Fort Collins

Fort Collins
Downtown Fort Collins features a pedestrian mall and historic buildings. | Photo by Joe Wolf / flickr

By Sue Deans

Fort Collins indeed was originally a fort on the Cache la Poudre River, abandoned by the U.S. Army in the 1860s. The Overland Trail that passed nearby brought in settlers and business.

Now Fort Collins is the fourth-largest city in Colorado, home of Colorado State University, with an innovative arts scene and recreation opportunities, high tech industry and a thriving brewery industry completing the picture.

In 1879, Colorado State University began there as Colorado A&M, a land grant college focusing on agriculture. It now has nearly 40,000 students. Its 8 colleges and 55 departments include world-class programs in veterinary medicine and biomedical science, agricultural science, and the ISTec, Information Science and Technology Center.

The CSU Rams compete in the Mountain West Conference. A new football stadium opened in 2017 on the campus, with a capacity of 41,000 spectators. Cam the Ram, the teams’ mascot, appears at many events.

A Western vibe prevails in the city, relaxed and friendly. The Old Town historic district downtown is filled with restaurants, brewpubs, coffee shops and retailers that cater to tourists, locals, and college students. European-style walkways filled with flowerpots and bistro lights add an artsy air. The town is said to produce 70 percent of Colorado’s craft beer, ironic indeed because the town was dry until the 1960s. Victorian houses and a downtown historic district that was a model for Disneyland’s Main Street complete the picture. College Avenue, the wide downtown main street, still offers diagonal parking in the center lane, and a vintage trolley runs along Mountain Avenue from City Park to Old Town. Art museums include the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

To the west, Poudre Canyon offers a dramatic and beautiful entry to the Rockies. The 11-mile Poudre Trail, offers access to outdoor art, local history, natural areas, and, of course, the Poudre River.

More on Fort Collins

Fort Collins history

“Must-see” attractions
Colorado State University
Anheuser-Busch Brewery
New Belgium Brewing

More attractions
Fort Collins Municipal Railway
Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art
Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center
Gardens on Spring Creek
Lincoln Center
Old Town Fort Collins
Poudre Canyon Scenic Drive

Fort Collins facts
Population: 143,986 (2010 Census).
Land area: 47.1 square miles.
County: Larimer (Fort Collins is county seat).
Altitude: 5,003 feet above sea level.
Climate: Cool summers, cold winters and low humidity, with abundant sunshine year-round. Annual precipitation of 15 inches, including average snowfall of 47 inches. Snow depth of 1 to 2 inches from November to March. January averages: high 41, low 14. July averages: high 85, low 56. More weather >>