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A sampling of Fort Collins' many attractions

June 14, 2011
by Melinda Swenson

Whether you're visiting Colorado State University for Preview orientation, transfer student orientation, or for a summer conference, you'll be glad to know that there are plenty of leisurely activities to enjoy on our campus and in the city!

The first commencement at Colorado State University named three graduating students.A brief history of Fort Collins

Fort Collins was established after a contingent of Calvary officers was sent in 1862 to set up a post near present-day Laporte in order to protect those who traveled the Overland Trail mail route. This military fort was not abandoned until 1867. 

The County of Larimer was established in 1861 and Fort Collins was named the county seat in 1868, eight years before Colorado was named the 38th state of the union in 1876.

In 1870, the Territorial Legislature established the State Agricultural College (now called Colorado State University).  In 1884, the first college commencement took place with a graduating class of three, who immediately established the Alumni Association.

Today: A flourishing college town

Fort Collins now has a census population of nearly 144,000.  In 2010, Money magazine ranked the city #6 among the “Best Places to Live” in the U.S.

In Spring, 2011, Colorado State had a total student enrollment of 24,529 – 20,304 undergraduate, 3,681 graduate, and 544 professional veterinary students.

Outdoor diversions

The proximity of Fort Collins to outdoor recreation and natural areas is one of the huge plusses of living in or visiting our city.Horsetooth Rock as seen from the Colorado State University campus. Image by CSU Photography. If you enjoy hiking, Horsetooth Mountain is a moderately difficult five-mile hike on a well-maintained trail that takes you into Horsetooth Mountain Park. The trail affords wonderful, panoramic views of the eastern plains.  

To get to the trail head, take Harmony Road west; it will eventually turn into County Road 38E.  Follow this road around Horsetooth reservoir until you get to Horsetooth Mountain Park.  The entrance to the trail and parking are on the right hand side.  

The Cache La Poudre River

The Cache La Poudre River emerges from the foothills north of the city and flows east, converging with the South Platte River east of Greeley, Colo.

Seventy-five miles of the Poudre River have been given a wild and scenic designation and fifty miles of it are stocked with rainbow and brown trout.  Fishing licenses are available at local sporting goods stores and from the Division of Wildlife.  

Summer Lagoon Concerts

The free Lagoon Summer Concert Series has been a summer event in Fort Collins for over 18 years. Thanks to the generous support of Colorado State University, this event has continued to thrive and grow. 

The concerts take place on Wednesday nights beginning June 29 on the West Lawn of the Lagoon on the CSU campus. Bring a picnic, lawn chairs, and blankets and dance or sing along, whatever you like!The Historic Old Town District. Image by CSU Photography.

Farm at Lee Martinez Park

For children (and adults who are still young-at-heart), a visit to a city-owned attraction near the center of Fort Collins will provide an enjoyable afternoon.

At the Farm at Lee Martinez Park, visitors can retreat from the heat of the summer into the shade of the park’s old trees, two-story barn, and silo, which has been converted into a gift shop.

There are self-guided or guided tours that allow you to see a variety of farm animals. Sign up for hands-on farming experiences, hayrides, and pony rides. The Farm is located at 600 N. Sherwood and is open through Aug. 21 (excluding July 4) Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.

Historic Old Town District

The Historic Old Town District is a panacea for those interested in daytime shopping, festivals, or night life. The area is known for its beautiful architecture, wonderful restaurants, and sidewalk bazaars.

Many of Fort Collins’ original buildings from the early 1900s have been preserved or restored and house offices, stores, and restaurants. Check into the self-guided historic walking tour.

Today the Historic Old Town District offers fine and folk art, dining, craft brews, live performances, and a lively urban environment. 

Scenic drives

Locals will tell you that the best scenic drives in the Fort Collins area lead to the Rockies! Rocky Mountain National Park is located west on Highway 34 beyond the resort town of Estes Park. Highway 14 follows the Cache La Poudre River from Fort Collins to the town of Walden in North Park.