Kansas

Signs on the highway remind travellers that “every Kansas farmer feeds 75 people – and you”, giving a prominent reminder of the states vast areas of farmland which are given to grain crops, beef, cattle, and buffalo. Ensconced In the geographical centre of the United States, Kansas enjoys a great number of scenic parks all waiting to be explored. In addition the states reservoirs and rivers offer all kinds of outdoor pursuits.

The Kansas Flint Hills is a magnificent swath of land with a sweeping horizon that has escaped the impact of human progression over centuries. As resident of Cottonwood Falls and longtime Flint Historian, Charley Klamm says ‘Sometimes it is hard to explain to city folk. It’s a place that’s worshipful, quiet, profound and more than scenery’.

The 47.2 mile long Flint Hills Scenic Byway on Kansas HIghway 177 does start with extraordinary scenery, through native grasses, flowers of the tallgrass prairie, miles of softly undulating hills dotted with herds of grazing cattle and a few indigenous oaks and sycamores. The expansive Kansas sky provides a magnificent backdrop for the rugged grasslands, one of the worlds most endangered ecosystems. After generations of farming that has claimed most of the prairies 170 million acres, the Flint Hills remain an unspoiled natural vista thats delights visitors. Spend a day or two exploring the quaint towns and historic sites along the byway and enjoy the solitude. Be sure to listen for the distinctive sounds which define the Flint Hills – a quails distinctive call, the whistle of the meadowhawk, cows bawling, coyotes howling and horses neighing.

Should you want to experience more than the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, there are many more to consider: Frontier Military Historic Byway, Glacial Hills Scenic Byway, Land and Sky Scenic Byway, Native Stone Scenic Byway, Post Rock Scenic Byway, Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, Route 66 Historic Byway, Smoky Valley Scenic Byway, Western Vistas Historic Byway and Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway.

The True Midwest

This is true “Cowboy and Indian” territory. Settlers on the Oregon and Sante Fe trails drove their wagons through Kansas on their westward journeys in search of new homesteads whilst cowboys on the Chisholm Trail drove vast herds of longhorns north in search of the railroads and to cater for the growing population towns like Abilene and Dodge City. Fierce battles over land erupted and this is well documented with the wide variety of westerns which made people like John Wayne famous. The state boasts many monuments to its Old West past and visitors can visit some of the battles infamous forts.

Things to do

In Kansas, small-town charm mixes easily with big-city attractions. From natural rock wonders and hidden waterfalls to large festivals tucked away in those towns you thought you could just pass through and prohibition style bars that you have to search hard to find.

For those interested in aviation, Kansas has played a major role in the history of aviation with thousands of aircraft being built by dozens of aircraft companies since 1899. The Kansas Aviation Museum housed in a grand art-deco style building is well worthy of a visit to explore the history of “flight through time”.

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