Which college town is better: Boulder or Fort Collins?

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On Friday, the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes will battle it out against the Colorado State University Rams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the most intense rivalry in the state.

The two college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins have been rivals for at least 90 years, but which one has the edge?

Fort Collins has a population of 170,000 with numerous breweries and a booming downtown. And Boulder has 109,000 people, its own breweries and a thriving nightlife.

Both cities are frequently listed among America’s best college towns, best beer towns, fittest cities, best biking cities, greenest cities, best places to live, and best music towns. 

So, we’ll call the awards competition a draw between two great cities.  

“Beer, bikes and bands. That’s the culture of Fort Collins,” said CSU’s director of community outreach, Gary Ozzello.

“Boulder is a wonderful place to live, and CU is a world-class university,” echoed Mayor Jones.

Both cities boast an impressive tech resume. 

Fort Collins is home to Hewlett Packard, AMD, and Intel. Boulder houses Google, Ball Aerospace and a dozen federal laboratories.

There’s also a Hollywood connection. 

Fort Collins boasts Oscar-winning actress Hattie McDaniel. And in Boulder, former Buff Robert Redford. 

Fort Collins has a significant edge in affordable housing with an average home price of $380,000, as opposed to a whopping $1 million in Boulder.

Now let’s talk about the giant buffalo or ram in the room. Students had plenty to say about their bitter in-state rivals.

“The people there just stink,“ said CSU student Matthew Coghill. “Everybody is way nicer, and the vibe is just ten times better here.”

CU student Luke Guisto countered with: “It’s a matter of levels. Just a little better. It’s not that CSU is bad, we’re just a little better at what we do.”

Students in Fort Collins praised their rural, small-town roots.

“Everybody is friendly,” said Coghill. “I can walk down the oval, and everybody is friendly, and some dude’s like ‘what’s going on?’”

CU students loved their location. 

“Boulder has got a good mix. If you want to go to the mountains, you’re here. If you want to go to the city and Denver, that’s good too,” said Halley Herbst.

Now let’s talk football, specifically the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Rams and Buffs first played each other in 1893, and have played off and on ever since. The Buffs own a 65-22-2 edge.

Both campuses are confident.

So, let’s bring it back: Boulder or Fort Collins? Rams or Buffs? Corn fed vs. organic? Mayor Troxell and Mayor Jones agree both cities and universities are top notch. Which is better depends on your point of view. 

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