Natural Areas Enews
Celebrate Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space's 10th Anniversary

Everyone is invited to celebrate the decade since the opening of Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space with a ceremony and fun interactive stations.

Saturday, July 13

10 a.m.- Ceremony at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area’s South Parking Lot Picnic Shelter

10:45 a.m.- 2 p.m. Visit educational stations at Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain on your own schedule. Families are invited to enjoy a children’s activity at each parking lot. The contents of the time capsule that was created in 2009 will be on display, too.

Van transportation to Soapstone Prairie is available for no charge, registration required at 

Free! Sign-up or learn more here

New Webcam at Reservoir Ridge Natural Area
A new webcam at Reservoir Ridge Natural Area's Michaud Lane parking lot has been installed. Check for parking conditions at Bobcat Ridge, Coyote Ridge and Reservoir Ridge at before you go!
Parking lot webcams

Three Spots for Easy Fishing Access
Summer is a great time to get outside and fish!

The ponds at Arapaho Bend Natural Area are a short walk from either parking lot (on Strauss Cabin Rd. or Harmony Transfer Center). Fishing is permitted east of Strauss Cabin Road, but some river areas closed to fishing. There is no fishing from Arapaho Bend's north boundary and downstream approximately 300 yards. This is one of the two natural areas where wiper are present, and stocked by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Riverbend Ponds Natural Area is another popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. River and pond fishing are both permitted. Parking and access is from any of the  parking lots (off Cherly, Cairns or Prospect streets). There is an accessible fishing pier and short paved trail available from the Cairns St entrance. This is one of the two natural areas where gizzard shad are present.

Prospect Ponds has picnic tables between the two ponds and easy access from Sharp Point Rd. and parking lots. This is the only natural area where flathead minnows are present.
More About Fishing

Family-Friendly Trash Clean-up
Everyone is invited to have fun, be outside, and give back by demonstrating your stewardship at monthly trash pick-ups. In July, join the City's Natural Areas and Utilities departments to clean-up litter at Red Fox Meadows.
Saturday, July 20, 9 a.m.- 11 a.m.
Free! Registration required.
Learn more and register

For Pollinators, The City Can Be Habitat Too
Pollinator Week was celebrated on social media in June. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and beetles provide 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat. Give thanks to our FoCo pollinators by providing the resources they need to survive and thrive. To create a pollinator haven where you live, work, or go to school: 
  • Stay on the Sunny Side- Small pollinators rely on the warmth of the sun to stay toasty and keep moving. Pick a sunny spot for your pollinator habitat.
  • Keep it Local- Native plants offer local pollinators their favorite flavors of sweet nectar and nutritious pollen. Choose a variety of species with different bloom times so there is food year-round.
  • 3 Is Better Than 1- Small pollinators spend energy travelling from plant to plant. Ease their way by clumping similar plants together in groups of 3-5.
  • Don't Forget Water- Gathering pollen and nectar is thirsty work! 
  • Variety is Key- Pollinator homes are as varied as pollinators themselves. Adding large trees and shrubs, patches of bare ground or sand, fallen logs, or insect hotels to your garden helps provide a range of housing options.

Do you have an idea for a project that could make a difference for pollinators where you live, work, or go to school? Beeeee on the lookout for the Nature in the City 2019 community grant cycle this fall. Together we can expand the network of places that support our local butterflies, bees, birds and beetles.

Photo- Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) with an ottoe skipper (Hesperia ottoe).

Learn More About Nature in the City Grants

New Nature Playdates Added

Nature Play Dates encourage unstructured play in natural spaces. 

Nature Play Date
, Wednesday, July 24, 10 a.m. – noon, Ross Natural Area, meet near the picnic shelters closest to the playground in Rolland Moore Park. Come explore nature in a safe and accessible way with your little ones (age 3-7). Kids can roam off-trail, explore a grassy area, and climb trees. This is a great opportunity to ease into the outdoors! Bring water, sun and insect protection, clothes that can get wet and dirty, and a picnic lunch if you'd like for afterwards! Free, registration required at

Nature Play Date, Thursday, August 15, 10 a.m. – noon, Gateway Natural Area, free parking for program participants, meet near the picnic shelters.Come explore nature in a safe and accessible way with your little ones (age 3-7). Discover a large grass area with picnic shelters and a nature playground, and be surrounded by mountains and near the Cache la Poudre River. This is a great opportunity to ease into the outdoors! Bring water, sun and insect protection, clothes that can get wet and dirty, and a picnic lunch if you'd like for afterwards! Free, registration required at

Learn more and register

Volunteer of the Month: Suzanne Wilson

Suzanne is a volunteer Master Naturalist and Editor for the Natural Areas Department. Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness is so appreciated! 

Suzanne writes, "Riverbend Ponds, Magpie Meander, Red Fox Meadows—the names of our many Natural Areas read like invitations to intriguing places. We are so fortunate to live in a city where everyone has access to the beauty of wilderness, and when people of all ages come to our volunteer-led programs, we know they’re looking for their own connections to nature. I’m inspired by the dedication of the Natural Areas staff and the wide scope of knowledge our volunteer naturalists bring to the community. Being a volunteer is an essential part of my life."

Free Upcoming Activities

Bison-Archaeology Connection, Saturday, July 6, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at south parking lot. Learn about the acquisition of Soapstone Prairie, the history of the American bison, and the treasures uncovered at the Lindenmeier archaeological site. Please bring water, closed-toe shoes, and sun/wind protection. Hike of 0.25 miles, easy. Free, registration required at

From Shore to Ocean Depths, Tuesday, July 9, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.Coyote Ridge Natural Area, meet in the parking lot. Examine the watery sediments that form Coyote Ridge. Learn how these rocks were deposited, uplifted, eroded and vegetated to form the present landscape. Please bring water, lunch, closed-toe shoes, rain gear, and sun/wind protection. Hike of 4 miles, moderate. Free, registration required at

Full Moon Walk, Thursday, July 16, 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Coyote Ridge Natural Area, meet in the parking lot. Walks are offered near the full moon with lots of natural light – no need for flashlights! Dress warmly, wear closed-toe walking shoes, and bring water to drink. The activity will include a 1-2 mile walk on unpaved trails, easy. Free, registration required at

New! Sparkling Water, Cool Trees, Wednesday, July 17, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Riverbend Ponds Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot off of Timberline Road. Beginners and veterans welcome! Focused and guided observations along with drawing, painting and writing deepen your connection to nature. No art experience required! Learn to capture tree-lined ponds, as well as some guided observation practice. Minimal walking on a paved trail. Free, registration required at

Science Behind the Scenery: Night Skies and You, Tuesday, July 23, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive. These informative talks are designed for adults to learn more about research and science related to natural areas. Discover the importance of darkness for humans and wildlife and learn what the City is doing to protect our night skies. Program is accessible and free, registration required at

Natural History of the River by Bike, Saturday, July 27, 10:00 a.m.  – 11:30 a.m. Lee Martinez Park, meet in the parking lot by the tennis courts. For beginner and advanced riders alike! Bike through two natural areas while learning fascinating information about the river corridor and how it supports humans, wildlife, and plants. Bring a bike you can ride on dirt trails and a helmet. 2 miles; easy; paved and soft-surface trails. Free, registration required at

Calendar of free activities

Natural Areas News is published on the first Tuesday of the month with occasional special editions. Newsletter comments are welcome. Please contact Zoe Shark, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Community Relations Manager, 970-221-6311 or 

To learn more about Natural Areas, visit our website.

City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department
PO Box 580, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road
Fort Collins, CO 80522