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Five Fun, Affordable Fall Adventures in Fort Collins, Colorado

By Caramie Petrowsky
September 22, 2022
I Stock 647389462 - Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins, Colorado - Istock/Melissa Woolf

Leaf peeping is a great way to explore Fort Collins, Colorado, and the surrounding Northern Colorado area during its most beautiful season: autumn. Fort Collins proximity to the Cache la Poudre River canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a leaf-peeping magnet, and the perfect basecamp for fall adventures to Lory State Park, the Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and more. While the peak season for fall foliage typically runs from the last week in September to the second week of October, experts anticipate the leaves will peak slightly early this year, perhaps closer to mid-September. Here are five affordable fall adventures in Fort Collins:

1 - Take a Hike

Fall Hike Fort Collins, Colorado
Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky

While there are myriad hikes in and around Fort Collins, one stands out as perfect for a sunny fall day paired with a picnic lunch. Greyrock Trail is a 7.1-mile moderate-to-strenuous loop hike that is gorgeous in the fall (and a bit quieter), with sweeping views of Greyrock Mountain and the Poudre Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area.

2 - Drop a line

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir

Between the Cache La Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins offers paradise found for fishermen and fisherwomen. The Poudre is perfect for fly-fishing, though there are a few spots where you can bait fish. At Horsetooth, try your hand catching smallmouth bass or walleye from the shore or a boat. Fort Collins also has 15 Natural Areas that allow fishing, including Riverbend Ponds, a popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. It’s one of two Natural Areas where gizzard shad (part of the herring family of fish) are found.

3 - Road trip to Red Feather Lakes

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Red Feather Lakes, located an hour drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded, hidden gem that’s less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feathers Lakes area is a year-round outdoor playground, but fall is stunning. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more.

4 - Attend a festival

Pumpkins on Parade Fort Collins, Colorado
Pumpkins on Parade - Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky

Festival season doesn’t slow down come fall in the Fort; here are three to check out. Tour de Corgi (Oct. 1) brings a sea of cute corgis in costume to one of the most quirky festivals in town. Pumpkins on Parade (Oct. 20 - 23) is a fun-for-all-ages celebration at The Gardens on Spring Creek complete with hundreds of locally grown pumpkins and fun and festive activities for the whole family (tickets are $10 for adults/children 12+; $5 for children 5-11 and free for under age 4). Día De Los Muertos (Oct. 28) includes a spectacular alter, mariachi band and tributes in picturesque Old Town Square.

5 - Celebrate the harvest

There is no shortage of local pumpkin patches and farms offering all sorts of fall fun:

    • The Bartel’s Farm – Stop in for a huge selection of pumpkins, corn mazes, and hayrides.
    • The Farm at Lee Martinez Park – Visit the farm animals and take a hayride. There’s also a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect future jack-o-lantern.
    • Northern Colorado Corn Maze – Jack Lantern’s Corn Maze is a Colorado favorite.
    • Something from the Farm – This family-owned farm features an organic pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, hayrides, a pumpkin catapult, and more.
    • Fritzler Farm Park – Located in nearby LaSalle, attractions at the farm include a corn maze, pumpkin patch, pedal go-carts, barrel train, pumpkin cannons, slide mountain, and more.
    • Spooky’s Pumpkin Patch — Choose from a variety of pumpkins, gourds, carving kits, and even straw bales and corn stalks for your fall decorating needs at this patch, located on South College Avenue.


    Colorado native Caramie Petrowsky is a former daily newspaper arts and entertainment editor who loves exploring new places with her husband and their two children. As a CSU alum, Fort Collins holds an especially dear place in her heart.

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    Things to do in October

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