The warm weather is approaching in Colorado, which means the highways heading for the mountains are about to get jam-packed. Have you ever thought about straying away from the crowds and heading the opposite direction? Morgan County, Colorado is just an hour east of Denver and offers a new kind of Colorado adventure! Intriguing history, historic bridges, artistic treasures, sandy reservoir beaches, towering landmasses, starry skies, and so much more are all waiting to be discovered in this itinerary!
This story was created in partnership with Morgan County Tourism, Colorado. Photos courtesy of Morgan County Tourism, Dave Samples, and Emily Goggins.
Day 1: Festivals, History, Arts, Racing, and More!
Morgan County, Colorado comes to life in the summertime! If you plan your trip just right, you may be able to experience one of the many exciting events that take place such as the Glenn Miller Swing Fest, the concert series in the park, the Bobstock Music Festival or the annual rodeo in Brush. These events are a great chance to spend the weekend outdoors with activities for the whole family.
History at the Fort Morgan Museum
Fort Morgan lies on the old Overland Trail, making it a destination that holds a ton of history important to Colorado. The best place to dive into this history is at the Fort Morgan Museum. Here you will find wonderful exhibits and treasured artifacts telling the stories of farming in the early days and the lives of Native Americans on the Great Plains.
Appreciating Historic Places
After exploring Colorado’s intriguing history, take a walk across the South Platte River on the Rainbow Bridge. This unique bridge is the only one of its kind in Colorado and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll have to visit to find out why. It will leave you in awe of the views overlooking the river and Riverside Park.
Lunch and Endless Activities!
Let your taste buds explore lunch at Elaine’s Place, one of the best Greek restaurants in the area. Afterwards, hop over to Quail Dunes Golf Course for a relaxed afternoon on the green. If you aren’t much of a golfer and more of a sportsman then head to Wiggins. You can test your aim at Longmeadow Game Resort, Clays Club and Event Center on one of the multiple sporting clay courses or hunting experiences! In Brush you can get a taste of that old fashion feel, while you watch a film at the historical Sands Theater.
Morgan county is a hidden gem for art lovers. If you want to add some unique up-cycled farmhouse decor to your home or if you’re looking for some local souvenirs, then Rebel Girl Kollectables will be your new favorite place! The Art Spot is perfect if you want to “energize your creativity” by painting your own canvas with friends or family.
A Not-So-Quiet Night in Morgan County
Head over to the I-76 Speedway for a night of racing. It is a fun and exciting spot to bring the family for a great night out full of entertainment.
Day 2: Mini Road Trip
Wake up to Coffee and the Great Plains
Start your day with the best coffee in town and some delicious breakfast at Zazzy’s. Then head north on Highway 52 to begin your journey on the Pawnee Pioneer Trail Scenic and Historic Byway. Feast your eyes on the enchanting prairie expanse. Put yourself into the shoes of early settlers who looked at this land as life changing.
Eventually you will reach the Pawnee National Grassland. As you enter, keep your eyes opened for wildlife, especially birds! This area is one of most renowned spots for bird watching in the country. The grasslands will appear flat at first, but eventually you will come to the Pawnee Buttes. These two towering landmasses dramatically jut 300 feet from the high plains floor! If you wish to get a closer look at the magnificent vistas and excellent wildlife viewing then explore the nearby trails.
Jackson Lake State Park
After a morning of breathtaking views in the warm summer sun, it’s time to head for Jackson Lake State Park to cool down and relax. This large reservoir is known to be an oasis on the prairie. The warm waters are perfect for boating, jet skiing and fishing, while the sandy beaches surrounding it are perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
A Night on the Plains
The reservoir is surrounded by 250 campsites making it the perfect spot to call home for the night. Enjoy dinner around a campfire next to the calm waters. Watch the sun set in the distance and the millions of stars take over the sky. It’s a night to sit back and truly understand why the eastern side of Colorado is known as the special place where the prairie meets the sky.