America's Scenic Byways

Pawnee Pioneer Trails

125 miles - 3 hours

This is the kind of scenic route the high plains are known for - open and endless. The land reveals itself in increments on this seemingly infinite expanse of shortgrass prairie; a new horizon appears at the tip of every swale. The tranquil confluence of earth and sky is disturbed only by the distant silhouette of the Rocky Mountains and the sudden upward jut of the Pawnee Buttes. These 250-foot-high knobs, visible for miles around, guided Indian and pioneer travelers over the years; today they provide refuge for coyote, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, and hundreds of bird species. The surrounding region, first settled by 19th-century homesteaders, remains prime agricultural land, punctuated by tidy rural towns and modern-day homes on the range.