I recently learned about a fascinating race called the Mongol Derby. Yes, it’s a horse race and no, you don’t go in a circle. The race is 1,000 km across the vast steppes of Mongolia. “Steppe” is essentially the Asian equivalent of “plains,” and the terrain of Mongolia is very similar to the Great Plains – probably most similar to Wyoming or Montana with distant mountains. The following video gives a good introduction to the race: Mongol Derby
I mention this because people from all over the world travel to Mongolia to see the beauty of the steppe, and experience the wide open wilderness, either with this race, or with other adventurous intentions. In the following link: Outside Magazine Photos you can see Will Grant, who was sent from Outside Magazine to participate in the Mongol Derby. What strikes me from the excellent photos is that some of them could easily have been taken in, say, South Dakota.
The point is that while the American Great Plains may lack yurts, yak butter tea, and other exotic cultural features of Mongolia, the landscape is nearly identical – if a bit more agricultural in spots. So, if places halfway around the world are able to promote the adventurous aspects of the grasslands, then why is it such a tough sell in America? I don’t know, but the Great Plains Trail will continue to point out what lies, not half a world away, but right under our noses, and the exotic adventure just waiting to happen – on foot, on bike, or on horseback!