Monona Terrace

Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin overlooks Lake Monona on the edge of Madison's isthmus. Built according to Frank Lloyd Wright's designs years after his death after much community debate, the Monona Terrace is now one of the premiere conference and event locations in Madison.

1 John Nolen Drive
Madison, WI

Lake Monona Bike Path

What's the premiere place in Madison to go for a bike ride? You'll get some disagreement, but most people, serious cyclists or not, will say the bike path around Lake Monona.

The bike path is 13 miles long, and is paved, but is not offset from traffic the entire way around the lake. Quite a bit of the way is on bike lanes of relatively busy city streets. Do not ride on the sidewalks in the city of Monona, as periodically the police issue tickets in the areas where bicycles aren't allowed on the sidewalk.


Mines of Spain State Park


Mines of Spain State Park outside Dubuque, IA, marks the spot where Julien Dubuque mined for lead under license from the King of Spain. Now the area is a state recreational area, with picnicking and hiking, and scenic views over the Mississippi River.

Visit the Friends of the Mine of Spain at for more information about the park.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site


Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa, near Iowa City contains the childhood home of Herbert Hoover, along with the one-room school house, a blacksmith shop, and the Quaker meeting-house. The visitor center has a short film about President Hoover, and there are about a mile and a half of walking trails through the prairie, including to the President and the First Lady's grave sites and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (not part of the National Park Service site). A visit here is really a time to reflect on Herbert Hoover's extraordinary life.

Herbert Hoover is probably best known now for being the President during the start of the Great Depression - justly or unjustly, he is often blamed for prolonging the depression with a hands-off economic policy. This is usually all we hear about Hoover from social studies textbooks, but President Hoover was one of the most interesting Americans of the 20th century.

Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa, and graduated from Stanford University, where he majored in geology. After college became a mining engineer in Australia and China. Herbert Hoover at one point was the most highly paid man in the world, as his skills as a mining engineer were in much demand in Australia. This only lasted until 1914, when he entered the public sector as a humanitarian.

His engineering skills helped him organize the logistics of providing aid and relief to Europe both during and after World War I. Hoover's leadership skills led him into politics, and he became President Harding's Secretary of Commerce in 1920.

Hoover reprised his humanitarian role with the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, where he directed relief efforts.

In 1928, Hoover won the Republican nomination to succeed Calvin Coolidge for President. In 1929, the stock market crashed, and rather than becoming another recession, the country's economic output dragged. Hoover was seen as not doing enough, and was voted out in favor of Franklin Roosevelt. Hoover then entered a long period out of American politics - FDR had blamed him for the Great Depression, and he was very unpopular.

Hoover re-entered public life after World War 2, reprising his role organizing relief to a war-torn Europe. Both Truman and Eisenhower called on Hoover to serve.

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park


Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest point in Missouri - located in the St. Francois Mountains 120 miles southwest of St. Louis. The actual highpoint itself is not particulary scenic, as it is a nice clearing in the woods, but you can continue hiking to the Ozark Trail and to a wet-weather waterfall (Mina Sauk Falls) down the same path.

Near the high point, but not actually by it, there is an observation tower that you can walk up almost to the top. The platform is locked, but you can still certainly see quite a bit.

The state park offers very primitive camping, and not much else - there are water fountains by the camping area.

Mammoth Springs State Park


Mammoth Springs State Park in northern Arkansas by the Missouri border is the largest spring in Arkansas, and a great spot to take a short break on the scenic route between Little Rock and St. Louis. There isn't a lot to see or do at the state park once you take a short walk around the spring, but there is a small railroad depot museum with a caboose, and a few picnic areas.

The surrounding area on the Spring river has a lot more to do, with canoe rentals, campgrounds, outfitting, and vacation rentals being a decent part of the local economy.

Hot Springs National Park


Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is an urban national park - instead of thinking Yellowstone and wilderness, think large city park. The national park surrounds the city of Hot Springs on three sides, as the national park covers the mountainsides and historic Bathhouse Row.

Come to this national park for one of three things - hiking, hot springs treatment, or a fascinating look at a historic hot springs bath house. You can also visit the new Hot Springs Museum of Contemporary Art on Bath House Row, or visit the observation tower on Hot Springs Mountain if you are in town.

Hiking in the park is fantastic, with 20 miles of well-maintained trails, which go over Hot Springs Mountain and the Zig Zag Mountains. Start at the visitor center, or start in the Gulpha Gorge campground area. You can bring your dog on the hiking trails in this national park as long as they are on a leash.

Be sure to save some time for the self-guided (or ranger-guided at certain times of the day) tours of Fordyce Bath House - the main NPS visitor center on Bathhouse Row. The bath house is restored to its 1915 splendor - the gym is incredible!

The town of Hot Springs is in a transitional state right now - it's hard to tell which way it will go. The national park guarantees that tourists will visit, and the NPS areas are well kept up. Right next to the park, though, are some areas that have seen better days and a very touristy strip in downtown hot springs.

The park provides water fountains for drinking the spring water. There are several that offer hot spring water around Bathhouse row, and two cold water fountains. Bring your own containers to fill with the water. I recommend the cold water fountain close to the end of the Grand Promenade, I liked its taste better.

For a short walk, the Grand Promenade goes above Bathhouse row for a nice view of the town. One thing to know about the trails in the park is that they are all pretty similar - they all go through the woods up, down, and on the sides of several similar mountains. One suggestion would be to use the Happy Hollow Spring cold water fountain as a mid-way stop on the Floral Trail to refill water bottles.

Thunderbird Falls

Thunderbird Falls Trail is an easy day hike in Chugach State Park right off the Glenn Highway out of Anchorage. This trail leads to an overlook of a tall waterfall, along with a viewpoint of the canyon at mid-trail. The trail is 1 mile out and 1 mile back.


Big Dam Bridge


The Big Dam Bridge is a pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River that connects the Arkansas River Trail in Little Rock on the south side of the river to the Arkansas River Trail in North Little Rock on the north side of the river. The bridge was custom built for pedestrian use, and was added to the dam. Chunks of the dam that they removed to embed the pedestrian bridge now serve as markers on either side of the bridge.

The bridge has good parking areas that you can use to access the Arkansas River Trail or the singletrack Pfeifer Loop dirt trail, which then connects to other trails in Burns Park in North Little Rock.

The Big Dam Bridge 100 bicycle ride is a classic charity ride held in September, with distances of 16, 30, 50, 68, or 100 miles to benefit the Big Dam Bridge Foundation -

Another event is the Big Dam Bridge Twilight 5k Run held in July in the evening -

See more about the Big Dam Bridge Foundation here -

The official web page from Pulaski County is here -

Arkansas River Trail

The Arkansas River Trail runs along both banks of the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas and North Little Rock. The trail is longer in North Little Rock, but will be extended on the Little Rock side to match to make a loop trail. The trail is paved, and very suitable for road biking, inline skating, or running.

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