Discover amazing adventures throughout colorado’s beautiful eastern plains
When most people thank about outdoor adventures or excursions in Colorado, they are almost always referring to the state’s majestic high country. After all, we are blessed with one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on the planet with its towering peaks, golden aspen groves, and some of the best skiing in the world. You can also enjoy hiking, camping, snowmobiling, fishing and hunting, rafting, sightseeing and more. But what about Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
Colorado’s Eastern Plains are filled with amazing landscapes and naturally beautiful venues that are among the state’s best kept secrets. The same is true for other High Plains states, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. As one resident of the Kansas Heartland put it, “you’ve got to get off of I-70” to appreciate the hidden wonders of the Great Plains.
You can stay in a small, quaint farming community where no big-box retailers are in sight. Instead, you can shop in charming stores offering a variety of crafts made by local artisans, dine on old-fashioned food, stay in a bed-and-breakfast that was an original farmhouse, and visit historic landmarks. You can also download “walk-in” hunting and fishing maps by visiting the Colorado Fish and Game division website.
The Eastern Plains of Colorado are an integral part of Colorado’s culture and history. Covering almost a third of the state, this region offers unique terrain and an historical perspective that is unknown to most. Following are a few destinations in Eastern Colorado that are worthy of a visit. So check them out this summer. And by the way, the sunsets and sunrises on the High Plains are beyond breathtaking.
Pawnee National Grasslands: Located 110 miles northeast of Denver lies the Pawnee Buttes Trail located within the Pawnee National Grasslands. This iconic landmark often seen in pictures but not often seen in person, sits as a stoic reminder of how this earth is ever changing. Two buttes rise 300 feet above the prairie grass that extends for miles and miles, seemingly to the edges of the earth.
Nested among these contrasting landscapes is a 4.1-mile out-and-back trail for hikers to explore both the east and west buttes up close. Additional activities include birding, horseback riding, and camping. While the trek out might seem like you are being led to the middle of nowhere, it’s because you are! But there is a distinctive landscape that sits in the shadows of the Rockies that is waiting to be explored.
The Inn at the Feed Store: Roughly 45 miles directly east of Denver lies the town of Byers, where silos soar high and American flags are hung with pride. There is not too much to see here except some old buildings, farmland and a historic church nestled among residential homes.
The real draw is the Inn at the Feed Store. You won’t find a website for this bed and breakfast. In fact, the only way they take reservations are through personal referrals over the phone. Accommodations are comfortable and quaint with small-town charm to complete the experience.
Last Chance Module Array: Located in the tiny town of Last Chance, identifiable only by a collection of abandoned homes and the dilapidated Last Chance Motel, is the site of the M12 Studio’s most recognizable projects. Take I-70 to the intersection of US-36 and US-71, then head south a few miles down US-71 and to the left stands the Last Chance Module Array.
The M-12 studio is a group of artists, researchers and writers based in Colorado. They are known for their projects that explore aesthetics or rural culture and landscapes. The Last Chance Module Array is an eight-piece wooden structure perched high on the plains that’s best seen in the morning with the rising sun casting a beautiful glow across the wooden framework. Visitors can approach the display by wading through the tall grass to see the perfectly crafted space between the pieces. It’s an impressive site and a real treat you might not expect to find in this part of Colorado.
Burlington, Colorado: Further east about 13 miles west of the Kansas-Colorado border is the town of Burlington, a modest cow-town that boasts an unexpected national historic landmark: The Kit Carson County Carousel. The carousel is one of fewer than 150 wooden carousels that remain in operation today.
You could have splurged and bought a ticket for a reasonable price of 25 cents to ride it when it first opened in 1928. You also gain access to a museum. Gaining speeds of up to 12 MPH with the original motor, this antique can really move. Carnival music plays in the background as charmed locals and tourists spin around on gold leaf horses and other various animals. Feel like a kid again for a few minutes. Burlington also features a fully-restored Old West town that you can tour, view early-American artifacts, and shop for souvenirs.
Granada, Colorado: South of Burlington is the sleepy town of Granada that contains a not-so-well-known piece of history. Tucked away from the main part of town is a National Historic Landmark…the Amache Japanese-American Relocation Center. During World War II, this was one of 10 Japanese American internment camps in the United States…unfortunately. You can drive through the property that housed more than 10,000 internees, making it at one point the 7th largest city in Colorado.
The site today consists of a cemetery, the original water tower, a model of the barracks and original building foundations that offer evidence of life as it once was in this isolated part of the country.
Hidden treasures shape the eastern plains. Add these and many other attractions to your list of short, convenient, and very worthwhile trips for a special adventure.