In the Midwest – from Denver to Chicago
The Midwest – roughly spoken, the landscape between the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Appalachian Mountains in the east of the American continent – is primarily characterized by the Great Plains. Once the habitat of millions of bison, the area with its vast grain fields is now the breadbasket of the United States and Canada.
It’s going to be a long journey, and yet we already know at the beginning that, stretching some 1800 km north to south from the Canadian border to famous Route 66, we will see only a small part of this vast region. While on our previous trips we spent a lot of time in the north – highlights include Scotts Bluff in Nebraska, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota our our tour around Lake Michigan – this time we dedicate ourselves to the south. Thus follow us to varied, colorful and exciting areas far away from the beaten tracks.
Once again, we start our journey in Denver, this time heading south. Castle Rock with its striking rock castle and Castlewood Canyon State Park both are worth a stop before continuing to Colorado’s second largest city, Colorado Springs. The Garden of the Gods with its red rock formations is magnificent, and the historic district of Old Colorado City offers some nice shops and restaurants.
On the way south, the Royal Gorge Bridge crossing the Arkansas River and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the only national park on this trip, are our next destinations. We reach New Mexico and – after a detour to the Historic District of Taos – Santa Fe, capital of the state and known mainly from the Western movies of days long gone by. The old town around Santa Fe Plaza, completely built in the adobe style of the Southwest, and Canyon Road Arts District with hundreds of galleries and sculptures are main attractions of this city.
After a short walk through the drop-out village of Madrid we arrive at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. Once again, there is a beautiful historic old town with small shops and museums. Just outside lies Sandia Peak; a cable car takes us up to almost 10,300 feet.
From now on we follow historic Route 66, next to Lincoln Highway the oldest paved highway to the west coast and today an attraction for tourists with nostalgic preferences. Via Santa Rosa (with the Blue Hole) and Tucumcari, the Midway Point of Route 66 and the Cadillac Ranch we finally reach Amarillo in the Penhandle of Texas (we had to skip the north of Texas on our round trip some years ago). A detour to Palo Duro Canyon, America’s second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon, is definitely set.
The road continues, passing countless abandoned motels, stores and gas stations. It’s the small attractions along the way that keep the camera working; the towns are called Groom, McLean or Shamrock (in Texas) as well as Elk City, Clinton, Weatherford, Hydro and Yukon (all in Oklahoma). With Oklahoma City, we explore another capital in a state that is unknown to us. A final leg of the iconic road takes us to Tulsa; on this section, unlike in New Mexico and Texas, a lot of effort has been put into renovating the old buildings next to Route 66.
We leave Route 66 and turn north. In Winfield we visit relatives of friends and are warmly welcomed. Wichita, Topeka, the capital of Kansas with the usual State Capitol, and Lawrence are our next stops. Then it gets a little bit confusing. Kansas City in Kansas, a little town, is not very attractive; Kansas City on the other side of the river, however, is Missouri’s largest city. We are pleased to find public art, great museums and murals, an interesting skyline and last but not least a free streetcar.
The next station is called St. Joseph, where it is all about the legendary Pony Express. After another two hours, we have left Missouri reaching Lincoln, the rather small capital of Nebraska with an imposing State Capitol. Omaha, much larger, awaits us the next day. Along with its sister city Council Bluffs on the other side of the Missouri River, there are plenty of historically significant photo motives.
One last city unknown to us is on our way, Des Moines, capital of Iowa. The State Capitol, which can compete with any Italian palace, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park are further highlights of this trip. In the evening, after a visit to the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, we see the Mississippi, the “Old Man River” for the first time. (We had to cancel our trip along the Mississippi in 2020 due to corona; however, it is still on our agenda.)
The next day we head straight to Chicago, Illinois, where we visit familiar and new destinations. With a wonderful visit to old friends this trip across the middle of the continent ends.
|01||Denver (DEN)||Centennial||045 m / 070 km|
|02||Centennial||Colorado Springs||090 m / 145 km|
|03||Colorado Springs||025 m / 040 km|
|04||Colorado Springs||Monte Vista||270 m / 435 km|
|05||Monte Vista||Santa Fe||200 m / 320 km|
|06||Santa Fe||015 m / 025 km|
|07||Santa Fe||Albuquerque||090 m / 145 km|
|08||Albuquerque||030 m / 050 km|
|09||Albuquerque||Amarillo||320 m / 515 km|
|10||Amarillo||080 m / 130 km|
|11||Amarillo||Clinton||235 m / 380 km|
|12||Clinton||Oklahoma City||110 m / 175 km|
|13||Oklahoma City||Tulsa||140 m / 225 km|
|14||Tulsa||Wichita||200 m / 320 km|
|15||Wichita||Kansas City||240 m / 385 km|
|16||Kansas City||030 m / 050 km|
|17||Kansas City||Lincoln||230 m / 370 km|
|18||Lincoln||Des Moines||210 m / 340 km|
|19||Des Moines||Le Claire||280 m / 450 km|
|20||Le Claire||Chicago||180 m / 290 km|
|21||Chicago||000 m / 000 km|
|22||Chicago||000 m / 000 km|
|23||Chicago||Chicago O'Hare (ORD)||000 m / 000 km|
|Total||3.020 m / 4.860 km|