Got Stress? Try Outdoor Relaxation

Mike Berg

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By: Michael Berg

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With finals and the holidays just around the corner, it’s likely that we’ll encounter some sort of stress. Be it uncle Joe and aunt Kelly getting into their usual argument, or having to cram in an all nighter studying for that one class that “interests you sooo much.” Stress is not fun, but one of the best ways that I have found to deal with stress would be forcing myself to find a way to relax. Often times for me, that involves heading west into the mountains for a retreat to help reset my mind. Coming from a local Fort Collins native, here are my best recommendations for outdoor relaxation in and around Northern Colorado. (Times given are estimate drive times provided by Google Maps from Fort Collins, CO)

Natural Hot Springs- One of my favorite activities to do in the winter is explore the many natural hot springs the Colorado has to offer. Often times, the presence of these hot springs have sprouted towns throughout Western Colorado. Here are some of the closest and best options you have from Fort Collins:
-Strawberry and Steamboat Old Town Hot Springs (Steamboat, CO 3.5hr)
-Glenwood Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs, CO 3.5hr)
-Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa (Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 3hr)
-Indian Hot Springs (Idaho Springs, CO 1.5hr)
-Eldorado Springs Resort and Pool (Eldorado Springs, CO 1hr)
-Ouray Hot Springs Pool (Ouray, CO 6.5hr)

Former CSU student Ben Jaacks makes his way through the Nokhu Crags up the Poudre Canyon. (Luke Koppa)

Hiking/Snowshoeing/Cross Country Skiing- Taking a hike has the power to clear my mind of most anything. We are very lucky to go to school and work here in northern Colorado because there are many hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing options near by. I would highly recommend downloading the free app AllTrails and doing a little research to which trails are most popular, but here are my local favorites:
-Horsetooth Reservoir (Just west of Fort Collins, CO)
-Lory State Park (Bellvue, CO 30mins.)
-Poudre Canyon (Larimer County, CO 30mins.)
-Rocky Mountain National Park (1hr drive to Estes Park, CO)
-Red Feather Lakes (Larimer County, CO 1hr)

Hammocking- This is one of the most popular recent outdoor relaxation activities to do. All you need are two trees and a nice day to make this a good go to for relieving stress. Don’t be afraid to hammock in the winter either, simply grab a sleeping bag and a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate then you’re all set and cozy. I would recommend all of the places I listed above for hiking and snowshoeing, but there are plenty of good spots around campus to pitch your hammock too.

Luke Koppa, CSU student, sends his way through some picture perfect Colorado snow. (Chris Fuller | Chris Fuller Photography)

Snowboarding/Skiing- While growing up in Colorado, most locals ask each other “whether” they ski or snowboard, not “if.” Our next RamPage publication will go over snowboarding and skiing in more detail but here are just a few local mountains that I grew up skiing on:
-Winter Park Resort (2hr)
-Loveland Ski Area (2hr)
-Keystone Resort (2hr)
-Copper Mountain Resort (2hr)
-Breckenridge Resort (2.5hr)

Driving- Even though it sounds simple, driving also has the power to calm me down after a long week of stress. There is something to be said about heading west into the mountains without much of a plan other than worrying about the road in front of you. I would encourage students to explore the great state of Colorado that we live in and arguably the best way to do so is with simplicity in mind. Plan a night or two to get the fullest experience possible because Colorado is a surprisingly big state and takes time to travel through the mountains. Here are some of my favorite mountain towns of Colorado:
-Steamboat Springs, CO (3.5hr)
-Glenwood Springs, CO (3.5hr)
-Crested Butte, CO (5hr)
-Ouray, CO (6.5hr)
-Telluride, CO (7hr)
-Durango, CO (7hr)

No matter how much time you have to spare, I highly suggest making room in your schedule for outdoor relaxation. It has personally helped me cope with all the stress that us college kids go through and opens my mind to how much Colorado has to offer when “going west.” Explore. Adventure. Enjoy!

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