Forgotten Grasslands

Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado

The Pawnee National Grassland is a 193,000 acre combination of federal, state and private land, administered by the USDA Forest Service.

National Grasslands are managed as National Forests. Both are made up of private and public land, not always readily differentiated, so you must know where you are. Knowing where you are is much easier in the Grasslands than the Forest. Dispersed camping regulations and maps are published by the USDA. To select our spot I relied on the USDA motor vehicle use map combined with in-car GPS.

We arrived on Friday evening. Pitch black. Now it’s Sunday evening. We’ve seen four cars pass between then and now.

It wasn’t what I thought it would be. I’ve lived on the plains for a long time. Grass, scrub, cacti, rattlesnakes, I thought I got it.

But we haven’t found solitude like this before. Our time in the various National Forests of Colorado have been peaceful and inspirational. Although we have been all alone we have known the location of our nearest (camping) neighbor – perhaps further up a canyon or down a different forestry road. As you explore you run across one another. People like the forest.

Out here, where I can see the furthest, I couldn’t tell you where the nearest person is. The silence. It seems people don’t like the Grasslands.

One additional difference is National Grasslands are accessible. While National Forests are effectively moated by private subdivisions, creating a physical and legal minefield of accessibility issues, the Grasslands are relatively unencumbered and can be accessed directly from county roads.

Easy. Beautiful. You can see our photographs of the weekend here.

– Anthony, Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado

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