Ken Papaleo: X Marks the Shot: Pawnee National Grassland Photos - near Greeley, Colorado

Pawnee National Grassland Photos - near Greeley, Colorado

“X Shot” Information

Camera - Canon EOS Mark III
ISO - 800
Lens - Canon 24 - 70 zoom
F/stop - 2.8
Shutter - 1/20 sec.

  It had been over five years since I visited the Pawnee National Grasslands when fellow photographer, Dennis Schroeder and I were on our way. The Grasslands are 90 miles northeast of Denver. We first stopped at the Pawnee National Grasslands HQ in Greeley to get a map and information on the area. The Grasslands are about 40 minutes from Greeley, so we headed north on Hwy. 85 looking for Hwy. 14.  Somehow we missed it and ended near Wyoming. The Grasslands are huge, consisting of 93,060 acres intermixed with private land. We decided to turn east on 122, a dirt road, heading towards the Pawnee Buttes. We wanted to arrive with about two hours of sun left. The Grasslands were very dry and dusty with a slight breeze blowing. Stopping at a number of locations to shoot, we had to keep upwind of  passing traffic to avoid severely dusted camera equipment, especially when big rigs filled with hay flew by.  We first noticed one of the buttes jutting over the eastern horizon as we stopped to shot an old windmill. Little did we know that the rest of our shoot was going to be filled with windmills. Coming up over a hill, we saw that a huge wind farm had been built to the north of the buttes. It certainly changed our plans. The farm was massive and we quickly made it our main target. We drove to a number of different locations, taking shots as the sun set. Some windmills were so near to the side of the road, you could hear the sound of the blades whirling through the air. By the end of the shoot we were on tripods with cable releases doing low light work. We finally lost all light, put our gear back in my jeep and headed back on the dirt roads. After about 20 minutes we hit a paved road and headed south. Immediately we heard something banging on my side of the car and stopped to check it out. I found my cable release, still connected to my camera, had been hanging out of my door bouncing on the road all that time. After getting home I tested the release and to my surprise it still worked! Another great trip!

“X Shot”  Location Information

1. Drive Time from Denver to Grasslands - 2  hrs.
2. Take hwy. 85 north out of Greeley.
     In Ault, go east on hwy. 14 for 40 miles, to Reymer,
     turn left on dirt road 129, that takes you in.
3. Make sure you stop at the office in Greeley, 660 “O”
    Street, to get a map and information.
4. Bring food, water,extra clothing and a cell phone, there
    isn’t much out there.
5. Make sure you check the weather before going.

Ken Papaleo
Colorado Photographer


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Evergreen, Colorado, United States
I worked for the Rocky Mountain News for 28 years, until they went out of business. I now do freelance work, post this weekly blog, ski and play with my four grand children. I still have the love to get out and take photographs, which brings me great peace and comfort.

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