The premise of the trip went this way: Front Rangers generally head west, where the mountains and many rivers are, for most of their outdoor adventuring. There's often a bit of northward or southern drift along those paths, but rarely do you hear your friends, even the fishermen and -women, talk of going east.
Yes, Springs folk do make the Calhan drive regularly for the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, but what else? What's worthwhile on all the rest of that map — nearly half the state? With 20 years now living in Colorado (and much travel through its western areas), I couldn't answer that question.
So I studied my map. And quickly my eye came to two out of the nation's 20 National Grasslands: Pawnee and Comanche.
Pawnee's up against the Nebraska and Wyoming state lines, and will have to be the subject of a future writing. For our quick weekend trip, we opted instead to point toward the New Mexico and Oklahoma borders and get our feet wet in Comanche. With brief research, we were now learning of Comanche's key attraction, the longest dinosaur footprint trackway in the country, amazingly preserved from the Jurassic period. (Bolivia hosts the longest in the world, by the way, from the Cretaceous period.)
Further reading revealed more sites of interest, including nearby preserved homesteads as well as rock art around dramatic canyon areas. What we'd ignorantly presumed to be empty prairie nothingness with few contours and features turned out to be, well, empty prairie nothingness with few, but very interesting contours and features.