Travel around the Great Plains
Replies: 33 - Last Post: Oct 5, 2012 8:28 AM Last Post By: Untracked
Sep 30, 2012 3:25 PM
Travel around the Great PlainsForgive me if I've not got the definition of Great Plains just right, but I'm looking for some advice. I am thinking about a road trip from Texas to Colorado, taking in a few places along the way. I wonder if people think it is worth staying for two nights in the following places: Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Omaha, or is one night sufficient? I'm thinking perhaps that there might be nice towns nearby each of those places to get a good flavour of the region? Also, is there somewhere to stop between Omaha and Rapid City, I can only see Sioux Falls as a viable option to split the drive but would welcome thoughts!
Thanks in advance.
Sep 30, 2012 5:18 PM
Sep 30, 2012 5:53 PM
2It is not clear to me what it is you are trying to accomplish.
Where do you begin your journey in Texas and where in Colorado will you end it?
Oklahoma City to Kansas City to Omaha to Sioux Falls to Rapid City is a very round about route between anywhere in Texas and anywhere in Colorado especially if you are driving.
There is probably more that is similar between Oklahoma City and Kansas City than is different. They are both large, modern, “Heartland of America” American cities. What is it that you want to see? If all you want is the "flavor" of the place, you could probably find that in Ft. Worth, TX.
A little more explanation on your part would be helpful. As it is, it appears that you will burn up a lot of gas and time for little return. You are covering a vast area and those numbers on the map are statute miles, not kilometers.
Sep 30, 2012 6:14 PM
3If you want to get the feel of the Plains, you're going about it wrong. The cities are boring. It's the big flat empties in between, with wheat (or less) as far as the eye can see, that mark the Plains. It's the tiny, dying-or-dead farm towns. It's the wind. It's the big empty skies. Of the five best sunsets I've ever seen in my life, two have been in Western Nebraska--the part that's far enough west that there isn't even wheat. So don't aim for the cities, and stay the hell away from the interstate highways, if it's the Plains you want to see.
Head to OKC, sure. Thence to Abilene, Kansas (not to be confused with the town of the same name in Texas). Head to the Sand Hills region of Nebraska. Find a way to go here, which is someplace that has nothing else like it. Go to Wall, South Dakota--not just for Wall Drug, but to visit Badlands National Park. Then turn west to Rapid City, the Black Hills, Devils Tower. Go south to Cheyenne, and from there to wherever it is you're going in Colorado.
Edited by: mrpenney
Sep 30, 2012 6:19 PM
Please answer a few questions:
When is this trip?
How long is this trip?
What are your interests? History? Art? Music? Food? Hikes? Bikes? Night clubs? Strip clubs? Remember, we don't know you, and what we like may be what you hate.
Sep 30, 2012 7:26 PM
5Driving across the vast 'nothingness' can actually be quite relaxing and rewarding.
Pick a random path along any of the lonely two-lane highways that crisscross the region.
Toss in a few state parks and any museums you can find.
Enjoy the local mom-n-pop diners and steakhouses. Stay in the oldest motel in town.
Search out some of the absurd roadside attractions like Carhenge, etc.
( http://www.roadsideamerica.com/location/tx/all )
Avoid the big, ugly, generic urban centers like the plague.
Sep 30, 2012 7:45 PM
6The state parks are few and far between in the great plains north of KC.....
In summer that re hot as hell and very dry. In winter cold as hell and barren of life.
Sep 30, 2012 8:28 PM
7The Great Plains are one of my favorite sections of the US. I agree that the cities offer very little. However, there are an amazing number of ghost towns and almost-ghost towns. Mechanization has taken away so many jobs that the population is shrinking rapidly in the farm states. Any town that isn't the county seat or on a main highway is likely to be be almost deserted there days. In my travels, I've seen derelict downtowns, falling down churches, and even an old high school sitting with the doors open. But before you go, may I suggest you check out the books "Great Plains" by Ian Frazier and "PrairyErth" by William Least Heat-Moon. (Heat-Moon's "Blue Highways is good too.)
Oct 1, 2012 1:22 AM
8Thanks for the responses. I'm planning to go in September for two weeks, that's pretty much non-negotiable. I'm aware that I'm aiming to cover a lot of ground but when you're flying 4,000 miles for the privilege I try to get to as many places as possible. This year I did 5,000 miles round the West Coast in three weeks so I'm not worried about racking up the miles. There's also a very limited number of places I can fly directly to, hence I want to fly into Houston and out of Denver. I want to go to Oklahoma City but it seems as though this can be a fleeting visit, and Kansas City for the BBQ, which I understand is very good. I guess the main reasons for going are food, history, nature and music, probably in that order. I'd like to get to Mount Rushmore, hence the stop at Rapid City or thereabouts and also Badlands, as someone has already mentioned. Thanks for the tip re: Abilene, that looks like a good option instead of two nights in Kansas City. The advice seems to suggest going diagonally across Nebraska to Rapid City is the better option rather than going via Sioux Falls.
Thanks for the book advice denver_mugwamp, that's really helpful.
Oct 1, 2012 4:27 AM
9You couldn't pay me to drive that route...There is hardly anything, if anything, to see. You want to see great rural towns and back country twon settings, head to Kentucky/Tennessee, North Carolina/Virginia or the New England states. I grew up and the midwest and live in Chicago, I would not more drive that route than fly it. I would assume you have been to Colorado and Wyoming and Utah, from Texas, this would be stunning and a world class drive, but yours is nothing, literally Texas to Omaha would be the same scene 95% of the time.
Oct 1, 2012 4:33 AM
Oct 1, 2012 6:01 AM
11Good luck with your trip Joshuagreen 1984 - hope you come up with an amazing roadtrip and have a great US adventure!
I am afraid I have nothing helpful to add - I am also curious about making this trip for the first time - but have to say am completely gobsmacked by the snarky replies to his thread though. "remember we don't know you..", "you couldn't pay me to do that route", "they're hardly worth visiting", "you're going about it wrong". So much negativity, smugness and condescension. With the honourable exception of Denver Mugwamp I've never seen such a miserable bunch of replies.
Oct 1, 2012 6:13 AM
I've never vacationed in the Great Plains (spent my college years in Wisconsin/Illinois though.)
I'm going to reiterate the idea that if you plan you trip as city to city you're probably going about it all wrong.
The GP are about the countryside, not the cities. Think of rural/nature activities you like (hiking, camping, hunting, horseback riding, motorcycle tours, trips down the Mississippi whatever it is you're in to) and plan your trip that way.
Nothing wrong with naming cities or using them as landmarks, but in the GP those aren't really vacation destinations
Heck there are even "dude ranches" that will allow you to pay them to become a one-week ranch hand. (Yeehaw!)
Oct 1, 2012 6:23 AM
13The memorial and museum at the site of the 1994 OKC bombing are very well done. So is the Eisenhower childhoom home and museum in Abilene, KS. The Nelson-Adkins Museum in Kansas City, MO, is said to be very good, but it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays. (Which is why I didn't get to see it.)
Oct 1, 2012 6:28 AM
14I would fly to Denver and pick up a car there, then do the loop due northeast and back around, forget Oklahoma/ KC/Omaha. would also be cheaper than a oneway rental.
The only saving grace IMO would be to drive up the Missouri River Scenic roads that connect the river towns that are the anchors of commerce north of Omaha.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$24.54 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$223.88 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$636.35 per night