Kansas Journals

Six Days On and Off the Santa Fe / Cimarron Trail

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A May 2001 trip to Kansas by Casual Tourist

Coronado and Quivira Kansas Historical Marker Photo, Lyons, Kansas More Photos
Quote: We decided to trek along parts of the Santa Fe and Cimarron Trail while on the way to Colorado to visit relatives. Saw many historic and scenic wonders.

Six Days On and Off the Santa Fe / Cimarron Trail

Overview

Santa Fe Trail Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
Highlights included bird watching at Cheyenne Bottoms; watching the world's longest cancan line and enjoying a chuckwagon breakfast in Dodge City; descending down The Big Well in Greensburg; almost losing our dog in the Cimarron National Grasslands; standing in awe at The Great Sanddunes National Monument in Colorado; watching my husband climb 400 stairs at Seven Falls outside Colorado Springs; encountering turkey vultures at Scott State Park in Kansas; avoiding lightning at Castle Rock and dodging rain storms at Monument Rocks in Kansas.Quick Tips: If you travel across the plains in the summer it is best to have an air conditioned vehicle as temperatures often soar into the 100s and the humi...Read More

Townsman Inn Motel

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Hotel | "Townsman Inn - Best Western"

Townsman Inn Motel Photo, Larned, Kansas
Quote:
Check-in at this motel was quick and easy, though we had to wait for the "key" to be made. The motel uses cards for keys, the kind that have to be slid through a slot to open the door. Total check-in time was less than 10 minutes. The rooms here were clean, spacious and nicely decorated. There was a blow-dryer provided in the restroom and an iron & board in the room. Pets were allowed in the rooms with no additional charge.

There was a pool but we did not make use of it.

The motel was right on the highway as we pulled into town and access to the parking lot was handy.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2001

Townsman Inn Motel
123 E 14th Street
Larned, KS

Holiday Motel Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
When we''re on the road we always try to minimize our expenses by staying at low rate, but decent, motels. The Holiday Motel in Dodge City fit this criteria. The room wasn''t fancy, but it did have a microwave and a refrigerator. The motel, just down the street from Boot Hill, is on Wyatt Earp Blvd, which is also Highway 50, so the location was convenient. The only untoward thing that might be said about this motel is that some of the help was rather strange. When we checked out the following morning the counter clerk was wearing a t-shirt with a few spots of blood on it. He was engaged in a conversation with another person when we entered the lobby, talking about being late for his court appear...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 10, 2001

Holiday Motel
2100 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard
Dodge City 67801
(620) 227-2169

Continental Inn

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Hotel

Continental Inn Photo, Garden City, Kansas
Quote:
This was a very nice looking and modern motel. We checked in pretty late in the day but were fortunate to get a downstairs room. I''m not fond of lugging bags upstairs. Even though this was one of the newest motels we stayed in during our trip, it was one of the least pleasant stays. The walls seemed to have been made of paper and tvs and voices from surrounding rooms could be heard clearly. Thankfully, the noise did not continue much past 10 p.m. Other than this annoyance, the room was quite adequate. It was clean and fresh and had good bathroom facilities. There was a restaurant attached to the motel that we considered eating breakfast at, but as it was pouring when we left in the morning we...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 7, 2001

Continental Inn
1408 Jones Ave
Garden City, Kansas 67846
620-276-7691

Frontier Motel Photo, Trinidad, Colorado
Quote:
We got a room with two beds. There was an air conditioning unit that did not work, but as it was a pleasant evening we opted for open windows anyway. We arrived late in the evening and so were happy we found a motel quickly that would accept our dog who travels with us. We really spent very little time at the motel as we left at day break. The room was clean and the beds comfortable and it served perfectly for our needs.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 28, 2001

Frontier Motel
815 Goddard Avenue
Trinidad, CO
(719) 846-2261

Wrangler RV Ranch & Motel

Hotel | "Wrangler RV Ranch & Motel"

Wrangler RV Ranch & Motel Photo, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Quote:
This was a cute little motel with only about a dozen rooms. The main thrust of this lodging establishment seems to be its RV Park. We decided to stay in this motel because of its proximity to the offices of a local business we wished to visit and we were quite happy with our choice. The staff was friendly and the rooms clean. Platte Ave was in the midst of construction, which made entry and exit to the motel a little bit of a hassle, but not enough to cause us to find somewhere else to stay. We had a need to return to Colorado Springs later in the summer and were expecting to arrive after 10 p.m. When I called to reserve a room, I was told that the office closed at ten, but that a certain r...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 14, 2001

