Scenic USA - Colorado

Pawnee Buttes

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Pawnee Buttes - Keota, Colorado

Photos by Ron McEwan

   The Dakota states appear to have a lock on America's most famous badlands, Greater Prairie Chicken - Colorado Plains areas protected by four national parks. The White River Badlands (White River Group), not necessarily a familiar travel destinations, cover a broad area within the states of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, as well as South Dakota. These extensive badlands, blanketed in short grass and a jumble of eroded canyons and rivulets, are found in large patches east of the Rocky Mountains.
    Although Colorado is nicknamed the Centennial State, joining the Union a century after The Declaration of Independence, its truer image is directly connected to the majestic Rocky Mountains. Not quite as impressive as the Rockies, the eastern plains take in nearly a third of the state, and are represented in this view of Pawnee Buttes. Here the twin landforms rise up 300 feet from the rumpled Colorado plains. The White River Badland buttes are part of the Brule formation, found to be loaded with ancient fossils. The area around these distinctive buttes contain a rare glimpse of life during the Oligocene Epoch, dating back 30 million years. Pronghorn Herd - Colorado Plains Early settlers called this region the "Great American Desert". Today, the 300,000 acre Pawnee Buttes National Grassland have been rediscovered and found full of wildlife. Birders may find an impressive variety of resident birds, including bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, upland sandpipers, greater prairie-chickens, and Bell's vireos. Dominated by native grassland and riparian habitats, the most visible prairie wildlife species include mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn, but smaller mammals, such as native mice, voles, moles, gophers, ground squirrels and prairie dogs, dominate the foothills. Hawks, kites, eagles, coyotes, swift foxes, and badgers keep these grassland rodents in check.

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