The road is generally open in winter, but I was happier navigating summer’s pine-carpeted peaks than braving this road in snow.
Then I swept down the hill and around another tight curve, and Treasure Falls ― a weeping 100-foot waterfall ― caught my eye.
I pulled into the small, off-road parking lot and hiked the 0.25-mile trail to the bridge at the base of the falls, a misting cascade rimmed by jagged rock formations and rough wilderness. It was then that I started to feel the payoff of the harrowing drive.
Which the food has only reinforced. After a Baja-style fish-taco lunch at Kip’s Grill & Cantina, where locals soak up suds and sunshine on a flower-filled deck (sometimes to the tune of bluegrass or rock by a local band), I bask in the hot springs at the Springs Resort, where I’m staying.
Then I gather myself for a side trip to Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, where two giant ceremonial stone spires have left visitors spellbound for more than a millennium.
In August, the crescent moon will rise and linger between the commanding pillars, a spectacular “lunar standstill’’ that continues once a month through November. After that, the celestial event won’t happen again for nearly 19 years.
Lucky for me, Pagosa Baking Company’s celestial goodies are available year in and year out.
I buy a few just-baked lemon cooler cookies, chocolate brownies, and pudgy cinnamon rolls for the drive home, even though I’m sure the scenery ― and those twisty turns ― will give me all the highs I need.