28 Hours in Eastern Colorado

the-pawnee-buttes-national-grassland We thought we would be clever on 4th of July weekend and go the opposite direction of the rest of Colorado – east – to Pawnee Buttes National Grasslands. Our Colorado travel bible John Fielder’s Best of Colorado recommended it as did some friends of ours.

It went a bit like this:

11:00 AM
Buying Camping Necessities at One of the Best Thrift Stores in Denver

Car packed and we are at one of our two* favorite thrift stores in Denver, the appropriately named Thrift Mart on Colfax, making a 4th of July score – a big cooler ($12.99), a camping chair ($9.99 – yes, we overpaid), a water cooler ($2.99) and a collection of brain candy camping mags (People, Entertainment Weekly) for .45 cents (.45 cents!).

11:30 AM
On I-76 heading east.

11:31 AM
David: “Wow. It is really flat.”

11:35 AM
David: “Wow. It is really flat.”

11:39 AM
David: “Wow. It is really flat.”

11:43 AM
David: “It is worse than I ever could have imagined.”

12:20 PM
In Fort Morgan, Colorado as it is as David says, “the biggest city on the map.”

We park small town style – for free – in front of the JC Penney’s sidewalk sale. We are promptly greeted with “hellos” and “how are yous?” a friendliness we would experience consistently in our entire two hour tour of Fort Morgan.

12:50 PM
Interesting Finds on Fort Morgan Foot Tour

Queen Lounge, Fort Morgan, Colroado

please-return-stolen-goods-sign-fort-morgan-colorado 1:00 PM
Lunch/Munch Time!
$7 BBQ sandwiches (that is for two not each) and Budweiser under the fair tents and within the fenced in “alcohol allowed” area of the fair  – the “alcohol allowed” area and the “alcohol not allowed” areas being something David will never, ever understand.

David discovers the best camera feature ever:



1:45 PM

Me: “So what are the good things to do around here?”

Fort Morgan Local: A blank, questioning and concerned stare.

Me: “Maybe we could take a swim in the river?”

FML: A look that must be identical to that of people who notice Hannibal Lecter and his good friend Godzilla peering in their bedroom window.

Me: “Is it gross?”

FML: Silence

FML: Silence

FML: “If you do it, you should definitely do it on a tube.”

FML: Silence

FML: Then adding, “My nephew did it the other day on a tube and really liked it.”

Driving to the Buttes!

We pass the town pool (which looked awesome) and over the Rainbow Bridge (one of the noted highlights of the town). As we passed David peered down to the water below and determined it, “looked fine.” We headed to Pawnee Buttes.

4:00 PM
Arrive at the Butte’s despite the conspiracy against us doing so

Despite two useless maps, equally useless road signage and incorrect book directions and despite David accurately observing that this recommended “Scenic Byway” should actually be called “Scenic Oil Rig Highway” due to the extremely high number of machines extracting God knows what and their destroy-the-road-trucks taking those extractions God knows where – we, and the one other minivan in the parking lot, have found the entrance Pawnee Buttes National Grasslands.


4:45 PM
Minivan family gave up looking but we didn’t – trailhead located!

If you are so interested – once you are in the parking lot you need to, totally nonsensically, walk about 15 minutes to the left of what would logically appear to be the trailhead to find the real trailhead. Then the trail takes you away from the Buttes before it takes you  to them. The place makes zero sense but as a reward for being one of the few that finds it – you have the entire place to yourself.

4:55 PM

5:00 PM
Gorgeous butterfly!

5:15 PM

5:45 PM



(Picture above taken while attempting to find the trail)

5:50 PM
Completely disgusting big bug things.

6:00 PM
Storm coming.

6:05 PM
Heading back to car.

6:07 PM

David: “In a place that seems to be so empty there is so much wildlife here.”

6:10 PM


6:15 PM
Rabbit-type thing with ginormo ears runs across our path.

8:00 PM
Despite obvious map, book and signage efforts to prevent us from doing so – we have found our campground and the consummately cheerful campground hosts at the Crow Valley Campground in Briggsdale, Colorado. Our efforts were rewarded mid-trip with seeing a fox carrying its dinner across the road. According to our book, John Fielder’s Best of Colorado this is the only campground in the area with shade.

11:00 PM
Bottle of wine emptied, hummus eaten.

11:01 PM

4:00 AM
The dreaded amongst the most dreaded things of camping – I can no longer ignore the fact that I have to pee.

9:00 AM
Hummus + apple + shade and symphony of the cottonwoods + cheerful chat with campground host when he stopped by for a visit in his golf cart full of brooms, mops and maps hanging off of it in every which way.

11:00 AM

I had to see if it smelled they way I thought it smelled.

11:15 AM
Coffee at Woody’s Newsstand aka the only place in town that appears to be open on Sunday mornings. (This closed on Sunday morning things is, according to our campground host, is a widespread practice across the region.)

1:30 PM



Investigation and walking tour complete. Conclusion? Greeley is a cute little town that doesn’t, in spite of those insidious stereotypes, smell like cow poo.

3:00 PM

*The other is, serendipitously, across the street from the Thrift Mart on Colfax – Act II Consignment. Go to Thrift Mart for the household stuff and Act II for women’s clothes.

Follow us on Facebook


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.