Photo: Randi Pierce

WinterFest weekend is the time to visit Pagosa Springs, with all the fun activities going on in addition to the great skiing at Wolf Creek Ski Area. WinterFest 2022 is set for Jan. 21-23, giving the locals a little break from shoveling snow and allowing them some great fun. A number of activities are slated for the weekend where people can participate or enjoy the festivities through spectating.

A magical part of the weekend is the colorful hot air balloons that grace the winter skies — weather permitting. The snowy white mountains and the crystal blue skies make for a stunning backdrop to the multicolored balloons. Bring your camera, dress warmly and capture the splendor as the balloons mass ascend on Jan. 22 and 23. Both mass ascensions will take place from various locations on the west side of town where you may see a balloon take a skip and a hop on the frozen lakes.

On Saturday, the festivities include the Sledz on Rez Race, hosted by the Build Pagosa construction vocational group. Homemade sleds “race” down Reservoir Hill located downtown. Materials such as satellite dishes, wheelbarrows, kayaks or a crate are joined with skis or snowboards for imaginative sled creations. The crowd jeers and cheers as the sledders wield their way down the hill.

Another highlight of WinterFest is the Penguin Plunge, where hardy participants jump into the frigid San Juan River (approximately 32 degrees) as they raise money for their favorite nonprofit organization. The event takes place on Saturday around noon in front of the Visitor Center, where the plungers float down the river a bit and then go over “Davey’s Wave” for a full- body experience. Spectators can view the antics from the Riverwalk.

For the athletically inclined, there are several activities to participate in over the weekend. The Pagosa Nordic Club will host a Learn to Ski XC Ski Clinic Saturday, Jan. 22. The Red Ryder BB Gun Biathlon will be held on Sunday morning, Jan. 23, around 9 a.m. This event offers participants a cross-country course to fit your skill level. There will be 16 km competitive, 4 km citizens-youth and kid courses. Each skier shoots at targets, with BB guns provided, three times between ¼ ski distances.

An exciting addition to the WinterFest schedule is action-packed skijoring. This rapid-paced event will take place at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds/Western Heritage Event Center on Saturday and Sunday. Watch as horses pull skiers through an obstacle course and jumps while at a full-out run. This event will definitely keep your blood pumping.

Be sure to check The Pagosa Springs SUN and for up-to-date information closer to event time. As WinterFest activities are subject to Mother Nature, all events are contingent upon weather conditions, including the launching of the balloons.

WinterFest is an interactive festival perfect for the family. You’ll not want to miss the fun.

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