June 15  |  Our Communities

9 Things to Do in Northern Colorado For Outdoor Enthusiasts

We’ve mentioned this once or twice (or maybe one thousand times), but in case you don’t know already, Northern Colorado is one of the easiest places in the country to opt outside. Rocky Mountain National Park, the Cache la Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir are right in our backyard, after all.

In addition to the water sports offered by the reservoir and the Poudre River, there are plenty of ways to explore on land. You don’t become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country overnight!

So before you head out this summer, check out all the ways you can adventure in NoCo. See how many you can try this year!


Rock Climbing + Bouldering

Rock Climbing in Northern Colorado

Rock climbing is one of those things everyone in Northern Colorado has tried at least once — whether inside or out. Multiple gyms and plenty of natural locations make it easy to pick up as a hobby. The most well-known spots for outdoor climbing and bouldering are located in Poudre Canyon, on Arthur’s Rock in Lory State Park and around Horsetooth Reservoir, though Horsetooth is usually characterized as bouldering. The main difference between bouldering and rock climbing is that bouldering is often done without a harness or anchors. For all the details on routes around town and to learn the basics, check out these local businesses!

Northern Colorado Climbers Coalition

The mission of the Northern Colorado Climber’s Coalition is to promote and preserve climbing in Northern Colorado. They publish guides for climbing spots throughout the region, host regular public service projects in those areas and offer a variety of community-building educational programs.  

Inner Strength Rock Gym

The Inner Strength Rock Gym is uniquely situated in the heart of Northern Colorado’s best outdoor climbing. The owners, employees and members offer a wealth of enthusiasm, real-world experience, and true enjoyment of a sport that for many becomes a way of life. Here, you can climb, practice and study up on the best routes in the region.

Ascent Studio

Ascent is a next generation climbing gym in Fort Collins. The team is focused on creating a unique indoor climbing experience and building an inclusive, friendly climbing community so there are plenty of opportunities to learn more outside the gym as well!



Hiking in Northern Colorado

It’s no secret that Northern Colorado (and all of Colorado, for that matter) is a hiker’s paradise. For beginners in the area, check out our blog posts on the best hikes near FoCo and Loveland and dog-friendly hikes in the area. Once you’re a local expert as well, venture to the rest of the state and use our guide to backpacking in Colorado!

Colorado Mountain Club

Colorado Mountain Club is a local community of more than 300 adventure-loving people who have a passion for Colorado’s mountains. Whether you’re just getting into hiking, you’re looking for safety tips, or you just want a group to get outside with, peruse their activity schedule and jump in for their next outing!



Road 24 Fort Collins Colorado Biking

Photo courtesy of Road 34

We should probably start out by mentioning that bikes are part of our town motto — and you don’t get that distinction without being a bike-loving, bike-friendly city. Fort Collins has made plenty of lists of bike towns, but most recently, Buzzfeed ranked it number one in 11 US Towns That Are Best Explored By Bike. Get started with our blog post on Fort Collins’ best biking trails. Then, hit up Fort Collins Bike Co-op, the most knowledgeable bike experts and advocates in the city. In addition to donating refurbished bikes, they provide the tools and know-how to anyone that wants it!

Lee’s Cyclery

Lee’s Cyclery was founded in 1963 with the mission of providing excellent quality bicycles and service to the Fort Collins community. Over the years, they’ve been named one of the nation’s top bicycle retailers and they’ve accumulated vast knowledge of the Northern Colorado trails and community.

Road 34

We love Road 34 because they combine bikes, beer and food — three of our favorite things. Founded by Colorado State University students, it’s the best place to gather around and talk shop, grab a pint while your bike is fixed or find a brand new ride!

Brave New Wheel

Brave New Wheel was built by a passion for bikes. In the cozy shop, you can learn tips and tricks, design a custom bike, get a tune-up and learn everything you need to know about exploring NoCo on two wheels!



Swimming in Northern Colorado

We love our whole state, but there’s no place like NoCo for swimming. Having Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre right in our backyard make getting in the water during the summer an easy pastime. Check out all our favorite lakes near Fort Collins, then venture out to Colorado’s best hot springs and the most exciting swimming holes in the state.

