The main rivers running through Fort Collins, Colorado, are the Cache la Poudre River and one of its tributaries, Spring Creek.
Also called the Poudre River, its original French name of Cache à la Poudre translates as “cache of powder”. The name is said to date from 1836 when a group of passing French fur trappers were caught in a snowstorm and had to offload and hide their supply of gunpowder near the river, and the name literally identifies where the powder was hidden.
The main source of the Cache la Poudre River is Poudre Lake in Northern Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, some 41 miles (or 66 kilometers) to the southwest of Fort Collins. The river generally runs along the north and east of Fort Collins, eventually joining the South Platte River east of Greeley.
Spring Creek emerges from Horsetooth Reservoir’s Spring Canyon Dam, just west of Fort Collins, and flows through the city in a general northeasterly direction to the confluence with the Poudre River near the Cattail Chorus Natural Area in the northeast of the city.