Located along the Colorado Front Range on the Cache La Poudre River, Fort Collins is a city in Northern Colorado with a population of around 167,000 people. About 60 miles north of Denver and 45 miles south of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Fort Collins includes a land area of 47.1 square miles and is home to Colorado State University. The city has a local music scene and hosts both small and large festivals during the year, including the Colorado Brewer’s Festival that is attended by around 30,000 people each year. Rocky Mountain National Park is just a little more than an hour from Fort Collins, offering a myriad of outdoor adventure opportunities.
While Fort Collins and its surrounding area offer plenty of things to see and do, a road trip is a great way to explore and see new things. For example, it is just eight and a half hours from Fort Collins to Idaho Falls, Idaho, a drive that will take you through parts of southern and western Wyoming and into the eastern part of Idaho, during which you can check out unique landscapes and enjoy new experiences.
Your destination of Idaho Falls has plenty to offer as well. The city is the largest in the state outside of the Boise metropolitan area, with an estimated 61,535 people. The hub of eastern Idaho, the city includes a minor league baseball team, a regional airport, the College of Eastern Idaho, and the Museum of Idaho. A river walk trail in the city offers running and bike trails, along with art installations, along the Snake River. Whether you are seeking things to do indoors or out, you will find plenty in Idaho Falls.
About an hour and a half from Fort Collins is the Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary in Laramie. The first BLM Certified Wild Horse EcoSanctuary, Deerwood Ranch is family-owned and includes about 4,700 acres of private land. The Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River makes its way through the property and there are plenty of trees and willows as well as open fields where the horses can run and graze.
About 350 wild mustangs from the state reside in the EcoSanctuary, along with deer, elk, coyote, and other wildlife. The EcoSanctuary is about 35 miles west of Laramie and offers tours as well as a year-round guest cabin. A visit to the Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary will offer the chance to experience the beauty of the horses and the state’s landscape.
About an hour and 45 minutes from the EcoSanctuary is your next stop; Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum. The site of Wyoming’s first state penitentiary, the prison was opened in 1901 with 104 cells, no electricity or running water and minimal heating. Additional cells were added over time, to include those for solitary confinement and maximum security.
Over the course of the prison being utilized, about 13,500 people were incarcerated within it. After being utilized for 80 years, the prison shut down and was abandoned until a movie was filmed at its location. In 1988 ownership of the prison was assumed by a joint powers board and it was established as a museum and named the Wyoming Frontier Prison. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Museum offers tours to about 15,000 visitors each year.
Less than three hours from the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum is your next stop; the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, which includes the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Wyoming’s largest reservoir, the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, is located on the Green River behind the Flaming Gorge Dam.
Construction of the dam was finished in 1964, with the majority of the reservoir being in southwest Wyoming, with a portion in northeastern Utah. A narrow canyon with steep sides surrounds the water. Visitors to the National Recreation Area can take in the unique beauty of the area, while also having the opportunity to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities regardless of the time of year, like hiking, boating, fishing (there are many species of fish), windsurfing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
Less than three hours from the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale. The Museum is focused on the history and culture of Pinedale, with about 12,000 visitors exploring it each year. A permanent collection within the Museum offers visitors the chance to see items from the fur trade era, like Jim Bridger’s rifle, clothing worn by Native Americans, displays of Winchester firearms, and other unique items from the time period.
There is also a research library with rare books on the early history of the state and the fur trade era. The Museum can be toured daily from May through October and by appointment during the rest of the year. Experience the area and its history during your visit to this unique museum.
An hour and a fifteen- minutes from Pinedale is Granite Hot Springs, the location of your next stop. An ideal location to relax, Granite Hot Springs is open in the winter and the summer, hosting a thermal pool with temperatures ranging from 93 degrees in the summer to 112 in the winter months. Perhaps as appealing as the warm water is the amazing scenery; while you soak you can take in views of the Bridger-Teton National Forest that surrounds the hot springs.
The area also has plenty of hiking and snowshoeing trails to enjoy before or after soaking and nearby Hoback Junction offers whitewater rafting opportunities. The hot springs are at 7,000 feet and located on the side of a mountain; during winter months, the road to the hot springs cannot be utilized by car, requiring a snowmobile, dogsled, skis, or fat bike.
About two hours and twenty minutes from Granite Hot Springs is your destination of Idaho Falls. Hopefully you have saved some energy because you will encounter a variety of interesting things to do and places to explore during your visit. Idaho Falls includes 22.8 square miles, 1.17 of which is water. The city offers a river walk trail which is perfect for a run or bike ride, and will take you past some of the area’s points of interest along the Snake River. The Snake River is a great place to bring a rod and reel; relax and enjoy the fresh air and scenery while possibly catching your next meal.
The city has a number of indoor opportunities as well. The Museum of Idaho displays local artifacts and shares the area’s history. Traveling exhibits come through the museum as well, like those on dinosaurs, and remnants of the Titanic. Music concerts, plays, and special events can be enjoyed at the Willard Arts Center, the Colonial Theatre, and the Civic Auditorium. You can also choose to take some time to explore Idaho Falls’ revitalized downtown, which includes locally-owned shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Idaho Falls offers opportunities for camping both within and around the city, so visitors can stay a night or more in order to have additional time to explore the city and its surrounding area!