The Call of the Hawk
They almost look unreal, as if someone had simply placed them in the middle of the Pawnee National Grassland. They also look as if they could crumble to dust at any moment. But in fact, the Pawnee Buttes, a two-hour drive northeast of Denver, are the result of powerful natural forces. Formed by massive earth shifts, this geological formation has withstood wind and weather through the ages. If you’d like to explore them, it’s best to follow the Pawnee Buttes Trail. Surrounded by yuccas, cacti, and pink-flowering ‘prairie onions’, they rise up to more than 90 metres high. But the dry plains have much more to offer: if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be lucky enough to spot eagles and prairie falcons in the air. Or bison – lower down, on the ground, of course.
Misty Swamps and Reservoirs
While the Pawnee National Grassland and the Routt National Forest allow visitors to experience nature in its purest form, the Cherry Creek State Park, 30 kilometres southeast of Denver, is both man-made and natural. Following the Wetland Loop Trail, visitors are immersed in Colorado’s swamp and marsh landscapes, where beavers and muskrats abound. Cherry Creek Lake, on the other hand, is a bit more civilised. This roughly four-square-kilometre, eight-metre-deep reservoir has a marina on the western side, a sandy beach on the eastern side, and boasts a magnificent panoramic mountain view.
Adventures in the Rio Grande National Forest
Vastness, height, depth – located 300 kilometres from Denver, the Rio Grande National Forest, named for the Rio Grande river that originates in the mountains of the forest, offers all this and more. It has meter-high fir trees that accompany your every step of the way and cliffs with bottomless crevices, along whose walls gigantic masses of water plunge into the depths. And then there is the endless view over the mountain landscape that lies at your feet. Vastness can also be found in the San Luis Valley, one of the largest alpine deserts in the world. So head for the windswept Great Sand Dunes, turn your face towards the sun – and take a deep breath!
- Header - Photo by moosebitedesign on Getty Images
- Paragraph 1 - Photo by Richard Piland on Colorado Tourist Information
- Paragraph 1 - Photo by Visit Estes Park on Colorado Tourist Information
- Paragraph 2 - Photo by Erik Cox Photography on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 2 - Photo by ZPatrick on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by Lowell Monke on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by Sportstock on Getty Images
- Paragraph 4 - Photo by Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 5 - Photo by Alpine Eagles on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 5 - Photo by IrinaK on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 6 - Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 6 - Photo by boydhendrikse on Getty Images