It’s a winding drive through Idaho fields of corn, grain, sugar beets and potatoes. Out into the middle of a vast plain of irrigated fertility. But just 74 years ago, it was a spreading plain of sagebrush squatting beside a large irrigation canal carrying Snake River water to farms further west. It was a desolate, nearly empty place. A perfect place for a prison camp.
Exploring the Parks
While there are a handful of cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park that you can tour, there are more than 600 dwellings in all in the park. Here's a tip on how to visit some of those off the beaten path.
Autumn is a spectacular time to visit Denali National Park. The alpine and subalpine tundra at higher elevations gleam with fall color by mid- to late-August. The taiga at lower elevations is aglow in reds by early September, a time when the aspen and balsam poplar near the park entrance turn brilliant yellow and gold.
First, some warnings. If you plan to visit John Day Fossil Beds, be prepared. Road maps might make it look as if the national monument is plunk in the middle of pretty well-inhabited country with towns frequent along the roads.
At Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah you can stand at 10,000 feet elevation on the rim of a spectacular 2,000-foot deep amphitheater of eroded rock stretching a width of about three miles. You will marvel at the dramatic shapes of the columns and spires, and at the reds, yellows and oranges of the stone formations.
With the Green and Colorado rivers in the neighborhood, it's not surprising that the Yampa River that flows through Dinosaur National Monument is overlooked. And that's not a bad thing.
Though not a long long-distance trail (only about 40 miles), this route through the high country of Grand Teton National Park draws top ratings for its natural beauty.
On the morning of June 18 we returned to western Nebraska's Scotts Bluff, where we had the good fortune to witness a special event that takes place at the national monument once each year. The occasion was the arrival of a rider on horseback who was participating in the 2015 Pony Express re-ride from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.
Traveling to St. Louis eager to learn about Lewis and Clark? Then take this half-hour’s drive to Hartford, Illinois, where this great adventure begins, at Camp River DuBois and the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site.