Minnesota, Nebraska, And Kansas Are A Regional, Natural Wonderland
As we continue our journey across the United States, exploring the National Parks, every corner seems to provide another hidden gem. There is so much beauty and majesty in every state from the tallest snow-capped mountains of Denali to the hidden crevices of the Grand Canyon. This week we will discover the striking beauty of craggy cliffs in Nebraska and the tallgrass prairie of Kansas. As well as the wetlands, forests, streams, and lakes of Minnesota.
Established by the United States Congress on August 25, 1916, through the National Park Service Organic Act, the NPS preserves and protects America’s natural treasures for now and future generations to enjoy and experience.
Flowing right through the breadbasket of the U.S. in the Cornhusker State, the Missouri River is North America’s longest river, besting even its more famous counterpart, the Mighty Mississippi. A thoroughfare for trading and exploration in days of yore, the two free-flowing stretches of Missouri make up this National Park. Stop by and relive the wild past by exploring the untamed and mighty river that continues to flow as nature intended.
Part of the picturesque landscape that likely comes to mind when thinking of Nebraska, is this natural curiosity and the park that preserves it. Scotts Bluff has served as a landmark for everyone from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon and California Trails, to modern travelers of today, as it sits an astounding 800 feet above the North Platte River. Plentiful with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, there is so much to explore in the 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument.
With 218,055 acres, the vast and diverse Voyageurs National Park is an adventure wonderland all year long for nature lovers and adrenaline seekers of all varieties. With lakes, streams, cliffs, and rock formations, this National Park truly has something for everyone!
When visiting the big boot state at the top of the country be sure to stop in at this national scenic riverway. Grab your paddle to replenish your adventurous spirit as you head to the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers. Forming the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, they offer over 200 miles of clean water that winds and rushes through this majestic forested landscape. Paddle, boat, fish, hike, and camp among this wild and scenic beauty or every one of the historic towns in the area.
For countless generations, Native Americans have quarried the singularly colored red pipestone found at this national historic site. These grounds are sacred to many indigenous groups as the stone is used to carve prayer pipes. It is believed that the smoke from these hand-carved totems is carried to the Great Spirit. While there are seemingly endless trails and waterfalls to be explored across the park, at each stop the scenery will take your breath away.
Not all national parks contain skyscraping mountains and rushing rivers, yet all contain a wealth of history that’s preservation is paramount to future generations. Stop along The Pony Express to learn more about the epic struggle, hardship, and ingenuity of the expansion of the American West. It’s almost beyond belief that a letter could travel on horseback more than 1,800 miles in 10 days! Only in operation for about 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, the Pony Express has become synonymous with the Old West, and in the era before electronic communication, the Pony Express was the sinew that tied the two worlds of our expanding nation of east and west together.
Tallgrass prairie once covered more than a hundred and fifty million acres across North America. However, within a single generation, farmland took over much of it. And today, only a small fraction remains. What is left is mostly in the Kansas Flint Hills where it is protected for all to see. Established on November 12, 1996, this preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Here the tallgrass makes its last stand and flows across the hills as a solemn reminder of the wildness that once was the Great Plains.