The Great Plains is the wide prairie land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains; it is a paradise for outdoor activities. Included in the Great Plains region are the Dakotas, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas and parts of Canada. The area is full of fossils and boasts a rich heritage of Native American culture, miles of grasslands, astonishing geologic formations, rivers and a full spectrum of winter and summer sports.
Hike the Badlands
Badlands National Park, in southwestern South Dakota, is a landscape of rock formations: buttes, pinnacles, spires all striped in layers of fossilized deposits from the time when the area was underwater. The park contains miles of hiking trails and is an ancestral Native American hunting ground. Trails range from one-quarter mile up to eight miles. A few shorter trails are challenging or more strenuous due to steep climbs or difficult terrain. Several trails are wheelchair accessible. You might see bison, bighorn sheep, or prairie dogs as you explore the area. The fossil beds in the Badlands contain the best examples of 23 to 37 million-year-old Oligocene epoch fossils. Paleontologists have traced the development of the horse, pig, rhinoceros and sheep from bones discovered there. Visitors are reminded not to move or remove any fossils, plants, animals, artifacts or rocks, but if you do find an interesting fossil, fill out a location form at a visitor center so the park's paleontologists can check it out.
Badlands National Park
Ben Reifel Visitors Center
25 216 Ben Reifel Rd.
Interior, SD 57750
Oklahoma on Horseback
Oklahoma is horse-lover country for spectators and riders, with plenty of guided tours, horse shows and rodeos.There are shows where you can watch penning and sorting competitions, western reining (synchronized dressage), cutting horse exhibitions, calf-roping, rodeo events and barrel racing. Hit the trail on horseback with a ranch or recreation area rental, or improve your form at equestrian camp.
Horse Show Roundup
Great Bear Recreation Park
Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has skiing, snowboarding, hiking and snow-tubing. There are 14 downhill ski and snowboarding trails, there's cross-country groomed trails, four tube runs accessed via the ski lift and 220 acres for hiking when the snow melts. You can rent equipment, select from a variety of season passes or purchase full-day or half-day lift tickets.
Great Bear Recreation Park
5901 E Rice St.
Sioux Falls, SD 57110
Article Written By Benna Crawford
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based freelance writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "The Miami Herald," on CBS, CNN, ABC and in professional journals, trade publications and blogs. Crawford is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, currently studying green nutrition.