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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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    Last-minute leisure: 5 road trips 5 hours from Fort Collins

    Photo+courtesy+of+Garrett+Mogel
    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
    Photo courtesy of Garrett Mogel

    Spring semester moves at the speed of light. Amid the panic of midterms and the hustle toward graduation, it’s easy to let spring break plans fall to the wayside. Luckily for all Rams, Fort Collins is exceptionally close to some of the most beautiful outdoor spots in the country. Within roughly five to six hours, you and your besties could be pitching camp beneath ancient stars and cracking a beer next to a campfire — fire bans allowing.

    If you’re at a loss for ideas, here are a few spots to check out this spring break.

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    1. Red Feather Lakes

    Roughly an hour northwest of Fort Collins, Red Feather Lakes is a charming mountain village home to stunning views, great fishing and friendly people. Cabins, camping spots and camper locations are all available, and for the truly last-minute planner, dispersed camping spots can be found all around Red Feather.

    While staying in Red Feather, you can go explore Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and the Drala Mountain Center. The center is home to North America’s largest stupa and hosts meditation sessions, educational programs and a variety of conferences.

    2. Moab

    Though it may feel like a basic trip to some locals, Moab, Utah, has a mystique that is anything but overrated. A thousand trips to Utah could hardly cover all the hidden beauty of the area.

    Though it is definitely better to reserve a camping space within Arches National Park, dispersed camping spots and hotel rooms are also available depending on your budget. Moab is home to several accessible outdoor locations.

    You can also participate in world-class mountain biking and see naturally formed arches. Moab is a six- to seven-hour drive from Fort Collins, depending on your final destination in the area.

    3. Great Sand Dunes National Park

    Recently seen “Dune: Part Two” and want to practice your sand walking? Conveniently, the tallest dunes in North America are located under five hours south of Fort Collins in the San Luis Valley. Sandboarding, sand crane watching, stunning views of the sky and vast dunes to hike are all readily available at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

    Luckily for spring breakers, February through March is the ideal time to go see the sandhill cranes, with their migration to San Luis Valley beginning in early February and ending in late March.

    4. Devils Tower

    In northern Wyoming, roughly five hours from Fort Collins, standing at a staggering 867 feet, is Devils Tower. A rare geological phenomenon, the tower is the nation’s first national monument. Devils Tower is known nationally for phenomenal crack climbing and is also known as Bear Lodge and is sacred to Northern Plains Indigenous tribes.

    Lodging can be found nearby in Cody or Gillette, Wyoming, and camping is nearby if you’ve got winter camping equipment.

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    5. Taos

    Taos, New Mexico, is home to the Taos Pueblo, incredible skiing, the Kit Carson House and Museum and fantastic restaurants, among other things. Whether you are a cozy town tourist or an outdoors enthusiast, there’s a bit of something for everyone in Taos. Less camping is available near the town center, but fantastic inns and hotels are available near town, and camping is a short drive from the town center.

    Whether you’re planning last minute or looking for future outdoor adventures, these locations are great examples of how diverse the Western landscape is. Though we may not have access to sunny beaches or the cultural meccas of Los Angeles or New York, the West holds the attention of its visitors through its natural prowess. Why not take advantage and explore?

    Reach Ivy Secrest at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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    About the Contributors
    Ivy Secrest
    Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
    Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
    Garrett Mogel
    Garrett Mogel, Photo Director
    Garrett Mogel is a third-year journalism student with a second field in philosophy. He is one of two photo directors for the 2023-24 school year.  Growing up in Colorado and surrounded by dreamlike landscapes and adventure sports, it was only a matter of time before Mogel picked up a camera. For over a decade, Mogel explored Colorado, portaging rivers, postholing through several feet of snow, rappelling over cliffs and skinning up mountains, all with a camera in hand. Through his adventures, Mogel began attaching stories to images and began to engage viewers in conversation about their favorite areas. Eventually, Mogel’s passion for photography and storytelling drew him to pursue a degree and career in photojournalism.  In his years at college, Mogel has worked with The Collegian every year. In progressing through the publication, Mogel has seen all the ways student media fosters growth both individually as well as through collaboration. Additionally, the opportunity to witness how impactful a story can be on a personal, organizational and community level is his greatest lesson thus far.  Beyond The Collegian, Mogel still finds time to appreciate his Colorado upbringing. When not on assignment, he can usually be found mountain biking, skiing, camping, river surfing or at home planning his next adventure.

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