Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center

Integrating the Arts and Natural Sciences

willowtail springs

Connect with Nature at Willowtail Springs

Get Outdoors

At Willowtail Springs, among 60 acres, there is so much to do that allows you to connect with nature. When you stay here, you are surrounded by nature – various trees and flowers, birds, water, and more. Even though you are staying within nature, it is important to explore and discover what is hiding among Willowtail Springs. Whether you want to look to the trees or to the lake, you will find so many diverse creatures in the area.

What You Can Do


Willowtail Springs is a soft-release site for birds under the guidance of the Durango Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. We provide a lovely place for birds to begin a new life, while being admired by those who stay here. People have seen a variety of birds while staying at Willowtail. Some of those birds include various owls, hawks, eagles, and songbirds, Mallard, Bufflehead, Stellar’s Jay, Chipping Sparrow, Meadowlark, Common Raven, and American Kestrels. While some birds are migratory, others are non-migratory and can be found in the area year-round. Sit on the deck at the cabin and look to the trees or walk to the lake to get closer with the various birds that prefer to hang around there. If you prefer to roam around the property and explore the gardens, you could definitely find more birds to enjoy as you take in the scenery.

Birdwatching can be incredibly beneficial to people, aside from the fact that it can be very relaxing. It allows you to connect with nature and gain more appreciation for it – just as Willowtail strives for. Break away from your devices and enjoy each other’s company on the deck as you look for birds. Or, find yourself and enjoy some quality alone time while listening and looking for birds. It also teaches you to be patient, as you are not always guaranteed a sighting. If you really want to see one of the many birds Willowtail is home to, you must be patient and do not get your hopes up.


If you are interested in a quick and relaxing fishing trip, then our private lake will be perfect for you. The lake is abounding with a variety of different fish that you can catch and release. The various fish you can catch here consist of brown trout, rainbow trout, large-mouthed bass, sunfish, and grass carp. Whether you prefer fly fishing or regular fishing, grab a boat and head out for some fun. If you need a quick lesson or even rods/lures, we have people available for that if needed. Once you have a bite, take a picture to remember the moment and share it with others. The private lake has provided joy to all ages of fishermen who go out, as you are almost always guaranteed a bite.

Land & Trees:

Willowtail is more than a bird sanctuary and a water wonderland, it’s a beautiful landscape that offers much to explore. Numerous paths are on the property for the guests to explore, as well as access to surrounding properties (including BLM). We encourage you to wander through perennial gardens, the woods, explore the streams, meadows and the rock outcroppings. There are also 7,800 pinion and ponderosa trees in the pinion and juniper forests to appreciate. They are home to birds and other wildlife. We have also been able to plant new native species of grass, bushes, and flowers to increase the natural beauty of the area.

We have dedicated our time and resources to Willowtail Springs, so that it may be a wonderful home to a variety of wildlife, ranging from fish to birds and even the trees. Also, so that our guests may enjoy their stays and connect with nature on various levels. With so much to explore, our guests can connect with nature during their whole stay.

Stay and Connect with Nature

When you stay at Willowtail Springs, you do more than just getaway. You escape into nature and become surrounded by all the beauty and wildlife our 60 acres has to offer you. Keep an eye out for various bird species, do some fishing, and/or take a walk on the various paths and other properties. All of the activities we offer allows you to connect with nature and disconnect from your devices to fully enjoy your time here.

Quiet, Romantic Getaway

Escape Now

Willowtail Springs provides more than the perfect location for family getaways. Couples can also escape here to find peace and quiet for themselves. They can book a lovely cabin and enjoy the peace that surrounds them. This allows them to be able to communicate with each other and enjoy each other’s company. With the beautiful sites, the calming sounds of nature, and the privacy of Willowtail Springs, you and your significant other will truly enjoy your quiet, romantic getaway.


