Wild in Weld County, Colorado


Five Nature Adventures in Northeast Colorado
By Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid


BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: On this episode, Amy Dugan of Visit Greeley discusses summer outdoor adventures in Greeley and Weld County, Colorado. Listen to the podcast on Spreaker.com, SoundCloud.com, YouTube.com, or hear the whole show on BlogTalkRadio.com.


The setting for the novel “Centennial” by James A. Michener, Weld County is a beautiful lush valley region dotted with farms, ranches, and historic towns, along with wide-open prairie country, beautiful gardens, rivers and wetlands, and amazing panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.

As part of our Love Your Parks Tour, we spent a week exploring Greeley and Weld County. Just an hour north of Denver, this area is a recreational haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. It offers camping and picnicking, hiking and cycling, fishing and boating, photography, bird and wildlife watching, and much more. If you’re looking for a memorable nature adventure, especially as a family, we found five destinations to add to your list.

Spanning 193,060 acres of short grass plains, Pawnee National Grassland is a popular destination for bird watching, hiking, and to see spring wildflowers. The Grassland is an internationally recognized birding area that supports a variety of species including lark buntings (the Colorado State Bird), mountain plovers, burrowing owls, raptors and birds of prey. Keep your eye out for the wildlife species that make their home in this unique prairie, including pronghorn, mule deer, coyote, swift fox, snakes, and prairie dogs. Outdoor recreation opportunities include hiking, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, and stargazing.

Perfect for families, St. Vrain State Park boasts spectacular mountain views, over 600 acres of terrain, and over 150 acres of ponds. Popular park activities include camping and picnicking, hiking and bicycling, fishing and boating, bird watching and photography, as well as school and educational programs. Bird species range from migrating songbirds and waterfowl to raptors, including bald eagles during the winter months. Fish species include bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, red ear sunfish, yellow perch, saugeye, northern pike, channel catfish and rainbow trout. A year-round park, it also offers ice fishing, and tent camping in the winter.

Located in Greeley, the Poudre Learning Center is on a mission to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and citizenship through education of students, families and local residents along the Colorado Northern Front Range. Home to the Poudre River Trail and part of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, the Center’s property encompasses 65 acres with 3 miles of walking trails through 4 different habitats, the Old Hazelton School, a Sensory Garden, and a Native Plant Garden.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is a must-visit for all animal lovers. This esteemed non-profit organization rescues animals from horrific captive situations and rehabilitates them so that they can live the rest of their lives in a relaxed and natural habitat. Currently, the 789-acre Sanctuary is home to over 520 lions, tigers, bears, leopards, mountain lions, wolves, hyenas and a few smaller carnivores, birds, and mammals. You can observe them without disturbing them, by strolling the elevated and accessible walkways. There are observation decks, dining and picnic facilities. 

Nestled on 235 scenic acres, the Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center offers wonderful camping and glamping facilities along the South Platte River, as well as luxury guest suites and courtyard bedrooms, bunkrooms, a farmhouse stay, and the onsite Hank’s Bar & Grill. From hiking and biking to swimming and river tubing, as well as bird and wildlife watching, it’s an ideal venue for a family retreat or vacation.

To plan your Nature Adventure in Greeley and Weld County, Colorado, visit www.DiscoverWeld.com and www.VisitGreeley.org

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