Colorado’s Only “Wild & Scenic River!”
A true hidden gem of the Rockies.
From its earliest visitors, the Cache La Poudre river has been treasured by its visitors as an extraordinary gem. From its jagged peaks, roaring river, and gentle meandering meadows to the colorful people that called the Poudre home, the history of the Poudre Canyon is remarkable. A great canyon only minutes away from Fort Collins, Colorado.
Native Americans were the first to visit the canyon. They used the area during hunting expeditions. Next came the Trappers and finally the “Hacks.” Men that would travel into the canyon in search of usable timber to use for railroad ties for the ever- expanding railroad. These men and their families were the first permanent residents to the Poudre Canyon. Around 1870 the first buildings began to appear in the upper stretches of the canyon. Pretty soon homesteads were popping up along the entire stretch of the river. Between 1910-1915 a crude road was built from Fort Collins up through Cameron Pass. Miners and sight-seers would enjoy the beautiful drive. Today, the Poudre Canyon bypass is an exquisitely beautiful drive that draws thousands. The road today follows the old road almost exactly as it follows the meandering river.
For as crude as the early settlements were, the later settlements were heartily built. Evidence of these settlements is still visible through much of the Poudre Canyon.One can walk a mere few feet from the road and find an old cabin that a family built 100 years ago. In fact, many of the lodges that were built to house the traveling miners of the time, are still standing today, with the same name. Such places as Rustic Resort, Arrowhead Lodge, Indian Meadows, and the Forks, may have different owners, they still have the unique atmosphere that was enjoyed by people so many years ago. Step into these places and you will have a sense of stepping back into time when things happened a little slower, the people sat down to chat, and the feel of this magical place fully took its grip on you.
The Poudre Canyon was recently given a privileged status. On October 30, 1986 the Cache La Poudre river was given National Wild and Scenic River status. This status, given to it by Congress, states that this river is “protected from detrimental development degradation of water quality and destruction of its natural system by water diversions or dams.” With this designation comes a responsibility to every guest into the Poudre’s depths to respect the river and the land around. Because of this designation, the only one of its kind in Colorado, the Poudre Canyon is an experience that will touch you for a lifetime. Whether it’s the roaring river, the gently breeze or the crisp fragrant air, it beckons to you with a call of the wild.
For more information about the past, present and future of this great river, please visit the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area website.