Updated: Oct 7, 2018
After our stay in McCook, Nebraska, we headed to Fort Collins, Colorado: home to a slew of craft breweries and Colorado State University. Tom was taking a Wilderness First Responder course at the university, and I enjoyed visiting one of my friends (Taylor) that I taught yoga with in Jacksonville, North Carolina. In fact, we were lucky enough to stay with Taylor and Paul during our whole stay in the city. It's pretty amazing how the world works and reconnects you with people! We thoroughly enjoyed our entire time there, not only because we got to see old friends, but also because it was such a fun, outdoor community. Here are a few things that made the city so special.
After living in the Netherlands, we were thoroughly spoiled when it come to biking networks. Fort Collins was the first place we've been to in the United States that's had a really good bike network. They have dedicated bike lanes on the road. There are bike trails that parallel the road and go through parks. There are even tunnels to help pedestrians and bikers cross under busy roads. You can really tell biking is a lifestyle choice here, especially when you're stopped at a stoplight next to a mom hauling two kids in a bike trailer and one in a "backpack". We loved not needing to use the the car, burn fossil fuels, or spend money on gas. I loved getting a secret workout in every time I went to get groceries, take a yoga class, or hangout downtown. And on top of that, the slower pace lets you see the world in a whole new light: like being able to see more animals.
There are so many opportunities to take a yoga class, and so many different types to choose from. I was in heaven! Since Fort Collins is a college town (home of CSU), there are a bunch of trial/new student/free yoga offerings. There really are too many to name here, but I really connected with the Holistic Yoga School. They have a variety of classes from power to gentle, chakra flows to neck and shoulder specific, and more. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and the studio encourages service projects in the community. They even do yoga hikes! I really utilized my pass where I got two weeks of unlimited yoga for $25.
There are also many opportunities for hiking. The whole area around Horsetooth Reservoir has a couple of short hikes ranging from 0.2-1.6 miles. There's also the option to connect trails together to get more distance. If you want a really short hike and a great sunset, try going up Duncan's Ridge. It's mostly used for rock climbing, but is one of the few places open after the rain due to the rocky terrain. A quarter mile walk up a moderately steep hill brings you to an overlook of the reservoir. As one college student put it,
This is the best spot to get those pictures looking out into the distance.
If you'd like a longer day hike, head over towards Lory State Park. They have trails of different lengths and difficulties. We chose to do Arthur's Rock. It was a 1.7 mile hike to the top (6780 ft) where we were rewarded with a nice rest, snacks, and a great view of Horsetooth Reservoir and the Front Range.
I loved going through all the different landscapes: forested mountain, meadow, and rocky hillside. We got in at the best time possible (April). The flowers were in bloom and everything was green. It was the perfect picture of spring. I literally frolicked through the meadow, and there were even sheep grazing on the hillside.
Fun Fact: there's a mini scramble right before the summit.
One of our friends from Tom's course (Torrin) invited us to go rock climbing. We didn't have any gear; but, lucky for us, the local indoor rock climbing gym lets people rent harnesses. It couldn't have been easier. We showed up at Ascent Studio, filled out all the required waivers, and made sure the equipment fit before leaving credit card info with them in case of incidentals. Torrin brought all the other gear (except shoes for me because I have tiny fairy feet). He took us to Duncan's Ridge on the Horsetooth Reservoir where there are some routes already laid out with anchors for top rope climbing that people can use over and over again. I really enjoyed the freedom of not following the color coded paths that you find in the indoor rock gyms. We got there early to beat the crowds and the heat of the sun, tried a couple of different routes, and left right before the sun crossed over the ridge and took away our shade.
As you head further south in the city, you'll get into more single family, residential housing. There are a couple of large parks in the areas, and they're nice places to spend time outdoors without going too far from home. Expect walking and bike trails, eating areas, and maybe even a lake or pond. We went to Fossil Creek Park where we enjoyed crossing the bridges, walking around the lake, and seeing the animals that lived on it. Of note were the white pelicans. Living on the coast and only seeing brown pelicans, Tom was adamant that the white ones didn't exist until the day we saw them at Fossil Creek
We only stayed a couple weeks in the area, but there's still so much to do. I look forward to coming back again some time in the future.
Let me know what you think of these places or if you recommend somewhere else to check out! I'll definitely be back again.