1. Visit Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River
Whether you’re in Fort Collins for a weekend or two weeks, it’s nearly impossible to explore all of the trails, lakes, rivers and streams in the surrounding foothills and mountains, so if you only have time for a to explore a few, we suggest experiencing Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River.
Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most scenic outdoor utopias and it is located just minutes from the heart of Fort Collins. The reservoir also has quite the story of how it acquired its name from the distinctive rock formation that sits above the large body of water. There is an old Native American legend regarding this famous stone. The Valley of Contentment (today’s Horsetooth Reservoir) was once guarded by a giant so that no buffalo, deer, or antelope were hunted in the valley. Chief Maunamoku led Indians to slay the giant. In killing the giant, the Chief slashed at his heart, first in the center, then on the right and then on the left with a tomahawk from the heavens. The next day the giant turned to stone and is now known as Horsetooth Rock.
Today, the 6.5-mile-long reservoir is a beloved recreation spot for activities such as fishing, swimming, boating, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, water skiing, hiking and camping. There are tons of miles of trails surrounding the reservoir for mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. The east side of the reservoir is one of the best spots in Colorado for bouldering. Horsetooth Reservoir is open year-round and includes RV spots, campsites and cabins, managed by Larimer County Natural Areas. If camping isn’t your forte, you are welcome to relax in one of the condos or bed & breakfasts in the area and you can rent a boat, kayak, SUP board and more at the local marina.
The Cache la Poudre River Canyon truly is something to behold. Surrounded by magnificent cliffs and captivating rock formations, encased in ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees, sage brush, mountain mahogany and aspen – the canyon is nothing short of a wonderland. The Poudre River also happens to be Colorado’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” river. Colorado Highway 14, the road which follows much of the river, is a designated Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway as well.
2. Colorado Brewer’s Festival (June 25 and 26)
Everyone knows Fort Collins is a craft beer mecca, and we never miss a chance to celebrate our love for the craft beer industry. The Colorado Brewer’s Festival is a weekend-long festival featuring craft beer from some of Colorado’s best craft breweries. The 27th annual Colorado Brewers’ Festival will showcase nearly 100+ beers from over 50 breweries in the state of Colorado during the last weekend of June. As the oldest annual brewfest in Colorado, this Old Town event has been open solely to Colorado breweries for over the past 27 years. The festival is also paired with live music, dozens of vendors and food trucks, and an interactive "Beer School" with tastings and demonstrations.
3. Breathe Yoga Festival (June 24-26)
Enjoy a weekend in City Park celebrating the Summer Solstice with back-to-back guided yoga, meditation and holistic healing classes. Also, enjoy local live music, local vendors and incredible food. Buy a weekend pass and plan your yoga/meditation schedule for a full two days of complete relaxation.
The 4th of July celebration in Fort Collins is a sight to behold, with events happening all around town, there are ways to celebrate all day long. Enjoy family-friendly celebrations such as the Avery House Old-Fashioned Fourth of July where you can listen to the Bluegrass Patriots, while kids play old-fashioned games such as bean bag toss and lawn bowling. The event is full of historical characters, Victorian crafts and food trucks onsite selling delicious family fare. The event will be from 10:00 am-2:00 pm on the Avery House lawn, and admission and the activities are free! Also don’t miss the annual parade that rolls through the historic streets of Old Town traveling east on Mountain Avenue, beginning at Jackson Avenue and ending at Meldrum Street. The Parade starts at 10 am. After that, enjoy a day of live music, food and vendors at City Park as the night culminates with a spectacular firework show in Fort Collins’ oldest recreational park.
5. Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest (Aug. 12, 13 and 14)
As Northern Colorado’s largest live music festival, NewWestFest draws large crowds due to its always impressive line-up and free entry. This weekend-long festival features multiple outdoor stages, local craft beer, lots of vendors and tons of fun sprawled throughout all of Old Town. The 2016 festival takes place Aug. 12, 13 and 14. This year it was announced that an all-Colorado lineup of 80-plus bands are slated to perform during NewWestFest, with three prominent Colorado headliners to anchor the main stage performances each night. Click here to view the all-Colorado 2016 festival lineup. The festival is completely FREE all weekend and will be headlined by Grammy-nominated orchestral indie band DeVotchKa, known for their acclaimed film score for “Little Miss Sunshine” and alternative rock band the Fray, known for several hit singles including “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “How to Save a Life,” while Sunday’s headliner, also a Colorado band, will be announced in early August.
