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Alpe at Lake Grandby spillway.

Women in Water: Alyssa Alpe

By Events, Stories, Uncategorized

Alyssa Alpe has been a student of history her whole life. It started in her early years where she grew up driving by Windy Gap reservoir, listening to her mother, a former Colorado State University Extension Agent on the North Platte Basin Round table in Jackson County, say that water was THE issue in Colorado.

When she started college, everyone questioned Alpe’s decision to pursue a history degree, unsure of the careers available for historians. But Alpe knew she, “loved researching in the archives to piece together a narrative that interpreted the story of the past,” and that passion would lend itself to her career somehow.

After graduate school, Alpe landed a job at a law firm where she discovered the world of records management, a profession focused on understanding records and making them accessible to others to tell a story or research an issue.

“It’s about being a ‘knowledge keeper’ and finding a way to communicate that knowledge to others,” Alpe said.

In 2015, Alpe was hired as a Records Data Analyst for Northern Water. Alpe has been with Northern Water for eight and a half years now and she has advanced in her career to the Records & Administrative Services Manager.

In the day-to-day, Alpe balances the managerial and Board of Director support roles along with the records and information management program. She can be found figuring out the best way to collect and store records, researching any number of topics like the origins of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, or making plans for archival projects like digitizing collections to make them accessible. In the future, she hopes to add another job to her plate to work with the communications team to develop the public history components of their website.

“You have to have a bit of background on many issues,” Alpe said. “You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know a little bit about a lot.”

Q&A with Alyssa Alpe

Alpe at Lake Grandby spillway.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with/studying water?

“The fact that it’s a constant state of learning. I don’t feel that you ever get to a point where you know everything about water because there is so much to learn. You’re constantly learning and that’s my favorite part.”

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

“It’s a challenge to keep up with the complexities of managing water in the United States and in our region. There’s been a real transition in terms of the institutional knowledge of folks that have retired during COVID-19 and moved onto different spaces of life. Transmitting that knowledge down the line to the next generation is a constant evolution. My hope is that through records and information management, that knowledge is accessible to our future selves 25 years down the line.”

Q: What has your experience so far been like being a woman in this line of work?

“Northern Water has modernized a lot since I started in terms of more diversity and women into this space. That’s been really encouraging to see. And I think further down the road we will have more and more of that. We have women in leadership roles across the organization which has been a shift from when I started 8 years ago. So, there is a legacy being built by women in these spaces that have historically been male dominated, and their voices will be preserved in our records for the future.”

Q: What’s a project you have worked on in this field that you are most proud of?

“When I first started with Northern Water, our former public information officer was working with a historian over at UNC, Michael Welsh, and he was writing a book along with the recently passed, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice, Greg Hobbs, who wrote prolifically about water in the west. They were working on the book Confluence: The Story of Greeley Water. We were able to dig into our records and give Michael these old newspaper clippings. He really appreciated that because we were able to give him pieces of information that contributed to this big project about the story of water in Greeley. I really loved that project because I got to work with Justice Hobbs before he passed and Michael Welsh as a historian.” 

Q: What or who has been an inspiration to you throughout your work experience?

“My number one mentor in all my life has been a former professor of mine, Heather Thiessen-Reily. She is a professor of history at Western Colorado University in Gunnison. She has done a lot of work with the National Park Service, working on public history projects. She has always been my inspiration because she is so driven. I am still connected with her, and she’s been a valuable person that I still go to if I have questions about something.”

Q: What is something you have learned about the water industry that you didn’t know before you started your role?

“It’s been hard for me to fully comprehend the prior appropriation system and how water is allocated because it is very complex. But it is also fundamental because it’s how we get water to our taps. I did not come into my role with Northern Water with a background in water. It’s been an evolution of learning and that’s the system that has been the most complex for me to learn, especially in terms of keeping the records and indexing with the appropriate terminology to be able to track back the history.”

Q: What advice would you give to other women that may want to get into this type of work?

“Be open to anything. You don’t know how that job will evolve. I didn’t think I would get into water when I left grad school and landed at a law firm working in records. I was just trying to navigate life after college. Be open to opportunities because it may not happen overnight, but eventually you do end up navigating your career towards what you want to do. It can get a little discouraging when you are trying to wedge your career into one path, and it’s not working out. But I believe all those experiences come together to make a package that will land you where you need to be, especially if you’re knowledgeable and passionate about things. Ask questions. And always be open to learning.”

