The Natural Areas exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a great place to learn about the shortgrass prairie ecosystem and find natural areas to visit!
Gateway Natural Area is only 15 miles from Fort Collins in the Cache La Poudre Canyon. You'll find hiking trails, a designated launch area for kayaks and canoes, fishing, picnic tables with grills, and informational kiosks. Two picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis or can be reserved. Groups over 24 people need a permit. The parking fee at Gateway is $6 or an annual pass is available. More information about Gateway Natural Area and its facilities >>>
A special use permit is required for a variety of activities such as groups over 15, research, collecting and much more. The Natural Areas Permit Conditions Table (page 3-8 of the permit) includes many more specific details.