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Natural Areas Newsletter Natural Areas Newsletter
Arapaho Bend is a scenic entryway into Fort Collins with natural and cultural features to enjoy! It is a popular fishing spot and is often visited by equestrians. You may see or hear some of the over 80 species of birds that use the habitat here including American white pelicans, prairie falcons, and cormorants. Visitors also may see mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, beavers, coyotes, foxes and deer. Anglers may catch bass, bluegill, yellow perch, or sunfish in the ponds reclaimed from previous gravel mining. View more fishing details.
Come see the ruins of the historic Strauss Cabin, one of the earliest log cabins in the area. The cabin was restored in 1997 and burned by arsonists in 1999. The cabin ruins were closed to the public from 1999-2012. The Natural Areas Department acquired the property from Larimer County and cleaned up the site with the help of volunteers. The pedestrian access bridge has been repaired. Please visit with respect.
While this site brings with it the hum of traffic on adjacent I-25, it provides opportunities for relaxing recreation with impressive views of the mountains and a glimpse into Fort Collins past.
About 4 miles of natural surface and paved trail follow the edge of the ponds in a loop and encircle Rigden Reservoir. E-bikes are not permitted on soft/natural surface trails. ADA mobility devices are allowed. View Map
5:00 a.m. 11:00 p.m.
Plan Your Visit
There are three parking lots, one at the east end of Horsetooth Road (closest access to Strauss Cabin ruins), one on Strauss Cabin Road between Horsetooth and Harmony, and at the Harmony Transportation Center. Arapaho Bend's approximate address is 4109 East Horsetooth Road.
Horse trailer parking is available (no designated spot) at the Harmony Transportation Center, the other parking lots are too small.
Events and Activities
- Free educational activities and events in June-October are listed in the Natural Areas Explorer booklet guide.
- Last minute activity additions, trail recommendations and events offered between November-May are in our free monthly electronic newsletter- sign up on this page.
- Customized free educational programs at Arapaho Bend Natural Area are available for groups, call the Master Naturalist Program at 970-224-6118 or email YWNobGVibmlrQGZjZ292LmNvbQ== .
- Know before you go safety and recreation information.
- Trail map
- Special people have volunteered to take an active role in the stewardship of natural areas by doing monthly litter pick-ups. You can join the fun and adopt a natural area, too!
- Plant List for Arapaho Bend Natural Area. Volunteers were critical in making the list possible, thank you!
- Poudre River Natural Areas Management Plan
- Fort Collins History Connection photos of Strauss cabin, fire and ruins.
- Photo of original Strauss cabin from Denver Public Library Digital Collections.
- Video history of Robert Strauss (1.47 min.) by local historians Wayne Sundberg and Ken Jessen.
- Bird Checklist- Courtesy of Fort Collins Audubon Society
- Arapaho Bend Natural Area is an Important Bird Area, learn more here.