“The other part of it is to be engaged with the public agencies, community organizations, your town, and other communities in the region that you may not know anything about. Learn about the region and its many histories, particularly if you are looking to work in the water industry in Northern Colorado.”

The Cache Pass: Connect with the Community

By Cache Pass, Guest Blog, News

As a whole, the Cache Pass is a wonderful resource for locals and tourists to experience and electric mix of breweries, museums, and restaurants in Northern Colorado. The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area provides a beautiful backdrop to connect with regional history, natural areas, and businesses.

Site #1: 1883 Water Works

Upon a visit to the 1883 Water Works, guests take a journey into the past and discover how the facility began delivering locals’ most precious resource to an eager town in 1883. With every conversation, volunteers with the Friends of the 1883 Water Works exude a passion for preserving, restoring, protecting, and interpreting the architectural and cultural heritage of the beautiful property. It was an exciting opportunity to experience the site during the Big Splash celebration which commemorated the 140th anniversary of when the historic facility first delivered water to Fort Collins.


Site #2: Strauss Cabin

Beautifully situated between the Cache la Poudre River and Rigden Reservoir, the Strauss Cabin illustrates the trials and tribulations of the innumerable “seekers and settlers” of the region. Visitors, myself included, try to imagine what the original structure entailed for early homesteader, George Robert Strauss, and the many iterations it has undertaken since the 1860s. At present, the ruins of the Cabin juxtapose the fullness of nearby foliage and water features while prompting passers-by to consider how Fort Collins and the Cache la Poudre River corridor have changed over time.


Site #3: Morning Fresh Dairy

Since 1894, an absolute must-see for any visitors of the beautiful Pleasant Valley is Morning Fresh Dairy, a fifth-generation dairy farm owned and operated by the Graves family.  Locally sourcing all milk from cows in Bellvue, Morning Fresh features a myriad of delectable treats available for purchase at the Howling Cow Cafe coupled with the magnificent views of the rolling hills. During my afternoon at Morning Fresh, I enjoyed a cold glass of milk, soaked up the sunny skies, and explored the grounds of the Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse, conveniently located on the Farm’s property. For a truly well-rounded experience of the Cache la Poudre River Heritage Area, I would highly recommend Morning Fresh Dairy for a stop, sip, and the sights!


The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area provides a beautiful backdrop to connect with regional history, natural areas, and businesses for a one-time payment of $10. All that I have been able to explore with the Cache Pass has amounted to huge rewards in knowledge of the river corridor, discounts on beverages and admission fees, as well as an appreciation for my local community. Truly, there is no better way to check-in at and check-out participating businesses to redeem various deals and discounts along the Cache la Poudre River! 

A huge thank you to Linnea Wuorenmaa for the photos and write-up of this blog post!

6th Annual Poudre Pour

By Events, News

The 6th Annual Poudre Pour is a wrap! It was a beautiful fall day celebrating the history, culture, and stewardship of the Cache la Poudre River corridor.

Sally Boccella, Northern Colorado Regional Director with U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper attended and read this statement on behalf of the Senator:

The lands we choose to protect send a message about what we value, and what we want to remember. Victories like this are always a team effort, and I want to thank Cache la Poudre Heritage Area Board and Executive Director, Sabrina Stoker, for bringing this to fruition, the Town of Windsor for hosting this reception, and Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse for teaming up so we can all continue to recognize the natural resources and rich history along the Chache la Poudre.

Boccella accepted a framed art piece on behalf of the Senator in celebration of passing the S. 1942, The National Heritage Area Act that redesignated the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area for another 15 years.

Congratulations to Climb Hard Cider for winning Northern Engineering’s People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row. And a shout out to the runners up, Salt Road Brewing and Zwei Brewing.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, partners, legislators and volunteers that helped make this event possible! We couldn’t have done it without you!! We are excited for new and different opportunities next year.

