Where is Lory State Park
708 N Co Rd 25G, Bellvue, CO 80512
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Lory State Park is just a short drive away from the college town of Fort Collins. Fort Collins is one hour north of Denver sitting on the front range of Colorado, foothills of the Rockies rising up just to the west of the town. Lory US State Park is just a 20-minute scenic drive north west from the historic old town of Fort Collins sitting on the western shore of Horsetooth Reservoir.
How Big is Lory State Park
With 2,591 acres, 4 square miles, and 26 miles of trails to explore, Lory State Park offers something for all levels of park-goers and different activities in the variety of terrain. Recreation starts at the shoreline of Horsetooth reservoir at 5,500 feet and rises to the top of Arthur’s Rock at 6,800 feet. The park only has .1 miles of a paved road entering the park gates. The road through the park winds through beautiful meadows on a 2.8-mile unpaved dirt road with parking along the way at different trailheads. Sometimes it can get a little bumpy or muddy, so be ready to brave the potholes!
Lory State Park Weather
Fort Collins has on average 237 days of sunshine making Lory State Park a beautiful year-round recreation site. Winter in Lory State Park can have very cold and snowy days. With snow on the trails from December through February, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular to do in the park. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and a variety of birds enjoy the quiet of the winter air.
Spring can arrive as early as March with temperatures on average a high of 56 degrees, and a low of 32. A variety of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, and black bears will also be enjoying the spring air venturing out into the open after a winter of scavenging. The trails will still have ice and snow on them and frequently are closed due to muddy conditions but putting crampons on your shoes make hiking doable and give you a chance to see lots of wildlife.
As summer rounds the corner, temperatures and crowds can spike. Head out in the early summer to see lots of wildflowers blooming such as yellow dandelions, daisy’s, larkspurs, and thistles. Temperatures can reach 90 degrees during June through August. During these hot days garter snakes, rattlesnakes, prairie lizards, and snapping turtles will be out sunning.
Things start to cool down in September and October making for beautiful fall foliage. With a temperature high of around 70 degrees, hiking and biking never felt so good. The weather can be unpredictable in the fall and spring with rain making rain gear an essential. Hike amongst the yellow aspen trees in October. Deer and black bears get their fill of black and red berries.
When did Lory State Park become a Park?
In the 1800s the land we now call Lory State Park was a communal Bison hunting ground for the native Ute people and nomadic Plains tribes. The land was known as pleasant valley for being plentiful in foraging and hunting opportunities. The valley was sold to the Howard family ranch in the early 1900’s, which was later sold to Colorado state in 1967. In 1975, Lory State Park was named after Dr. Charles A. Lory, the president of Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University).
Things to do in Lory State Park
Lory State Park offers great year-round activities such as: birding, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, backcountry camping, horseback riding, and snowshoeing. Our National Park Visitors Guide highlights activities below.
Hike to Arthur’s Rock
A 3.4 mile out and back trail to the highest point in the park offers sweeping views of Horsetooth reservoir, Fort Collins, Wyoming, and the vast Rocky Mountains and hills behind you to the west.
Mountain Bike the Timber Trail
Grab your bike or rent one from town and get out on the Timber Trail. A 4.2-mile trail climbs up to the ridge behind Arthur’s Rock trail winding through meadows and pine and fir forests. Some challenging parts of the trail include switchbacks and rocky scrambles.
Stroll through Well Gulch Nature Trail
An all level 1.4-mile trail goes through a meadow with signs for a self-guided tour of the ecosystem of Lory State Park.
Picnic at Eltuck Group Picnic Area
Pack a lunch to relax next to Horsetooth Reservoir and listen to the water on the shore. Boaters frequently are out on the reservoir and although brisk, many people enjoy a swim in the water.
Backcountry Camp on The Timber Trail
Hike into a reserved primitive campsite for just $18/night in Lory State Park. Watch the rocky ridgelines glow in the last light of day and wake up at sunrise to the sound of birds chirping.
Take a short half mile walk down a slight hill, through a meadow frequented by deer grazing down to the water. The rocky outcroppings and red sandstone are fascinating to the geologists’ eye.
