Returning to Colorado today, I opted to fly, weary of my repeated drives across the Great Plains. My flight, which began in Columbia, Missouri, connected in Dallas and clear skies were the rule, offering spectacular riverscapes along the way.
Of course, we first crossed the swollen Missouri, west of Jefferson City, still high from the recent heavy rains. A second break in the clouds occurred near Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where the Arkansas River came into view, winding past its many oxbow lakes and abandoned channels. Approaching DFW, the greenway along the Trinity River curved past downtown Dallas, a pleasing sight amidst the maze of highways.
On the second flight, from Dallas to Denver, we flew northwest, soon following the winding course of the Brazos River. Once we reached the higher, drier terrain of North Texas, the upper tributaries of the Red River produced a magnificent scene, snaking eastward across the desolate redlands. Northeast of Amarillo, we crossed the Canadian River just east of Lake Meredith and soon encountered the basalt flows atop the Raton Mesa, drained at its eastern end by the Cimarron River. On the north side of the Mesa, in Colorado, the Purgatoire River dropped northeastward to join the Arkansas near Las Animas. Farther north, beyond the pine covered Palmer Divide, we left the watershed of the Arkansas River and followed tributaries of the South Platte northward across the dry plains of Eastern Colorado, looping over the river's main channel on our final approach to DIA.