As Summer Heats Up, Head to Fort Collins for Outdoor Fun and Entertainment
The summer of 2020 is just getting rolling. Head to Fort Collins, a short drive north of Denver, for a bevy of outdoor, nature-focused options sure to relax, rejuvenate and inspire you.
We are excited to welcome you to Fort Collins and we want to do so in a way that keeps both you and our local residents safe. As such, we ask that you take the Stay Safe Pledge, a shared commitment to take necessary precautions for all of us to stay safe while following recommended health practices.
We pledge to:
• Wash our hands frequently and have hand sanitizer available.
• Wear face coverings when interacting with guests.
• Follow social distancing and capacity guidelines.
• Follow CDC standards of cleaning and sanitation.
• Conduct employee wellness screenings.
• Train employees on Covid-19 safety procedures.
Guests pledge to:
• Wash or sanitize hands before entering.
• Wear face coverings.
• Follow social distancing guidelines.
• Stay home if you have a cough, fever or other symptoms.
• Avoid direct contact with staff and other guests.
• Use a credit or debit card if possible.
For more information, visit www.visitftcollins.com/coronavirus.
• The Beanstalk Music Festival is now Beanstalk: At the Drive-In, taking place at the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater in Fort Collins, Colo. June 26 and 27. The two-day socially distanced set includes performances by Magic Beans, Cycles, Great Salmon Famine, Kitchen Dwellers, and Envy Alo. Tickets available at https://beanstalkfestival.com/.
• The Holiday Twin will also host FoCoMX Drive & Jive, a Tuesday evening concert series beginning June 9 and running through August. Live music performances from the stage will be projected to the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater big screen and broadcast via FM radio transmitter for fans to enjoy from the safety of their vehicle. Concert attendees will be allowed to bring lawn chairs for seating next to their cars and onsite snacks/beverages can be purchased online through the drive-in website. Click here for the lineup, pricing and other details.
Butterflies Abound: The Gardens on Spring Creek recently underwent an extensive renovation and remodel. Kids and adults alike will fall in love with the new Conservatory Butterfly House, a 1,500 square foot glass enclosure that’s the first and only permanent facility of its kind in Northern Colorado. It features up to 400 free-flying North American butterflies.
New Poudre River Whitewater Park: The new Poudre River Whitewater Park just north of Old Town in the booming river district features a boulder-lined boat chute, rock features, holes for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and tubing, and shallow play along the shore.
Rocky Mountain Adventures rents all the gear you could need for a water excursion, including kayaks, SUPS, river tubes and more, and offers guided rafting and fly fishing trips.
EXPLORE A NEW-TO-YOU SPOT NEAR FORT COLLINS
Red Feather Lakes:Red Feather Lakes, located an hours drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded spot that’s less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feathers Lake area is a year-round outdoor playground. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. Red Feather Yoga, located on the idyllic 140-acre Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, invites attendees to experience an outdoor yoga class in a range of styles, including Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin.
Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The river flows through a deep canyon and the routes range from class II to IV plus.
Pawnee National Grasslands: For wide-open spaces and scenic rocky buttes, head toPawnee National Grasslands, 193,060 acres located around 35 miles east of Fort Collins. The Pawnee Buttes Trail, located on the east side of the National Grasslands, is a 1.5-mile trail that leads hikers to the first Butte, which rises 300 feet above the prairie. Watch for hawks and falcons nesting in the rocky cliffs, considered one of the most visually iconic parts of the Pawnee National Grasslands.
Soapstone Prairie: For thousands of years, the iconic American bison roamed the Great Plains by the millions until overhunting brought the species to near extinction. As part of a nationwide recovery effort, this keystone species was reintroduced to Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space in 2015. This year, 2020, marks the five-year anniversary of the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation herd’s reintroduction. Visitors may see the bison in their pasture March-November. There is no trail access to the pasture but you may see them from the road. The bison pasture is 1,000 acres, so the bison may not be visible. Stay on the roadway and out of the pasture for your safety and the safety of the bison. Bison Days 2020 includes three events to celebrate: “The Making of a Herd” on Nov. 3 (location TBD); “Bison Festival in Old Town Square” on Nov. 7; and “’Meet’ the Bison Herd at Soapstone Prairie” on Nov. 8. For times and details on each event, view the Natural Areas Explorer. More info on visiting the bison available here.