Wrangler RV Ranch & Motel
6225 E Platte Ave
Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719)591-1402

The Burgerteria

Restaurant

Quote:
Editor's Note: This property has closed.Now here was a little burger joint with an appealing appearance. There were drive-up menu boards and parking for those who did not wish to eat inside and also inside dining. As this was more or less a "mom & pop" operation we figured we'd check it out instead of going to the McDonalds down the road.Orders were placed at a counter just inside the door. The menu boards above the counter had the usual assortment of burgers, fries and other fast food items but listed no prices. We went ahead and ordered sandwiches, paid what we considered to be a pricey fare, and sat down while we waited for the food to be prepared....Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 28, 2001

Alpine Rose Cafe

Restaurant

Alpine Rose Cafe Photo, Walsenburg, Colorado
Quote:
We stopped in the Alpine Rose Cafe for a late breakfast. The cafe contains counter seating, booths and tables. We sat for some time before a waitress came to our table even though there were only one or two other tables occupied at the time, so I wouldn't rate their service as being top-notch. I ordered an omelette and hash browns and they were quite tasty. The coffee was decent also, but not outstanding. Overall, it was an adequate place to have a meal. They could beef up the quality of their service a bit however.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 16, 2001

Alpine Rose Cafe
522 Main Street
Walsenburg, CO 81089
(719) 738-1157

Carl's Jr.

Restaurant

Walsenburg Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
Carl's Jr. seems to be a local chain restaurant in this area. The building was clean and well-kept. We stopped about mid-afternoon to grab a burger before setting out on the highway again. The food was prepared in a timely manner and was a good temperature and tasty. We ate inside, but the establishment also has a drive-thru window.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 16, 2001

Cattleman's Cafe

Restaurant

Cattleman's Cafe Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
We left Dodge City and headed down Highway 56, following the Cimarron Trail branch of the Santa Fe Trail. Scanning the map, we realized that we had pretty much left most of civilization behind us and that we might have a problem finding something to eat for many hours. Just as an off-chance, we pulled into Sublette, Kansas looking for a grocery store so that we could at least make a few sandwiches. To our surprise, there was a decent looking restaurant right there on Main Street. We decided to give it a go. What a nice surprise as we stepped into the building. There was greenery everywhere in three or four cozy dining areas. We were seated promptly and sat down to enjoy a great meal. The menu ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 16, 2001

Cattleman's Cafe
110 S Inman Street
Sublette, KS 67877
(620) 675-8454

Coronado and Quivira Kansas Historical Marker

Attraction | "Coronado and Quivera Historical Markers"

Coronado and Quivira Kansas Historical Marker Photo, Lyons, Kansas
Quote:
This was a nice little roadside spot to stop and read up on the history of the area. There were three historical events commemorated at the site. One plaque described the visit to this area of Kansas by the Spaniard Coronado in his quest for gold. A second described the significance of a place called Cow Creek Station in the settlement of Kansas. Most impressive at this site was a monument in the form of a large stone cross dedicated to the memory of Fray Juan de Padilla, a Spanish monk who accompanied Coronado's exploration party. It is a pretty spot to stop and take a short break and learn a little about the area.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 24, 2001

Coronado and Quivira Kansas Historical Marker
Highway 56 Rice County
Lyons, KS

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

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Attraction | "Cheyenne Bottoms"

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area Photo, Great Bend, Kansas
Quote:
Cheyenne Bottoms -- what an exotic name for this "wetland of internation importance." This marshy area is formed by a natural basin in the earth's crust. Prior to development of the wildlife area, flooding was common throughout the surrounding area. Currently the area consists of a pentagon shaped lake with canals and pools emanating from it. Large metal gates control the water in the surrounding pools. The day we stopped at the Bottoms was gray and drizzly but this in no way hampered our experience of the Bottoms. If you're lucky you can find one of the printed Driving Tour brochures that are provided by the Kansas Audubon Council at the unmanned entrance to the reserve. At the s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 25, 2001

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area
56 Northeast 40 Road
Great Bend, KS 67530
(877) 427-9299

Sibley's Camp

Attraction | "Sibley's Camp & The Little Red House"

Sibley's Camp Photo, Larned, Kansas
Quote:
The official travel guide provided by the state of Kansas lists Sibley's Camp as an attraction for the town of Larned. We went a little out of our way to locate this "attraction" but it wasn't anything that I thought it would be. Kansas lists the site as "1825 Santa Fe Trail Survey Team Campsite." There was a beautifully etched sandstone marker indicating the campsite on the corner of 2nd & State Streets. When we approached the actual site however all we found was a basically abandoned quarry site. There was an information board with a few artifacts displayed and a bit of history about the place provided. The town of Larned could do wonders with this historic spot, but as of yet they have no...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 28, 2001

