bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

One night in Dodge City, KS–Big Trip #3

We visited Dodge City in October 2020, as part of Big Trip #3.

Bugsy and a bull statue in Dodge City

After leaving Denver, we started hightailing it across the Midwest toward home, picking kind of random places to spend our next two nights. First stop: Dodge City, Kansas, a six-hour drive southeast from Denver. We knew of it as a Wild West town, so it seemed potentially interesting. Our main takeaway from our evening in town: it smells like cow poo. That should have been no surprise, as the largest industry in Dodge City is meatpacking, and the town is surrounded by feedlots. There’s even a tourist attraction that is a feedlot overlook. Why???


Dodge City KOA

We camped at the sterile Dodge City KOA. The best thing about the campground is that it’s within Wright Park, a big city park with a pool, doggy area, and small zoo, and its super close to downtown.

Exploring Dodge City

Bugsy and the Wyatt Earp statue
Bugsy and her friend Wyatt Earp

Maybe it was due to Covid, but nothing was open downtown and it was depressing. We walked around and read the historic markers along the Trail of Fame, and learned that most of the historic buildings downtown were razed in the 70s to make room for a highway and parking lots. The historic area now is mostly replicas. Here’s a walking tour of downtown if you have more time and desire to explore.

beer at Dodge City Brewing

There are two drinking establishments of note (at least, of interest to us) in downtown Dodge City: Boot Hill Distillery and Dodge City Brewing. We felt uncomfortable in the distillery with all the maskless people and lack of social distancing and low ceilings. The brewery had a bit of outdoor space, and inside was airier and everyone wore masks and followed the spacing rules. So the brewery got our business, and their sours were nice!

Hiking not terribly close by

Bugsy in the water at Elk City Lake

In the morning, on the way to our next stopover, Joplin MO, we hiked several miles on the fifteen-mile Elk River Trail. Some say it’s the prettiest hike in Kansas. We started at the east trailhead and hiked around cliffs and jumbly boulders up to a bluff with views over Elk City Lake. The hike is 4.5 hours east of Dodge City, but we were passing close to a trailhead, and it made a pleasant stop.

parking at Elk River trail

The parking lot is smallish, but the Airstream fit along the edge.

overlook of Elk City Lake

No offense, but Dodge City was a dud of a destination.


2 responses to “One night in Dodge City, KS–Big Trip #3”

  1. Uncle Jim Avatar
    Uncle Jim

    Did you happen to run into Matt Dillon, Chester Good, Doc Adams, Festus or Ms. Kitty??? Or perhaps Wyatt Earp or Doc Holiday… If you missed all of them it was a wasted trip…

  2. […] already described the hike we did on the way from Dodge City to Joplin, despite the trail being 4.5 hours from Dodge City, because the Dodge City post was so […]

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