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Elevation: 5,160 ft 1,573 m
GPS: 40.8235, -103.9719
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 10,216 total · 67/month
Shared By: Brian C. on Nov 4, 2011
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

Description Suggest change

The Pawnee Grasslands are a large area of nothing in northeastern Colorado. This is defintely not a climber's destination but the flat plains hold a secret. One unknown fact is that one of Colorado's chossiest summits hides in these lolling hills.

The Pawnee Buttes are two sentinels of mud and capped by a layer of sandstone. They reside in a distant and remote part of northeast Weld County. Over the centuries, the stone cap has sheltered the mud below from the erosion that has lowered the ground around them. The result is two stunning castles protected by sheer walls of horrible crumbling mud nearly 300 feet tall.

Weather varies dramatically by the season. Expect hot/dry rattler country in the summer and windy/freezing in the winter. The formations are made of mud and are extrememly unstable.

Getting There Suggest change

This excellent description is courtesy of the summitpost page on the Pawnee Buttes.

"The Pawnee Buttes are literally in the middle of nowhere, so it would be best to come prepared with a detailed map of Weld County roads and a good sense of direction. There are abundant ways to get to the buttes. Listed here are the main three ways, assuming a start point in the Colorado I-25 urban corridor. If you are coming from anywhere else (Cheyenne, Sterling, Scottsbluff, etc.) these directions might not help you much. From any direction except due north, you will use Colorado Hwy 14 as a southern baseline. Coming from the Colorado I-25 corridor, go to Ft. Collins and take the Colorado Hwy 14 turnoff toward Alt. Pass through Ault and continue to Briggsdale.

1) From Briggsdale: Briggsdale is more present on the map than it is in real life. Coming east on Hwy 14, you will see a brown “attraction” sign for Crow Valley Recreation Area, directing you to turn north on WCR 77. If you take this turn, you will be on the Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic Highway, which is signed with blue Scenic Highway signs throughout. Follow the scenic highway north for many miles before the scenic highway begins to take you on many turns leading eventually to a National Forest and Grasslands sign denoting Pawnee Buttes area. Follow the rough trail/road into the area and to the buttes trailhead and overlook. The trail/road is passable in a passenger car.

2) From the Keota turnoff: This is the most popular route for direct access to the buttes, I’m told. The Keota turnoff is WCR 103. You will turn north onto this road from Hwy 14. It will take you through the hamlet of Keota, then on a maze of county roads to Pawnee Buttes. I am told this route is signed with “Pawnee Buttes” arrow signs, but I have not been this way.

3) From New Raymer: From New Raymer on Hwy 14, turn north on WCR 129. This route is also signed with “Pawnee Buttes” arrow signs. Turn left onto WCR 110 at an abandoned (and still standing in Spring 2007) homestead and follow the road as it jags south, then west, then north, then west again, until you see the Pawnee Buttes NF&G area sign. Follow the rough trail/road into the area and to the buttes trailhead and overlook. The trail/road is passable in a passenger car.

I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to have a detailed map, sportsman’s atlas, etc., when roaming the high plains. Many roads in this area are dead-ends and some only serve private ranches. Also, if you have National Geographic Topo! Software, you can use the finder function to search “Pawnee Buttes,” then backtrack from there and print an area map."

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