The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area

The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area

The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area tells us about the history of Northern Colorado and the West.

Great View of the Poudre River from Hewlett Gulch Bridge

By Ben Costello, December 2015

In Fort Collins, we are very fortunate to live near the Cache La Poudre River. Not only is it a National Wild and Scenic River, but the river corridor is also a National Heritage Area. There are 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States. The Cache La Poudre River corridor is one of only three National Heritage Areas in Colorado. National Heritage Areas (NHA) are designated due to their historical significance and to encourage historical preservation of the area. NHA are not National Parks and are not federally owned. They are administered by state governments, non-profits or corporations with the National Park Service playing an advisory roll in their development. The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area is administered by The Poudre Heritage Alliance.

Here is a little bit about why the Cache La Poudre earned this designation from the Poudre Heritage Alliance:

The Cache la Poudre River is the heart of the National Heritage Area which follows the Poudre downstream for 45 miles. This is the story of the “working Cache,” a river essential to the lives of the more than a half-million people in the northern Colorado Front Range.

Originating among the Rocky Mountains and dropping some 7,000 feet to the Great Plains, the Cache la Poudre River is relatively short —125 miles from start to end. It flows eastward through diverse geographic settings. In many areas one can see head gates, flumes, water measurement devices, and an intricate network of ditches as reminders that people are able to modify the river’s flow. These structures symbolize the long struggle to sustain a viable agricultural economy and to meet the water needs of urban development for the people of northern Colorado.

The Poudre is significant for its contribution to the development of Western water law and the evolution of complex water delivery systems. The Poudre has also played a crucial role in regional economic development and has become a focal point for recreation.

Please visit for more information about the Poudre Heritage Alliance and the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area.