Pawnee Buttes Trailhead

Pawnee Buttes in the spring with wildflowers in the foreground.

The Pawnee Buttes are located in the northeast corner of Weld County, Colorado, approximately 13 miles south of the Wyoming border. A predominant geologic feature within the Pawnee National Grassland, the Buttes rise 300 feet above the prairie.

A 2 mile trail leads hikers to the first Butte. The second Butte is on private land. As the rock is crumbling sandstone, climbing on the Buttes is not recommended. 

Take a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water, as temperatures may top one hundred degrees in July and August.

Please do not disturb any hawks and falcons nesting in the rocky cliffs. The Pawnee Buttes trail is open year round; however, there is a nearby closure annually from March 1 – June 30 to protect any nesting raptors. To clearly understand what is closed, check this map. Please stay on the main trail during this time as adults may desert their eggs or young birds if disturbed.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The weather can change quickly. Rain and snow can make the roads difficult to drive.
Usage: Light-Medium
Best Season: Spring, summer, and fall.
Busiest Season: Year-round
Restrictions: Please do not try to climb the bluffs along the trail, as that will cause resource damage. The trail is off limits to mountain bikes. 

The Overlook, the Lips Bluff trail and 200 yards from the bottom of Lips Bluff are closed to public access March 1 - June 30 to protect the nesting hawks, eagles and falcons. Please remain on the designated Pawnee Buttes Trail during the closure period to minimize disturbance to the nesting birds.
Closest Towns: Grover: at the junction of County Roads 89, 122, and 390, and has a general store. New Raymer: at Hwy 14 and CR 129. Also, Fort Morgan, Briggsdale, and Sterling.
Restroom: Permanent restrooms at Trailhead parking area. Restrooms temporarily closed 2023.

General Information


Trailhead lat and long: 40.808015, -103.990222

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

This is the only hiking trail on the Pawnee National Grassland outside of the Crow Valley Recreation Area.

Status: Open
Fees: none
Best Season: Spring and Fall
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Scenic Driving

The Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway leads to the Pawnee Buttes.  Traveling across the Byway, one may imagine how this short grass prairie was viewed by Native Americans, frontiersmen, early cattlemen, 19th and early 20th century homesteaders, and those who faced the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s.  The Byway offers historic attractions and recreation areas along the roadways.

Status: Open
Fees: none
Best Season: Spring and Fall

Know Before You Go

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Related Links

Campgrounds At-A-Glance


  Area/Length : 
1.5 miles

  Latitude : 

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