Photo Credit: Perry Ralph – More Photos

Press Release: Open Outdoors for Kids Grant Funding Connects Students to the River Corridor

By News

Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area was awarded $87,000 through the Open Outdoors for Kids grant, a program of the National Parks Foundation. The grant money will fund the Learning in Our Watershed program that helps youth understand and value the Cache la Poudre River and their water heritage while inspiring a next generation of river stewards.

Implementation of this funding will triple the size of the program and allow the Cache NHA to expand the program in response to teacher requests to add more pre-approved sites, include new field trip events, and adding programming that includes inclusive storytelling. Last year LIOW had just under 4,000 participants. This year there is expected to be over 10,000 student participants.

The LIOW program focuses on bringing students, primarily Title One 4th graders, in Northern Colorado and beyond into the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. The goal is to immerse students in their local heritage, cultures and landscapes through the adaptable three-touch model which includes pre-visit activities, onsite field trips and post-visit wrap-ups. There are in-person, hybrid and distance learning opportunities available through this program. For in-person, the teachers can elect to attend any of the following sites: Poudre Learning Center, CSU’s Environmental Learning Center, Centennial Village, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, or Colorado Youth Outdoors. Events include Expedition Colorado, the Children’s Water Festival, and the High Plain History Festival. For the hybrid audience, many of the in-person sites provide in-classroom activities or virtual tours. The distance learning option allows students to explore the interactive map of the river corridor or engage with virtual tours from various sites.

Comments from teachers and students surveyed last year showcase the positive impact of this program. 98% of teachers surveyed reported that the LIOW program helped to develop understanding of the Cache NHA as a resource for student activities and learning.

“The hands-on, active nature of the learning opportunities presented information in a way that reached all learners,” said Jan Nimlo, a 4th-Grade teacher. “This was a great day of learning for my students.”

“Amazing!” said one 4th grader after completing the field trip. “I want to do this again.”

Teachers can apply to the LIOW program to receive funding for field trips within the river corridor. The LIOW application is now open. Apply now on the Cache NHA website at Programs: Learning in Our Watershed. Please share with teachers to help promote this program statewide.

About Cache NHA

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, (managed by the Poudre Heritage Alliance a regional non-profit) works to PROMOTE a variety of historical and cultural opportunities, ENGAGE people in the river corridor and INSPIRE learning, preservation, and stewardship through collaborative partnerships and providing funding to community benefiting projects within the heritage area.  The 45-miles of the Cache la Poudre River, designated by Congress in 2009 as a National Heritage Area, is only one of three heritage areas in Colorado and one of sixty-two in the nation. To find out more about the Cache NHA visit www.poudreheritage.org.  

Guest Blog: Audubon Rockies

By Guest Blog, News

Western Water Initiative

Stream Restoration Legislation Will Benefit Birds and People in Colorado

Our decisions about the health and functioning of our streams and rivers reflect our priorities and values and influence all areas of life for people, birds, and nature. This legislative session, SB23-270, Projects To Restore Natural Stream Systems, was passed by the Senate, then the House, and then signed into law on June 5, 2023, by Governor Polis. SB23-270 is a solid win for Colorado’s streams and a good first-step opportunity to steward our rivers back into health. The bill was led by the Department of Natural Resources staff and sponsored by Senators Dylan Roberts and Cleave Simpson, along with Representatives Karen McCormick and Marc Catlin.

Through numerous meetings, outreach events, and late-night (or early morning?) committee hearings, SB23-270 moved through substantial changes from when it was first introduced. Audubon Rockies, Colorado Healthy Headwater Working Group, and Water for Colorado partners worked with agencies, lawmakers, water conservation districts, and other partners for the best possible outcome for healthy, functioning, and resilient river systems for people and birds—the natural water systems that we all depend upon.

Why the Need for Stream Restoration Legislation in 2023?

The need for stream restoration clarity around water rights administration is mainly three-fold.

First, existing Colorado water administration creates substantial regional variability, uncertainty, and even barriers to restoring the valuable natural processes of stream corridors. Legal clarity for stream restoration can reduce barriers for these important projects to get off the ground.

