United States of America Off The Beaten Path Tips by Stephen-KarenConn
United States of America Off The Beaten Path: 300 reviews and 492 photos
Center of the Contiguous U.S.A.
This remote rural crossroads in Smith County, Kansas, not far from the Nebraska state line, is both in the middle of nowhere and in the center of it all. This is the "Geographic Center of the Conterminious United States." It is the point where a plane map of the 48 contiguous states would balance if it were of uniform thickness. The spot, determined by an 1898 geographical survey, is about two miles north and west of the tiny town of Lebanon, Kansas, population 303.
The exact center point is on a grassy knoll and marked by a 10-foot-high stone monument over which an American and a Kansas flag fly. Nearby is Center Chapel, a tiny little church which might seat six very friendly people. There is an open Bible on the podium and a guest register beside the door. When I visited the place the only life I saw was a herd of white faced cattle in an adjacent pasture.
To reach the center of the contiguous United States take Hwy. 281 north of Lebanon about one mile, and turn west on a country road at a barely discernable homemade sign. Follow this road one more mile to the Center. It's always open and there's no one there to take your money.
The geographic center is:
1424 miles from New York City
1450 miles from Los Angeles
1700 miles from Seattle
1753 miles from Miami
Wooden Observation Tower atop Timms Hill
The geographical high points of many of the various states lie within State and National Parks; Wisconsin is the only state high point in a County Park. The 220 acre Timm's Hill County Park is on the site of an old logging camp, however the last time trees were harvested here was in 1944 and the woods have recovered nicely. Today things are very peaceful and quiet here in the far North Woods of Wisconsin.
A winding gravel road leads through the park. but the summit, 1,951feet above sea level, is attained only by walking. An easy wood-chip trail takes you to an 88-foot wooden observation tower at the high point. From the top of the tower you can see in all directions, 30 miles or more of rolling hills forested with northern hardwoods and 6 lakes tucked between them. Woolly Mammouths once roamed these hills, and today there is still an abundance of wildlife with minimal human intrusion. While standing here and drinking in the view, contemplate that you are very near the 45th parallel - half way between the equator and the north pole.
This is a great place for hiking and cross-country skiing. Hiking trails within the park connect with the 1,000-mile Ice Age Trail, a State and National Scenic Trail which goes all around the state of Wisconsin. Winters are cold and snowy here; summers are pleasant. When I was at Timms Hill on an early-October morning the air was crisp and clean and the autumn foilage was spectacular.
Timm's Hill County Park is In Price County, about 23 miles west of the tiny town of Tomahawk, and 5 miles east of the even smaller town of Ogema, just off WI-86.
The View from Third Base
Field of Dreams Movie Site
28963 Lansing Road
Dyersville, Iowa 52040
Wild Horse on Assateague Island
A 37-mile-long barrier island on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Assateague Island is a world apart. Here bands of wild horses roam freely, amidst native flora and fauna, in an environment of sea, sand and salt on islands that are constantly shifting with the tides and winds.
The horses are actually feral animals whose ancestors are thought to have swam to the islands after surviving the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon in the late 17th century. Just to the south of Assateague is Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia, and separate herds of about 150 horses each are maintained on each of the individual islands.
Also visitors to Assateague Island may view the preserved Assateague Island Beach Coast Guard Station which operated on the island for 45 years, including duty during World War II.
Recreational opportunities which are popular here include: fishing, hiking, picnicking, camping, boating, birding, swimming, wildlife viewing and biking. Hunting is allowed in season for whitetail deer and waterfowl.
Open 24 hours a day all year.
Visitor Center open 9-5 except Thanksgiving & Christmas.
7206 National Seashore Lane
Berlin, MD 27811
At the end of Hwy. 611, 8 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland.
Illinois River View from atop Starved Rock
Starved Rock, just outside of the small town of Utica in north central Illinois, is off the beaten path but still draws more visitors than any state park in Illinois.
The park gets its name from an American Indian legend from the 1760s.
Mountain Goats at Glacier National Park
text coming soon
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
Phone: (406) 888-7800
Jordon Pond and The Bubbles, Acadia National Park
Located on the rugged Atlantic coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses 47,000 scenic acres of mountains, lakes, woodlands, rocks, wildlife and spectacular scenery. Unique among the national parks, Acadia has 44 miles of historic carriage roads which are one of the finest examples of broken-stone roads left in America. These are off limits to motorized vehicles, but very popular with bicyclists, hikers, and horse drawn carriages. There are also 27 miles of paved roads. The park lies primarily on Mt. Desert Island, first discovered by Samuel Champlain in 1604, and later the haunt of the rich and famous. Some of America's wealthiest families built extravagant summer cottages here in the 1800s, where they came to escape the summer heat.
