November 20  |  Our Communities

Choose Your Own Adventure: #OptOutside in Fort Collins This Black Friday

It’s no secret that Black Friday is an incredible money-making opportunity for businesses all across the country. In fact, several retail companies might consider it their most profitable and most important day of business within the year.

So the country is understandably displaying a synchronized jaw drop at the discovery that a prominent business in retail has decided to close its doors on such a day. Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly known as REI, will be closed on Black Friday in order to stand behind the very message that they live by. They are even paying their employees for this time off, encouraging them to #OptOutside instead. And REI is encouraging would-be shoppers to head outside as well, on a day that is typically among their top 10 days for annual sales.

Furthermore, they are halting the processing of their online sales. Customers can still place orders on the REI website, but will be diverted with a cover screen that encourages them to venture outside instead. So don’t worry — you can still order those hiking boots from your iPhone while standing on top of a mountain!

REI #OptOutside Black Friday

REI created a website dedicated to their #OptOutside proposal, inviting people to share how they will spend their time outdoors on November 27. Adventurers can select the image and activity of their choice to share with the world, thus creating a ripple effect of this movement in cyberspace.

So naturally, this business move has created quite the buzz online, as REI is making a bold statement about its core values as a company. Their business centers on and promotes an outdoor lifestyle, so it only makes sense that they would divert attention away from massive sales and towards the very reason the company exists in the first place.

According to REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, he “acknowledges the business is taking a risk by closing, but he’s more concerned with the message the company sends to consumers.”

We so admire REI’s brave proclamation and willingness to swim against the massive, overwhelming and ever-flowing current that is Black Friday. (Literally. Have you seen one of those mobs of angry moms busting through a store entrance at 5 a.m.?)

We stand behind REI’s #OptOutside mission and hope you will too. That is why we wanted to make your drastic transition from consumer to countryman as painless as possible. So here are some ways you can #OptOutside in Fort Collins this Black Friday. Trade in your peacoats and coffee cups for a windbreaker and water bottle, because it’s time to explore the great outdoors.


Take a Hike

Hiking is an outdoor activity that requires very little equipment and preparation but is a rewarding way to get immersed in your outdoor surroundings. We’ve previously mentioned a few hikes you can take to see the changing of the aspens, but this time we’ll leave the researching to you. There are countless hiking trails near Fort Collins that are worth exploring. (Hint: The Poudre River Trail is the closest trail to Fort Collins, and it is also paved!) This Black Friday is the perfect designated time off from work to spend hiking along your favorite and frequently traveled trail, or to map out your route on some unfamiliar terrain. Either way, clock in those steps outside that you would normally spend inside.

Poudre River Trail Fort Collins

Ride a Bike

Ah, yes. A section on biking while on the subject of Fort Collins activities. Who would have guessed? Maybe your bike has sat neglected in your garage the last few weeks because of the colder weather. This Black Friday is the perfect time to dust those wheels off, review our Survival Guide for Biking in the Winter, and get moving! You may also rest — well, pedal — at ease knowing that you are riding in a city that fosters a safe and enjoyable bicyclist community. So pick a trail, any trail and cruise around Fort Collins on a joy ride while shoppers everywhere are pushing and couponing.

Biking in Colorado


Hit the Slopes

Speaking of cold, bundle up in your warmest gear and hit the ski slopes on Black Friday. It may be less crowded with all the traffic directed towards the mall instead of the mountains. You probably have an idea of where you might go skiing or snowboarding if you’ve lived in the area during the winter season. But if not, might we suggest Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Berthoud Pass, Echo Mountain, Snowy Range Ski & Recreation Area or Arapahoe Basin? Whatever location you choose, you’re bound to have a mountaintop experience. Literally.