If you’re looking for a more resort-style dip, check out Visit Fort Collins’ favorite swimming pools in town!



Camping in Northern Colorado

Another no-brainer in Colorado is camping. With Rocky Mountain National Park and so many other Natural Areas in our backyard, it’s easy to park the tent or the car and hit the road for an epic trip or an overnight stay. First things first, prepare with The Procrastinator’s Guide to Camping in Colorado with a map to the best spots. Then take your adventures up a notch with our guide to backpacking in the state — a combination of camping and hiking!

Jax Mercantile

The local experts at Jax Mercantile are one of the best resources for camping supplies and tips in Northern Colorado. In any of their seven Colorado shops, you’ll find everything from tents and sleeping bags to cooking gear and hammocks!



Kayaking in Northern Colorado

Kayaking is one of our favorite pastimes during the warm months. You can get on the lake for a few peaceful moments or you can speed down the river for a jolt of adrenaline. Though lake kayaking is pretty low-risk, you should know how to handle emergencies. First, check out the best lakes near Fort Collins, including Horsetooth Reservoir, then find out how these local experts can help get you on the water. Get ready for an arm workout!

Rocky Mountain Adventures

In addition to fly fishing trips and guided whitewater expeditions, Rocky Mountain Adventures offers a kayak roll class held in a swimming pool or pond and a whitewater river class held on the river! Their kayak school offers the opportunity to learn the dynamic sport of kayaking in a controlled environment and supportive atmosphere.



Standup Paddleboarding Northern Colorado

Standup Paddleboarding, or SUP, is perhaps the most trendy water sport at the moment. You can explore a lake, get a full-body workout and test your skills with yoga on the water. And it’s another water sport that’s easily practiced in Fort Collins thanks to our proximity to Horsetooth!

Mountain’ SUP

Mountain’ SUP is Fort Collins’ first and finest paddleboard rental company, now with locations at Horsetooth Reservoir and Curt Gowdy State Park near Cheyenne, WY. The regional experts on SUP, they should be your first stop if you want to get started!



Fishing in Northern Colorado

There are fifteen City of Fort Collins Natural Areas that allow fishing so it’s easy to get out on the water in NoCo. With this City of Fort Collins fishing brochure, you can learn the basics of catch and release, brush up on regulations, and find the perfect family-friendly destinations near the city.

St. Peter’s Fly Shop

This local fly shop is one of the most popular places to learn the basics and get the gear for all your fishing needs. In addition to current river reports and free demos, they offer guide service and even destination travel fishing trips if you want something exotic outside of NoCo!


Whitewater Rafting

A Wanderlust Adventure Northern Colorado

Photo courtesy of A Wanderlust Adventure

For the perfect family outing, team building exercise or just a fun ride down the river, try out whitewater rafting this season. The Poudre River is a favorite for whitewater sports and it flows right through NoCo, so take the opportunity and get your adrenaline pumping this year. If the trip down the river doesn’t take your breath away, the scenery definitely will!

Before you head out, check out this First-timer’s Guide to Whitewater Rafting in Fort Collins courtesy of Visit Fort Collins!

A Wanderlust Adventure

A Wanderlust Adventure has entertained over 180,000 Estes Park and Northern Colorado vacationers offering fantastic whitewater rafting trips on the Cache La Poudre River. You can choose from two exciting trips on Colorado’s only National “Wild and Scenic” River from beginner to advanced.

Mountain Whitewater

Mountain Whitewater has a special use permit from the Roosevelt National Forest which keeps river use low so the Poudre delivers an exceptional wilderness rafting experience. And the business has comfortable, shaded dog pens so bring your pup along and don’t worry about leaving him in the car!

A1 Wildwater Rafting

With 35 years of experience, A1 Wildwater Rafting has the largest number of returning guides in 2017 and, of all rafting companies on the Poudre River, they have the greatest number of years guiding. Reserve your trip online and get out as soon as possible!


How do You Get Outside in NoCo?

Share your favorite ways to celebrate Northern Colorado’s adventurous landscape!

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