Picnic Rock Natural Area

2777 Poudre Canyon Road, Bellvue, CO 80512

The Picnic Rock area, downstream of Gateway Natural Area along Highway 14, is primarily owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).  The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department has a Memorandum of Understanding with CPW for operations at lower Picnic Rock. The City of Fort Collins Utilities Department owns a portion of the lower Picnic Rock main parking lot. The Gateway maintenance staff cleans the bathrooms, removes trash, and manages the parking lot, which was resurfaced in the Spring of 2018.

The upper Poudre River is protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1986. This means that the natural flow of the river cannot be obstructed by dams, for development projects, like most Colorado rivers.

This is truly a scenic river canyon. Boaters and anglers should be cautious about entering the water during the spring months, as the high waters can be dangerous during spring run-off. Picnicking, fishing, rafting/kayaking, and hiking are popular activities. The stretch of river from above Upper Picnic Rock ending at Lower Picnic Rock is the only stretch of beginning-level (Class I-III) whitewater on the Cache la Poudre River. More info about rafting/kayaking this stretch can be found at American Whitewater.

A river-safety initiative, “Play it Safe on the Poudre,” emphasizes this point through safety and educational signage along the river and public outreach efforts.


Download a River Access and Safety Map


Tourism Information

For more information about Picnic Rock, contact Fort Collins Natural Areas at naturalareas@fcgov.com or call 970.416.2815



Visitors Welcome

Wayside Sign



From Fort Collins, head northwest on Hwy 287-North. Turn west onto Hwy 14/Poudre Canyon Road. Proceed approximately 2.8 miles to Picnic Rock. A Heritage Area wayside sign is located near the river.

Picnic Rock Natural Area