6. Tour de Fat (September 3rd)
The slogan for this annual costumed bike and beer parade festival says it all: Bikes, Beer and Bemusement. Get out and have a ball at this eccentric festival hosted by New Belgium Brewery from 10 am-5 pm on September 3rd. This is your chance to ride your bicycle in your best costume from Old Town to City Park while enjoying a day full of wacky carnival fun, live performances and delicious New Belgium Beer. Welcome to the home of New Belgium - Fort Collins, CO.
7. Hike the amazing trails of Fort Collins
- Located in the gorgeous Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Horsetooth Falls is truly one of the most family-friendly hikes you can find in and around Fort Collins. It’s a little less than 2.5 miles roundtrip and rated as easy to moderate skill level. There is beautiful scenery all around this trail, from open meadows to green wild grass and beautiful wild flowers with the payoff of a waterfall at the end, this hike is truly spectacular. Pack a lunch and have a picnic when you get to the waterfall and go ahead and dip your feet in the water, and if you really want, you can cool down and dip your head under the falling water as well.
- Set with the stunning natural background of Lory State Park, Arthur’s Rock offers some of the most magnificent views of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city of Fort Collins. Arthur’s Rock is a very short drive from Fort Collins and is also a relatively short intermediate hike. This approximately two-mile trail bends through open meadows and brilliant mountain views on the way to the summit of Arthur’s Rock, which ascends to an elevation of 6,780 feet. The hike does gain in elevation quickly, which means it’s climbing up on the way to the top and shooting down on the way back to the bottom. There is also a fantastic natural stairway leading you to the top of the rock which provides a perfect setting for a picnic if you pack a lunch.
- Views upon views upon more spectacular views describe this hike in a nutshell. There is an incredible feeling that overcomes you when standing atop Horsetooth Rock while staring down into beautiful Horsetooth Reservoir. Just as impressive is the opposite view of the rolling hills to the west. Not to mention, Horsetooth Rock is one of the more unique rock formations you’ll ever come across. There truly is nothing that looks quite like Horsetooth Rock. This hike is 5 miles roundtrip and is a moderate skill level hike.
- Simply put…Greyrock is unbelievable! This fantastic hike resides in Cache la Poudre River Canyon and is less than 20 minutes from Old Town Fort Collins. This moderate skill level hike has two trail options: the Meadows trail (approximately 7.4 miles roundtrip) and the Greyrock Summit trail (approximately 5.5 miles) with both offering stunning views equipped with ponds that live atop the summit of the rock. The elevation gain on this hike is nearly 2,000 feet with the summit sitting at 7,480 feet. This hike is definitely a bit of a challenge that comes with a little bouldering toward the end. But the payoff is worth it as it offers outstanding 360 degree views of Poudre River Canyon.
8. Come Ride Your Bicycle
Biking might be the best way to get to know Fort Collins. The city boasts a reasonably flat terrain, extremely wide bike lanes, and trails that follow the Cache la Poudre River and Spring Creek. Plus, biking is an enjoyable, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to get around. Whether you’re discovering some of Fort Collins’ 285-plus miles of trails or riding in the mountains, you’ll recognize why Fort Collins is a platinum level bike-friendly city. Cycle to Old Town or pedal to one of the 20-plus local breweries and you just might come across more bikes than cars on the road on any given day.
9. Map out a Brewery Adventure
Every town has an identity, a way of life, a certain aura-something that specifically defines why the town is special. For Fort Collins, that certain something, is craft beer and the culture that has grown around it.
The relationship between the brewing industry and the town of Fort Collins is more than just a business correlation, it’s a societal culture – a culture that has been around for over 25 years.
There are numerous ways to explore each of the 20 and counting breweries in Fort Collins. You can go on a beer and bike tour, take a magic bus ride, or indulge in a self-guided tour. There are so many unique ways for everyone of age to experience the incredible beer that resides in Colorado’s craft beer capitol.
We encourage you to partake in what is such a big part of the Fort Collins community. We promise you will not be disappointed.