With spectacular scenery and an equally appealing climate, north central Colorado contains a string of sophisticated yet laid-back cities and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure along Colorado’s Front Range. Restaurants serving cuisines from around the world, celebrated universities, eclectic shopping, high-tech industries, ranching, Colorado’s best-known breweries, bustling nightlife, and concerts are mere minutes from the wilderness, with hiking, rock climbing, bicycling, skiing, and kayaking.
North central Colorado encompasses three counties—Boulder, Grand, and Larimer—each with its own unique appeal. Despite their differences, these areas share a few common traits: natural beauty, rich history, and an eclectic cultural scene.
This part of Colorado also encompasses the northern Front Range, the easternmost edge of the Rocky Mountains—where the Rockies meet the Great Plains. The Front Range is Colorado’s most populous area. It’s just west of what’s known as the I–25 Corridor, a strip that includes the cities of Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, which line up almost perfectly along the north–south interstate. The Front Range is known for its blend of historic cities and towns, verdant landscapes, and wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities.
North central Colorado became part of the United States in 1803 through the Louisiana Purchase—hence towns with names like La Porte, Platteville, and La Salle, as well as the river named Cache la Poudre. Coal and silver mines attracted settlers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but the region grew mostly on agriculture and ranching. Out-of-state leisure travelers first ventured here in the early 20th century to benefit from both the dry air and the curative waters of spas like Eldorado Springs and Hot Sulphur Springs. Reminders of a grand style of touring survive in resort towns such as Estes Park and Grand Lake, the gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park.