Children and Nature Connection

Places to go around Fort Collins and Northern Colorado

Northern Colorado has plenty of natural areas, national forests, and national and state parks. But you don't have to travel far from home to get kids outdoors. As a matter of fact, the easiest way is to just open your door and go outside! Your front or back yard, nearby stormwater detention area, vacant lot or neighborhood park are a great start and places kids can play close to home. Kids see even small areas as the great wild outdoors!

For ideas for a short trip for the family, see the list below. Many of these are also within walking or biking distance, or are a short drive. Even a half hour or an hour outdoors will do wonders!

Fort Collins Natural Areas
Over 40 natural areas for you to explore; some right in town, and others in the foothills or in northern Larimer County. Find maps, activity lists, trail conditions, and other ideas.

Colorado State University Environmental Learning Center (ELC)
The ELC's site at the east end of Drake Road has an interpretive trail and is open from sunrise to sunset daily

Larimer County Open Lands
County lands include Devil's Backbone, Blue Sky Trail, Ramsey-Shockey Open Space, and lots of other locations around Larimer County.

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, Pawnee Grassland
There are vast public lands in our backyard - both east and west! Experience the short grass prairie at Pawnee National Grasslands - an especially great place to go in Spring and Fall.

Lory State Park
This nearby state park has 20 miles hiking trails, including several short loops perfect for families. A wide range of other outdoor activities are available as well.

Rocky Mountain National Park
This is one of the nation's most popular National Parks right in our back yard.

High Plains Environmental Center
Trails on this east Loveland property are open to the public during daylight hours.

City of Loveland Open Lands and Natural Areas
Many people are familiar with the trails along the Big Thompson River. These are great, and there is another local open space worth visiting - Morey Wildlife Reserve - just west of the Mariana Buttes golf course

Colorado Division of Wildlife
Twenty-seven State Wildlife Areas in Larimer County offer fishing access (lake and stream) and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Hiking with Kids in Northern Colorado
Look also for Best Colorado Hikes with Kids - which includes several that are in northern Colorado.