Second, the majority of our stream corridors have been degraded by more than two centuries of hydrologic modification, agricultural land use practices, roads and development, channelization, mining, and climate-driven disasters. The good news is that case studies of Colorado and other Western states’ stream restoration projects have proven successful in improving human and environmental health and reducing vulnerability to fire, flood, and drought. Thus, it was critical to provide clarity on how stream restoration could be done without needing to obtain a water right. The uncertainty around water rights was causing many projects to be put on hold.

Third, the timing of the currently available once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive funding from federal programs for stream and watershed restoration is critical so that we can have healthy streams and rivers for decades into the future.

The Evolution of the Bill

The bill moved through significant water community dialogue, education, and input throughout the arc of the legislative session. Significant amendments during the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing resulted in unanimous support and forward movement through the General Assembly for the final version that passed.

The original bill draft was based on the science of utilizing the “historic footprint”* for where stream restoration could take place without enforcement actions. The historical footprint is how stream restoration has operated in Colorado for more than 30 years. However, that was not a concept that many legislators and water stakeholders were familiar with, so the language evolved to things they were familiar with.

The final bill defines a set of minor stream restoration activities that are not subject to water rights administration. These include stabilizing the banks or substrate of a natural stream with bioengineered or natural materials, installing porous structures in ephemeral or intermittent streams to stop degradation from erosional gullies and headcuts, and installing structures in stream systems to help recover from and mitigate the tremendous impacts that occur to water supplies from wildfires and floods. The language in SB23-270 provides clarity for project proponents and the water rights community. It also provides protections for completed stream restoration projects and those that have secured permits before August 1, 2023.

While this bill is an important step forward in facilitating stream restoration activities that improve the health and resilience of our streams and landscapes, Audubon and our partners will continue to work with stakeholders and regulators to clarify a path forward for stream restoration projects that do not fit within the minor stream activity categories.

Senator Roberts remarked at the SB23-270 bill signing on June 5th, 2023, “This bill is taking away the red tape that has gotten in the way of some of these projects and costs barriers that have gotten in the way of these projects. We can do this type of work in so many parts of our state. That’s so important right now, as we know as we try to do everything we can to conserve and protect our water. This bill started off with a very contentious idea. We made some amendments that made it a little less contentious. We know we will continue to work on this issue as it goes forward. But we are making major progress here today.”

What’s Next?

In the coming months, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources will work closely with the Division of Water Resources to interpret the language signed into law. Following this, Audubon and the Healthy Headwaters Working group will facilitate outreach and training events on SB23-270 for stream restoration practitioners and interested organizations. And most importantly, we will continue to educate decision-makers on the evolving state of river restoration science and the benefits of healthy functioning floodplains and river corridors for birds and people.

Thank You!

Thank you for your interest and engagement during the 2023 Colorado legislative session on stream restoration! More than 300 people attended the live Audubon-Colorado Department of Natural Resources stream restoration webinars, part 1 and part 2. And 1,266 Audubon members sent supportive comments to legislators. Canyon Wrens, Yellow Warblers, and Belted Kingfishers depend on you to support our healthy rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for all of us. Audubon will continue working with agencies, lawmakers, and partners to prioritize water security for people, birds, and the healthy freshwater ecosystems we all depend upon.

*Historic footprint references the historic riverine footprint encompassing the stream channel, associated riparian zones, and floodplain.

Link to the original article: Stream Restoration Legislation Will Benefit Birds and People in Colorado | Audubon Rockies

Guest Blog: City of Greeley Museums

By Guest Blog, News

Celebrating Greeley’s Trees

The City of Greeley has been designated Tree City USA for over 40 years. The award, given by the National Arbor Day Foundation, recognizes communities across the nation for outstanding tree care based on four criteria. Communities must have an active forestry department or volunteer tree board, effective tree ordinances, host Arbor Day celebrations every year, and spend at least $1 per capita on community trees.

Greeley’s dedication to its trees stems from the Union Colony’s earliest days. Eager to establish trees in the new community, founder Nathan Meeker ordered a boxcar full of young trees from an Illinois nursery in June 1870. Despite his efforts to plant both shade and fruit trees, most did not survive the arid climate and died within the first two years. Greeley resident David Boyd later reflected, “It is worthy of remark that we at length learned how to grow evergreens, and many beautiful ones now adorn our lawns and sidewalks, and that Mr. Meeker kept planting until he, among the first, succeeded…The day may come when the hardier apple trees will also succeed.”

