Cache la Poudre River#2 in Best Things To Do in Fort Collins
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The Cache la Poudre River – simply called the "Poudre" by locals – is Colorado's sole Wild and Scenic River, as designated by the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The 76-mile waterway winds down from the Rocky Mountain National Park through Fort Collins. Along the recreational sections of the river, visitors can go whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking and fishing. They may also have opportunities to hike, particularly along the Poudre River Trail, or bike along the river.
In town, you can access the river at the Poudre River Whitewater Park for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and swimming. The 9-acre park has two different river access points (an accessible ramp is located on the north bank) as well as two drop structures to create waves. However, because the river has an inconsistent flow, you'll need to check the water's depth on the City of Fort Collins website before you go. Additionally, you'll need to rent your water sports equipment from a local shop and bring it to the park; no rentals are available on-site.
A whitewater rafting trip will require you to go further out of town and you may want to take a guided excursion with a local tour operator. In particular, A Wanderlust Adventure and Mountain Whitewater earned rave reviews from previous tourists for both exhilarating trips and fun guides.
If you'd rather stay out of the water, check out the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. This area stretches 45 miles along the Poudre and is preserved by the Poudre Heritage Alliance. The alliance offers maps and directions for taking your own walking, driving or biking tours nearby the river. The alliance also hosts different Poudre-themed events, including the Poudre RiverFest (August) and open houses of the Water Works building (May to October).
Past travelers overwhelmingly agreed that the river is a great recreation spot and raved about its beauty. The also routinely claimed that whether you choose to get in the river or stay on its banks, you're sure to have a good time.
Spots along the Poudre have different operating hours. The Poudre River Whitewater Park is open daily and is free to access. If you want to check out the river outside of Fort Collins (by visiting Rocky Mountain National Park or Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest), be sure to check water levels and operating hours before your trip. Also review safety brochures before you play on the water.
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#1 Horsetooth Reservoir
Originally developed in the 1930s to provide area farmers with a steady supply of water for their crops, Horsetooth Reservoir is now a one-stop shop for outdoor activities. Here, visitors can hike, bike and horseback ride around the 6 ½-mile reservoir, which sits at an elevation of 5,420 feet. Alternatively, they can make a splash in the water itself by kayaking, swimming or stand-up paddleboarding. Travelers also have the option to camp on-site in tents or cabins.
Past visitors enjoyed their time at the reservoir, saying the trails and water activities are great fun. They also praised the scenery and the views of the reservoir's namesake, Horsetooth Rock.
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