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Easy Day Trips from Denver: Rafting the Little-Known Poudre River

July 23, 2014 at 12:21 PM | by | ()

Action shot of our rafting trip down the Poudre River in Fort Collins

Colorado is often talked about during the winter months, when the snow falls and people travel from around the world to ski its slopes. Perhaps this is one reason why Fort Collins, despite being a mecca of beer brewing and the location of the most joked-about river in the state, has continued to fly under the radar. Because it doesn't have a ski hill and isn't a major city, it gets lost in the shuffle of Denver and the iconic mountain towns of Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge.

This is good news as far as we're concerned. Fort Collins is located only an hour's drive from Denver, but it seems more remote than that thanks to this aforementioned low profile. The locals are incredibly down-to-earth and genuine, and tourists that find their way to Fort Collins aren't there by accident or because they've heard about the town their entire lives. They've sought it out because of one reason or another, so there's an aspect of realness and authenticity to everyone you meet. We experienced two of those reasons this past weekend: Beer and underrated whitewater rafting.

Fort Collins is home to only about 150,000 people, yet it is peppered with over a dozen breweries. This isn't some newfound ploy to catch the overspill from those who now come to explore Denver's exploding beer scene, either. One of the leading craft brewers in the States, New Belgium, has been a local staple since the early 90s, and O'Dells is the maker of another Colorado favorite, 90 Schilling.

Before you spend an afternoon touring around the breweries, though, you need to spend a morning on the Poudre River. First, the jokes we mentioned. The name of the river is pronounced Poo-der, which, as you might expect, draws out the playful immaturity of everyone, including river guides who explain that you might get some Poudre in your face during the trip. If this is flying over your head, we recommend you grab the nearest teenage boy and ask him to explain.

All kidding aside, the river really does hold its own. On our trip, we went through a half-dozen class four rapids. During the months of May and June - typically when the water flows the strongest due to snow melt - it is even more thrilling. Complimenting that perfectly is the beautiful mountain and pine scenery you pass along the way. There are many companies you can choose from, but one interesting option is Mountain Whitewater Descents thanks to its on-site, outdoor bar at its base called the Paddler's Pub. It's a nice place to start your beer tour while hanging with the new friends you've met on your rafting trip.

[Photo: MWD/Flickr/Flickr]

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