You can learn more about the City’s current tree planting efforts here.

Originally printed in the Greeley Tribune in 2016.
Written by Holly Berg, Curator of Exhibits
Updated 4/21/2023 by Katie Ross, Curator of Collections

City officials gather to celebrate planting trees around the Civic Center Complex, June 12, 1969.
COGM~1969.67.0006

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Guest Blog: Visit Fort Collins

By News

31 Things That Will Make You Love Fort Collins

March 20, 2023 by Visit Fort Collins

We decided to compile a list of things to do that will make you love Fort Collins and cut it off at 31 because the list would have easily been in the hundreds if we didn’t pump the brakes. This list is just a snippet of the offerings in Fort Collins, and we welcome you to please feel free to comment and add anything we have missed. We hope you enjoy the list, and we challenge you to check each of the 31 things we came up with off your list.

1.       TAKE IN THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF HORSETOOTH RESERVOIR
Man overlooking Horsetooth Reservior, Fort Collins

Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most beautiful outdoor paradises and it is located just minutes from Old Town Fort Collins. The reservoir is a beloved recreation spot for activities such as fishing, swimming, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, water skiing, hiking, and camping. There are miles upon miles of trails surrounding the reservoir as well for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. The east side of the reservoir also serves as one of the best spots in Colorado for bouldering. 

2.       MARVEL AT THE SCENERY OF THE CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER CANYON

Poudre River Fishing WomanThe Cache la Poudre River (pronounced poo-der) is one of the most popular attractions in Fort Collins and it just happens to be Colorado’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” River. Not to mention, Colorado Highway 14, which runs alongside the river, is a designated Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway as well. The Poudre is a haven for outdoor fanatics, offering activities like whitewater rafting (class III-IV rapids), hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, and fishing. And, when winter rolls around, the Poudre is home to sports like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling.  

Why does the river have such an interesting name do you ask? According to the story, the Poudre River was the place where French-Canadian trappers hid their gunpowder during a raging blizzard in the early 1800s. The name Cache la Poudre is a French phrase signifying “where the powder was hidden.”

3.       SIP AND SAVOR AT MORE THAN JUST ONE CRAFT BREWERY
New-Belgium-Brewing--credit-Richard-Haro-(3)

This is what Fort Collins is known for. This is why Fort Collins is referred to as the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. Did you know Fort Collins is home to more than 21 craft breweries? Headlined by New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing Co, the Fort Collins craft beer scene truly is something at which to marvel.

4.       EXPLORE THE CARGO CONTAINERS AT THE EXCHANGE
The Exchange Crooked Stave

The Exchange, located at 200 North College Avenue in Old Town, features food and craft beverages served from shipping container cars. Churn, an endeavor from Little Man Ice Cream, anchors the open-air central quarter. Other great establishments housed at the Exchange include Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project; the Burger Lab, which serves up unique burger combos; local spirits from CopperMuse Distillery; Chick’nCone, which features fried chicken stuffed waffle cones; Vatos Tacos and Tequila, which serves up tasty street tacos; La Piadina, serving Italian flatbread sandwiches; and indoor mini golf at Old Town Putt.

5.       SEE THE BOTANIC GARDENS AND BUTTERFLIES AT THE GARDENS ON SPRING CREEK
Gardens on Spring Creek. Photo by Ryan Burke.

The Gardens on Spring Creek recently underwent an extensive renovation and remodel. Kids and adults alike will fall in love with the new Conservatory Butterfly House, a 1,500 square foot glass enclosure that’s the first and only permanent facility of its kind in Northern Colorado. It features up to 400 free-flying North American butterflies. Additionally, the Gardens on Spring Creek hosts outdoor concert series, classes and seasonal events like Pumpkins on Parade and Garden of Lights.

6.       SEE WASHINGTON’S
Washington's Window

Visitors and locals alike are buzzing about Washington’s, one of the newest music venue in town anchoring an ever-growing music scene. This Old Town Fort Collins landmark was purchased by the Bohemian Foundation and renovated with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and plays host to acts big and small.

