Wild Country

This summer, plan a trip to Cache la Poudre River Canyon, an underrated paradise for hikers, anglers, and campers.

August 2013

“It’s always a good day on Mother Poudre,” replied Choi, who’d grown up fishing this tumbling river. “Some people say the Poudre’s tough fishing, but I’ve never found that to be true,” he explained. It figures that a professional guide would catch plenty of fish, I thought. But the trout responded to Ben and me, too, especially come midday when we floated dries on the water’s surface and watched trout after trout gobble our stonefly imitations.

We changed locations as the afternoon wore on, leaving the campground zone and driving upriver to other pools and places where the water formed graceful arcs that sparkled in the tree-filtered sunlight. No, we weren’t catching 24-inchers, but we weren’t battling crowds like those I’ve encountered on the Platte and Blue rivers either.

Congestion can be a fact of life in Colorado’s mountain enclaves, which sometimes seem more devoted to genteel living than to nature’s simpler pleasures. I’ll confess to my own fondness for spa treatments and jet-fresh sushi after hiking my way through the Rocky Mountains, but even without such window dressing, Poudre Canyon feels special. Yes, it’s rustic and unpolished and undeveloped. But that, I think as I gaze at yet another lonely stretch of river, is its own kind of luxury.


Room Without A Zipper
If camping isn’t your thing, a handful of unpretentious lodging properties sits along State Highway 14. Among them, Bighorn Cabins is a standout. Centrally located near the middle of the canyon, these nine guesthouses offer spotless accommodations without the fuss (read: modest decor). Our nod goes to the three-bedroom Elk Cabin, which sits right beside the water. From the patio, you can listen as the current polishes river rocks and watch as trout rise to meet the sunlit surface. 
Rates start at $95 per night, 31635 Poudre Canyon Highway, A one-week minimum stay is required to book the Elk Cabin from July through early September.


The best way to learn about the Cache la Poudre River Canyon is to go exploring. Here, some basic information to get you started.
Find Your Way Browse maps and descriptions for Poudre Canyon hikes at
Sleep Outside For camping information, visit or call the USFS Canyon Lakes Ranger District at 970-295-6700.
Get A Line Wet Buy flies or set up a guide at St. Peter’s Fly Shop, 970-498-8968,
Buy Provisions General stores at Glen Echo Resort (31503 Poudre Canyon Highway, 970-881-2208, and Archer’s Poudre River Resort (33021 Poudre Canyon Highway, 970-881-2139, sell beer, buns, s’mores fixin’s, and other basics.