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Joyful Journey: Finding Rest and Relaxation in the San Luis Valley

Moffat, Colorado , United States
15 mi




ft elev +


We're nearing the final few months of 2020 and folks are stressed. Whether it's wildfires, a devastating pandemic, killer hornets or political turmoil, this year has undoubtedly heightened people's stress levels across the U.S. However, as the Nap Ministry writes, "I have claimed the Year of 2020 as 'The Year of Grief. The Year of Rest.'" 

Rest plays an incredibly important part in our health and wellbeing and is also the main theme behind this Ride Story which begins at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in Colorado. 
Located 3 to 4.5 hours from Denver (depending on your route), Joyful Journey rests at the northern gateway to the San Luis Valley. Surrounded by beautiful vista views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west and the San Juan Mountains to the east, the location is nothing short of stunning.
Once you arrive, all guests are invited to soak in the hot springs, sign up for spa treatments, take a yoga or art class and enjoy the numerous other amenities available. Being in such a remote location, the sounds of nature help calm your mind, relax and breathe deep. 
Joyful Journey's geodesic greenhouse dome houses an edible forest allowing the spa to cook and serve freshly picked ingredients for its guests. See if you can spot the archway of rosemary!
Settled in, relaxed and ready for a beautiful morning ride, this route leaves Joyful Journey and takes you up a wide, smooth gravel road. No need to think — just head north and enjoy the gorgeous views.
The gravel road will soon pop you onto U.S. Highway 285 where you can take advantage of the wide shoulder and enter the town of Villa Grove.
Peaking out above the few buildings in this old railroad town is the Coffee House
Once in town, I recommend stopping at the Villa Grove Trade for breakfast. With a quaint outdoor patio space, hearty breakfast platters and the most lovely people, you can expect to have a wonderful time during your stay.
Get your morning fill with a traditional country breakfast plate!
A black billed magpie stops by to say hi.
Before you leave Villa Grove, I highly recommend stopping over at Always Azul Pottery. Housing a wondrous collection of hand-crafted pottery pieces for very affordable prices, it will be hard to leave without picking up a little something to bring home. Always Azul also offers pottery retreats and classes, so if ceramics is up your alley, this would be a fun activity to partake in during your relaxing getaway. 
Keep your eye out for wildlife! Pronghorn antelope prance across the valley plains.
As you leave Villa Grove you can either head back the way you came, or, if you're looking to get in a few more miles and experience some fun back roads, you can take a left (heading west) onto some double track trails and journey on from there.
There are quite a few miles of fun double track if you choose to take this route.
Passing pastures of cattle, farmhouses and wild prairie brush, you'll soon reconnect to the main gravel road that takes you back to Joyful Journey. 
Once you're back, treat yourself with an appointment at the spa or a soak in the springs - you earned it! Give yourself space and time to sleep, mediate, daydream, stare at the sky and slow down.

Wishing you all the best in 2020 and beyond,
Isaac Novak
PeopleForBikes Content + Design Coordinator
P.S. - While you're in the area, make sure you check out the Great Sand Dunes! A magnificent geological phenomenon, these dunes feel like they transport you to a whole new world. Plus, my friend and I found that it's a great place to practice yoga and connect with the surrounding environment. 
P.P.S. - If you're feeling really adventurous and want to check out a bizarre small town attraction - stop by the UFO Watchtower. An apparent hotbed for cosmic activity and close encounters, guests are invited to stop by and leave a little something behind for good luck.