Snowshoe South Valley Trail Loop
Rent a pair of snowshoes from town and head up into the hills to experience winter in Lory State Park. This 2.4-mile easy loop trail is perfect for an escape into the mountains during winter.
Horseback Ride a Cross Country Course
Lory State Park offers a cross country course for equestrians to challenge their horses over the jumps. Walk along the South Valley Trail Loop to see them in action!
Fish in Horsetooth Reservoir
Grab a rod and head out onto the east valley trails that parallel Horsetooth reservoir. Find a good spot and try your hand at catching a walleye, smallmouth bass, brown trout, or bluegill.
Find A Geocache
Lory State Park has a geocache located at N 40 34.067 W 105 11.252. You can complete an application with the park to place your own geocache as well!
When to go to Lory State Park
Summer and fall are beautiful times to visit the park. With the hot summer sun, you can enjoy the cool water of Horsetooth Reservoir, or a nice sweaty bike ride along one of the ridge-lines. The fall, especially during the weekday can offer some of the least crowded trails. Fort Collins is a large college town, so you will most likely see lots of college kids on the trails from August to May during the school year. Weekends can get very busy to the point that parking is full in the state park. If parking is full, there are no alternative parking areas close to the park. Try to get there before 9am, or after 3pm.
Must-Have things to bring to Lory State Park
The high altitude, fast weather changes, and wildlife and trail conditions require extra planning to have a successful, fun time in Lory State Park. Here are the top 10 items List of Parks suggests you will need to bring.
Water and lots of it
Being at higher elevation, staying hydrated requires more water even if you do not feel thirsty.
Food and snacks
There are no close food stops and no food sold nearby the park so make sure you pack your own food for the day.
These are available in the state park and are a must have. Although a small park, it is easy to get lost in the hills surrounded by trees with no point of reference. There are also tall rocks and cliffs that you could end up stuck at.
Hiking boots and trekking poles
With some steep switchbacks, loose rock underfoot, and frequently muddy trails you will want solid waterproof hiking boots and trekking poles.
Jackets and rain gear
One minute it can be sunny and 85 degrees, the next you could be in a rain and hail storm. Colorado weather is extremely unpredictable and your weather ap can’t keep up with it. Always bring an extra warm layer and a rain jacket!
The high elevation Colorado sun is powerful and sunburns happen very quickly. Ensure your skin is covered up or you have a good sunscreen for any exposed skin.
You will see a lot of different types of birds, deer, ridgelines, and open spaces that are begging to be seen a little closer! Having a pair of binoculars will help get a little more personal with the wildlife.
There are black bears that frequent the area and are used to seeing people and hikers. Having bear spray will protect you and the bear from negative interactions. Don’t leave your food unattended and make sure wildlife sees you if you come across a bear.
The state park sits on Horsetooth Reservoir and after a solid hike or bike, there is nothing better than jumping into the cool water! Bring a towel as well as the water in the reservoir can be very cold.
A Good Book
Sitting and relaxing in the meadows or on the shore of the reservoir can be enjoyed with a good book.
Where to stay in Lory State Park
Lory State Park offers primitive backcountry campsites that are available by reservation only for $18/night. If you are looking for a campground nearby, Horsetooth Reservoir South Bay Campground about a 20-minute drive will suit your needs. Fort Collins town, only a 15-minute drive away has many hotels to choose from, Airbnb’s, and cute bed and breakfasts in historic houses. Hotels can be anywhere from $90 to $250 a night.
Food Near Lory State Park
Lory State Park does not offer any food services and there are no close food stops. Grab a sandwich to-go from Backcountry Delicatessen in old town Fort Collins and hit the trails. Stop into the biking themed bar, Road 34 on West Elizabeth street after your mountain biking day.
Airports near Yellowstone National Park
Denver International Airport (DIA) is about 1.5 hours from Lory State Park. Fly into DIA, rent a car, and head up to Lory State Park to begin your adventures! Alternatively you can fly into Laramie, Wyoming and travel 1 hour south to Lory State Park, a less busy interstate drive where it is unlikely to hit traffic traveling this direction.