Willowtail Springs is about 5 miles outside of Mancos, CO. This allows for the ultimate privacy. It is away from the highway, surrounded by trees, and almost hidden from everyone; yet, it is still close enough to Mancos if you decide to venture outside of Willowtail Springs. The individual cabins available are all different. Choose from the different homey and comfortable ones we have:

The cabins vary in size but they can all be used for just two people. The Bungalow is a private, romantic lakeside cabin. It overlooks the mountains and provides beautiful views of the lake during all times of the day. The porch provides wonderful views to the gardens, the kitchen is fully equipped, an outdoor grill and an indoor fireplace provide the perfect setting for a wonderful and cozy dinner. There are also natural bath and spa products available to help you both relax.

The charming and secluded Garden Cottage is nestled by itself among the gardens and wildlife. You can also view the lake and the La Plata mountains from the deck. Snuggle up together in front of the fireplace or out on the deck and take in the views and sounds. Take advantage of the natural bath and spa products so you can be as relaxed as possible.

The Lake House is a large and charming log cabin, available for a larger family but, if you and your significant other would like the space, it is available to you. A quick walk to the lake, enjoy the birds and fish you may see there, overlook the mountains, or sit on the deck together and enjoy all the various bird species you may encounter. Enjoy the natural bath/spa products and/or the library in this cabin.

Available to Couples


Starting at an hour, enjoy a relaxing massage. We have several message therapists who specialize in a variety of modalities

Catered, In-Cabin Private Dinner:

There are a variety of meals to choose from. Enjoy a romantic evening together with a wonderful and delicious private dinner that is brought right to your cabin.

The Gardens:

Take a walk together on the various paths throughout and enjoy the colors and smells.

Book Now

Come to Willowtail Springs with your significant other and enjoy your time together. Enjoy some peace, quiet, and relaxation. Take advantage of the massages and catered, in-cabin private dinners and make the most of your quiet, romantic getaway together. The solitude we provide to our guests helps to make your trip even more enjoyable.

Surrounding Willowtail: Sights, Food, and Fun Activities

Small Town, Big Adventures

Willowtail is located in Mancos, CO of the 4 Corners. We are surrounded by small towns and large mountains. Even though it seems like you can go through the towns in a blink of an eye, there is so much you can miss you if do blink. There are numerous outdoor activities to do, many great local eateries to try, and lots of wonderful sights to see. Willowtail Springs offers lots to do but, when you have done it all, go out and explore the area.

Outdoor Activities

When the weather is perfect, don’t spend it indoors. Get outside and see all that the area surrounding Willowtail has to offer. Go hiking, biking, and even rafting down the rivers. Mesa Verde National park is only 10 minutes from Willowtail Springs so why not check it out? It is home to 5,000 archeological sites, leaving much to see and explore. Scale ladders and wander through the tunnels, coming across Cliff Palace and the Balcony House. There are also two other trails you can take to find even more dwellings and spectacular views. Once you have explored Mesa Verde, there are more places to check out, like Hovenweep National Monuments and Canyon of the Ancients. Like MVNP, discover the ruins that are still there, emphasizing the rich history this area holds.

If you like to move a little faster, there are plenty of well-known bike trails surrounding Willowtail that you can ride to discover beauty and history. Phil’s World is popular around here and it is unique because it dries out earlier in the springtime due to being at a low elevation. After being cooped up all winter, this trail is waiting and ready to give you challenging yet fun rides. Rib Cage is another well-known trail here, with flowy and curvy sections containing jumps that will leave you having a blast. Other trails include Sand Canyon, Ledges Loops and Abajo Trail, with more beautiful views of the area that you can’t find anywhere else.

When the sun is out and the temperatures are soaring, why not go on a guided rafting tour? The Dolores River is a wonderful place to float down and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Through Durango, which is only 45 minutes from Willowtail Springs, there are more rafting expeditions you can take advantage of. There are either single day trips or trips that last days as well as family-friendly specific trips. See a whole other side of Southwest Colorado, all while keeping cool, and having fun. Check out our page  to find other rafting expeditions, and outdoor activities, that are available to you and your family.

