#TravelTuesday: Fort Collins in Full Bloom

by Doug Flatt on March 22, 2022 in Travel,
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Head to Fort Collins, Colorado when the mountains are calling and you must go.

Most Texans hear the call of the mountains, as immortalized by John Muir. And Fort Collins is a  quintessential mountain and college town with everything you would expect to find in the Rockies, with access to a wild and scenic river and about an hour away from over 60 12,000-foot summits. In addition to Mother Nature’s grandiose designs, you’ll find mile-high culture in Fort Collins with its food, art and architecture. 

Just one example of the many perfectly manicured floral displays that are around every corner of Old Town. Photo courtesy Visit Fort Collins

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Fly Fishing

There are so many fishing opportunities within 30 minutes of Fort Collins. And it all starts right in town, where there are 16 City of Fort Collins Natural Areas that permit fishing.  Most of these are right in town, walkable or accessible on a bike from downtown. There’s both pond and Cache la Poudre River fishing access. Pro Tip: Make sure to read all regulations and obey all posted signs. If fishing on the Poudre (the Poo-der, as locals call it) in town is crowded, try driving up the canyon on Highway 14 west to the Gateway Natural Area, as there’s good fishing in this area and room to find a quiet place to cast. Be sure to stop by St. Pete’s Fly Shop, where they have experienced fly fishers working behind the desk to get you set up with all the right gear and flies you need.

A fly fisherman casts in the Cache la Poudre River. Photo Ryan Burke

Hiking

Opportunities to grab your trekking poles and hiking shoes are plentiful throughout the Fort Collins area. There’s the Poudre Trail that’s accessible from downtown and offering 12.3 miles of paved and concrete trails for hiking and biking, running from one end of town to the other. For more scenic views, try the Greyrock Trail which is a 7.1-mile moderate to strenuous loop hike that is a bit quieter, with sweeping views of Greyrock Mountain and the Poudre Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area.

Taking in the views while mountain biking on a single track near Horsetooth Reservoir. Photo Nick Markiewicz

Mountain Biking

Biking is always a great way to explore, whether you’re in the city or the mountains. Mountain biking can be intimidating in some locations, but the foothills near Horsetooth Reservoir have plenty of opportunities for the first-time rider to the experienced shredder.  

Front Range Ride Guides has been guiding for over 20 years and specifically caters each ride to your experience and comfort level. Their team is passionate about mountain biking and educating riders. You’ll finish your ride with new skills that you can take back home. Your guide takes photos while on the ride, edits them, then sends them to the group at no extra charge.  One of the highlights of the trip is the post-ride happy hour. Each group is offered a tailgate-style experience with locally crafted beverages to revel in the riding of the day.

CRUISIN’ AROUND TOWN

Ft. Collins takes advantage of artwork to cover what would otherwise be eyesores like utility boxes. Photo courtesy Visit Fort Collins

Where to Stay

The Elizabeth Hotel is located in the center of Old Town Fort Collins, making it ideal accommodation. The hotel is moderately sized at 164 rooms with an all-weather open-air space on the roof aptly named the Sunset Lounge. If you’re musically inclined and left your instrument of choice at home, just walk down to the lobby and check out their instrument library including several types of string instruments. Don’t feel like making music and just need some inspiration?  Each room comes with a record player and you can choose from the property’s collection of over 1,000 vinyl records.

Don’t miss the view of downtown FoCo from the Sunset Lounge atop the Elizabeth Hotel. Photo courtesy Visit Fort Collins

Brew Time

Fort Collins is home to over 20 craft breweries featuring well-known spots like Odel Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. to smaller shops like Gilded Goat and Funkwerks. Odel Brewing is tapping its Small Batch Festival on May 28th. There’ll be over 50 different Odell beers including barrel-aged brews, sour beers and experimental IPAs.

Live Music Returns

After a 2-year hiatus, check out FoCo’s own music festival, FoCoMx April 22 & 23.  As the snow melts and temperatures rise, the live music scene comes to life with live music on any given weekend in FoCo. There are also more traditional venues for live music like the Lyric Cinema, Magic Rat, Washington’s, Avogadro’s, and the historic Mishawaka Amphitheater.  

The Exchange is a destination for great food, entertainment, and creative outdoor areas. Photo courtesy Visit Fort Collins

GET IN MY BELLY

​​The Exchange is a great place to park for the night and have one-stop food and entertainment choices. From tacos to pasta, there’s something for everyone and plenty of craft beer and local cocktails to sip.

CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewery, located in Old Town, has traditional pub fare like fish and chips, chicken sandwiches, and unique burgers like The Ring of Fire with blue cheese crumbles, jalapenos and buffalo wing sauce.

Starry Night Espresso Cafe is a local coffee shop serving up traditional drinks for java junkies, but also sweet treats and stick-to-your rib options like breakfast burritos.

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Cover photo courtesy AJ Cohen

Doug Flatt is the publisher of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. When not running small businesses, you can find him on a mountain bike or a body of water with a fly rod in hand.