On your way to or from Colorado from the Midwest, take a break from the road to stretch your legs at Pawnee National Grassland. Known for its Pawnee Buttes, two iconic hill-like features that rise 250 feet from the prairie floor, the grasslands offer the opportunity to see wildlife like coyotes, prairies dogs, and more than 300 species of birds.
You can get to Pawnee Buttes via the Pawnee Pioneer Trails Byway, which is 128 miles and takes about three hours. It’s a gorgeous way to experience the prairie, as well as historic farming towns like Fort Morgan and Brush that make up Morgan County. Woven together by strong agricultural threads, this area is known for its sugar beet and dairy farms and is home to one of the state’s last sugar beet factories.
“Morgan County is very friendly — it’s that old-style welcome to the neighborhood,” says Emily Goggins, tourism director of Morgan County. “It’s a great place to see scenic views that are different from Colorado’s Western Slope and there is a lot of history here.”
In Fort Morgan, drive over Rainbow Bridge that straddles the South Platte River and was the nation’s longest archway bridge when it debuted in 1923. From there, stop at Fort Morgan Museum, which showcases Native American artifacts and has a Glenn Miller exhibit. A popular big band leader, Miller attended high school in town. Grab a bite to eat at The Mav Kitchen and Tap House with more than 16 beers on tap and good food.
Then head to Brush to to see its historic movie theater and to learn about the pioneer days at Brush Museum and Cultural Center. Stop by El Jacal for great Mexican food. From there drive to Jackson Lake State Park for warm-water swimming, sandy beaches and camping.
Learn more at MorganCountyTourism.com.