7.       SMELL THE FLOWERS AT CSU’S ANNUAL FLOWER TRIAL GARDEN
CSU-trail-gardens---credit-Richard-Haro

The Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Garden truly is a utopia and is one of the most beautiful areas in Fort Collins. The garden is open daily from May through September (sometimes October if the weather holds out) and is free to the public.

8.       TAKE IN SOME HISTORY AT THE AVERY HOUSE
Historic-Avery-House,-Credit-Tim-O'Hara

Franklin Avery is the man to thank for the wide streets in Fort Collins due to him surveying the town in 1873. Avery later founded First National Bank and was a leading force in creating water projects that were responsible for the agricultural scene in northern Colorado. In 1879, Avery built his family home on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Meldrum Street where it remains to this day. Tours and special events are held at this historic landmark. You especially don’t want to miss their 4th of July Celebration!

9.       VISIT THE MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERIES
Gallery Walk

Fort Collins is the cultural hub of northern Colorado. The city is full of so many great museums and art galleries that it’s hard to choose just one to visit. Here is a list of all the great places to take in some cultural experiences.

10.   TAKE A RIDE ON BIRNEY CAR 21 TROLLEY
Birney-Car-21-Trolley

This trolley is the only original restored city streetcar operating in the western U.S. today. Car 21 was restored to its original 1919 condition by the volunteer-run Municipal Railway Society and Car 25 was recently unveiled after being restored to its 1951 condition. The trolley makes a 3-mile round trip ride from City Park to Old Town on weekends and holidays in the summer.

11.   COOL OFF AT CITY PARK

City ParkCity Park is a very large park located near downtown Fort Collins and home to Sheldon Lake as well as City Park Pool (open Memorial Day-Labor Day). This fantastic park offers beautiful surroundings and Sheldon Lake for fishing, riding a paddle boat, and sometimes ice skating in the winter. Take a self-guided tree tour at the park, which boasts 223 tree varieties.

12.   HIKE GREYROCK AND TAKE IN THE VIEW
Grey-Rock-Summit,-Credit-Ashley-Matthews

Simply put, Greyrock is unbelievable. This fantastic hike in Cache la Poudre River Canyon is less than 20 minutes from Old Town Fort Collins. This moderate skill level hike has two trail options: the Meadows trail (approximately 7.4 miles roundtrip) and the Greyrock Summit trail (approximately 5.5 miles), which both offer stunning views. The elevation gain on this hike is nearly 2,000 feet with the summit sitting at 7,480 feet. This hike is definitely a bit of a challenge that comes with a little bouldering toward the end. But the payoff is worth it as it offers outstanding 360-degree views of Poudre River Canyon.        

13.   HIKE ARTHUR’S ROCK AND CHECK OUT THE CITY’S SKYLINE
Arthur's-Rock-aerial

Set with the stunning natural background of Lory State Park, Arthur’s Rock offers some of the most magnificent views of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city of Fort Collins. Arthur’s Rock is a very short drive from Fort Collins and is also a relatively short intermediate hike. This approximately two-mile trail bends through open meadows and brilliant mountain views on the way to the summit of Arthur’s Rock, which ascends to an elevation of 6,780 feet. There is also a fantastic natural stairway leading you to the top of the rock, which provides a perfect setting for a picnic if you pack a lunch.

14.   VISIT THE FARM AT LEE MARTINEZ PARK
LeeMartinezFarm1_arudkin

The Farm offers hands-on farm experiences for children and families. It is a wonderful family-friendly attraction unique to Fort Collins offering children the chance to learn about farm life.

15.   TAKE A STROLL THROUGH THE OVAL
CSU-oval---Fall

Home to 100-plus-year-old Elm trees, this truly is a must-see on the Campus of Colorado State University.

16.   EXPLORE OLD TOWN
Copy of Linden Hotel sunrise

Old Town Fort Collins is designated both a national and local historic district with 28 historical buildings. You will come to notice an uncanny resemblance to Disneyland’s Main Street USA when walking the streets of Old Town. We are proud to say that Main Street USA was modeled after Fort Collins! Old Town is full of local boutiques, cafes, antique shops, retail stores, and candy and confectionery shops. There are also tons of restaurants serving a smorgasbord of food of every taste. Pro tip: be sure to travel by alley when you’re in the downtown area to take in local art, beautiful flowers and inviting lighting.

