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Pawnee Buttes

  • Pawnee Buttes 1
  • Pawnee Buttes 2
  • Pawnee Buttes 3
  • Pawnee Buttes 4
  • Pawnee Buttes 5
  • Pawnee Buttes 6
  • Pawnee Buttes 7
  • Pawnee Buttes 8
  • Pawnee Buttes 9
  • Pawnee Buttes 10
  • Pawnee Buttes 11
  • Pawnee National Grassland view
  • Pawnee Buttes

Photos by SQ

Pawnee Buttes Trail

Area Plains
Park/Forest Pawnee National Grassland
Trailhead Pawnee Buttes
Distance Roundtrip 3.0 Miles
Elevation Start 5425 ft
Elevation Gain ≈ 200 ft
Features Buttes, Prairie
Dogs Allowed? Yes


The Pawnee National Grassland totals 193,060 acres in a 30X60 mile area in northeast Colorado. This is an area of the short grass prairie, although it was devastated by the dust bowl. Most of the grassland is flat plains and it is not very developed. The grassland has various recreational opportunities and is a world famous birding destination.

The Pawnee Buttes are weathered sandstone that dramatically rise above the flat plains. On the way to the buttes you pass exposed sandstone that is home to many birds. The hike leads to the first butte. There is a second butte that is on private land but can usually be accessed unless otherwise posted. This hike is very exposed so there is not really any shelter from the sun or rain. This is a very beautiful hike in the stark western plains landscape.

Directions info

Get Directions in Google Maps →
There are various ways to get to the Pawnee Buttes from different directions. If coming from I 25, it is about 70 miles northeast of Fort Collins and you basically take Highway 14 east for about 50 miles and then take various country roads to the trailhead. The online maps will get you close but keep an eye out for signs to the actual parking area and trailhead. This is a very rural area, a paper map is recommended and be sure to fill up your gas tank before heading out.


Pawnee National Grassland Trail Page


The link to 'Directions in Google Maps' will open in a new window and give you directions from your current location to the trailhead. You can also change the starting location in the top field of the directions area. Note that for some rural trailheads the directions could route you to the nearest address it has, which could be a half mile down the road.

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