Loveland Ski Area


Stomp the Snow

If you haven’t tried snowshoeing yet — in any setting, but particularly Colorado — you are missing out on a unique and relaxing outdoor winter activity. But there is some work involved, as certain snow terrains can prove more difficult to stomp through. Some of the best snowshoeing locations nearby are as follows:

Upper Beaver Meadows: 1.5 miles one-way; gorgeous meadow trail with possible elk sightings

Odessa Lake: 3.9 miles one-way; strenuous journey with breathtaking views of Glacier Gorge, Mill Creek and Longs Peak

Blue Lake Trail: 6.9 miles; long but scenic trail to high-mountain lake

Rent some snowshoes from Jax Mercantile (costing $12 for adults and $5 for kids) and head to one of these places, or wherever else your floppy shoes take you! You’ll be surprised by the peace you’ll feel in such a setting, as the snow absorbs all sounds and the only commuters are rabbits, deer and fellow outdoor adventurers.

Snowshoeing in Colorado


Pitch a Tent

You might think camping is solely reserved for the spring and summer months, but there are several dedicated year-round campers who would beg to differ. In fact, after Labor Day, campsites in Larimer County tend to not be jampacked or reserved well in advance. So you will have a better chance of finding a spot and setting up camp as the weather gets cooler. Bundle up, check out the detailed information regarding campsites in the area and make a reservation if you’re willing to commit to #OptOutside this Black Friday. Larimer County Natural Resources operates campgrounds at several nearby parks, some of which include:

Carter Lake Campgrounds: 45 minutes from Fort Collins

Flatiron Reservoir Campground: 40 minutes from Fort Collins

Pinewood Reservoir Campgrounds: 45 minutes from Fort Collins

Hermit Park Open Space: 1 hour 15 minutes from Fort Collins

Horsetooth Reservoir: 18 minutes from Fort Collins

Camping at Horsetooth Reservoir


Tube and Turn

Speed down a snowy hill on board an inflated tube just about an hour northwest of Fort Collins at Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch. Choose a single or double tube and slide down Beaver Meadows’ powder-filled hill made perfect for tubing. And don’t worry about hiking all the way uphill towing a heavy tube after each ride, because they have a lift that will pull you to the top. And then you can do it all over again! And again. And again. After you’ve suffered a few bumps and a sore tailbone to prove it, sit back, relax and warm up at Beaver Meadows’ full-service restaurant and bar. So purchase a 2-hour, half-day or full-day activity pass and have the time of your life as you #OptOutside the Black Friday.

Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch Tubing


Cast a Line

Maybe you would prefer a more relaxing outdoor activity instead. Thankfully, there are several fishing spots around Fort Collins that will provide just the right mixture of outdoor activity and relaxation. One of our favorites is Georgetown Lake, located two hours southwest of Fort Collins. It might be a driving commitment, but we think the scenic drive to this lake is worth the commute.

Georgetown Lake hosts trout, browns, rainbows and brooks in its waters, and it has become very popular for winter ice fishing. In fact, even if you were planning on bringing a boat to fish from, keep in mind that Georgetown Lake does not permit motor boats. The only motors allowed are cars that sit on top of the ice during ice fishing season and for races!

You may keep fish over 8 inches in length, and the limit is four per adult and two per child. For those over the age of 16, you must purchase a fishing license in advance. If you don’t already have one, you may do so at Black Diamond Ski & Bike Rentals conveniently located just down the road.

Georgetown Lake Ice Fishing


Take a Sip

If all of the above sounds too strenuous or exhausting and you would rather sit back with a beer and some small bites, we invite you to do that very thing… outside. As you’re well aware, Fort Collins has an impressive selection of craft breweries and eateries, several of which have outdoor seating available. This is a most appropriate option in a state that seems to attract the ever-present sunshine. You might check out Odell Brewing Company, CooperSmith’s Pub and Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery or, one we’ve mentioned in regards to a certain cocktailCoppermuse Distillery. There are plenty more, but those suggestions might help get your mind rolling! If you get this route, you’re still choosing to #OptOutside, and there’s nothing wrong with kicking back on a typically stressful day.

Odell Brewing Outdoor Patio


Share your adventure!

Don’t forget to share with the world whatever you end up doing as you #OptOutside in Fort Collins this Black Friday.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: REI, The Poudre River Trail, Front Range Ride Guides Ltd., Liftopia, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, Rocks and Sun, Coloradoan, TripAdvisor, Uncover Colorado, Ice Fishing Colorado and A Train Marketing

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