Interested in a Northwest Colorado road trip this summer? We think the Tour de Noco is a perfect trip for you and your family to experience the natural beauty of Northern Colorado. The best part? We’ve included as many no reservations needed experiences and options that showcase our wide-open spaces. This 150-mile journey includes historic districts, scenic byways, rivers, mountains, hiking, biking, and so much more. We’ve done the research so you can find everything you need in this one spot. Happy road tripping!
Instead of telling you what to do day by day, we’ve organized this road trip by sections and provided various options for you to choose your own adventure.
Fort Collins → Poudre Canyon → Cameron Pass → Walden → Rabbit Ears Pass → Steamboat Springs
- Start in Fort Collins and follow Highway 14 and the Poudre river toward the spectacular Poudre Canyon.
- Drive through Poudre Canyon, one of Colorado’s Scenic Byways
- Head over Cameron Pass (summit 10,276 feet)
- Continue east on Hwy 14 to Walden.
- Turn west onto Hwy 40 and immediately start the climb over Rabbit Ears Pass (summit 9,246 feet). You’ll cross over the Continental Divide (9,426 feet) on your way up the east side of the pass and you’ll see the famous Rabbit Ears the distance.
- Follow Hwy 40 down the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass, into the Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs.
Section 1: Fort Collins
• Remington Flats is a boutique studio hotel with locally made snacks and a fleet of New Belgium cruiser bikes perfect for exploring nearby Old Town.
• The Fernweh Inn & Hostel, located in a Registered Historic Landmark and within walking distance of Old Town, offers shared and private rooms at reasonable rates.
Order delivery or pick up a to-go order from the following spots:
• Beau Jo’s Colorado Style Pizza to satisfy your pizza cravings
• Spoons for yummy sandwiches
• Ginger and Baker and The Regional offer elevated to-go options.
For the most up-to-date info on Fort Collins restaurants, visit our FoCo To-Go page.
Hike and Bike: Lory State Park has a plethora of trails ranging in difficulty and offering beautiful views. Check out the Corral Center Mountain Bike Park, Colorado’s first officially state-sponsored dirt/pump track accessible for riders of all ages and skills. Explore their 26 miles of hiking trails perfect for a quiet getaway. Horsetooth Reservoir is another hiking options open year-round and located west of Fort Collins.
Play on the Poudre: The new Poudre River Whitewater Park opened late summer 2019. Located on the river just north of Old Town in the booming river district, the park includes a boulder-lined boat chute, rock features, holes for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and tubing, and shallow play along the shore.
Section 2: Poudre Canyon
Raft or fish the Cache La Poudre River: The only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” river in Colorado, rafting trips are limited and there is almost no commercial development along the river’s banks. Convenient access, clear water, challenging rapids, and pristine scenery make a trip down the Cache La Poudre one of the most unique river expeditions in the state. Whitewater rafting trips range from mellow floats to grand adventures down hair-raising rapids.
Section 3: Cameron Pass
Cameron Pass offers unparalleled backcountry scenery and is located at the boundary of the Roosevelt National Forest and the Colorado State Forest State Park.
Hike: Located in State Forest State Park, Lake Agnes is a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail that begins at historic Agnes Cabin. The stunning Lake Agnes, nestled in a cirque at 10,320 feet, is well worth the trek.
Section 4: North Park
For a unique twist on Colorado’s iconic hut trips, try a yurt trip in Northern Colorado. The yurts of Never Summer Nordic are remote backcountry shelters located in the Colorado State Forest State Park in the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains.
All of the Never Summer Nordic yurts offer a seemingly endless system of old roads and trails for skiing, hiking and mountain biking of all skill levels allowing you to play and then relax without nary another person in sight.
Section 5: Walden
Don’t miss Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, a managed wildlife habitat a few miles before you reach Walden. Located in an intermountain glacial basin approximately 35 miles wide and 45 miles long (23,464 acres), it is the highest refuge in the lower 48 states.
Continue into Walden for breakfast or lunch at the River Rock Café at the Antler’s Inn on Main Street, which serves comfort food classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Section 6: Rabbit Ears Pass
Turn from Colorado Hwy 14 onto U.S. Hwy 40 and start the ascent of Rabbit Ears Pass. The pass is known for its false summit, a crossing of the Continental Divide, and the distinctive “rabbit ears” rock formation that creates one of the nearby peaks. The area offers a variety of options for camping, hiking and trail running, mountain and road biking, and off-roading.
Rabbit Ears Peak Trail, located in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, is a moderate out-and-back trail featuring gorgeous wildflowers during the summer months, and exceptional views of the rabbit ears rock formation. Open June through August, the trail begins near Dumont Lake, west of Rabbit Ears Pass on US Route 40.
