By: Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, Mayor of HeidiTown
On day three of our Southern Colorado road trip, we rose well-rested from our slumber at Mellow Moon Lodge. It was time for coffee, a brief dog walk and breakfast.
The first item on the schedule today was a soak at Joyful Journey Hot Springs in Moffat, a tiny town in the San Luis Valley located on our way to Salida. We drove to Saguache, about 15 minutes shy of Moffat, for breakfast at a longtime favorite, 4th Street Diner & Bakery.
This diner epitomizes why I love small towns. Our first experience here involved overhearing a conversation about ranching by a group of ranchers in cowboy boots sitting at the table next to us. I am never happier than when I get to witness real life in a small town. Plus, this place serves homemade bread, and believe me, that makes all the difference. Since that moment, we never miss an opportunity to stop here for a meal.
Reservations are necessary at Joyful Journey Hot Springs due to COVID-19. They only let 15 guests in for a two-hour soak. We had 10 a.m. reservations. Masks are required inside the building but not at the outdoor pools.
There are three pools here that run from warm to really hot. It is a tranquil setting but the best part is the Sangre de Cristo Range rising in the distance. While it was a bit hazy from the fires burning across the west, the day was beautiful and the air was filled with birdsong.
In addition to pools, this venue offers camping, yurts, RV spots, lodge rooms, and even a rentable house. The best part about staying here is that currently, guests who lodge here have morning and evening access to the pools. Non-lodgers must soak between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Around noon, we headed over Poncha Pass to the final town on our road trip, Salida. From the hot springs, it’s just over a 30-minute drive.
Salida is one of Colorado’s most dog-friendly towns, and there are a lot of dog-friendly towns in this state. We headed straight to Loyal Duke’s Dog Park so that Fritzi could blow off some steam.
RELATED: SALIDA, COLORADO IS FOR THE DOGS
We’d taken her to this dog park last year, but she was a puppy so we stayed in the small dog section. Now she is big enough to run and play in the big dog yard and she loved every minute of it.
Loyal Duke’s Dog Park has all sorts of agility equipment and the park seems to be in use all day, every day. We went twice during our one night stay in Salida and once there were upwards of ten dogs happily running around. Thankfully, the place is huge.
The park is just about a minute away from Gone to the Dogs, the dog boutique in town. We always stop in and let Fritzi pick a treat. This time it was dried mackerels which, if I hold one over my head, she will look cute. Otherwise, she is constantly moving which makes it difficult to get a good picture of her. She is not what I would call an Instagram dog.
From here we went downtown to walk our tired dog along the Arkansas River. There is a nice paved walkway here and it is a popular place, even during the week. The river water reinvigorated Fritzi and suddenly she was full of piss and vinegar. She is one year and three months old. Definitely still a puppy.
We spent some time browsing downtown Salida, and I visited my favorite store there, Drift & Amble. We got ice cream and a soda at the Salida Pharmacy & Fountain. Then we stopped briefly for a beer at Salida’s newest downtown brewery, Tres Litros. Dogs are allowed on the patio, but not in the brewery.
Finally, it was time to check-in to our Airstream. That’s right, we were booked at Amigo Motor Lodge, the same place as last year, but this time, we were staying in one of their dog-friendly Airstreams. I was more than a little excited about this.
The lodge is located a stone’s throw away from the dog park, which is super convenient. It’s also close to Soulcraft Brewery and Gone to the Dogs. Several lodge rooms and several Airstreams at Amigo are dog-friendly.
We were in the smallest Airstream, called PeeWee. I was a little worried that our dog crate wouldn’t fit inside.
The inside the Airstream has a Scandinavian design with light wood, white linen and clean lines. The space inside seems a lot bigger than I imagined and best of all, Fritzi’s crate fit.
The five Airstreams at the back of the lodge property do not have bathrooms. They share two spacious bathrooms inside the lodge. Each is equipped with a toilet, sink, shower, and of course, a locking door.
We’d skipped lunch, but I highly recommend Red Hen Bakery. I had the most delicious bagel there for breakfast last year. In fact, it sort of ruined me for all other bagels and they have wonderful looking lunch sandwich bagels on their menu.
For dinner, we’d spied High Side! Bar & Grill while exploring the river trail. The location couldn’t be better with a large patio right next to the river and it’s dog-friendly. We sat on the restaurant’s second level patio, leaving Fritzi in the truck. It was more than cool enough, she loves being in the truck and she needed a nap.
I truly enjoyed dining here. They have good mixed drinks, local craft beer, and an appetizer of deviled eggs sprinkled with bacon that is worth the trip. You can order a single, double or triple patty on a hamburger. I settled for a single and Ryan got a double. It was a solid burger and I’d order it again. By the way. this is a great place to catch the game. The bar area has lots of televisions.
We took Fritzi for a walk around Salida at dusk. There are a lot of deer in town. A LOT!
Salida was the final leg of a three-night COLO-Road Trip of Southern Colorado that started in Pueblo. To top it off with a stay in an Airstream was super cool. It was a surprisingly comfortable, roomy stay and even with shared bathrooms, we didn’t have any issues with waits. A stay in an Airstream with the dog is the perfect way to experience this dog-friendly town.
Tricks & Tips: Be sure to pack a cooler on your Southern Colorado Road Trip. You never know what goodies you’ll pick up along the way or when you’ll want to stop for a picnic.
This completes our Southern Colorado Road Trip. Read the itinerary at COLO-Road Trips on Colorado.com.