Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway


Sterling is the eastern gateway to the Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway in northeastern Colorado.


buttes11 Pawnee Buttes

This region is a vast open textbook of nature with its own distinct and fragile beauty, the result of a landscape sculpted by geologic forces, whose effects have been held tenaciously in check by hardy and resilient vegetation. Traveling across the Byway, one may imagine how this short grass prairie was viewed by Native Americans, frontiersmen, early cattlemen, 19th and early 20th century homesteaders, and those who faced the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s.


Today's stewards of the prairie include farmers and ranchers, the U.S. Forest Service, and an increasing number of former urbanites.

The Byway offers historic attractions and recreation areas along the roadways. Visitors can experience solitude and explore nature through bird watching, wildlife study, photography, and hiking.

buttes2Simply driving along the Byway, visitors encounter pleasant agricultural communities while traveling through 100 million years of geologic deposition artfully exposed and rearranged by wind and water.


Travel tips:

  • Start with a full tank of gas and a spare tire since services are unavailable in remote areas after business areas.
  • Bring drinking water/appropriate clothing since weather conditions can change rapidly.
  • Use binoculars to observe wildlife. Young animals and birds must not be disturbed.
  • From March 1 - June 30, the north overlook and cliffs near the Pawnee Buttes are closed to the public by the Forest Service for raptor nesting protection.
  • Climbing on the Buttes and other cliffs is discouraged due to crumbling sandstone.
  • Collecting artifacts, vertebrate fossils, arrowheads or barn wood robs our heritage and is prohibited on Pawnee National Grasslands.
  • Take trash home or use the designated receptacles.
  • Be alert for livestock on roads since much of the area is open range.


  • Remain on the designated Byway route to avoid trespassing on intermixed private lands. A map is recommended if visiting the Pawnee National Grassland. (MAPS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE LOGAN COUNTY VISITORS CENTER IN STERLING.)
  • Avoid traveling the graveled routes during bad weather since they are dangerous when wet.


Click HERE for more information and map.





Vision: Sterling will be a model, on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, of good health and opportunities for physical activity.

Mission: To provide the infrastructure and leadership to make biking, walking and running prominent activities for residents and guests of Sterling.

The Sterling Loop Committee continues to move forward on the development of a multi-use trail that will loop around the City of Sterling. The trail is proposed to interconnect all RE-1 Valley Schools, as well as Northeastern Junior College; it will tie in three parks, including Pioneer and Columbine; and it will tie in Overland Trail Recreation Area, Overland Trail Museum and the Logan County Shooting Sports Complex.


Check out this video that shows the first leg of the proposed trail:

The committee has identified three objectives to meet their mission.

  • To build a multi-use trail around the perimeter of Sterling by 2020
  • To develop weekly trail use and bicycling activities
  • To raise awareness about the trail and the trail's potential

In conjunction with the trail project, the City of Sterling has submitted an application for the Colorado Department of Transportation "Safe Routes to School" grant, which is a non-infrastructure grant that provides instructions to physical education teachers and others about riding, repairing and safety related to bicycling so they will instruct students about these topics. If awarded, the grant will provide three bikes to each of these Sterling schools - Ayers, Campbell and Sterling Middle School.


A Tread for Trails event will be held May 14. Please watch for details.


Downtown Sterling Revitalization


Historic Woolworth Building Redevelopment Next Step in Downtown Sterling Revitalization

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Through the generosity of Alan and Cindy Hoal of Sterling, the historic Woolworth Building property in downtown Sterling has now been conveyed to the Logan County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC) for redevelopment.

woolworth-mural Photo courtesy Sterling Journal Advocate

The main goal for the property redevelopment is to achieve preservation of the historic building through viable adaptive re-use as a multi-purpose community gathering place.

This building is a key component in the overall redevelopment of downtown Sterling. Through funding from Sterling Urban Renewal Authority and property owners, many downtown structures are being rehabilitated with new facades and interior renovations. As one of the largest buildings in the center of downtown, LCEDC will lead the project to establish downtown Sterling as the commercial, entertainment, and cultural heart of the community and region.

2015-04-11-11-26-42 Old Town Bistro

2015-04-11-11-18-24 Zoe's Nook

2015-04-11-11-31-49 Glam Street






Additionally, the redevelopment will help to preserve and promote Sterling's history and heritage. Establishing a National Historic District designation was the first step addressing this goal and as a contributing State Historic Building, the ability to renovate and redevelop this building will help preserve the historic relevance of the structure and ensure it doesn't continue to deteriorate to a point of unavoidable demolition. The building, first constructed in 1906, has changed in size, function and use, but has been vacant for more than 30 years. It has approximately 13,000 square feet on the first floor and 5,700 square feet on the second floor.

Initial public input on the Woolworth Building came from a Logan County Chamber of Commerce sponsored visioning session in 2015 on the downtown area. The next steps are for LCEDC to hold a February community meeting, develop an online survey, and reach out to the community regarding the vision and purpose for the property. LCEDC received a technical assistance award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. The assessment has been completed and the report identifies the cleanup work needed. The specific report recommendations will be addressed at the LCEDC Annual Meeting on Jan. 25, 2016.

According to Dr. Jay Lee, president of Northeastern Junior College and president of LCEDC, "We are excited about the possibilities that the Woolworth Building may bring to Sterling and Logan County. We all know that the building has been sitting vacant for a long time and that its location is prime downtown property. It is tragic that this wonderful location has become an eyesore. There are great possibilities with this space. LCEDC is willing to lead the effort to move forward on this project and make something great happen for Sterling and revitalize our downtown. We look forward to completion of this project and of what the future holds."

A Brighter, Better New Year


Happy, Happy New Year!

We wish you all the best,

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Great work to reach your fondest goals,

And when you're done, sweet rest.

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We hope for your fulfillment,

Contentment, peace and more,

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A brighter, better new year than

You've ever had before.

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Christmas on the Prairie

Christmas on the Prairie Open House Events

at the

Overland Trail Museum


Tuesday, December 15

Thursday, December 17

Tuesday, December 22

(5 - 7 pm each evening)


These are festive and free events that feature musical entertainment, decorated buildings, carolers, a spectacular Christmas light display, cookies, apple cider, and roasted chestnuts!


For more information, call 970-522-3895.

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