17.   PLAY ONE OF THE PIANOS ABOUT TOWN
Pianos-about-Town-Enzios-Alleyway

One of the most beloved forms of public art in Fort Collins is the Pianos About Town. More than 100 pianos have been painted and placed into rotation at sites throughout Fort Collins. Feel free to seek them out and give them a play. It’s not uncommon to pass by and see amateur (and pro) piano players making beautiful music across the city.

18.   TRY A FOOD TRUCK
Food Truck

Fort Collins boasts a burgeoning food truck scene. Select Tuesday nights in the summer, food trucks gather in City Park to serve up tasty treats at the Food Truck Rally. Food trucks also frequent many local breweries.

19.   SEE A SHOW AT THE HOLIDAY TWIN DRIVE IN MOVIE
Holiday Twin Drive-In, Credit Jessica Quinn - Copy - Copy

Did you know Fort Collins is home to the Holiday Twin Drive-In, one of six drive-in movie lots left in Colorado and only one of 348 left in the entire country? Double features grace the screen from May-September.

20.   TAKE IN SOME HISTORY AT JESSUP FARMS ARTISAN VILLAGE
Jessup Farms

Jessup Farm artisan village plays host to businesses focused on handcrafted and locally-sourced products, housed in rebuilt and remodeled chicken coops, a loafing shed, a saddle shop, and an old barn and farmhouse: The Jessup Farm was one of the Fort Collins Urban Growth Area’s best preserved and most intact farm complexes. It received landmark preservation designation from the city, state, and federal governments. The farm is located south of the intersection of Prospect and Timberline on the east side of the road.

21.   JAM OUT AT AN OUTDOOR CONCERT
Foothills Concert

Fort Collins loves its music scene and for good reason.  Outdoor concert series typically kick off in May and last all the way through October but don’t worry. Festivals, events and other outdoor programs typically include live music so you’ll catch some tunes outside nearly year round in Fort Collins.

22.   SEARCH FOR FAMOUS FACES IN JAZZ ALLEY
Jazz-Alley

This alley is home to a beautiful painting created by local artist Terry McNerney. This mural is in a “hidden” alley off Mountain Ave. and Walnut St. next door to the Food Co-op. It features famous people throughout history.

23.   GO ON A TOUR
Beer and Bike Tours

Experience Fort Collins via a private or self-guided tour. Front Range Ride Guides specializes in guided mountain bike tours and private skills clinics. Beer & Bike Tours offers day tours where you can cruise between breweries by bicycle.  If an art tour sounds more appealing, you can take a self-guided art tour of the Transformer Cabinet Murals and Pedestrian Sidewalk Pavers. Known for their ghost tours, Fort Collins Tours offers haunted pub tours as well as walking history tours. And if food is your things, check out Old Town Food Tours to give you a true taste of Fort Collins 

There are also a lot of self-guided tour brochures available at the Downtown Fort Collins Visitors Center on Mountain Avenue.

24.   TAKE IN THE BEAUTY OF SOAPSTONE PRAIRIE NATURAL AREA
Soapstone-Pronghorn

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is an astonishing wide-open landscape spanning nearly 19,000 acres. It is home to miles-upon miles of trails, extensive and diverse archaeological human history and rare plant and animal life. Soapstone truly is a place to behold.

There are also two types of wildlife that have been reintroduced to their natural habitats – the American Bison and the Black-Footed Ferret.

The most popular site at Soapstone is the Lindenmeier archeological site, which is a National Historic Landmark. Excavations at the site show there was human habitation in North America dating back as far as 10,000 years ago. Birders also flock (pun intended) to this area to spot rare birds.

25.   HOP ON A HORSE 
Tour de Farms Bike Horse

Visit Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, a dude ranch in Red Feather Lakes, for an authentic horseback riding experience. Around an hour’s drive from Fort Collins, this guest ranch offers day horseback riding adventures with experienced wranglers.

26.   RUN THROUGH THE SPLASH PAD IN OLD TOWN SQUARE
old town splash pad

This splash pad is located centrally in Old Town Square in historic downtown Fort Collins. Come join the dozens of children and collection of dogs that frequent this area in the summer when they are looking to cool off for free.

