Dispersed camping is also allowed on the Pawnee National Grassland, year-round. This provides an alternative to campground camping for those who want to experience the grassland the way people did in the past. No fee required. A Motor Vehicle Use Map will help you determine if you are on private or public land.
Took advantage of this past warmer weekend to camp here. It’s about 2 hours from Denver. There were a couple spots on the road you might want higher clearance, but mostly smooth and all easily passable in a stock Outback.
Plenty of dispersed sites; we camped on an overlook a quarter mile or so from the Pawnee Buttes trailhead which had beautiful, clear views of the sunrise and sunset. We only saw one other site in use and some folks camped at the trailhead parking lot, but neither were visible from our site. The night sky is beautiful and full of stars, though not completely dark since we could see lights from nearby private lands.
The only negative was wind. It was very windy, especially at night (the wind rocked the car most of the night). It wasn’t an issue for us sleeping in the car, but I wouldn’t tent camp. Pawnee Buttes Trail was a great way to start the day the next morning and it was nice to have use of the bathrooms.
Overall a beautiful site, plenty of solitude (at least in the winter) and nice change of pace from the mountains. I would return.
Multiple dispersed campsites approaching the Pawnee Buttes trailhead from the west and southwest. I camped (rooftop tent) on the bluff overlooking the trailhead parking lot, approached from the south. Chilly at night (10 degrees) but no wind.
Spectacular view of the Pawnee Buttes to the east. Perfect spot to catch sunrise and sunset. This area is also a “dark site,” so on clear, moonless nights the stars / Milky Way are phenomenal.
During winter snow often drifts onto the roads. If snowy, 4-wheel drive / high clearance helpful for accessing some of the dispersed sites.
Trailhead restrooms are open year-round.
Consistent 3 bars 5G (AT&T). 200 Mbps down / 16 Mbps up.
This is an unexpected gem very close to our house where you can't see a tree for miles. It's peaceful and not crowded. Be sure to check the forecast because it can get very windy at times.
I showed up Monday evening. There were two cars in the parking lot, but there were two groups of people coming down the trail also, so by the time I had all my stuff situated to start hiking, I was the only one there. I found an awesome spot inside a ravine (it was very dry so I wasn’t worried about flash floods (still not smart) so wouldn’t do so in the winter) where I was visited by a badger, a porcupine, some antelope and many birds. I also found Mouse Bones so I’m sure there are mice. BUTTE-iful sunset, BUTTE-iful stars, BUTTE-iful sunrise, again everyone left by the time my camp was set up so I was all alone. 10/10 would recommend to campers, bikers, hikers, photographers, bird watchers, and just anyone who loves nature!!!!!🤘🏽
Very remote area, no water, power, tables but absolutely stunning views. I would advise using a motor vehicle usage map to get out to the trail. I used one and had no problem. Our camping neighbor’s said they had a hard time finding the spot with just google maps. Whoever camped before us left some trash but we took it with us when we left. Great night sky’s and good trails all around for hiking. Planning to go back!
Bathrooms and picnic tables available, not too crowded. Great sunsets and sunrises.