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Natural Areas

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Natural Areas FAQ's

Why can't parking lots be expanded?

The trailhead parking lot sizes are carefully planned for the natural areas' environmental carrying capacity and for your visitor experience. Without this, natural areas would be "loved to death," and would feel crowded. Some of trailhead parking lots have limitations on the number of spaces that can be provided, set by the county's development review process. Parking in non-designated areas blocks emergency access, destroys roadside vegetation, and violates these parking limits. Parking on the roads near parking lots is unsafe and often creates conflict with natural area neighbors.

If you arrive at your favorite natural area and the parking lot is full, please come back on another day. There are many natural areas to enjoy, and it is a chance to try a new trail.

Since the leash law applies in all natural areas, where can dogs run off-leash?

In addition to your own fenced yard, dogs can run off leash at the City's dog parks:
(1) Part of Fossil Creek Park (on Lemay ¾ of a mile south of Harmony);
(2) The Southwest Dog Park (at the west end of Horsetooth Rd.); and
(3) Part of Soft Gold Park (west end of Hickory off of North College).

More about dogs in natural areas is here.

How long is _____ trail?

Trail lengths can be found on the Natural Areas Map (see menu/top bar), check each natural area's website for trail information.

Is camping/hunting/fishing/biking etc. allowed on natural areas?

The recreation webpage is a great resource for your recreation questions.

Is there a lost and found?

Yes, if you have lost an item of value (cell phone, wallet) in a natural area or on a paved trail, contact Fort Collins Police Services, (970) 221-6540. If you have lost items of smaller value (such as clothing), contact the Natural Areas Department office, 970-416-2815 or the on-duty ranger, 970-416-2147. Found items can be reported to the numbers above.

For found items in City Parks or along the City trail system contact the City Parks Department at: 970-221-6660.

How do I contact a ranger?

If you are ever in need of assistance in an emergency, you should dial 911. For non-emergency situations such as reporting incidents and question regarding regulations, call (970) 416-2147. Your call will automatically be forwarded to the cell phone of one of the on-duty rangers. Rangers can be individually reached >>>

Do I need a permit?

A Special Use Permit is required for a variety of activities that would normally violate a natural area, county or state regulation. The Natural Areas Department may permit activities that allow for a safe and enjoyable experience while minimizing impacts to natural resources and visitors. A Commercial Use Permit is required for commercial use activities on City of Fort Collins Natural Areas or facilities for which fees or donations are charged to a third party by an entity other than the City. The permit webpage is a great resource.