Delicious, Local Eateries

While you are out discovering everything surrounding Willowtail, don’t forget about the delicious, local eateries in the area. The Absolute Bakery in Mancos is a popular hot spot, serving breakfast and lunch. They serve food made from scratch, with local and organic ingredients. They are a welcoming place that is very homey and comforting. The Farm Bistro in Cortez is another local and delicious place, with a warm and fun atmosphere.

If you need a quick pick-me-up to start your day, Fahrenheit Coffee in Mancos is one of many wonderful stops. With many freshly roasted coffees and various snacks to choose from, you will always start your day off right with a quick stop here. Or, if you are on your way to Cortez for a bike ride or a hike, The Silver Bean is a coffee shop that you should put on your list of stops. Working out of an Airsteam trailer, they serve coffee, smoothies, and breakfast burritos that are sure to get your day off to a good start. Of course, there are many other delicious places available to you, so check them out!

Come Explore!

Willowtail Springs has more to offer their guests than fishing, bird-watching, and art classes. It is located in the beautiful Southwest Colorado, with so much to do, see, and eat. Why limit yourself? Stay at Willowtail Springs and discover the surrounding area with a hike, bike ride, or even a rafting trip. Give your taste buds a fun time too and try the delicious and local food.

Packages: Weddings, Family Vacations, Getaways

So Much to Do

Willowtail Springs has so much to offer its guests! We provide more than peace and quiet, relaxation, and a getaway for artists and scholars. As a family, you can come to enjoy all the outdoor activities that the area has to offer, plan a secluded, intimate wedding with us, or even plan your next exciting family reunion. If you do not find what you want on the property itself, visit the surrounding area and discover what else is available to you. There is a little something for everyone who visits, guaranteeing that our guests are always happy and willing to return.

Intimate Weddings, Elopements, & Honeymoons

We have 60 acres of beautiful and peaceful land, gardens, streams, and mountain views. These intimate locations provide the perfect destination for your small, personal wedding or elopement. We offer various personalized packages and we are even available for your honeymoon. 12-14 overnight guests can easily be accommodated with us, with a separate cottage for the bride and groom. There are surrounding hotels for more guests. For a ceremony and/or reception, Willowtail Springs can accommodate up to 25 people. The bride and groom can enjoy a romantic honeymoon in one of our charming and elegant cabins. Enjoy the solitude on your first morning as a married couple and take advantage of the surrounding beauty. Click here to see the various packages we have to offer!

Relaxing, Fun Family Vacations and Reunions

Whether it is just you and your spouse, your whole family, or even a family reunion, take advantage of all the fun activities we have to offer. We are considered a fishing heaven so why not fish on our private lake? Catch and release a variety of fish such as trout, bass, sunfish, and grass carp on our canoes or rowboats. If you prefer to do more watching, then enjoy all the various bird species found on our property. We are a soft-release site under the guidance of the Durango Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Our bird species include birds of prey – owls, hawks, and eagles – songbirds, ducks, and many more. You will always see something new and beautiful while birdwatching.

If you would like to go beyond Willowtail Springs and see the area, there is even more to do together. Visit the historic Mesa Verde, Canyon of the Ancients, go hiking, horseback riding, or take a jeep tour. You can even visit Mesa Verde in the winter or enjoy various outdoor activities. Take advantage of it all now! When you choose to stay with us, you can take advantage of all the available amenities. Utilize the fully equipped kitchens and dining areas, indoor and outdoor, fishing gear and poles, complete library, and even spa products. All of our various activities will allow you to break away from everyday stress and technology and allow you to connect as a family. We can be a home away from home! Check out our available cabins we have to accommodate you and guarantee you have as much fun as possible!

Peaceful & Quiet Getaways

Need a stress-free getaway? We can offer you just that! Take advantage of our beautiful views, our amenities, and the secluded spaces we have for our guests. Drop the stress, become inspired, and savor the solitude. Utilize your own kitchen and enjoy a quiet meal either with someone else or on your own, visit the beautiful lake, soak in the hot tub that overlooks the lake and mountains, order a massage or romantic dinner for two, or even wander the beautiful gardens. Become inspired to join an art workshop that may be going on and get in touch with your creative side. We offer so much to families looking to have fun adventures together but we also offer couples or individual people a place to escape it all and find some peace and quiet. Book a cabin with us now and let your relaxing vacation begin sooner rather than later.

