ABOUT THE MIDWEST
In the Midwest region, the winter can get very cold, particularly the further north you go with temperatures somewhat above freezing. Thanks to moisture in the air that comes from the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Great Lakes, the area gets its share of snow–which is heavier in cities that border any of the Great Lakes like Chicago and Madison Wisconsin. Average summer temperatures in the region straddle the mid- to high 80s, but feel hotter because of the humidity caused by the same moisture that brings the winter snows. Summer thunderstorms are very common because of unstable air that is created on hot and humid afternoons. Many of the states make up “Tornado Alley,” and are more prone to tornado activity during the spring months.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota – The Badlands are a collection of buttes, pinnacles, spires, and mixed-grass prairies. The White River Badlands contain the largest assemblage of known late Eocene and Oligocene mammal fossils. The wildlife includes bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio – This park along the Cuyahoga River has waterfalls, hills, trails, and exhibits on early rural living. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail follows the Ohio and Erie Canal, where mules towed canal boats. The park has numerous historic homes, bridges, and structures, and also offers a scenic train ride.
Glacier National Park, Montana – The U.S. half of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, this park includes 26 glaciers and 130 named lakes surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks. There are historic hotels and a landmark road called the Going-to-the-Sun Road in this region of rapidly receding glaciers. The local mountains, formed by an overthrust, expose Paleozoic fossils including trilobites, mollusks, giant ferns and dinosaurs.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – Grand Teton is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The park’s historic Jackson Hole and reflective piedmont lakes teem with endemic wildlife, with a backdrop of craggy mountains that rise abruptly from the sage-covered valley.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas – Hot Springs was established by act of Congress as a federal reserve on April 20, 1832. As such it is the oldest park managed by the National Park Service. Congress changed the reserve’s designation to national park on March 4, 1921 after the National Park Service was established in 1916. Hot Springs is the smallest and only national park in an urban area and is based around natural hot springs that flow out of the low lying Ouachita Mountains. The springs provide opportunities for relaxation in an historic setting; Bathhouse Row preserves numerous examples of 19th-century architecture.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan – The largest island in Lake Superior is a place of isolation and wilderness. Along with its many shipwrecks, waterways, and hiking trails, the park also includes over 400 smaller islands within 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of its shores. There are only 20 mammal species on the entire island, though the relationship between its wolf and moose populations is especially unique.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota – This region that enticed and influenced President Theodore Roosevelt consists of a park of three units in the northern badlands. Besides Roosevelt’s historic cabin, there are numerous scenic drives and backcountry hiking opportunities. Wildlife includes American bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and wild horses.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota – This park protecting four lakes near the Canada–US border is a site for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The park also preserves a history populated by Ojibwe Native Americans, French fur traders called voyageurs, and gold miners. Formed by glaciers, the region features tall bluffs, rock gardens, islands, bays, and several historic buildings.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota – Wind Cave is distinctive for its calcite fin formations called boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere, and needle-like growths called frostwork. The cave is one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Above ground is a mixed-grass prairie with animals such as bison, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs, and ponderosa pine forests that are home to cougars and elk. The cave is culturally significant to the Lakota people as the site “from which Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery, sent the buffalo out into their hunting grounds”.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho – Situated on the Yellowstone Caldera, the park has an expansive network of geothermal areas including boiling mud pots, vividly colored hot springs such as Grand Prismatic Spring, and regularly erupting geysers, the best-known being Old Faithful. The yellow-hued Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River contains several high waterfalls, and four mountain ranges traverse the park. More than 60 mammal species including gray wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, lynxes, bison, and elk, make this park one of the best wildlife viewing spots in the country.
The Midwest contains the largest expanse of freshwater lakes in the world, the Great Lakes
In the northern tips of both Minnesota and Michigan, along Lake Superior, the Aurora Borealis is visible. The light tends to be more violet, pink and yellow in this region
The Midwest is home to most of the Corn Belt of the United States, responsible for producing 40% of the world’s corn
The Midwest has also been nicknamed the “Breadbasket” as agriculture is such a big driver of the economy and they produce corn, wheat, soybeans, oats and barley
Some states in the Midwest, as well as Southeast make up tornado alley, where tornadoes are most frequent
Animals that are common in the area include bison, prairie dogs, elk, black bears, brown bears, gray wolves, coyotes, bobcats, cougars, Canada lynx, gray and red foxes, deer, northern copperhead snakes, quail, cranes, white pelicans, and eagles