The city sits on the cusp of the high plains of eastern Colorado, but is sheltered on the west by the lower foothills of the Rockies, giving residents plenty of nearby hiking and mountain-biking opportunities. By plugging a couple of gaps in the foothills with dams, the city created Horsetooth Reservoir, which you won’t be able to see from town. To view the high mountains, you’ll need to head up into Lory State Park
or Horsetooth Mountain Park, which are just west of town. A walk through Old Town Square and the neighborhoods to its south and west demonstrates Fort Collins’s focus on historic preservation and the arts—music is everywhere, especially during summer.
The city was established in 1868 to protect traders from the natives, while the former negotiated the treacherous Overland Trail. After the flood of 1864 swept away Camp Collins—a cavalry post near today’s town of LaPorte—Colonel Will Collins established a new camp on 6,000 acres where Fort Collins stands today. The town grew on two industries: education (CSU was founded here in 1879) and agriculture (rich crops of alfalfa and sugar beets). Today there are plenty of shops and art galleries worth visiting in this relaxed university city. With nearly 10 microbreweries—the most microbreweries per capita in the state—crafting ales, lagers, and stouts, as well as a Budweiser brewery, it’s the perfect location for the two-day Colorado Brewers’ Festival every June.