Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Beauty of the Prairie

Posted by:  Carrie Shimada, Weld County Extension

With the 4th of July right around the corner, I thought pictures from a day-trip I recently took would be apropos.

I have lived in Colorful Colorado all my life and during that time I have traveled West, to the mountains many (many) times, South, all the way to the New Mexico border, and North, up to the Wyoming border (never stopping to visit any of the towns or recreational areas) - but the furthest East (in Colorado) I had ever been was Ft Morgan and DIA.  (Okay, so that’s a bit of a lie, I did go on a few family trips to Missouri when I was under the age of 6, but who can remember that far back!)

Like many Coloradoans, when I think of Colorado hiking trips or vacations, I think of mountains- not of the plains, but after a couple of recent trips, I suggest you consider a day-trip to the Colorado Plains.
Yesterday, we jumped into the car, last minute, and ventured out to the Pawnee Buttes, located within the Pawnee National Grasslands.  This trip, according to US Forest service, is 25 minutes northeast of Greeley, 35 miles east of Ft Collins, which seems like a quick trip, right?  But, beware if you want to venture into the 193,060 acre region or to the Pawnee Buttes area- be prepared for very bumpy gravel roads.  While facilities are limited, recreational opportunities are not.  This area is an internationally known birding area (May-June are the best) and a good place for a grassland hike.  Instead of ponderosa pines or aspen tress, there are yucca plants, cactus, and a quite serenity that is only found on the prairie.  Here is my pictures.

We finally arrived....after a very bumpy ride.

The Map.
Beware of the took two of us to figure out!

The official Pawnee Buttes.

It wouldn't be a hortie blog without plant pictures!

This is one of the only places yucca belongs :)

The interpretive signage.  At one point in time titanotheres
(a rhino-like creature) roamed here.

My dog, Magnolia Jean- if you take you dog,
bring plenty of water and watch out for cactus.
My Selfie :)

Thanks for joining me on my adventure!




  1. It is a "big sky" place. The buttes look closer than they really's quite a hike. The flowers should be peaking with the rain they've been having out there. Nice post!

  2. Beautiful! Is that first flower pic an evening primrose?

    1. Annual pricklepoppy (Argemone polyanthemos)

  3. In Morgan County and Logan County we take interested Native Plant Masters to the Pawnee Butes for several Native Plant Master classes. There are a lot of plants native to Colorado's Eastern Plains. Interested parties should contact the CSU Extension office in Fort Morgan at (970) 542-3540 and ask for Bruce Bosley. (Who is also an avid birder himself!)