Art Classes and Workshops

Become Inspired

At Willowtail Springs, we offer various art classes and workshops. We have recently partnered with the Mancos Public Library, which is another location for some of these classes. They are taught by professionals, allowing you to have a fulfilling and cultured experience. The classes are offered throughout the year and can range from one day to five days long. Join others, create friendships, share inspiration, and just have fun. Whether you have experience or not, these classes are available to all who are interested. We always have something going on so sign up for a class today.

Art Classes and Workshops by the Owners

Some of the classes we offer here include areas such as visual arts, writing, poetry, music, theatre, filmmaking, gardening, landscape design, and the sciences as well. Within the sciences, learn about ecology, conservation, wildlife, water, air, forests, math, astronomy, Tai Chi, and nature walks. The owners, Peggy and Lee Cloy teach their own classes as well – painting, sculptor, poetry, and Tai Chi. Peggy Cloy is a painter, sculptor, and poet herself, making her perfect to be the one to critique your work and give suggestions for moving forward. She offers one hour sessions at $50. Lee Cloy is a Tai Chi instructor and he leads Nature Walks on Willowtail Springs Land. Find inner peace and balance or see the beautiful land that is Willowtail. Both of these activities are $50.

Discover Your Passion

With the various areas covered with the classes, there is always something for you to discover and learn about next. Whether you want to learn something new or learn more about an already existing practice, the classes can be incredibly beneficial. Some of the artists we feature include Dan Groth who is a painter, printmaker, and poet. His upcoming class on April 30 is focusing on autonomic drawings and paintings to expand one’s creative approach. David Holub is a writer, playwright, and an editor for DGO Magazine. For his workshop on May 6, you will discuss the various forms and examples of literary humor and discuss what makes for effective literary humor-pacing, clear POV, concision, and more.

A photographer and pastel painter, Deborah Sussex is another well-known artist. She will help the students explore with pastels and have discussions on materials, color use, generating sketches, and composing paintings. This particular workshop is offered on May 7. Crystal Hartman is a painter, jeweler, and printmaker who is offering a class on June 3rd. She will explore the concept and storytelling of drawing and train our eyes to see form, contrast, and details. Kit Frost is another known artist, focusing on photography. She focuses on landscapes over an extended period of time to capture their essence. She works with traditional film, digital, and smartphones. Learn more about the artists and their classes to see if this is just what you were looking for. The prices vary and if you cannot find what you want now, always check back in because there will always be more artists and classes.

Reserve Your Spot Today!

If you want to join one of these classes, the fees are paid to Willowtail Springs. These various classes and workshops are interactive. The costs of teaching and property rental are funded by those who take these classes. If any are taught at Willowtail Springs, we have cabins for you to stay at and enjoy. Sign up today and learn something new. Interact with new people who share your same interests. Inspire yourself and others and create new things.

Willowtail Springs Hotel in Southwest Colorado

Willowtail Springs Lodging is the best kept secret of the Southwest. Did you know that it is also an Artist Residency? Check out the site here.

“My Willowtail experience — from conceiving a proposal to the actual residency to executing and realizing my project — was the catalyst for so many creative endeavors that did not exist nor would have been possible otherwise.”

– David Holub



Dear Peggy & Lee,

I am happy to share these images from my residency with you to promote future residencies.   I will donate the usage of these to the non-profit for print and web, with the use of a watermark, linkback or photo credits when used.

If you would like to use any images to promote the for profit side of Willowtail Springs, I would like to discuss compensation prior to usage. Payment could be with money and/or trade as we agree on at the time. Photo credits are always appreciated and I want to thank you for being so good about it in the past.

Thank you for such a wonderful time and place to do my work.

If I can help others do the same in the future, please let me know.


With gratitude,