Tucked in the scenic Poudre Canyon outside Fort Collins, the town of Rustic is one of several tiny communities that carve out a charming existence along the state's first National Wild & Scenic River.
The Cache la Poudre River (which translates to a hiding place for gunpowder in French) tumbles down from the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park along Colorado 14, now dubbed the Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway. Before it was designated a state scenic drive, however, the canyon was a major thoroughfare for American Indians and early fur trappers.
Today, the byway climbs to 10,276-foot Cameron Pass, where it meets 70,000 acres of mountains and evergreens in the Colorado State Forest. Spring runoff brings kayakers to the Poudre's rapids, and summer marks the start of a concert series at the riverside Mishawaka Amphitheater (at nearby Bellevue).
Other outdoor activities in the area include wildlife viewing at the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge near North Park; fishing and water sports in the Red Feather Lakes district; and hiking, biking and snowmobiling endless trails near the top of the canyon. Don't forget to bring the camera: Profile Rock near Rustic always makes for an interesting photograph.