Pawnee National Grasslands and Buttes Trail 5/28/16

Dispersed camping, Pawnee National Grasslands, Greeley, CO (2 hours / 107 miles from Denver)

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) can be downloaded here. Anywhere you see grey areas with dots along the road is safe to dispersed camp. We camped off 685. The roads in this area were gravel or dirt and all of them were washboarded to some extent. Watch for flooded roads and don’t attempt to cross if you can’t see the road. That said, we took a Honda Accord here and had zero issues, although there were a lot of areas that looked like they’d flood easily. Also keep an eye out for prickly pear cacti when picking out a site.


We decided to head away from the mountains and the Memorial Day crowds. Setting up and breaking down camp was much easier than the test run two weeks ago. We traded our REI Trekker pads for a Klymit Static V and a Big Agnes Q-Core and slept much more comfortably. In the morning we loaded up the gear into our packs and hiked the 5 mile Pawnee Buttes trail to start getting used to carrying 20-25 lbs. each. Overall, it was a pretty successful trip!

Oh, and bring your binoculars and telescope. The area is fantastic for bird watching and the sky is gorgeous on clear nights.

What we learned:

  • Tea still came out weak. We were at about the same elevation as we are at home, so it’s something with the paper bags we’re using.
  • Canister stoves don’t take kindly to wind. We started off with a fresh 4 oz. fuel can (isobutane-propane) and had to grab the extra from the car to finish making breakfast. With the one canister, we boiled a total of about 3 liters of cool water (probably around 40-50°F) for roughly a half hour of burn time, possibly less, before it ran empty.

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