Pawnee Buttes

Location: Southeast of Grover, Colorado on the Pawnee National Grassland
Maps: USGS 1:24K Pawnee Buttes doesnít show all the trails, but gives the general idea. The best trail map is at the trailhead. Trails are extremely simple to follow.
Access: Not tough to get to, but lots of turns on country roads. From Cheyenne, take I-80 east to Exit 386. Head south on 214. At a fork in the road, head southeast, away from Carpenter. 14.8 miles from the interstate, you roll into Hereford. Go straight at the stop sign on a graveled County Road 390 for another 14.5 miles to Grover. Head straight on through Grover and continue south for 7 miles to a signed left turn towards Pawnee Buttes on County Road 112. From there, just follow the signs to Pawnee Buttes. (East on CR112 6.5 miles to a fork in the road, stay on CR112 by taking right fork, then east for another 2 miles to a left turn on FR685, another 1.2 miles to the trailhead.
Trailhead: UTM NAD83 zone 13 584272e 4518565n  5,422í
Trails: From main TH, 1.6 miles to West Butte and another 0.5 miles to East Butte. Lips Bluff is accessed by a short spur trail. Lips Bluff, Buttes Overlook and surrounding area are closed for raptor nesting between March 1 and June 30. Elevation loss to the depression between the buttes is 282í. Neither butte is readily climbable. 
Fees: None
Dogs: Not wilderness, so only voice control is required
Weather: Local Forecast  Snow Info  Snow Map



March 15, 2009

After 10 years of being on my to-do list, Andra and I finally made the trip out east to see the two buttes on the Pawnee National Grassland that all the Front Range cities like to show pictures of. I wanted to try to get to the buttes at sunrise, so we left the house in Cheyenne around 6:30 and found it necessary to stop at Safeway for pastries on the way. The sky was clear, and dark, but that didnít prevent us from finding our way south along gravel county roads through small towns like Hereford and Grover to even smaller dirt roads leading east into the grassland. Andraís never one to take driving too slow, and because of that we arrived at the trailhead just minutes ahead of the sun on a nice, clear morning. The wind was brisk, even at sunrise, and anyone familiar with the area can tell you thatís sure a bad sign. The sun rose as we stood by the trailhead kiosk, and I just had time to set up my tripod to capture the morning sunrise that had compelled us to get up at 6:00 on a Saturday. We hiked downhill along the wide trail and immediately were sheltered from the wind by the bluff. The trail lead us through a short section of fins and undulating swells of clay shaded by Lips Bluff but just catching the first slanting rays of morning on the tops of the thin buttes and spires. Meadowlarks called in the still air of the creekbed that snaked its way north towards North Pawnee Creek. We crossed the creek, and headed east towards the buttes, which were plainly visible for the remainder of the short hike. Enormous white wind turbines surrounded the area like alien sentries, all spinning at a moderate pace, sluicing electricity west to the Front Range to power the refrigerators of a million slumbering citizens. As we continued east on the plains, we lost the lee-side protection of the creek cut and were soon leaning back in a stiff wind. We hiked to the west butte, then on over to the east butte, a trip that crosses private property, but is apparently not offensive to the property owners since there are no signs to keep out. After inspecting the buttes and the austere brown plains around them, we hiked back into a brisk headwind tempered by the warmth on our backs thrown down by the sun. We saw none of the reputed nesting raptors, nor any sign of mammalian life, regrettably. I admit I was anticipating a nice wildlife show by getting there at dawn. The only animals stirring were the Meadowlarks in the calm air of the creekbed, still singing sweetly on our way back. We arrived at the car after hiking and admiring the area after about 2 hours, then cruised on back home. 
 
 

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes

Pawnee Buttes



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