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Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its scenery, hiking, wildlife-watching, camping, and snowshoeing.
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland. The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, an enormous area that encompasses 1.5 million acres, has fishing, sailing, canoeing, and waterskiing, as well as hiking, mountain biking, birding, and camping. Contained within the Arapaho National Forest is the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA), a 36,000-acre expanse that contains Grand Lake, Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, Monarch Lake, and Willow Creek and Meadow Creek reservoirs, collectively known as Colorado's Great Lakes. USDA Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District, 9 Ten Mile Dr., Granby, CO, 80446. 970/295–6600. www.fs.usda.gov/main/arp/about-forest.
Indian Peaks Wilderness. Spanning the Continental Divide between Grand Lake and Nederland just south of Rocky Mountain National Park is the Indian Peaks Wilderness, a 76,586-acre area that lies within the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests and is a favorite destination for hiking and backcountry camping. Permits are required for camping, and popular spots regularly sell out in advance. Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder, CO, 80301. 303/541–2500. www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/specialplaces/?cid=fsm91_058237.
North central Colorado has six state parks: Eldorado Canyon, Barr Lake, and St. Vrain, all close to Boulder; Boyd Lake, State Forest, and Lory, all close to Fort Collins. In Boulder and Fort Collins you can literally walk out your door, up the street, and into the mountains or foothills on a hiking trail. There are also plenty of riparian trails and open-space paths within the city limits that can take you for miles; they usually have plenty of access points.
The northern Front Range is home to a small downhill ski area: Eldora Mountain Resort is 21 miles west of Boulder.