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There’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy within the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, but we understand the desire to explore beyond our boundaries. Luckily, Colorado is home to more than 23 million acres of public land – that’s a lot of adventure waiting to be had! Take a day trip and discover some of the incredible natural spaces that Colorado has to offer. 

The possibilities for exploration are endless, so go ahead and wander farther – there’s a lifetime of adventure just waiting to be discovered. To make it easier, we’ve put together a list of some breathtaking destinations that are just a short drive away from the National Heritage Area.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, just over an hour’s drive from the National Heritage Area, is a stunning natural wonderland. It spans over 415 square miles and offers visitors unparalleled views of the Rocky Mountains. With over 300 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and ranger-led activities, Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore some of the best our state has to offer. Visitors can enjoy activities like camping, fishing, and horseback riding, making it a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway

The Cache la Poudre – North Park Scenic Byway is a breathtaking journey that weaves through Colorado’s rugged and wild terrain, taking you through a textured history that connects the northern plains of Colorado to the town of Walden on the other side of the Continental Divide. Along the way, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the Cache la Poudre River, the only federally designated Wild and Scenic River in Colorado. Watch as accomplished kayakers delight in its famous whitewater or pull over to see bighorn sheep at any elevation on the rocky hills.

As you continue up the winding road,you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas that alternate between the tumultuous chaos of the canyon and the serenity of open pastures and alpine meadows. Eventually, the road climbs to the low forested saddle of Cameron Pass, where views stretch down into the bowl-shaped basin of North Park, surrounded by uniquely named mountain ranges like the Medicine Bow, the Never Summer, and the Rabbit Ears. The byway ends in the charming town of Walden, in the heart of the park, but your adventures can continue as you head west to the Delaney Butte Lakes for some fishing or south to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge to spot numerous species of waterfowl.

Pawnee Buttes

The Pawnee Buttes are one of Colorado’s hidden gems, located in the northeastern part of the state. These unique rock formations have been sculpted by the forces of wind and water over millions of years, and they are an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Hiking the Pawnee Buttes provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding prairie while exposing the visitor to the unique flora and fauna local to eastern Colorado.

Additionally, the Pawnee Buttes are home to a number of significant cultural and historical sites, including Native American rock art and early pioneer homesteads, providing visitors with a glimpse into the rich and complex history of this region. Overall, the Pawnee Buttes offer a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking to explore Colorado’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

More Beyond the National Heritage Area

We couldn’t possibly create a comprehensive list of Colorado destinations, but here are a few more options within a couple of hours’ drive of the National Heritage Area.

Red Feather Lakes

A picturesque mountain village in northern Colorado known for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

Medicine Bow National Forest

A vast and scenic forest located in southeastern Wyoming and northern Colorado

Flatirons, Boulder Colorado

The Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado, are iconic rock formations that attract hikers and climbers from around the world.

Idaho Springs, Colorado

Idaho Springs is a historic mining town in Colorado known for its natural hot springs and scenic mountain views.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is a stunning geological wonder of towering red rock formations set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.