Sibley's Camp
502 West Second Street
Larned, KS

Pawnee Rock State Historic Site

Attraction | "Pawnee Rock"

Pawnee Rock State Historic Site Photo, Larned, Kansas
Quote:
Pawnee Rock was a major stopping point and guide post for the wagon trains following the Santa Fe Trail. I was surprised that it was not very large at all. Basically, it is a hill with a rock outcropping on top of it. Years ago this landmark probably stood out more than it currently does. We didn't realize that we had reached the rock until we were almost on top of it. Pawnee Rock sits just to the north of the town of Pawnee Rock. There are servicable gravel roads up to and around it. On top of the rock has been constructed a viewing platform. There are a few grills and picnic tables here for picnicking. There are quite a few metal stands with historical information written on t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2001

Pawnee Rock State Historic Site
Highway 56
Pawnee Rock, KS

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Attraction | "Ft Larned National Historic Site"

Fort Larned National Historic Site Photo, Larned, Kansas
Quote:
Ft Larned is an authentic military frontier post. The common conception of a frontier post is that it is a walled garrison, but this is not the case. Ft. Larned is unwalled, as were most frontier forts. It sits beside the meandering Pawnee River on well-kept grounds. There is a picnic area just inside the park grounds, with the parking area just south of this. Just inside the compound to the left is the Visitor's Center, where an entrance fee of $2.00 per individual or $4.00 per family needs to be paid before proceeding further. We had a great time at the fort. There was a 15 minute slide presentation in the visitors' center that was very informative. Most of the buildings on the site hav...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 31, 2001

Fort Larned National Historic Site
Kansas Highway 156
Larned, KS 67550
(620) 285-6911

Fromme-Birney Round Barn Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
Talk about off the beaten path -- well, the Round Barn is about as far off the beaten path as one can get. If you're a barn lover or just love unusual architecture, you'll love visiting the Round Barn outside Mullinville. When we arrived at the Barn there was no one in attendance, but the barn was accessible for viewing. We simply opened the door and walked in. Seems the honor system is in effect here. There was a counter just inside the door with metal shingles from the original roof for sale. The prices were listed and a round metal container stood ready to receive your money. The main floor of the barn had photos and information about the barn arranged on the inner walls. The upper floor se...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2001

Fromme-Birney Round Barn
2 Miles West of Mullinville
Mullinville, KS

Off the Trail for The Big Well

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Attraction

The Big Well Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
From Ft. Larned we drove southwest along the Santa Fe Trail until we reached Kinsley. At Kinsley we detoured off the trail, taking Highway 183 south to Greensburg, so that we could see what is touted as being the World's Largest Handdug Well. This indeed is a very big well. My husband and I paid the $3.00 fee to trek down over 100 stairs to the bottom of the well. There's not a whole lot to see at the bottom of the well, but it was fun anyway. The awesome part was knowing that humans had hand dug this thing way back in 1887. It really is a very large structure. For our trouble of traveling to the bottom of the well we were each given a souvenir penny taken from the well bottom. Above the well, ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 2, 2001

Cimarron National Grassland

Attraction | "Cimarron National Grassland -- The Wildlife"

Cimarron National Grassland Photo, Elkhart, Kansas
Quote:
We entered the grasslands during the early afternoon and really didn't expect to see much wildlife out and about at that time of day. We were pleasantly surprised, though. Parts of the area are set aside for open grazing and we did encounter some cattle on the roadways. Though not exactly "wildlife" they are fun to see up close. We also saw two deer on the open range. They stood for quite a while before our dog barked loud enough to spook them, and then they turned up their white tails and took off into the distance. There were prairie dogs scattered in little towns here and there throughout the grassland. These guys didn't mind staring right back at you while you took their picture. Besides t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2001

Cimarron National Grassland
242 East Highway 56
Elkhart, KS 67950
(620) 697-4621

Cimarron National Grassland

Attraction | "Cimarron National Grassland -- Wagon Tracks"

Cimarron National Grassland Photo, Elkhart, Kansas
Quote:
Point of Rocks in Cimarron National Grassland offers some outstanding vistas. From this point one can see 360 degrees all around. Looking to the south and west from atop the Point of Rocks you can distinctly see the wagon tracks left by the trains that passed through on this Cimarron portion of the Santa Fe Trail.