Most of the old homes and hotels are gone now, many a victim of fires. Much of the land was donated to the Federal Government and was designated Sieur de Monts National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Three years later, as the park expanded with more land donations, it was redesignated a National Park, the first to be established in the eastern United States. Acadia is a wonderland for the nature lover, outdoor enthusiast and history buff alike.
P.O. Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Presque Isle Lighthouse
Presque Isle, which means "almost an island" in French, is a long peninsula arching seven miles into Lake Erie from the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. It offers the only surf swimming in the Commonwealth, with a total of 11 different named and numbered sandy beaches. Also there are numerous opportunities here for hiking, bicycling, fishing, boating, picnicking, nature study and other outdoor activities. Presque Isle State Park, though far from the great metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is one of the most popular state parks in Pennsylvania.
Also, there is much of interest here for the history buff, including three lighthouses - two of them still active. Those who are not familiar with Lake Erie, as well as the other Great Lakes of North America, should know that they are vast inland seas, bordered on the south by the United States and on the north by Canada. The sheltered coves on the peninsula preserve monuments and other reminders that this was a battleground in the War of 1812, between the U.S. and Great Britain. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie and coined the well known phrase, "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
This is a day-use park and is opened year round. It is a wonderful place to spend an hour, a day, or an entire vacation, by staying at one of the many accomodations in the nearby city of Erie.
Jeromy Atop Mount Washington
This 6,288 peak, the highest in the northeastern United States, claims the dubious distinction of having the worst weather on earth. It is not a large mountain by world standards, however, its unique location causes it to sometimes experience weather extremes such as those found in polar regions, or by other mountains 3 or 4 times as high. On April 12, 1934, the ground wind speed atop Mt. Washington was recorded at 231 mph (372 kph), an all time world record that still stands.
There is an auto road to the top of Mt. Washington where you will find an observatory, gift shop, snacks, and restrooms. Built in 1861, this "Road to the Sky" was an unprecedented enginering achievement and became America's first man-made attraction. I took my son, Jeromy, up Mount Washington in mid June, just after he had graduated from High School. The views of the Presidential Range, White Mountains National Forest, and beyond were spectacular. As we started up the mountain it was clear and the temperature was around 70F. Just before we reached the summit a stiff wind blew a cloud cover across the sky and snow began to fall. Or actually the snow blew by horizontally in a blustery cold wind. When weather permits, the auto road is open from early May 'till late October.
Mt. Washington is also a popular hike, but not one to be taken lightly. Many have perished on its slopes because they were not prepared for the sudden dramatic changes in weather that can happen here. A cog railway also ascends the mountain, but I have saved that for a future trip.
Toll for the auto road is $18.00 for a car and driver. This includes a bumper sticker which says "This car climbed Mt. Washington," and an audio tour on cassett or CD, in English, French or German. Additional passengers are $7.00 per adult and $4.00 per child. Even for a frugle guy like me, the experience is well worth it.
Mt. Washington Auto Road
P.O. Box 278
Gorham, NH 03581
View From White Butte, North Dakota
White Butte is so off-the-beaten-path that it is neither a town nor a park, but just a prominent point on a the privately owned Van Easen Farm. It is in Slope County, larger in area than the entire state of Rhode Island, yet having a population of just over 800. The county seat, Amidon, with fewer than 100 residents, claims to be the the smallest county seat in America. However, many people, including myself, still find their way to White Butte because it is the highest geographical point in North Dakota. Fortunately the owners will allow you to hike the cattle trail up the butte, but they now charge a reasonable fee, and I don't blame them because so many people have taken advantage of their hospitality. When I was there I found the Van Easens quite friendly, accomodating, and proud of the fact that they own the state's highest point.
White Butte is less than an hour south of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is reminiscent of that severe but picturesque landscape in the North Dakota Badlands. I have been told that rattlesnakes are abundant at White Butte and many local people are afraid to go to there for that reason. I was not fortunate enough to see any Rattlers on my visit, which was in late August.
White Butte is in the southwestern corner of North Dakota, just east of US-85, about 7 miles south of the tiny town of Amidon and 18 miles north of Bowman.
HC1, Box 4
Amidon, ND 58620
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