State Parks Fort Collins CO

7 State Parks Near Fort Collins CO: Discover Colorado’s Natural Beauty

Fort Collins is a hidden gem for nature lovers, boasting a multitude of state parks within easy reach. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a camping enthusiast, or simply someone looking to reconnect with nature, these state parks offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. From breathtaking vistas to serene lakes, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fort Collins is home to several state parks, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
  • These parks offer diverse recreational activities, including camping, hiking, and boating.
  • Lory State Park is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
  • Arthur’s Rock Trail in Lory State Park offers stunning views of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city.
  • The Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests boast picturesque landscapes, hiking trails, and camping options.

Lory State Park: A Scenic Getaway Close to Suburban Fort Collins

Lory State Park, located just west of Fort Collins, is a hidden gem offering a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. With over 26 miles of scenic trails, this park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure and tranquility. Whether you’re an avid hiker, mountain biker, horseback rider, or trail runner, Lory State Park has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of Lory State Park is its diverse and captivating hiking trails. From winding paths through dense forests to panoramic overlooks showcasing breathtaking views, these trails will immerse you in the natural beauty of the area. So grab your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and hit the trails to experience the serenity and wonder of Lory State Park.

Lory State Park hiking trail

Exploring the Trails

There are hiking trails in Lory State Park suitable for all skill levels, from beginners looking for a leisurely stroll to experienced adventurers seeking a challenge. Here are some notable trails to explore:

  • Well Gulch Nature Trail: This easy 1-mile loop trail is perfect for families and offers scenic views of the surrounding foothills and the city.
  • Arthur’s Rock Trail: A moderate 1.7-mile trail that leads to the summit of Arthur’s Rock, providing stunning vistas of Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins.
  • Howard Trail: For a more challenging hike, try the 4.8-mile Howard Trail, which takes you through diverse ecosystems and rewards you with spectacular views along the way.

Whether you’re searching for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous trek, these trails offer a range of options for all types of hikers.

Camping in Lory State Park

“Camping in Lory State Park gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty and experience the tranquility of the great outdoors.” – Outdoor Enthusiast

If you’re looking to extend your stay and fully embrace the park’s natural beauty, Lory State Park offers excellent backcountry camping options. Set up your tent under the starry night sky, listen to the sounds of nature, and wake up to stunning vistas right outside your tent door. It’s the perfect way to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories with your loved ones.

Furthermore, Lory State Park’s proximity to Horsetooth Reservoir allows visitors to enjoy water recreation activities such as fishing, boating, and paddleboarding. Access the trails that connect the park to the reservoir and make the most of your outdoor adventure.

So if you’re seeking a scenic getaway close to suburban Fort Collins, look no further than Lory State Park. With its breathtaking trails and camping opportunities, this park is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Arthur’s Rock Trail: Magnificent Views of Horsetooth Reservoir

When it comes to hiking trails in Fort Collins, Arthur’s Rock Trail is an absolute gem. Situated within Lory State Park, this trail offers a stunning vantage point for enjoying the natural beauty of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city of Fort Collins.

Spanning 1.7 miles, Arthur’s Rock Trail is easily accessible from town, making it a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. The trail features a series of switchbacks, each leading to picturesque overlooks that provide breathtaking views of the reservoir and the surrounding landscape. As hikers ascend to the top of Arthur’s Rock, a grand panorama awaits, rewarding their efforts and offering a truly memorable experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, Arthur’s Rock Trail has something to offer. With its well-maintained path and moderate difficulty level, it’s a great option for individuals and families looking to immerse themselves in nature without too much exertion.

Trail Highlights:

  • Multiple overlooks with stunning views of Horsetooth Reservoir
  • Scenic switchbacks offering a gradual ascent
  • Easily accessible from Fort Collins
  • Suitable for hikers of various experience levels

If you’re seeking a memorable outdoor adventure that combines breathtaking views with a moderate hike, Arthur’s Rock Trail is a must-visit. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Fort Collins and witness firsthand the magnificence of Horsetooth Reservoir. Pack your hiking gear and get ready for an unforgettable experience!

“Arthur’s Rock Trail offers hikers a chance to witness the beauty of Horsetooth Reservoir from a unique vantage point. It’s a trail that never fails to impress, leaving visitors in awe of Colorado’s natural splendor.”

Arthur's Rock Trail

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests: Explore the Mountains West of Fort Collins

The Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, located west of Fort Collins, offer approximately 650,000 acres of public land for recreational activities, including camping. This expansive forested area is a paradise for nature lovers, with its stunning mountain landscapes and abundant wildlife.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests have something for everyone. The forests are home to four designated Wilderness areas, where visitors can experience untouched beauty and solitude. These areas provide countless opportunities for hiking, with a multitude of scenic trails winding their way through the forested mountains.

One notable hiking trail in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests is the Cache la Poudre River National Recreation Trail. This trail follows the scenic Cache la Poudre River, the only Wild and Scenic River in Colorado, offering breathtaking views and peaceful surroundings. Hikers can choose from a variety of trail options, catering to different skill levels and preferences.

Camping is also a popular activity in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, with numerous campgrounds and dispersed camping sites available. Spending a night under the stars in this pristine wilderness is an experience like no other, allowing you to truly connect with nature.

For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, driving through the forested roads offers incredible vistas and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, elk, moose, and various bird species as you explore the area.

Whether you’re seeking adventure on the hiking trails, a peaceful camping getaway, or simply a scenic drive through the mountains, the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests are a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts in Fort Collins.