The day was quickly coming to a close as we viewed the scenery from the Point of Rocks and a storm was brewing. We had a pleasant visit, but then moved on so as to avoid the dark and storm. I couldn't help but think about the pioneer families that came this way and did not have the advantage of an air conditioned car to get them away from the dark and storm.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2001

Cimarron National Grassland
242 East Highway 56
Elkhart, KS 67950
(620) 697-4621

Cimarron National Grassland

Attraction | "Cimarron National Grassland -- The Land"

Cimarron National Grassland Photo, Elkhart, Kansas
Quote:
I was amazed at the beauty of this grassland. Our trip was at the end of May and fields of yellow and orange flowers were everywhere. We entered the grassland via highway 56, heading southwest, then at Elkhart we turned north on highway 27. Some may say that this land is desolate, but in my eyes there was beauty everywhere I turned. The road we followed ran close by the Cimarron River, but for the most part we could not see the river from the road. We knew it was there though as the telltale line of trees meandered along beside us. We left highway 27 and drove into the heart of the grassland on a road that took us past Point of Rocks. This was the only elevated spot around and gave us a good vi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2001

Cimarron National Grassland
242 East Highway 56
Elkhart, KS 67950
(620) 697-4621

Walking Trail of Dodge City

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Attraction | "Self-Guided Tour - Dodge City Kansas"

Walking Trail of Dodge City Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
The self-guided tour of Dodge City was rather fun. We picked up our tour brochure at the Great Western Hotel, but they can also be obtained from the Visitor's Center at 400 @. Wyatt Earp Blvd. You can also rent or purchase an audio tape to go along with the tour, but we didn't do this. The area covered by the tour is confined within a 5 x 7 city block area so it can be walked if you wish. We drove as the temperatures were on the hot side when we visited. Sites included in the self-guided tour include both statues and buildings of historical value. What I found extremely interesting and different about the tour was the mural painted on the five story First National Bank Building. The artist is S...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2001

Walking Trail of Dodge City
400 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard
Dodge City, KS 67801
(620) 225-8146

Castle Rock

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Attraction | "Castle Rock in Kansas"

Castle Rock Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
It seems as if everywhere you go there is a castle rock. I was surprised to find that there was one in Kansas because the general knowledge about Kansas is that it is flat. However, there is indeed a Castle Rock in Kansas. We visited this rock twice during our summer excursions due to weather related problems during the first visit. Our first attempt at seeing Castle Rock was quite an adventure. The day was more than overcast; it was threatening some violent storm activity. The roads were wet. Now if you are traveling where there are only paved roads, wet roads wouldn't matter that much. But in this part of the country, wet roads could spell a call for a tow truck. To reach Castle Rock i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 7, 2001

Castle Rock
South Of Interstate 70 At The Quinter Exit
Gove County, KS

Highway of Legends

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Attraction

Highway of Legends Photo, Trinidad, Colorado
Quote:
This is a beautiful drive through the mountains, going up and over the Cuchara Pass. Along the way there are several picturesque towns such as Stonewall, Aguilar, and Cokedale. There are also several prominent geological formations along the way with names such as the Dakota Wall, Monument Lake, and Devil's Stairsteps. We stopped at the Dakota Wall and took photos. At Monument Lake we took a break from our drive and simply strolled beside the lake for a while. As long as you are not camping or driving around the lake you can enter the lake area without paying a fee. As we just wanted a break we didn't pay to drive around the lake. There is also a restaurant at Monument Lake, which my sister-in-...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2001

Highway of Legends
Highway 12 In Colorado From Trinidad To Laveta
Trinidad, CO

Seven Falls

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Attraction | "Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canon"

Seven Falls Photo, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Quote:
This is a highly developed site. Admission to the box canyon and natural falls is $8.50 per adult. The fee includes the use of the mountain elevator and access to the falls and surrounding area. The mountain elevator gives access to an observation deck opposite the falls. This platform can be reached also by a set of over 180 steps. There is also a set of stairs next to the falls that has over 200 steps. This stairway takes you to the top of the falls and some hiking trails. The area also includes three souvenir shops, two at the bottom of the falls and one on the observation deck. This was a fun place to visit. There was a wait to get into the gate as there is limited parking availabl...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2001

Seven Falls
South Cheyenne Canyon Road
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80901
+1 179 632 0752

Monument Rocks/Chalk Pyramids

Attraction | "Monument Rocks - The Outback of Kansas"

Monument Rocks/Chalk Pyramids Photo, Oakley, Kansas
Quote:
Monument Rocks and the Chalk Pyramids stand out on the prairie much like Ayrs Rock in Australia. The area seems quite desolate, with nothing around for miles and miles. And then in the middle of the prairie are these tall, whitish colored rocks standing like giant sentinals. They are quite a sight to see. Pioneers used them as landmarks to guide them across the rolling grassland.

