Traveling through MT, WY, CO, TX. Need advice!

Hello Obscurans

This is my first post here (just created an account in fact), though I’ve spent many hours scouring the website already.

This summer I an going on a road trip with my older brother through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. We are starting around Great Falls and ending in Houston. My brother has frequently mentioned Atlas Obscura and I’m sure he’d really like it if he could check items off his bucket list from here.

Does anyone have any recommendations of must see locations? He’s a fan of national parks/scenic vistas, hipster/eclectic restaurants, and urban exploration.

Thanks for your time!

It’s going to tack on some time, but don’t just cruise down I-25 (snoooze!). Make sure to detour over to Laramie, WY (affectionately called Laradise by locals), hit Rocky Mountain National Park, and if you can, make SURE to get to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Crestone, Colorado. The Sand Dunes are incredible, and Crestone is one of the weirdest, and most wonderful places around. While you’re in Colorado, eat everything covered in Pork Green Chili, and hit some natural hot springs, but don’t be alarmed if the locals bathe sans suits. Have fun!

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In Colorado Bishops Castle is truly amazing. So fun to explore and climb around!

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Have a look at Lewis and Clark Caverns (Montana State Parks :: Lewis & Clark Caverns) off of I-90 in southern Montana.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary (https://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/) in Keenesburg, Colorado is worth a short side trip off of I-25, if you can schedule it in the late afternoon for feeding time and avoid the heat of the day when the animals are in their dens. It is a big place, so take binoculars and/or a camera with a telescopic lens to see the critters who are not near the long, elevated walkway.

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Fans of Woody Allen’s film “Sleeper” can checkout several buildings that were used as locations near Denver where it was filmed. See The Modern Architecture of Sleeper.

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I’m a huge fan of the town of Thermopolis in Wyoming, which is a hot springs town! I remember seeing steam vent out of cracks in the ground, and there are several places to go soak in hot mineral spring water.

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In Texas, San Antonio has the Alamo (free) and Riverwalk, and the San Antonio Missions National Park and World Heritage site. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service) Austin is full of ironic hipster stuff. There are fun ghost tours, and you can watch the world’s largest urban bat colony fly out from under the Congress Ave. Bridge at dusk (or the McNeil bridge in Round Rock). Just north of Austin is Innerspace Caverns. SA and Austin have a long standing rivalry over who has the best tacos. BBQ is also huge in Austin and surrounding areas (well, all of Texas). The Salt Lick is a much-loved example. They say “you can smell our pits from miles away”. Driftwood | Salt Lick BBQ Fredericksburg, TX is a German settlement with antiques, a museum of World War II in the Pacific, wineries, close to Enchanted Rock state park. There is Big Bend National Park in the west. Galveston is a historic city on the Gulf coast. Near Houston is NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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There are many gorgeous natural sites, especially National Parks, along your planned trip, as well as historic towns and buildings worth a view. As a railroad buff and amateur historian, I suggest seeing Denver’s Union Station:

(Amtrak photo)

The station was built in 1881, and in 1894, and it was seriously damaged by fire in 1894. The station was rebuilt in the then-popular Romanesque style with a tall clock tower, and the center block was designed in the Beaux-Arts style in 1914.

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There are a bunch of places to see along the way. Kind of from the top:

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, of course. It’s right off the highway.

There a whole bunch along I-25 in Wyoming that are off the highway a little ways. I’ll leave the details to people who live in Wyoming.

When you get to Colorado, I would suggest a side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park but it can be very busy. I would also suggest checking out some of the sites within the Denver Metro area. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is worth a visit. Within Denver, there’s an alley art installation that I’ve submitted but was never accepted that is worth finding

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/alley-cats.

A couple of cool restaurants to visit in Denver are Tocabe’s which serves Native American fry bread tacos. I suggest the shredded bison. If you are in the mood for Mexican, there are about a thousand restaurants that you can choose from but Chubby’s has the Denver Mexican hamburger which is unique to Denver.

I would suggest turning eastward as you go south rather than just follow I-25. The Callhan Paint Mines east of Colorado Springs are marvelous. From there travel south to La Junta and visit Bent’s Fort. You can also visit the Puragatory dinosaur tracks if you are up for a rather long hike (take lots of water). Go further east and visit Bent’s New Fort, the Sand Creek Massacre site, Lamar and the Granada Japanese Interment site. South out of Lamar you can go visit Picture Canyon petroglyph site.

From there I would back track to Capulin Volcano National Monument just outside of Raton. You are also going to be near Clayton, NM which has another dinosaur trackway that is easier to get to than the Purgatory site. It doesn’t have as many tracks but it also doesn’t have an 8 mile hike to go with it.

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