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The Great Plains
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Introducing The Great Plains

To best appreciate this vast and underappreciated region in the heart of the US, you need to split the name. The first word, 'great,' is easy. Great scenery, great tornadoes, great eats, great people all apply. The problem is with 'plains.' 'Humdrum' and 'flat' are two words that come to mind. Neither applies. Amid the endless horizons and raw natural drama are surprises such as St Louis and Kansas City, the Alpine beauty of the Black Hills and the legacy of Route 66.

Great distances across the beguiling wide-open spaces are the biggest impediment to enjoying this enormous region, which includes the states of Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. Many sights lie near the interstates and the more intriguing two-laners, but other far-flung points of interest and scenic drives are also worth seeking out.

From miles of sand dunes to lushly forested countryside, small towns to great cities, the majestic sweep of the continent's center is yours to explore.