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Natural Areas

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Your Natural Areas

Natural Areas are naturally yours! You are welcome to explore and help care for these special places. There are 49 natural areas managed by the City's Natural Areas Department. With more than 100 miles of trail, and over 36,000 acres locally and regionally, there is likely a natural area near you! 

Most Fort Collins natural areas are open for your enjoyment and recreation from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. except for Bobcat Ridge Natural AreaGateway Natural Area, and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area which are open from dawn to dusk. Reservoir Ridge Natural Area's parking lots at Overland Trail Rd. and Michaud Lane are open dawn to dusk.

Thank you voters! Your citizen-initiated city and county sales taxes fund the Natural Areas Department, including land conservation, trails and educational programs. Funds from these taxes, by law, are dedicated to the Natural Areas Department and may not be used for other parts of the city government. More details about the finances are in Natural Areas Annual Reports.

The Natural Areas Department's mission is to conserve and enhance lands with natural resource, agricultural and scenic values, while providing meaningful education and appropriate recreation opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Are Natural Areas Important?

Natural Areas are valuable for many reasons!

  • Recreation - natural areas provide a respite from the urban environment. Natural Areas are a place to hike, bike, walk your dog, ride your horse, bird watch, fish, create art, write, or just enjoy some quiet time outdoors.
  • Education - natural areas are an outdoor classroom for students of every age.
  • Scientific - natural areas are used by scientists to collect data.
  • Economic - natural areas make Fort Collins an attractive place to do business.
  • Cultural - natural areas protect traces of our past.
  • Agricultural- conserved working farms and ranches support local food production, help minimize urban sprawl and provide a community connection to rural culture.
  • Ecological - natural areas filter our water and air, prevent flooding and provide habitat for wildlife and native plants.
  • Aesthetic - the opportunity to hear a creek babbling, see a bird soaring, watch the sun reflect off a dewy spider web, smell a wildflower; these are all experiences to treasure.
  • Add your own reason here!