27.   BOOK A STAY AT THE ARMSTRONG HOTEL
Armstrong Hotel Lobby

The Armstrong Hotel has been in the Fort Collins community for 100 years. In 2019 the hotel updated its guestrooms, public spaces and its beloved Ace Gillett’s underground speakeasy cocktail and music lounge. They’ve also added an Ace Cafe that offers outdoor seating. It’s the quintessential boutique experience in downtown Fort Collins.

28.   GO PLAY AT TWIN SILO PARK
Twin Silo Park Slides

located in southeast Fort Collins, is a 54-acre park featuring a fantastic playground that reminds visitors of the area’s farming history. Along with a zipline and unique play structures, the playground has two towering 50-foot silos with the tallest slide in Fort Collins traveling between them.

29.   SEE A CONCERT A THE MISHAWAKA AMPHITHEATER
Mishawaka

The legendary Mishawaka Amphitheatre has stood on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River for over 100 years. The “Mish”, as the locals call it serves as an incredible music venue, restaurant, and bar. It is located in the beautiful Cache la Poudre Canyon just 10 miles northwest of Fort Collins. There truly aren’t many venues that are as unique as The Mishawaka.

30.   MAKE YOUR OWN KICKS AT COLORADO SHOE SCHOOL
Colorado Shoe School

At Colorado Shoe School, you can design and create your very own custom shoes. Repurposing leather destined for the landfill, and using recycled sole options ranging from bike tires to rubber flooring or rescued conveyer belts, attendees are invited to build something completely unique and custom during a one-day (sneaker), three-day (wet lasted shoes), or five-day (shoe or boot) workshop.

31.   MARVEL AT THE BEAUTIFUL DESIGN OF THE ELIZABETH HOTEL
The Elizabeth Hotel Music Suite

The 164-room Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town (111 Chestnut Street) pays tribute to FoCo’s deep-rooted music scene. A musical theme permeates this modern luxury hotel with record players in the guest rooms, inspired artwork, a piano and jazz music at the rooftop Sunset Lounge, and rock ‘n roll at The Magic Rat live music venue. Don’t miss this hip hotel’s three over-the-top themed suites: Beer & Bike; Music: and The Green and Gold Room. The Emporium: An American Brasserie, located inside the hotel, offers everything from gourmet sammies and grilled pizzas to charcuterie platters and signature dishes made using locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients.

The Cache NHA Staff Updates

By News

Welcome Renee Tonnies

In December 2022, Renee Tonnies joined the team at Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Alliance (Cache NHA) as the Office Manager. With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she has held various roles working and volunteering for non-profit organizations in Northern Colorado over the past decade. Formally she served as the treasurer of the Northern Colorado Homeschool Association and as a Committee Member & Advancement Coordinator for her kids BSA of America Scout Troop. With her most recent employer, CASA of Larimer County, Renee held a variety of roles with responsibility for reconciling financials between accounting software and a donor CRM, managing confidential and time sensitive materials, as well as managing data for reporting purposes among other things. She’s looking forward to bringing her skills and expertise to Cache la Poudre River NHA and working in a highly collaborative team environment.

Renee has lived in northern Colorado for 22 years with her husband and two kids. She enjoys hiking and paddleboarding as well as visiting the many local breweries.

Welcome Darien Ellis

After working for the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area, as a Conservation Legacy contractor, Darien has joined our team full-time as a Projects and Education Specialist. Darien has been a professional backcountry guide and, more recently, an environmental educator. Still, he fell in love with the Poudre River while working as a whitewater guide in Fort Collins. He is excited to continue providing people from all walks of life opportunities to experience, love, and protect our planet.
He has degrees in geography and international studies from Colorado State University.
When Darien is out of the office, he spends his time exploring new and exciting ways to experience wild places.

Congratulations Beth Bullard

Beth was promoted to Assistant Director in December of last year. She’s excited to utilize her leadership skills to support the staff and guide the team as they refine and elevate programming, enhance community partnerships, and steward historic preservation. Her role as a resident photographer, capturing the seasonal beauty throughout the Heritage area, will remain intact.