a Guest Cottage available. This is a private, separate residence on the ranch, complete with wood burning stove, kitchenette, bed and bath. The main floor of the tri-level home has 4-bedrooms, 2 on either side of the hallway, joined by Jack & Jill bathrooms. (Psst – you’re closer to the food inside!) There is also the Elk Room which has a King size log bed and connects to the Oak Room featuring a Queen bed. Both rooms have wonderful views of the large meadow and are very private. On the other side of the main level are the Bear and Wolf rooms, joined together by another Jack & Jill bathroom. All beautifully decorated and outfitted with every comfort in mind.


On the ground floor is the Buffalo Suite, with 2-Queen beds and a futon couch. There is an adjoining living room that has another futon couch, a recliner couch, TV, mini fridge, and microwave. This Suite has a separate entrance through the sunroom and a beautiful view of the large meadow. Elk Trace B&B is an upscale, 5-star lodge establishment. This is a place you’ll come back to, time and time again. It’s a wonderful place to meet up with friends and family, as well as the perfect spot for a wedding or reception.


And remember, Elk Trace is also a working ranch with horses and they board horses. If you ride, would love to learn how to ride or become a better rider, or if you just enjoy being around these magnificent animals, there is a fascinating story about a gentleman who can probably help. He also happens to be based in Pagosa Springs and many call him the “Horse Whisperer”.


Pat Parelli has presented in front of over 2 million people in 27 countries. He’s been written up in over 1,000 magazines and has even presented privately for the Queen of England, President Reagan, Tony Robbins, Gene Autry and Tom Selleck. Pat has made it his goal in life to help make the world a better place for horses and the humans who love them.


A former rodeo bronc rider, horse trainer and all-around horse lover, Pat Parelli created a program based on his keen observation of horse behavior, psychology and communication. For more than 30 years, the Parelli Program has helped hundreds of thousands of students and horses around the world.


Parelli’s focus is on preserving true horsemanship with what he terms “natural horse training”. The Parelli Program is a people-training program focused on the study of horse behavior and horsemanship skills. The program spans areas of development, through four distinct levels of skill improvement.  The cornerstones of the program are a dedication to never-ending self-improvement and an acknowledgement that the improvement of horsemanship is a lifelong pursuit for those passionate about the horse.


Horseback riding whether it’s Western, English, Dressage, Hunter or Jumper, shouldn’t be stressful for horse or rider. It should be joyous and natural for both. The Parelli Program has been so successful it has even been introduced in the UK in working with young offenders. The program has proven its impact by reducing reoffending rates by 27% and creating life-changing shifts in behavior with at-risk youth. The opportunities that the Parelli Program presents for self-development; through “The Horse Course”, applies the same principles not only to rehabilitation but also in the mental health, criminal justice, and parenting & youth services communities.


Horses are to Colorado what Longhorns are to Texas and what a great opportunity to have learned about the Parelli Program while staying at the Elk Trace Bed & Breakfast. There is so much to discover in this area of Colorado and it would seem that we found it all right here.


For more information on Elk Trace Bed & Breakfast visit their website at http://elktracebedandbreakfast.com/ or call Evelyn Jones at (970) 507-0041, email: evelynjones@centurytel.net or elktracebedandbreakfast@gmail.com.


For information on the Parelli Program visit their website at: http://www.parelli.com/