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Pagosa’s Hootenanny: Unveiling Pagosa Springs Halloween Traditions in the Heart of the Rockies

With the autumn leaves putting on shows of color throughout the surrounding national forest, the busy summer season winding down, and a crisp chill in the evening air here in southwestern Colorado, there’s no better time to experience fall’s scenic beauty and a slate of fun-filled Pagosa Springs Halloween festivities.

Our entire town comes together for the Halloween Hootenanny on October 28th, 2023, organized by the city and county. Yamaguchi Park, located right on the banks of the flowing San Juan River, comes alive with everything from hot air balloon rides to costumed pickleball games and afternoon trick-or-treating for the little ones. It’s a bit spooky, a lot of fun, and ideal for bringing the whole family!

Dad and daughter carving pumpkins for Halloween

Plan to make our Pagosa Springs hotel your home base for the Halloween weekend, as we’re within walking distance of all the action, easily accessible via the San Juan Riverwalk Trail. If you book two nights over the October 27-29th weekend, you will get $20 off (by booking directly on our website using code HWN2023).

A Halloween Celebration Unlike Any Other: From Hot-Air Balloon Rides to Trick-or-Treating and a Fireworks Extravaganza

Yamaguchi Park, where the Hootenanny takes place, is at the southern end of town and is one of our most-visited parks. With its riverside location, shaded benches and tables, endless sloping grass, a skatepark, pickleball courts, connecting trails, and views of mountains in every direction, it’s a perfect place for the whole family to spend the day. Get costumed up (insider hint: if you need a last-minute costume, look no further than the in-town store, Upscale Resale, which stocks up on quality consignment Halloween gear) and walk straight from your Riverwalk Inn room to the San Juan Riverwalk, which connects right behind our property. Follow the trail as it winds through the center of town, passing the famous hot springs and iconic geodesic sustainable-gardening domes, and you’ll arrive at Yamaguchi Park in just around 30 minutes.

Kids dressed in Halloween Costumes going trick or treating.

The “spooktacular” festivities kick off bright and early when free hot-air balloon rides take off at 7:30 a.m. The pros at Pagosa Adventure will lead you on this festive version of their “sunrise flight,” which is even more magnificent than usual during this time of year, as you’ll get 360-degree views of the vibrant fall foliage blanketing the surrounding San Juan National Forest and even some early-season snow on Pagosa Peak. If you want to get some cardio in before kicking off the partying, jump in the Monster Dash, a 5k run organized by Wolf Song Adventures, who have been putting on fantastic local races for the last year. Paddle-boarding is ever-popular nowadays, so if that’s more your speed, join the Witches on Water paddleboarding session at Pagosa Lake – even if you’re just there to spectate, seeing a coven of witches cruising around on their boards is sure to be entertaining!

Throughout the afternoon, from 1-3 p.m., follow the walking trails through Yamaguchi Park to the various trick-or-treat stations operated by local friendly and costumed folk. It’s a safe and welcoming place to fill up the candy bags with your little ones, and there’s more than just sweet treats – grab a bite and a beer from the local food trucks and vendors on-site. Pagosa Springs Halloween goes big on the entertainment, with live music all day starting at 1 p.m. – catch local and danceable electro-funk act Nu Bass Theory, followed by Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, who come from southern California and have been merging feel-food reggae with rock and soul grooves for over 15 years. The fireworks show wraps up the day in spectacular fashion at 7 p.m. There couldn’t be a more awe-inspiring setting – sitting by the banks of the San Juan River and gazing up at the fireworks filling the sky against the backdrop of 12,000+ feet high mountain peaks.

Aspens in the Colorado High Country
Aspens in the Colorado High Country

Pagosa Springs Halloween Revelry Late Into the Evening and Leaf-Peeping Over the Weekend

If you want to keep the Halloween festivities going later into the evening, head to the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, less than 10 minutes away from your Pagosa Springs lodging, for their second-annual Boo-lesque Dance Party. The event features nine performances by the School of Movement – a local non-profit that promotes artistic connection and creative expression through dance. The acts trend toward a burlesque theme, so it’s for an adult audience, with a unique “Barbie Thriller” performance planned and specialty cocktails served in snow globes.

Throughout your weekend visit, take advantage of the fall colors, which usually peak in early to mid-October but are coming on later in 2023 due to above-average rainfall this year. Head out for a hike or do some OHV-riding on the hundreds of miles of trails just outside town, see the leaves along forest service roads on the way to one of several San Juan mountain waterfalls nearby, or take a drive 20 minutes north on Highway 160 to the Wolf Creek Overlook – here you’ll find panoramic views of bright yellow aspen groves spread throughout the valley below.

Reserve your Riverwalk room, prepare your best costumes, and plan your Pagosa Springs Halloween escape!


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