Pawnee National Grassland

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Pawnee National Grassland
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Pawnee Buttes2010.jpg
The Pawnee Buttes in Pawnee National Grassland
Map showing the location of Pawnee National Grassland
Map showing the location of Pawnee National Grassland
Location Weld County, Colorado, United States
Nearest city Greeley, CO
Coordinates 40°49′08″N 103°51′14″W / 40.819°N 103.854°W / 40.819; -103.854Coordinates: 40°49′08″N 103°51′14″W / 40.819°N 103.854°W / 40.819; -103.854[1]
Area 193,060 acres (781.3 km2)[2]
Established 1960
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Website Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland

Pawnee National Grassland is a United States National Grassland located in northeastern Colorado on the Colorado Eastern Plains. The grassland is located in the South Platte River basin in remote northern and extreme northeastern Weld County between Greeley and Sterling. It comprises two parcels totaling 193,060 acres (78,130 ha) largely between State Highway 14 and the Wyoming border. The larger eastern parcel lies adjacent to the borders of both Nebraska and Wyoming. It is administered in conjunction with the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest from the U.S. Forest Service office in Fort Collins, Colorado, with a local ranger district office in Greeley.[3]

The grassland is in an especially depopulated area of the Great Plains. There was limited cultivation in the early 20th century but was withdrawn from farming after the Dust Bowl. The communities of Keota and Purcell are located within the grassland. The town of Grover is located directly between the two large parcels of the Grasslands near the Crow Creek. Briggsdale sits at the southern end where State Highway 14 and State Highway 392 meet. State Highway 71 traverses the eastern unit north of Stoneham. The eastern unit is drained by Pawnee Creek, a tributary of the South Platte. The western unit is largely drained by Crow Creek.

Camping is available at the Crow Valley Recreation Area northwest of Briggsdale. The grassland contains several hiking trails, including one that allows foot access to the Pawnee Buttes, the most notable geologic feature of the Grasslands. Bird watching is a popular recreational activity for day hikers, especially at the Chalk Bluffs, a raptor nesting site.

Recreational activities on the Pawnee Grasslands have been somewhat curtailed over the last 10 years due to the discovery of extractable oil and natural gas. According to the US Forest Service there are 63 active vertical oil and natural gas wells, and less than 3,000 acres from the 193,060 acres is protected from drilling.[4]


  1. ^ "Pawnee National Grassland". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Pawnee National Grassland". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Pawnee National Grassland Oil and Gas Frequently Asked Questions". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 

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