June 19  |  Our Communities

Your Outdoor Recreation Guide for Summer 2020 in Northern Colorado

To say Northern Colorado is an oasis for outdoor recreation is an understatement. We are known for our exceptional parks, trails, mountains, lakes and rivers, all amplified by the abundant sunshine we enjoy in Colorado.

However, like many facets of life, outdoor recreation will look a little different during the summer of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re confused about what’s open, what restrictions are in place, and other updates related to the coronavirus, use our guide to outdoor recreation for summer 2020 in Northern Colorado! We’ve outlined the latest information about closures, restrictions, and most importantly, what you can do this summer.

Get out there and start exploring the great outdoors this summer!


Overall Rules

No matter what recreational activity you are participating in, be sure to remember the following guidelines outlined by Larimer County:

  • Stick close to home when going out to recreate

  • Maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others, except for members of the same household

  • Stagger activities (boat launching, tee times, etc.) to maintain physical distancing

  • Wear face coverings when recreational activities are done with other people

  • Recreate in groups of 10 or less


NOTE: The details surrounding recreational rules are subject to change as the summer goes one. Always be sure to check the Larimer County recreation page for the latest information!



Camping in Northern Colorado 2020

As of June 1, all campgrounds and methods of camping are open in Larimer County, excluding cabins and tipis. All group picnic areas/pavilions, shower houses and swim beaches are closed to public access.

All campgrounds are open in the county, including Horsetooth Reservoir, Carter Lake, Pinewood Reservoir, Flatiron Reservoir and Hermit Park Open Space. All campground restrooms are open. Same-day reservations are allowed during regular business hours but after-hours or walk-up camping is not allowed. Carter Lake Area and Horsetooth allow a maximum of 8 people per site and Hermit Park allows a maximum of 6 people per site. Click here for a complete list of rules and regulations related to camping in Larimer County before you make your reservation.



Hiking is a great way to get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise this summer! Before you hit the trail, be sure to take a look at some of the recommendations and regulations in place by Larimer County. In short, adhere to the overall rules for recreating in the county, while also remembering trail-specific guidelines, which include: staying on the trail to avoid damage (step off, do not walk off), traveling in a one-way direction if possible, staying 6 feet from those passing you on the trail, and keeping your dog leashed and under control. Above all, avoid crowded trails and areas. Go early in the morning or later in the day and check webcams before you go to see how packed the parking lot is. And remember to be flexible with your plans; if you arrive to find a packed trailhead, think twice before getting out of your car!

Looking for some trails in the area? Check out these hikes near Fort Collins and Loveland.



Boating in Northern Colorado 2020

Motorized and non-motorized boating is open throughout Larimer County! However, there are a number of safety processes in place to ensure a safe experience for everyone. All boats must be property registered and equipped in accordance with state law. Plus, all vessels are required to be inspected for Aquatic Nuisance Species prior to launching. And while your boat is inspected, you must remain in your vehicle unless asked to exit by an ANS inspector, at which point you must remain 6 feet away from them at all times. Click here for a complete list of requirements and information about boating at this time — including boating access hours.

Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake require mandatory vessel inspections. However, there are no inspectors on-site at Pinewood Reservoir, so the boat ramp is closed and no trailered watercraft may be launched at Pinewood at this time. Windsor Lake requires a permit for motorized and non-motorized boats and has designated days for motorized and non-motorized boating (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for motorized and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for non-motorized).

For a list of boating destinations in Northern Colorado, check out our guide — but be sure to check each one for details before launching.



Our beautiful parks serve as the outdoor living room of Northern Colorado, and they’re best enjoyed in the spring and summer months! Head to the open space of a nearby park, adhering to the general guidelines set in place by the county and state. Not to mention, many of the rules regarding trails apply to parks, as many visit parks for their scenic, winding trails.

At this time, the following is closed or not allowed: team sports (baseball, basketball, soccer, football, softball, etc.), contact sports (hockey, boxing, martial arts, etc.), playgrounds, and indoor pools and play areas/facilities. Pools may open only for training, team practices or instructional classes, but are currently closed to open swim and public use. Picnic areas and facilities at some trailheads are not available and some backcountry parking lots are closed or have limited capacity. Drinking fountains and restrooms remain closed at this time.

Looking for a nearby park to explore? Check out our guide (and map!) to community and neighborhood parks in Fort Collins.

And for information specific to Rocky Mountain National Park, click here. As of June 4, the park has implemented a temporary timed entry/reservation system as part of their phased reopening, which is outlined here.



Fishing in Northern Colorado 2020

We can’t think of a better “socially distant” outdoor activity than fishing. And despite false April Fool’s Day claims that stated hunting and fishing seasons were closed, fishing is alive and well in Northern Colorado. Adhere to the normal rules for outdoor recreation, which are especially easy to do while floating in your own boat away from others or casting your line from a secluded shoreline.

If you’ve never fished before, use our Guide to Fishing in Northern Colorado, which includes the best places to go, where to get a license, resources for learning, and more fishing information.


Whitewater Rafting

For the perfect family outing, team building exercise or just a fun ride down the river, try out whitewater rafting this summer. 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!

At this time, both A Wanderlust Adventure and Mountain Whitewater are open for business, after having pushed back their opening dates out of caution. They have taken all the necessary precautions to provide a safe and clean environment for their guests and staff.



Biking in Northern Colorado 2020

Biking is another easy outdoor activity to maintain social distance from others. All the same rules and regulations apply, but a face covering is not required while biking, as you are likely distant from those you pass by (and not in an enclosed area). Many bike shops in Fort Collins are open and able to provide service at this time, including Drake Cycles, Road 34, Brave New Wheel and more. Check each website for updated business hours and protocol, including curbside pickup and other practices.

New to biking in Northern Colorado? 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!



At this time, swim beaches are closed and pools are closed to the public in Larimer County. This is subject to change as the season goes on, so check the Larimer County website for the latest information. Pools may open only for training, team practices or instructional classes, but are currently closed to open swim and public use. The items in the Pool Reopening Checklist must be implemented before resuming training, team practices, or instructional class.


Happy Summer!

While this summer might look a little different, we are thankful to be able to enjoy many outdoor areas in our region. Again, as details are subject to change, check the Larimer County website in advance before going to a campsite, park, lake or other recreational area.

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