ss_blog_claim=94754a6b1be8770ce22d6ccb8015a428 ¿Where the Heck are You?: Getting Lost In America ... The Highs & Lows of Travel in America - Part One

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting Lost In America ... The Highs & Lows of Travel in America - Part One

Getting Lost In America ... The Highs & Lows of Travel in America is a four-part series to help you discover America. Click any of the links for more information about that location or attraction!

You're the top, you're turkey dinner,
You're the
Kentucky Derby winner.
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom, You're the Top!*

So let’s get to the bottom of what’s tops in America. We will begin our four-part Highs & Lows Tour of America with the category that probably first came to mind - Elevation - how High can you get in America? And just how Low can we go???

Part One - Elevation:

Geographical points:

  • Highest Elevation - Denali (Mt McKinley) Alaska at 20,320 feet is the highest point in North America and guaranteed to take your breath away ... and in more ways than one! Most climbers do it without supplemental oxygen, but just seeing Denali from the valley floor will make you gasp!
  • Lowest Elevation - Bad Water in Death Valley California 282 ft below sea level. No need for extra O2 on this adventure ... but don’t forget to bring your own water!

States - No red blue states, just the top and the bottom states:

  • Highest Average Elevation - Colorado 6800ft - Celebrated in legend and song - Rocky Mountain High - and with over 70% of the U.S. landmass above 10,000ft it is little surprise that Colorado is the highest state. It is home to the Mile High City (Denver) and the Two Mile High City (Leadville). The lowest elevation in Colorado (3315ft along the Arikaree River in S.E. CO) is higher than 18 states’ highest altitude.
  • Lowest Average Elevation - Delaware 60ft - The First State may not give a big rise for some people, but it holds plenty of colonial and early American history.


  • Highest City – The historic mining town, and one-time home of the “Unsinkable Molly Brown”, Leadville Colorado at 10,430 ft is known as the Two Mile High City. (note: the town of Winter Park CO is sometimes listed as the highest town in North America at 12,060ft after annexing the Winter Park ski area in 2006; however, the actual town is located at the base of the ski area at only 9100ft and no one actually lives at the top of the ski area! This title is also claimed by nearby Alma CO at 10,578ft, which is a “statutory town” of less than 200 residents with no city services.)
  • Lowest City - Calipatria CA at 184 ft below sea level near the inland lake known as the Salton Sea 150 miles to the east of Los Angeles and San Diego.

Man-made Structures:

  • Highest Building - 1,450 ft - Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois. At 110 stories, the Sears Tower is the tallest building in all of the Americas, and the third tallest in the world.
  • Highest Bridge - suspended 1,053 ft above the Arkansas River - The Royal Gorge bridge near Canyon City, Colorado.
  • Tallest Structure (not just in America, but in the world!) - 2,063 ft - TV Tower in Blanchard, North Dakota
  • No lowest for the above categories since the lowest bridge is one that has collapsed or is flooded and not providing much use under water ... and the lowest tower is ... again, not of much use for this article! However, humans have burrowed deep into the earth. The Homestake gold-mine near Lead, South Dakota is over 8000 ft deep. The mine closed operations in 2002 and in 2007 the Homestake was chosen as the future site for DUSEL (Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory) where things like dark matter and neutrinos will be studied, as well as providing a site for biology, geology, and mining research. There is another old-mine-turned-research-facility that you can visit - The Soudan Underground Laboratory - in Soudan, Minnesota. While part of the Minnesota State Parks, the Soudan Underground Laboratory, operated by the University of Minnesota, is currently the leading deep underground science and engineering laboratory in the United States. The 2 hour tour will take you 2341 ft below the surface of the earth.

You're the top, you're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile, on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!*

Wherever you go, be it High or Low, this summer - Happy trails and happy travels, and enjoy yourselves, your family, the sites and sights, and of course your summer vacation!

Read the whole series!

* Song lyrics from “You’re The Top!” by
legendary American songwriter Cole Porter.

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