Upon arriving in Fort Collins, I met up with a former co-worker (Ken K.) who had moved here 5 years ago. He graciously agreed to come out to lunch and share his insights about Fort Collins. He likes the place a lot, and I will share some of his and my impressions soon. In the meantime, you can check out these photos. Also below are some excerpts from an email I sent out:
Turns out there is a ton of rock climbing around Fort Collins and Estes Park. Climbing luminaries from around here include Jim Holloway, John Gill, John Sherman…
There are no ski resorts near Fort Collins. The closest ones would be the ones Boulder. Vail/Breckenridge/Keystone etc. are 2-3 hours away from Boulder on a good day; with weekend traffic, double that. Adrienne and her husband usually go to Eldora Mtn. or Winter Park to ski on weekends, which are closer and does not require going on I-70 where all the backups begin.
[Amendment: When Highway 40 through the Rocky Mountain National Park is open during the winter, the ski resort at Steamboat Springs—one of the best in CO—can be reached in 2-3 hours. The Rocky Mountain National Park also has some nordic skiing. Some parks and golf-courses open up for even more local cross-country skiing as well.]
Fort Collins is about 54 miles (one hour) north of Boulder. So add on an hour to the above times to get times to ski resorts from Fort Collins. There might be some closer backcountry for nordic skiing, I’m not sure. Probably some golf courses or parks in Fort Collins groom some x-country trails if that counts.
[Amendment: plenty of backcountry skiing can be found in Cameron Pass and the Poudre Canyon within 70 miles. There is also some in the RMNP and Estes Park within 50.]
So I now know why Fort Collins is a lot less expensive than Boulder (maybe half the cost). Though one can see the Rockies from Fort Collins, they are a bit farther away. I went biking from Loveland (about 10 miles south of Fort Collins) towards the mountains, and from Loveland they are a good 10-15 miles out. From Fort Collins, more. Fort Collins is located in the plains/prairie lands, so there is lots of land for expansion. This is not the case in Boulder. Fort Collins is quite a bit farther from x-country skiing and its downtown isn’t quite as nice as Pearl Street (just a matter of degrees though; I thought the Fort Collins downtown was nice. The caliber of restaurants and shopping is somewhat more upscale at the Pearl Street Mall though).
[Amendment: Of course, the real reason home prices are so much higher in Boulder are due to land-use restrictions formulated to preserve open space. Fort Collins, in contrast, is located in the plains where there’s still a lot of available land for home development.]
There are few “dream homes” in Fort Collins (e.g., something with a superb view or is really opulent). Near downtown are bungalows that are old (kind of like Boulder) but are mostly well-maintained. Then there is suburban sprawl with tract home developments—large homes on small lots, good values, but somewhat cookie cutter nonetheless with just a few immature (small) trees.
[Amendment: What I wrote above is completely wrong. With all the lakes and mountains here, there are hundreds of homes with stellar views. There are several high-end neighborhoods with custom homes and McMansions too if that is desired.]
In contrast, Loveland has several properties that are really splendid for about the same cost. Loveland, however, lacks a downtown. Basically, everyone in Loveland does their shopping at the nearby strip malls off of Eisenhower Rd. and Highway 287.
[Amendment: Loveland does have a downtown with quite a few art galleries. Not quite as nice as Fort Collin’s but enough a downtown to make many other small towns in the U.S. envious.]
A Note 1 Year Later
January 5, 2007 (Fri): Having lived in Fort Collins now for over a year, I can emphatically say I absolutely love this town and there is not another place in the U.S. I’d rather be living in at the moment (and I’ve checked out quite a few—see my Great American Road Trip report.) During the last year I have also posted several more articles about specific events and activities in Fort Collins; check out the rest of my blog, particularly my special category entitled Fort Collins, CO.