The Cache la Poudre River Campgrounds
The Poudre River Canyon is one of the most scenic camping areas in the Northern Front Range of Colorado. Imagine pitching your tent besides the crystal clear water as it flows noisily by. Hummingbirds buzz you as you pound in your tent stakes and the breeze brings a harmonious quiver through the surrounding trees and meadows.
Along its sixty mile long canyon, granite cliffs, sagebrush meadows, panoramic scenery, a deep history and wildlife offer campers a diversity of camping areas and activities from which to choose. You can find the Poudre River by traveling to the north of Fort Collins on Highway 287 and turning west on Highway 14.
The following is a list of the main campgrounds that you will find along the Cache la Poudre River.
Ansel Watrous Campground
As you travel west on Highway 14 along the river, the Ansel Watrous Campground is the first campground that you will encounter. It is located 12 miles from Highway 287 at an elevation of 5800 feet. Here, you'll find that the campground has two sections to choose from, each with its own access. The lower campground contains 7 sites, while the upper portion contains 10. The lower portion is more primitive and suitable for tent camping. RV's, up to 30 feet, can be parked in 7 campsites in the upper section, while 3 campsites are "walk-in" and suitable only for tents.
The campground excepts reservations and the upper loop is open year round. All campsites contain a picnic table with a fire ring or grate. Water for washing is available and there is a restroom located on each loop section, neither accommodates the disabled.
One of the features that attracts campers to this area is the proximity to the Young Gulch Trail. This trail meanders up the Young and Prairie Gulches. The total length of the trail is five miles. It follows two small streams which hikers cross 30 or more times. It is a gradual climb that ascends about 1200 feet and winds through cottonwood and ponderosa pine trees, through grassy meadows, and abundant wildflowers. This trail is suitable for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It also provides hikers with many places to picnic.
Stove Prairie Landing Campground
Three miles further up the Poudre Canyon you'll find the Stove Prairie Landing Campground. Named because of its intersection with the Stove Prairie Road, this campground is found in an open area of sagebrush and grass amongst the ponderosa pines and aspens along the river. There are 9 campsites in the campground that accommodate either tents or small RV's up to 30 feet in length.
You will find that the road through the campground is paved an that the restroom provides for the disabled. Each site contains a picnic table and fire ring and grate. The campground is open year round on a "first come", no reservations basis. This is a popular spot for local weekend RVers, fishermen, and hunters.
The Narrows Campground
Another 4 miles up the Poudre Canyon you will find the Narrows Campground. You are now at an elevation of 6400 feet. This campground is also split into two sections. The western loop is located in an open meadow along the Poudre River. It is paved and contains 7 campsites suitable for RV's. You will also find seven picnic areas for day use by tourists just wanting a place to picnic along their scenic drive through the canyon.
The eastern loop of the campground is intended for walk-in tent camping. 8 campsites are found nestled amongst the ponderosa pines and along the river and much more secluded than those in the western section.
This campground is open year-round on a "first come", no reservations basis and includes two handicap accessible restrooms, picnic tables and fire rings with grates. Drinking water is also available.
Greyrock Trail is less than a half a mile from the campground and is a real local draw to the area. You must cross a foot bridge across the Poudre River to begin hiking. This trail splits into a Meadow and Summit trail taking different routes, but rejoining near the summit of Greyrock Mountain. Many hikers take one trail going up and the other traveling down. Gorgeous scenery can be seen throughout each of the trails. These are moderately difficult hikes.
Dutch George Flats Campground
The Dutch George Flats Campground is found only a mile further up the canyon road from the Narrows Campground. This campground is situated on a secluded meadow beside the Cache la Poudre River. You will find 20 campsites here. Most are on the meadow proper, but there are a few sites in the solitude of the wooded area on the eastern edge of the campground.
The meadow area is great for RV's and will accommodate 33 foot trailers. The more secluded wooded area is reserved for tent camping. This campground features a wheelchair accessible river trail along the Poudre River with benches located along its length for resting, relaxing, and listening to the river and birds.
This is a "first come" campground and is only open from mid-May through September. Two water hydrants are found here and two disabled accessible restrooms. Campsites contain a picnic table and a fire ring with a grate.
Mountain Park Campground
Just head up the river another mile to the 6500 feet elevation and you'll find the Mountain Park Campground. This campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the Poudre River Canyon. It features 55 campsites amongst the pines along the south shore of the river. Almost all of the sites are wooded and can accommodate 45 foot RV's. Many campsites have electrical hookups and there are showers in the campground.
This campground features a group camping area for up to 75 campers and a day-use picnic area. Here you'll find Volleyball and Basketball courts as well as Horseshoe pits for your entertainment. Campsites 1-32 are the ones with electrical hookups and are by reservation while the remaining sites are "first come". Mountain Park is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Nearby is Mount McConnel Trail. This hiking trail actually consists of two, overlapping trails. The William Kreutzer Nature Trail and the Mt. McConnel Summit Trail make up this network. The Nature Trail is moderately steep and contains some 26 interpretive signs at strategic points along the trail. These provide you with information about things you will see along the trail.
The Summit Trail deviates from the Nature trail and makes a loop over the top of the summit ridge, then rejoins the Nature trail along its descent. These trails begin at the east end of the campground parking lot. While hiking the trails, you'll enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Poudre Canyon and Mummy Range as it winds through the canyon wilderness. This is considered the best hiking trail in the canyon by many.
Find out about more campgrounds in the Poudre River Canyon at: Poudre Canyon Campgrounds.