Spacious skies, stretching without interruption hundreds of miles eastward from the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Golden, rolling, irrigated fields of wheat and corn, spreading along the valleys of the South Platte and Republican rivers and their tributaries. A different Colorado exists on the sparsely populated plains of northeastern Colorado, one that inspired James Michener's novel Centennial.

Stories of the prehistoric buffalo hunters who first inhabited the region; trailblazers and railroad crews who opened up the area to Anglo settlement; hardy pioneer farmers who endured drought and economic ruin; and ranchers such as John W. Iliff, who carved a feudal empire built on longhorn cattle come alive here. And they're kept alive by the pioneer museums, frontier forts, old battlefields, and preserved downtown districts. This vivid history and the vast open stretches here -- wetlands swollen with migrating waterfowl, the starkly beautiful Pawnee National Grassland -- are a reminder that Colorado is not just the Rocky Mountains.