Natural Areas and Trails Rangers
Frequently Asked Questions
- 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 >>>
- What hours are natural areas open to the public?
Natural areas are open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except for Soapstone Prairie, Gateway, Fossil Creek Reservoir, and Bobcat Ridge natural areas where hours vary seasonally:
- Winter (November 1- February 28) 7 a.m.- 5 p.m.
- Spring (March 1- April 30) 6 a.m.- 8 p.m.
- Summer (May 1- August 31) 5 a.m.- 9 p.m.
- Fall (September 1- October 31) 6 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Soapstone Prairie is closed in December, January and February. In order to enter a natural area during off hours, a free, online permit is required.
- Where can I run my dog unleashed?
The leash law applies in all natural areas. There are no natural areas or city parks where dogs are allowed to be unleashed. The City of Fort Collins Parks Department has dog parks where dogs can be unleashed within an enclosed area.
- 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.
- What do I do if I get a ticket from a ranger?
You will first need to check to see if you received a civil citation or a municipal citation. Follow the directions on the back of the ticket. It will take a few days for the courts to receive the ticket and have your information on file. Contact the court if you have any questions. The phone number for the court is printed on the back of the ticket. If you were issued a municipal citation, you will have a case number at the top of your ticket which will be needed by the court clerk to find your case. If you were issued a civil citation (these will be animal related tickets), you will not have a case number.
- I lost my copy of the ticket. What should I do?
If you have lost your copy of a municipal citation, municipal court will have a copy on file. You will have to wait 7-10 days after the ticket is issued before the court can pull your case number from the system. If you have lost your copy of a civil citation (animal violations), contact the Natural Areas Department office at 970-416-2815, or email bmF0dXJhbGFyZWFzQGZjZ292LmNvbQ== . The office will help you contact the ranger who issued the citation.
- What is the day-use fee for Gateway Natural Area?
The daily parking fee at Gateway Natural Area is $6 (check, cash, credit card). Parking is free in December, January, and February. An annual pass is available for purchase at the Natural Areas Department, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road (8-5 M-F, check or credit card only) or at the Gateway Natural Area Office (hours vary, credit card, check or cash). Gateway has an automated fee station that is available for credit and debit cards only. Learn more at Gateway's website.
- Is camping allowed within natural areas?
No, camping is not allowed in City of Fort Collins Natural Areas.
- Can I bring alcholic beverages to a natural area?
No. It is illegal to possess or consume any alcoholic beverage in a natural area, as well as, parks, trails and all recreation areas. In addition, City of Fort Collins municipal code prohibits open alcoholic containers anywhere within the city limits. Glass containers are also prohibited within natural areas, parks, trails or recreation areas.
- Can I hunt or carry a weapon in natural areas?
Hunting is only allowed at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area where permitted hunters participate in a limited pronghorn doe hunt in December. The hunt is in cooperation with Larimer County and Red Mountain Open Space. Learn more here >>>
Can I carry a gun in a natural area?
No, unless you have a valid conceal carry permit. If you do have a valid permit, it must remain concealed at all times during your visit. A hunting license is not a valid permit. EXCEPTION: see Gateway Natural Area regulations
Can I bow fish in a natural area?
No, bows are considered a weapon. City of Fort Collins municipal code prohibits the possession or discharge in a natural area any gun, pistol, crossbow, bow and arrow, slingshot or other firearm or weapon whatsoever, including BB guns, pellet or paintball guns, except as permitted by a City-issued or other lawfully issued permit.
Are weapons allowed in natural areas?
No. City of Fort Collins municipal code prohibits the possession or discharge in a natural area any gun, pistol, crossbow, bow and arrow, slingshot or other firearm or weapon whatsoever, including BB guns, pellet or paintball guns, except as permitted by a City-issued or other lawfully issued permit.
This webpage highlights the main rules at Natural Areas, read the regulations here.
- Can I carry a gun in a natural area?
- Can I fish in natural areas?
Fishing is allowed in many natural areas, but not all. See the Natural Areas Finder and click the fishing icon to sort the list. Also see the Natural Areas Fishing website. If you are not sure, please contact a ranger. Fishing is regulated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW). You must have a valid fishing license. You can check fishing regulations at http://wildlife.state.co.us/RulesRegs/RegulationsBrochures/. Please note that ice fishing is not allowed in any natural area.
- Can I boat on the ponds in natural areas?
Yes, but only in a non-motorized or a boat with an electric trolling motor, and only in ponds that allow fishing. Please note that all Colorado State and U.S. Coast Guard rules apply.
- Can I smoke marijuana in a natural area?
No, The City of Fort Collins prohibits any consumption of marijuana that is conducted openly and publicly. It is prohibited to transfer and display marijuana including at office buildings, public parks, natural areas, city streets and sidewalks. This also applies to those with medical cards as the City of Fort Collins prohibits the consumption, transfer and display of all marijuana on all city owned properties.
- 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.