Travels, US National Parks, Midwestern US

Landmark on the Oregon Trail – Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Back in May, Chelsea and I headed to the Dakotas for a long weekend to do some highpointing. Since we were driving all the way up there, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to detour through Nebraska along the way and visit some national monuments in the western part of the state. Our… Continue reading Landmark on the Oregon Trail – Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, US National Parks

Rocky Mountain National Park Hikes: Estes Cone

Estes Cone was not plan A for Chelsea and me on this particular weekend. But April and May in Colorado are part of what we Coloradans call the “spring of deception.” No matter how warm and sunny it is, no matter how many days in a row the nice weather endures, make no mistake: it's… Continue reading Rocky Mountain National Park Hikes: Estes Cone

Colorado, Travels

Colorado Bucket List: Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Tracks

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a dinosaur snob. I can’t help it. I grew up in a state full of fossils, in a town with a pretty fantastic dinosaur museum. The bar was set really high when I was really young. So I’m not easily impressed. But this place was… Continue reading Colorado Bucket List: Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Tracks

Colorado, Travels, US National Parks

Castle on the plains – Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent’s Old Fort was in fact not a fort in the traditional sense. It may have resembled military fortifications, but it was actually a trading post. Brothers Charles and William Bent and their business partner Ceran St. Vrain built the fort a few miles outside La Junta in 1833, choosing this particular place because it was fairly centrally-located between the fur trappers of the Rocky Mountains, the native lands of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes, and people traveling between the US and Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. It quickly became a key location for trading and the main stop on the Santa Fe trail for travelers in need of rest, repairs, and replenishment.

Midwestern US, Travels

On Top of Oklahoma: Black Mesa

When we told people we were heading to Oklahoma for the weekend, the typical response was a raised eyebrow followed by a confused “why?” In their defense, it’s not exactly a hopping travel destination, especially the panhandle region. But aside from the fact that I had the entire soundtrack of Oklahoma! stuck in my head… Continue reading On Top of Oklahoma: Black Mesa

Colorado, Travels, US National Parks

Heartbreaking history on the Colorado plains – Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

The Eastern Colorado plains are the original homeland of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Osage, Kiowa, Sioux, Jicarilla Apache, and Ute tribes (source). But by the mid-1800s they were being systemically dispossessed from their homelands. The 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie established that the Cheyenne and Arapaho would retain some of their native lands in exchange… Continue reading Heartbreaking history on the Colorado plains – Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Midwestern US, Travels

On Top of Kansas: Mount Sunflower

In late April of 2021, Pat and I set out for our first camping trip of the season. Our ultimate destination was the Oklahoma panhandle to climb the state high point. As it turns out, when one drives from Denver to Oklahoma there’s quite a lot to see along the way. So naturally, we stopped… Continue reading On Top of Kansas: Mount Sunflower

Colorado

Colorado Day Hikes: St. Mary’s Glacier

Most lists of “best hikes near Denver” include St. Mary’s Glacier. And with good reason. For a round-trip total of two hours of driving and 1.8 miles (2.9 km) of hiking, you can see a pretty subalpine lake, bristlecone pines, and stand on a glacier. Well… sort of. As it turns out, St. Mary’s Glacier… Continue reading Colorado Day Hikes: St. Mary’s Glacier

Lists, Midwestern US, Travels

On Top of Nebraska: Panorama Point

The highest point in Nebraska, Panorama Point, is located just across the border from both Colorado and Wyoming in the middle of basically nowhere. The elevation at Panorama Point is 5424 feet (1653 m) – higher than I would have expected for a plains state. But one thing differentiates this high point from most of… Continue reading On Top of Nebraska: Panorama Point

Colorado, Travels

Colorado Destinations: Pawnee National Grassland

The lands of northeastern Colorado have been inhabited for at least 12,000 years, originally by nomadic hunters. More recently, these lands were the home of the Arapaho and Cheyenne, who were forcibly removed in the 1880s to allow white settlers to establish homesteads and farm the land. As settlers soon learned, though, this shortgrass prairie… Continue reading Colorado Destinations: Pawnee National Grassland