In the previous two blogs, we have looked at all the various places of national interest that the Great Plains Trail will cross. I believe we’re currently at a hefty 29 places of significant interest. In this post, we will look at some areas of significant state interest that the GPT will connect with, namely state parks and state high points.
The GPT will cross three state parks:
Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota – This gem is on the northern fringes of the Black Hills and the main highlight is its namesake butte – sacred to the Lakota Sioux and more of a mountain than a butte, it rises approximately 1400 feet above the surrounding plains. The park includes a trail to the top of the butte, a campground, and visitor center. On a personal note, Bear Butte State Park has become one of my absolute favorite places to visit when I’m anywhere near. I have climbed the butte several times, and would do so again in a heartbeat.
Custer State Park, South Dakota – This state park is perhaps one of the best state parks in the U.S. for wildlife. It’s more like a mini version of Yellowstone than a typical state park. There are elk, coyote, bison, hawks, eagles, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and even mountain lions! Custer State Park is big at over 70,000 acres, and it made Adventure Journal’s list of the 20 best state parks in the U.S.
Fort Robinson State Park, Nebraska – This is another outstanding state park that amazes on two distinct levels. First there is the historical aspect of the park with its military fort buildings and accounts of life in the army in the late 1800s. This is also the place where Crazy Horse was killed. Then there is the natural piece of the park, which is an incredible mix of open plains and high cliff landforms that ring the interior valley. There are endless possibilities for exploration, and Fort Robinson State Park also borders Nebraska’s only wilderness area, Soldier Creek Wilderness.
The GPT will also connect with four (and possibly five) State High Points:
This was discussed at length in earlier blog posts (search the blog to find the full entries), so I’ll be brief. The list of state high points is as follows:
White Butte, North Dakota (3,506 feet)
Harney Peak, South Dakota (7, 242 feet)
Panorama Point, Nebraska (5,426 feet)
Black Mesa, Oklahoma (4,973 feet) – This one is a maybe, but the chances are looking good!
Guadalupe Peak, Texas (8, 749 feet)
OK, so let’s add these eight items to our previous total of 29, and we now have 37 places of amazingness along the Great Plains Trail – WOW!!!