Natural Areas Enews

Fourth of July Community Celebration
Independence Day in Fort Collins will include a morning parade, evening musical performances at City Park, and the traditional fireworks display over Sheldon Lake at City Park.

Fireworks are illegal to sell, possess or use in the city of Fort Collins. Fireworks cause thousands of injuries every year, disrupt your neighbors, scare animals, may cause fires in natural areas, and could cost you a large fine. A new fireworks online reporting tool keeps 911 open for emergency calls. Dispatchers and officers use the map to address problem areas around the city.

Free Upcoming Activities

Astronomy at Bobcat Ridge – Planet Possibilities, Saturday, July 7, 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, meet at the parking lot. Enjoy a brief, family-friendly program to learn about the relationship between the Earth, the sun, and the moving planets followed by skygazing. Volunteers from the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society provide telescopes for your viewing pleasure. Dress warmly, bring water and a blanket or chair to sit on in the parking lot. Program begins at the picnic shelter, a 0.25 mile-walk. Please arrive on time! The gate closes shortly after start times and parking is not allowed on the road outside the gate. Free, registration required at

Artist’s Day in the Field, Thursday, July 12, 9:00 a.m. – noon, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot. Treat yourself to a day in the field to learn about Soapstone Prairie’s past and be inspired by spectacular prairie views. No art experience required! Bring drinking water, closed-toe shoes, sun protection and a snack if you like. Feel free to bring your own art supplies or borrow ours. 0.5 miles; easy. 16+. Free, registration required at  

Sights and Sounds of Gateway Natural Area, Friday, July 13, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Gateway Natural Area, meet at the picnic shelters. Explore the convergence of riparian and foothills plant communities and how they support a web of animal life. Bring water, sturdy shoes, sun protection, and your lunch to enjoy during a short presentation after the hike. 1.5 miles; easy. Free, registration required at 

Canceled: Tots on the Trail series- we apologize but the Tots on the Trail activities for the season have been canceled.

Grasslands: Foundations of Global Biological Sustainability, Thursday, July 19, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Nix Farm, 1745 Hoffman Mill Rd. These informative talks are designed for adults to learn more about research and science related to natural areas. Ray Aberle, Natural Resources Faculty at Front Range Community College, will examine the role that grasslands play in sustaining biological richness, their essential contributions to planetary health, and their central role in our natural areas. Parking is limited—please carpool, bike or walk. Bring a snack if you like. 16+. Free, registration required at

Soapstone Treasures: The Bison-Archaeology Connection, Saturday, July 21, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the south parking lot shelter. Learn about the acquisition of Soapstone Prairie, the history of the American Bison, and the treasures uncovered at the Lindenmeier archaeological site. Bring water, food, sun protection, and any other comforts you might need. 16+. Free, registration required at

Calendar of free activities

Walk-In Access Discontinued
Gateway Natural Area's driveway entrance connecting it to Colorado Highway 14 is narrow with steep walls and blind corners. To protect pedestrians, recently policies have changed at the natural area, located 5 miles into the Cache la Poudre Canyon. For safety, parking is prohibited at Hwy 14 and walk-in access on the paved entrance road is not allowed. 

At Gateway, you'll find hiking trails, a designated launch area for kayaks and canoes, fishing, picnic tables with grills, informational kiosks and a natural playground. Parking is $6.

#100ThingsToDo Before You're 12
Experience the health benefits of playing outside with this fun list (and we won't tell if you aren't under 12!). Natural Areas' favorites are on page 25 of Tracks & Trails, your guide to free events and activities on City of Fort Collins Natural Areas.

Children today spend less time playing outside than past generations. That’s not just something old curmudgeons say. It’s true. On average, kids today only spend 4-7 minutes each day in unstructured play.

City of Fort Collins is a partner in Generation Wild, a statewide partnership to reconnect kids with nature because kids grow better outside.

Celebrating Pollinators & Native Plants
In June, the Natural Areas' facebook and twitter pages featured native pollinators and native plants for Native Plant Week and Pollinator Week. The two most popular posts were:

"Is it a fern?! While forked spleenwort (Asplenium septentrionale ) is quite rare here in Colorado, it is common in the Alps and Pyrenees. It lives in your very own Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.#NativePlantWeek" The photo from the post is featured here too.

"Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) frequent woodlands, pastures, and gardens. Plant Coyote Willow (Salix exigua) or American Plum (Prunus americana) to provide them a place to lay their eggs. #PollinatorWeek"
Learn more about native plants

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