There’s a lot to be seen in the National Park System when you forgo the jetliner for the auto/Kurt Repanshek
A road trip of more than 2,500 miles led me to four intriguing units of the National Park System that, while not at the top of everyone’s go-to list, revealed both rich and troubling chapters of American history that likely would have faded into irrelevance without the parks that interpret their stories.
The idea of such a trek began to germinate when a family wedding was scheduled for late June in Iowa, two states removed from my home in Utah. Flying would be quicker, but driving would give me the opportunity to visit four parks that had so far eluded me; not because they lacked appeal, but because they lacked proximity. Having chosen my lot, I didn’t let the rapid growth in gasoline prices scare me off my drive.
From Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska to Homestead National Historical Park in eastern Nebraska, and then on to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in eastern Kansas to Fort Larned National Historic Site in western Kansas, my long, looping journey largely traced a theme of individualism and determination, though the stop at Tallgrass Prairie put the focus keenly on preservation of the natural past. These are parks that don’t overwhelm you with visual fireworks, instead requiring more focused attention on the history steeped in these places.[…]