Fort Collins Natural Areas: 25 Years of Preserving Nature’s Beauty

The City of Fort Collins is proud to celebrate 25 years of preserving and protecting its natural areas. With nearly 50 natural areas spread across over 36,000 conserved acres, Fort Collins offers a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. These natural areas showcase the diverse ecosystems of Colorado and provide endless opportunities for recreation, education, and wildlife viewing.

Each natural area in Fort Collins has its own unique charm and attractions. From lush forests to sparkling lakes, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker, birdwatcher, or simply seeking some tranquility, Fort Collins natural areas have something for everyone.

“The preservation of our natural areas is a testament to our commitment to protecting and sustaining our environment. These spaces not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also offer a respite for people to connect with nature,” says Emily Sanchez, a local environmental activist.

One of the best ways to determine which natural area to explore is by checking the live webcams available for each location. These webcams provide real-time updates on the current conditions and can help you plan your visit accordingly. Whether you’re interested in seeing a majestic elk grazing in the meadows or capturing the sunset over a mountain range, the webcams offer a glimpse of the natural wonders that await.

Fort Collins Natural Areas

Natural Area Habitat Recreational Activities
Pineridge Natural Area Ponderosa Pine Forest Hiking, Mountain Biking, Wildlife Watching
Poudre River Trail Riparian Corridor Cycling, Fishing, Birdwatching
Mason Reservoir Wetlands, Open Grasslands Kayaking, Fishing, Picnicking
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area Shortgrass Prairie Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Stargazing
Reservoir Ridge Natural Area Grasslands, Shrubs Hiking, Trail Running, Horseback Riding

Fort Collins Natural Areas

Whether you’re a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, exploring the Fort Collins natural areas is a must. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the serenity and beauty of these protected spaces. From hiking along scenic trails to observing local wildlife, each natural area offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe of Colorado’s natural wonders.

So, pack your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and embark on an adventure through the Fort Collins natural areas. Discover the magic of nature and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Pawnee National Grasslands: Explore the Vast Prairie East of Fort Collins

When it comes to experiencing the breathtaking beauty of nature near Fort Collins, the Pawnee National Grasslands is a must-visit destination. This expansive area spans over 193,000 acres of public land, showcasing the mesmerizing prairie ecosystems that once served as the home for nomadic Indian tribes.

Renowned for its diverse flora and fauna, the Pawnee National Grasslands offers a haven for birdwatchers. It boasts several high plains species, including the magnificent Lark Bunting, which has the prestigious title of the Colorado State Bird. As you explore the open prairies, be prepared to witness a symphony of chirping birds and the vibrant display of nature’s wonders.

While visiting the Pawnee National Grasslands, camping and birdwatching are two popular activities that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of this unique area. Appreciate the vastness of the prairie as you set up camp and marvel at the starry night sky. Wake up to the soothing sounds of nature and enjoy the opportunity to spot various bird species in their natural habitat.

The Pawnee National Grasslands is a haven for those seeking solitude and yearning to reconnect with the pristine beauty of the great outdoors. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, this remarkable destination will undoubtedly leave you with cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders that surround us.

Birding and Wildlife Watching: Discover Colorado’s Rich Natural Diversity

Fort Collins, Colorado is a paradise for birders and wildlife enthusiasts. With its diverse ecosystem and abundant natural areas, this city offers a wealth of opportunities to discover the rich biodiversity of the region. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply enjoy observing wildlife in their natural habitats, Fort Collins has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of birding in Fort Collins is the sheer number of bird species that call this area home. With nearly 500 recorded bird species in Colorado, you’ll have a chance to spot a wide variety of feathered friends. From colorful songbirds to majestic raptors, the city’s natural areas serve as havens for different bird species throughout the year.

Wildlife watching is also a popular activity in Fort Collins. The city’s nature reserves, such as the Cache la Poudre Canyon, provide opportunities to encounter iconic Colorado wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for moose, elk, big horn sheep, and deer as you explore these beautiful landscapes. Remember to observe wild animals from a safe distance and with respect, as they are wild and unpredictable creatures.

For the best birding and wildlife watching experiences, consider visiting the nature reserves near Fort Collins. These protected areas provide essential habitats for numerous species and offer a chance to immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a beginner wildlife enthusiast, Fort Collins is the perfect destination to delve into Colorado’s remarkable natural diversity.


What activities can I enjoy at state parks near Fort Collins?

State parks near Fort Collins offer a variety of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, and boating.

Where can I find scenic trails for hiking near Fort Collins?

Lory State Park, located just west of Fort Collins, offers over 26 miles of scenic trails with varying terrain.

Can I go camping at Lory State Park?

Yes, Lory State Park offers excellent backcountry camping options for visitors.

Where can I find magnificent views of Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins?

You can find magnificent views of Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins from the popular Arthur’s Rock Trail in Lory State Park.

What can I explore at Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests near Fort Collins?

The Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests offer approximately 650,000 acres of public land for recreational activities, including camping and hiking.

How many natural areas are there in Fort Collins?

The City of Fort Collins is home to nearly 50 natural areas, covering over 36,000 conserved acres.

Where can I explore the prairie ecosystems near Fort Collins?

The Pawnee National Grasslands, located east of Fort Collins, offer 193,000 acres of unique prairie landscapes to explore.

What wildlife can I expect to see near Fort Collins?

With nearly 500 recorded bird species in Colorado, Fort Collins is a haven for birders. You may also spot wildlife such as moose, elk, big horn sheep, and deer in areas like the Cache la Poudre Canyon.

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