I’ve been listing all of the places of significant national or state level interest along the Great Plains Trail as it is currently envisioned. To wrap it up, here are a few more that the trail just misses – usually by only a few miles. It some cases, it may be possible to connect with these important places, but it remains to be seen how easily that can be accomplished. Nonetheless, the intrepid and determined thru hiker would be just a very short jaunt away from . . .
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota – Need I say anything about this icon of our nation? I reckon anyone who has been alive during the last 75 years or so knows it pretty well.
Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota – This little gem (or jewel) is not so well known as Mt. Rushmore (few things are), but is pretty amazing in its own right. It is the 3rd longest cave in the world with over 170 miles of passageways that have been mapped and explored!
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Colorado – Built in 1833, this was once a very busy trading post along the old Santa Fe Trail in what is now southeast Colorado, but at the time it was operating, it was part of Mexico. In fact, it straddled the border of Mexico and the United States as it occupied both sides of the Arkansas River, which formed the international border from the 1820s to the 1840s. I think I have the rudimentary basics here, but if someone knows their Mexican history better than me, I’d be happy to learn more!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico – Just to the north and east of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, this cave system is not as long as Jewel Cave, but is no less spectacular. The park includes the cave (of course) as well as thousands of acres of protected desert above the cave.
OK, why not? They’re soooooo close. Let’s add these four to our current total of 37 to arrive at a whopping grand total of 41 priceless treasures along the Great Plains Trail!