Natural Areas: Among Fort Collins’ greatest outdoor treasures are its 50+ natural areas, located in and around town and managed by the City’s Natural Areas Department. With more than 100 miles of trail, and over 36,000 acres locally and regionally, residents and visitors are sure to find a natural space to explore close by. Natural Area sites are open, rangers are on-duty, and the community is encouraged to enjoy and steward these treasured places. Natural Areas offer many opportunities for recreating, including hiking, biking, walking, horseback riding, bird watching and fishing, as well as education, contemplation, and simply enjoying time outdoors.
Hidden Gems: Little Known Options at Three Fort Collins Natural Areas
—Hidden Clues Trail at Coyote Ridge Natural Area – This short loop trail originating from the cabin (located one mile from the trailhead) boasts interactive interpretive signs designed for little hikers.
—Running Deer Natural Area Fire Tower – The historic fire tower at Running Deer Natural Area is an interesting and nearly solitary destination, featuring a flat, easy trail and expansive views of the Front Range.
— Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area Observatory – The raptor observatory at Cathy Fromme Prairie is an off-the-beaten-path destination with fun signs, a sod-topped shelter and views of the foothills.
Rocky Mountain National Park: Just a 35-mile drive away, Fort Collins is the perfect base camp for a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and the stunning peaks that form the Continental Divide. A timed entry permit or camping reservation will be required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park in a private vehicle between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Be sure to check their website for up to date information.
GET OUT, GET MOVING
Biking: Lory State Park has a plethora of trails that range in difficulty but they all offer beautiful views. The Corral Center Mountain Bike Park, a 70,000-square-foot mountain bike park located southeast of the visitor center, is Colorado’s first official state-sponsored dirt/pump track and offers a comprehensive skills area appropriate for riders of all ages and abilities. If you would like a little guidance on your first biking adventure, Fort Collins-based Front Range Ride Guides is ready to help.
Fishing: Between the Cache la Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins offers paradise found for fishermen and women. The Poudre is perfect for flyfishing, though there are a few spots where you can bait fish. At Horsetooth, try your hand catching smallmouth bass or walleye from the shore or a boat. Fort Collins also has 15 Natural Areas that allow fishing, including Riverbend Ponds, a popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. It’s one of two Natural Areas where gizzard shad (part of the herring family of fish) are found.
Fort Collins offers great hiking both in and around town.
• Take a hike at Horsetooth Reservoir, which is open year round and located west of Fort Collins. The Inlet Bay Trail connects the Blue Sky Trailhead and Soderberg Trailhead and includes 2.7 miles of easy trails.
• Venture up Poudre Canyon to the four-mile long Mineral Spring Gulch Trail, or to the more challenging Little Beaver Creek Trail.
• Experience one of the newest trails in town, called On the Rocks, at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. On the Rocks provides one mile of scenic hiking and black diamond (expert) level mountain biking several miles into Bobcat Ridge Natural Area in Fort Collins. Mountain bikers and hikers are invited to enjoy the new On the Rocks trail when Bobcat Ridge is open, daily from dawn to dusk. Visit this page for trail conditions and parking lot webcam.
Climbing/Bouldering: Rock climbing at Horsetooth Reservoir County Park is a popular pastime. For years, climbers have used the Dakota sandstone cliffs and boulders surrounding the reservoir as training ground for tougher routes. For roped rock climbing, Duncan’s Ridge, Rotary Park and the Torture Chamber hold the best routes. Download a free bouldering guide to Horsetooth Reservoir at www.nococlimbing.org, where you can also find information for bouldering/climbing in Poudre Canyon, including a Poudre Canyon bouldering guide, rock routes and a Poudre Falls climbing guide.
Star gazing: The area around Fort Collins offers some of the best stargazing hot spots in Colorado and city leaders are working toward dark-sky certification for all the Natural Areas, some of which are among the darkest in the county. Try Red Mountain Open Space, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, Coyote Ridge Natural Area or head up to the trailhead for Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. If you want to learn more about the night skies, there are plenty of resources. The Northern Colorado Astronomical Society hosts dozens of public observation events per year. Visit nocoastro.org to learn more.