The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Arrow Rock State Park, Missouri, & Wilson Lake State Park, Kansas
We drove west on I-70 until we came to the exit for Rte. 41. We drove north to Arrow Rock State Historic Site. We set up in their campground and relaxed the rest of the day. The next morning we left the campground to see the old town. It had originally been an important trading stop along the Missouri River for pioneers heading west, and a ferry had operated there. But the course of the river changed, leaving the town high and dry. But the state has maintained the old pioneer town.
This was the jail. They couldn’t have had too many criminals since it was so tiny.
Since we were 10 miles or so north of the Interstate, we decided to roam through the countryside and get back on I-70 further west. Big mistake. The road we turned onto soon turned to gravel, and sections of it was very rough. We wound all over creation trying to get back to the Interstate. Although it took much longer than we wanted, we did see some nice countryside.
Finally arriving back on I-70, we continued west. We drove through Kansas City out of Missouri into Kansas. There is the World War One museum there I would have liked to seen. I also would have liked to spend more time in Flint Hills. I realize we can’t stop for every little thing, even with us being retired. But since I’ve learned more about Flint Hills, which is west of Topeka, Kansas, I really want to spend some time there. Here is a Wikipedia entry about it:
The Flint Hills, historically known as Bluestem Pastures or Blue Stem Hills, are a region in eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma named for the abundant residual flint eroded from the bedrock that lies near or at the surface. It consists of a band of hills stretching from Kansas to Oklahoma, extending from Marshall and Washington Counties in the north to Cowley County, Kansas and Kay and Osage Counties in Oklahoma in the south, to Geary and Shawnee Counties west to east. Oklahomans generally refer to the same geologic formation as the Osage Hills or “the Osage.”
The Flint Hills Ecoregion is designated as a distinct region because it has the most dense coverage of intact tallgrass prairie in North America. Due to its rocky soil, the early settlers were unable to plow the area, resulting in the prevalence of cattle ranches as opposed to the crop land more typical of the Great Plains. These ranches rely on annual controlled burns conducted by ranchers every spring to renew the prairie grasses for cattle to graze. This has created in an unusual alliance between the native ecosystem of the Flint Hills and the people who use it.
The rocks exposed in the Flint Hills were laid down about 250 million years ago during the Permian Period. During this time, much of the Midwest, including Kansas and Oklahoma, were covered with shallow seas. As a result, much of the Flint Hills is composed of limestone and shale with plentiful fossils of prehistoric sea creatures. The most notable layer of chert-bearing limestone is the Florence Limestone Member, which is around 45 feet thick. Numerous roadcuts of the Florence Member are prominent along Interstate 70 in Riley County, Kansas. Unlike the Pennsylvanian limestones to the east, however, many of the limestones in the Flint Hills contain numerous bands of chert or flint. Because chert is much less soluble than the limestone around it, the weathering of the limestone has left behind a clay soil with abundant chert gravel. Most of the hilltops in this region are capped with this chert gravel.
Four tallgrass prairie preserves are in the Flint Hills, the largest of which, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, (the former Barnard Ranch) in the Osage Hills near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, also boasts a large population of bison and is an important refuge for other wildlife such as the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido). The other preserves, all located in Kansas, are the 17-square-mile (44 km2) Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in northern Chase County, Kansas near Strong City, the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Preserve east of Cassoday, “the Prairie Chicken Capital of the World”, and the Konza Prairie, which is managed as a tallgrass prairie biological research station by Kansas State University.
Here are a few photos I found online:
So much for what we didn’t get to see. We continued west on I-70, exiting at Wilson. We drove north on Rte. 232 to Wilson Lake State Park. At the visitor center they informed us they were full, but recommended a campground on the northeastern end of the lake called Lucas Park Recreation Area. This was a primitive campground with no hook-ups, but it was spacious and more away from everything else. So we set up and spent the rest of the day in the campground. We hiked a trail beginning in the campground through some interesting rock formations.
We also saw a lot of old fence posts. There was scarce wood on these prairies, so settlers used the abundant limestone instead.
Next Location – Wilson Lake State Park 2