There are no commercial enterprises here, just the awesome stones jutting up against the sky. Viewing is free. Be advised to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. I don't know of any reports about rattlesnakes in the area, but the landscape is perfect for them.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 11, 2001

Monument Rocks/Chalk Pyramids
East Of Us Highway 83
Gove County, KS

Scott State Park

Attraction

Scott State Park Photo, Scott City, Kansas
Quote:
Scott State Park was absolutely fascinating. We arrived the day after a major hail storm so we found the park rather deserted except for some hearty souls still hanging about in their campers. The park has numerous rocky hills for climbing, and a large lake for water sports. There are numerous monuments and historic sites within the park, including the only pueblo ruin found in the state of Kansas. The main roads are paved but there are also dirt roads within the park. We found at least one of the dirt roads impassable due to standing water. The most fascinating thing we saw on our trip through Scott State Park were the vultures. We'd seen them soaring overhead, but we certainly did not ex...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 10, 2001

Scott State Park
520 W Scott Lake Drive
Scott City, Kansas 67871
(620) 872-2061

Santa Fe Trail Tracks Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
Just outside Dodge City is an expanse of open prairie with a large wooden sign announcing "Santa Fe Trail Tracks." From the highway there is nothing to see but the prairie, but if you pull over and step out of your car you will see what is billed as the longest remaining stretch of visible wagon tracks on the Santa Fe Trail. A well-kept trail leads out onto the prairie where you can view the tracks. Some portions of the tracks were quite visible, but I had trouble making out continuous markings. However, this was the most clearly marked stretch of remaining tracks that I had seen to this point in my life. (If you check out my entry on the Cimarron National Grasslands you'll find where there is a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2001

Santa Fe Trail Tracks
West Highway 50
Dodge City, Kansas
620-225-8186

Boot Hill Museum

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Attraction | "Old Dodge City -- Boot Hill Museum"

Boot Hill Museum Photo, Dodge City, Kansas
Quote:
The Boot Hill Museum is a recreation of Front Street in Old Dodge City. The attractions run about one block by 1/2 block and entrance is gained through the Great Western Hotel. The hotel is now a gift shop with a small theater that presents historical information about Dodge City. Some of the highlights of our visit to Old Dodge City were watching the citizens of the community line up for and perform an old fashioned can-can dance in an attempt to achieve a record for the longest can-can line ever. This was a special event lined up for the Memorial Day weekend celebration and was held outside the museum in the parking lot. The museum itself housed an awesome collection of guns. Thi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 11, 2001

Boot Hill Museum

Dodge City, Kansas

Mullinville Art Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
When we left the Round Barn we returned to Mullinville and Highway 54/400 to head toward Dodge City. What we encountered on the western edge of Mullinville will never be duplicated anywhere else in the world. Lining the outer edge of a field for at least two blocks to the west and two blocks to the north were the strangest apparitions you could ever imagine. My best guess is someone began tinkering with cut-out metal figures and simply got carried away. The figures are rather cartoonish and some have signs attached with some rather politically incorrect humor. Even though we were trying to keep to a time schedule, we stopped and drove the whole length of the display. We spent a good twenty minut...Read More

Ahead of the Storm

Story/Tip

Storms on the Plains Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
One of the age old problems with traveling across the plains in spring is a possible encounter with a major storm system. On the day we visited Scott State Park, Monument Rock and Castle Rock, we found ourselves just staying ahead of such a storm. We awoke to a heavy rain and set out toward Scott State Park. We soon drove out of the rain, but the clouds hung low overhead. This was not an overcast sky. There were distinct cloud formations, some on the horizon and others almost overhead. The most threatening was a roll cloud that began to the northeast and extended back toward the southwest. It was enormous. Just north of Scott City we drove under the cloud and left it to our rear, and for the r...Read More
Great Bend Kansas Photo, Kansas, United States
Quote:
After several hours on the trail we needed a break. Great Bend boasted a small zoo and appealing park so we pulled off the highway to take a look at what there was to see. Unfortunately, Brit Spaugh Zoo was closed for the day, having closed its gates at 4:00 p.m. Brit Spaugh Park did offer us a bit of respite though. Some of the zoo exhibits were outside the zoo proper, so we strolled through the park, stretching our legs and viewing the animals. The park also has a nice swimming pool, not opened yet when we visited as it was a few days before Memorial Day. One rather cute feature of the park were carvings of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. The tree stumps that they were carved from were s...Read More