Section 7: Steamboat Springs
• Rabbit Ears Motel: With an ideal location on the south end of town, adjacent to the Yampa River, the Rabbit Ears is an affordable, comfortable, family-friendly option and a beloved local favorite.
• Nordic Lodge: With a great mid-downtown location, a variety of amenities, comfortable accommodations at an affordable price, the lodge is a great home base.
• Camp at Pearl Lake or Steamboat Lake.
• Yampa Sandwich Company - Formerly Backcountry Deli, this place is THE place for to-go yumminess.
• Skull Creek Greek - “Fun, fast, affordable” Greek eatery and Best of the Boat winner in downtown Steamboat Springs.
• Blue Sage Pizza - Best pie in town.
• Fiesta Jalisco - Family-owned with six locations in Colorado.
• Mambo - Italian with a twist.
• Freshies - A local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• Check out the Chamber’s Shop Local page for open status and more ideas.
Tour the local trails: Steamboat’s 2A Trails Program allows users to enjoy miles of seamlessly connected multi-use trails in five main networks in and around town: Buffalo Pass Trail System, Emerald Mountain Trail System, Mad Creek Trail System, Rabbit Ears Pass Trail System, and Town pathways and amenities. All projects are accessible from town by foot, bike, or vehicle in 30 minutes or less. Here are a few recommendations:
• Luna Lake: Accessible from the Mad Creek trailhead, this off the beaten path hike travels along the Continental Divide Trail, beginning at the top of Buffalo Pass and ending in the Zirkel Wilderness.
• G.E.M. trail: Accessible from Flash of Gold trail, the G.E.M. bike trail is an aspen-peeper’s and single-track-lover’s dream. The 2.5-mile trail is a new loop with incredible views and a 360-foot elevation gain.
• Yampa River Core Trail: A 7.5-mile paved multi-use recreation path that runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs along the Yampa River.
• Steamboat Gravel Trails: Home to 600 miles of dirt and hard-packed gravel roads and easy access from town, Steamboat Springs is a nirvana for world-class gravel riding and racing.
• Emerald Circuit: A 27.6 miles road and gravel ride. Difficulty: moderate/intermediate. Ride-able: April to October. Minimum tire size: 28mm.
Love the local lakes: There are three Colorado State Parks located less than one hour away from Steamboat Springs, all featuring beautiful lakes and recreation opportunities.
• Pearl Lake State Park - This 167-sq-acre mountain reservoir sits at the base of Farwell Mountain nestled among a pine forest about 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Paddleboard or enjoy access to the wealth of Routt National Forest hiking and biking trails. The campground features 38 sites and two yurts, offering a serene escape with lake and mountain vistas.
• Steamboat Lake State Park - This vast recreation area comes complete with stunning Hahn’s Peak views, along with boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming and other watersports, plus nearby hiking and biking. The marina offers boat rentals, dock rentals and fuel, as well as fishing licenses, and bait and tackle.
• Stagecoach State Park - Stagecoach State Park is known for its trophy fishing, abundant wildlife, watersports, and spectacular scenery. Located 20 minutes south of Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach Reservoir is a quiet lake with a marina that offers boat rentals for a day of fun in the sun. Record-sized fish have been pulled out of Stagecoach, and the calm waters are perfect for paddleboarding and wakeboarding before a picnic on the shore.
• Yampa River Botanic Park: Check out this six-acre gem home to 50 gardens, ponds, benches, and sculptures. It is one of the jewels of Northwest Colorado and one of several public gardens in the state. The Park is free and open to the public from May to October. It serves as a place of serenity for visitors, a venue for a summer music and theater festivals, and a natural resource to residents.
• Enjoy Some Fishing: One of the locals’ favorite pastimes in Steamboat is fly fishing the Yampa River. Anglers enjoy several miles of public access in town casting for rainbow and brown trout. The river offers a peaceful setting with stunning views and world-class trout.
• Howelsen Ski Area: Enjoy this recreation area that includes sand volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts, a skate park, and more.
• Tube the Yampa River: A local favorite and must-do activity, tubing the Yampa offers a chance to experience downtown Steamboat from a comfortable inner tube while splashing in the refreshing waters of the Yampa River. The float can be as long or as short as you’d like, and there’s plenty of riverside stops like parks and restaurants along the way. Rent a tube from one of the outfitters in town.
Don’t have the right gear? Many Steamboat shops and outfitters offer curbside gear pick up, as well as repairs and tune-ups. Check out the Shop Local page for details.