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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Searching for the Arikaree Breaks

Heading back to Missouri today, my wife and I decided to make a detour to the Arikaree Breaks in extreme northwest Kansas.  These "breaks" are dendritic canyons, carved in Pleistocene loess and underlying strata of the Ogallah Formation (Miocene-Pliocene in age) by the Republican River and its tributaries.  This landscape occurs across a swath of the High Plains in the tristate region of Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.

We drove north from Goodland to St. Francis, Kansas, where signs for the Arikaree Breaks directed us across the South Fork of the Republican River and back onto the High Plains where we soon entered a grid of dirt-gravel roads; unfortunately, no additional signage was provided and we spent a couple of hours driving across the semi-arid landscape, dipping at times through tributary canyons of the South Fork Valley.  All in all, it was a confusing and not-so-productive tour.

Nevertheless, we encountered new territory and enjoyed a mild, sunny afternoon.  Birding was also fairly good, including Swainson's hawks (back from their winter in Argentina), western meadowlarks, horned larks and western kingbirds (the first of the season for me).  Better signage (including roadside maps for visitors) would have made our detour far more interesting.