North America

This Is The Place: Where the Mormon State began

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In Utah, David Whitley finds the place where the Latter Day Saints settled – and the walled-off square that acts as the Mormon Vatican

A journey through the last part of the map

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In southern Utah, David Whitley finds himself in the final part of the US to be explored

It looks like a place to die. Not just for men, but for cattle, coyotes, snakes and vultures too. Staring across the landscape, ever more desolate valleys have been cut from valleys, and mesas have been topped with ever more intimidating mesas. It’s bleak, and sun-scorched, the colours in the rock layers covering a spectrum from ashen grey to furious red.

South Dakota Road Trip: West River and Wyoming’s Devils Tower

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The Badlands are the most physically dramatic spot in South Dakota if not all the Plains states, so far from other major national parks and major transport centers – 635 km from Denver, 800 km from Minneapolis – that they escape most international itineraries – and most domestic itineraries, for that matter. In 2012 around 830,000 people visited the park, a number that pales in comparison to visitor tallies enjoyed by the Great Smoky Mountains (9.69 million) and the Grand Canyon (4.42 million).

South Dakota Road Trip: Minneapolis to the Badlands

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A college friend from South Dakota occasionally made sweeping pronouncements. Many of these were quite abstract and marijuana-enabled – he was a physicist and a hippie – but every now and then he came up with a sharp social observation. The Dakotas had been divided incorrectly, he told me; instead of a North and a South Dakota, there should be a West and East Dakota. In terms of economic activity and general temperament, his argument went, this arrangement would suit the region better.

Los Alamos: The town that made the atom bomb

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In the middle of New Mexico, David Whitley discovers the secrets of the hilltop town that created the most fearsome monster ever used