Joplin is a medium-sized town on Route 66 near the interstate. Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Bonnie and Clyde hid out there, and Janis Joplin is unaffiliated with it. We chose it as a stopover for convenience, Route 66 history, and the fact that is has a couple breweries, so it must be cool.
We stayed at the Joplin KOA and it was entirely unmemorable. When we’re just scooting through a town and haven’t done much research, a KOA is a reliably decent campground to choose. They do tend to be a bit far from the downtown area of a city, and the Joplin KOA was no exception–a fifteen minute drive from the intersection of Main St and Route 66.
I 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 sparse. Well, guess what? The Joplin post might be sparser. So let’s talk about that hike again. The Elk River Trail is an hour and forty five minutes west of Joplin, so not somewhere you’d visit on a day trip if you’re based there, but if you’re driving near Elk City, Kansas, and want a break, the hike is something to consider.
When we arrived in Joplin, we headed downtown to see Route 66 and the mural. Joplin’s downtown is actually really neat, with historic facades and homey businesses on Main Street and the cross streets. Neat to look at, anyway–we didn’t go into any of the businesses except for one: Chaos Brewing.
We were the last customers for the day (it was a Sunday, so they closed early) so Dale, one of the owners at Chaos, gave us a fantastic chemistry-heavy tour of the brewery. Chaos has got to be the coolest place in town and I hope they do well in a town were Chipotle was the recommendation for the best dinner in town. I do love Chipotle, but I’m just saying.
We liked Joplin more than Dodge City, but I can’t imagine we’ll be back.