Reflection of Longs Peak at the clear water of Nymph Lake, one of the best day trips from Fort Collins Colorado

13 Best Day Trips from Fort Collins (in 2023)

In this post, I’ll found up the best day trips from Fort Collins.

This guide covers exciting city attractions, mountain towns, outdoor activities, and so much more. I even share a trip across state lines, where you’ll find Wild West fun and a record-breaking rodeo. 

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13 Best Fort Collins Day Trips

Rocky Mountain National Park

Get breathtaking mountain views and watch for wild animals.

Clear blue sky over the Trail Ridge Road
Views from Trail Ridge Road, North America’s highest continuous paved road

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Rocky Mountain National Park Website | 👉 Rocky Mountain National Park Tickets & Tours

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of four epic national parks in Colorado, and one of the state’s best places to visit. You can travel the highest continuously paved road in North America, hike to pristine mountain lakes, and do some wildlife viewing. 

Downtown Denver

Experience the art, culture, and food of the Mile High City.

View of skyscrapers in Downtown Denver
Downtown Denver is beautiful, night or day!

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Denver | 👉 Downtown Denver Food Tour

There are countless areas to explore in Denver. The city has museums, galleries, botanic gardens, and plenty of activities for kids. Plus, there are award-winning Denver restaurants for every budget and type of cuisine. 

Colorado Springs

Check out Garden of the Gods, the Olympic training center, and more.

The Garden of the Gods under the clear blue sky in Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods, an iconic park in Colorado Springs

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 2 hours and 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to do in Colorado Springs | 👉 Top Colorado Springs Tours

Colorado Springs is a fun day trip from Fort Collins. Although you’re still gazing at the Rockies, they look different than they do farther north. 

Walk through Garden of the Gods, one of the best things to do in Colorado. Check out downtown Colorado Springs, or try one of the many hikes nearby

Red Feather Lakes

Visit the less popular (and less crowded!) Red Feather Lakes area.

View of man kayaking in Red Feather Lakes
There’s lots of fishing and boating in the Red Feather Lakes area (photo: Rexjaymes / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps

Red Feather Lakes is an unincorporated community in the Roosevelt National Forest. Here, you’ll find plenty of fishing, paddle sports, and some of the best hikes in Colorado

Visit the Great Stupa at Shambhala Mountain Center for rest or a retreat. You can also go horseback riding at Beaver Meadows Stables, or take a scenic drive along the Cache la Poudre/North Park Scenic Byway.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Spend a day on the lake paddleboarding, swimming, or fishing.

A paddleboard and a paddle in Horsetooth Reservoir
The scenic Horsetooth Reservoir at dusk

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Horsetooth Reservoir Website | 👉 Half-Day Cache la Poudre Canyon Tour

Horsetooth Reservoir is a year-round destination and one of the best lakes in Colorado. Mountain bike and boat in good weather, and enjoy snowshoeing and winter hiking when it’s cold. The reservoir is almost three square miles large, so there’s plenty of space for all kinds of outdoor fun. 


Spend a day in this college town and get great views of the Flatirons.

View of people from afar wandering on Flatiron in Boulder
There are lots of beautiful hikes in Boulder!

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Boulder | 👉 Top Boulder Tours

Boulder is another city where you get unique views of the Rocky Mountains! You can hike to the Flatirons, stroll Pearl Street Mall, or sip a beer at one of the many amazing local craft breweries. 

Idaho Springs

Soak in hot springs and get great views of Denver.

The Evergreen National Bank signage and a street in Idaho Springs
(photo: Serenethos / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Idaho Springs | 👉 Top Idaho Springs Tours

Idaho Springs is one of the top day trips from Fort Collins and one of the state’s best mountain towns. Conveniently, this destination isn’t far from Denver. Swim and soak at the Indian Hot Springs pool, or stop at Lookout Mountain to experience some of the best hikes near Denver.


Boat on Lake Dillon or bike at the Frisco Adventure Park.

View of people and vehicles in Downtown Frisco
Downtown Frisco is a great place to eat and window shop

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 2 hours 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Frisco | 👉 Top Frisco Tours

Frisco is a great little town just off I-70, found along the shores of Lake Dillon. The lake has boating, fishing, and swimming in summer. In winter, you’re close to several great Colorado ski resorts, and there are hiking trails and tubing at the Frisco Adventure Park in town.

Lory State Park

Go backcountry camping, mountain biking, or geocaching at this park near Horsetooth Reservoir.

View from Lory State Park during a winter hike
Lory State Park has hiking, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Lory State Park Website | 👉 Top Fort Collins Tours

There are hiking trails, rock climbing routes, and lots of other outdoor activities at Lory State Park. Since the park is on the edge of Horsetooth Reservoir, you can also canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. 

Estes Park

See the inspiration of The Shining and spend a day in a gorgeous mountain town.

View of the Stanley Hotel building in Estes Park
(Photo: Phillip Rubino / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Estes Park | 👉 Top Estes Park Tours

Although Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t far from Estes Park, there’s enough to do in this quaint town to keep you busy! Visit The Stanley Hotel to see where Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining, go for a horseback ride, or paddle on Lake Estes.

📚 Related Reading: 21 Best Places to Live in Colorado in 2022 (By a Local)


A short drive away, Greeley has a host of things to do.

View of stores and wall art in Historic Downtown Greeley
There are a surprising number of things to do in this small northern Colorado town!

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Greeley 

Visit the Centennial Village Museum to take a trip back in time, and continue the history lesson at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum. Greeley is a college town, so there are also great places to eat, a downtown distillery that hosts live music, and other fun places to go out.

Pawnee National Grasslands

This grasslands area is world-renowned for birding.

View from the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Pawnee National Grasslands Website 

The grasslands are home to lots of Colorado wildlife, and it’s especially known as a great birding spot. You can also camp, hike, go off-roading, target shoot, and visit the interpretive areas to learn more about the natural, national grasslands.


Spend a day north of the state line.

View of a big boots in the historic downtown of Cheyenne Wyoming
(photo: littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Fort Collins: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Cheyenne Website | 👉 Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum Tickets

In summer, Gunslinger Square shows Wild West skits, and Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, draws a crowd. But there’s plenty to do in Cheyenne year-round. Take the railway trolley around town, visit the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, or check out the Cheyenne Depot Museum for some western history.

FAQs About Day Trips from Fort Collins

What is there to do between Fort Collins and Denver?

There are many things to do between Fort Collins and Denver. Visit Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, explore Boulder, or visit one of Colorado’s best outlet malls in Thornton. You can also go to St. Vrain State Park, one of the best state parks in Colorado

How far are the mountains from Fort Collins, CO?

The mountains are not far from Fort Collins, CO. The city is in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and there are countless hikes near Fort Collins. For even more spectacular mountain scenery, Rocky Mountain National Park is just over an hour away. 


Hopefully, these day trips from Fort Collins have inspired you! Whether you head north, south, west, or east, you’re surrounded by interesting places to explore near Fort Collins. 

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