Jumpstart your Kansas Stories...
HIT THE TRAILS
For the active traveler, Kansas offers hikers and mountain bikers a wide variety of terrain featuring beautiful landscapes. Prairie trails include 24 miles of trails at Kanopolis State Park featuring a fantastic view of a sandstone canyon and 19 miles of trails that parallel the Santa Fe Trail in the Cimarron National Grassland. In contrast to the prairie trails are the wooded Mined Land Wildlife Area trails. Reclaimed from strip pit mining, the area features numerous pockets of small lakes and ponds. The Prairie Spirit Rail Trail, a 33-mile hiking/biking trail, follows an abandoned railroad route. Many of the trails in Kansas are multi-purpose trails that also allow mountain biking and horseback riding.
WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM
Kansas is home on the range for hundreds of bison, also known as buffalo, found at the many state wildlife refuges. Hunting to near extinction caused bison herds to rapidly diminish in the late 1880s. In 1871, one bison herd in southwestern Kansas was estimated at four million head. Just eight years later, the last wild bison was reportedly killed near Dodge City, fatalities of the Westward expansion frenzy that swept the state. Now, visitors to two of the state's wildlife refuges, the Sandsage Bison Range in Garden City and the Maxwell Game Preserve in Canton, can gain an up-close look at these majestic creatures by taking a guided tour into the prairies where the bison roam.
IN THE FAST LANE
Though Kansas' history is rooted in the Old West, the pioneer wagons of the past have been replaced with fast paced cars racing at more than 36 motorsports tracks and speedways located throughout the state. At the $200 million Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, you can experience the excitement of the state's largest tourist attraction, while Heartland Park in Topeka offers a fantastic motor sports entertainment complex and the largest sports car competition event in the world. If you like dirt better than asphalt, get your thrills at Salina Speedway or Wichita's 81 Speedway. And harking back to the days of drag racing, you'll still find the best hot cars and cool fun at drag strips in Wichita, Manhattan, Arkansas City, and Great Bend.
DREAMS OF FLIGHT
With the wide-open skies as inspiration, Kansas is taking off with many top-rated aviation and aerospace attractions. Major aircraft companies such as Boeing, Cessna, Raytheon, and Bombardier Learjet, as well as new aircraft entrepreneurs, have made Kansas a leader in aviation manufacturing. Innovative aviation pioneers, designers, and pilots from Kansas are known throughout the world. This rich heritage has inspired numerous aviation-related attractions to open around the state, including the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, the country's fifth largest general aviation museum, the Combat Air Museum in Topeka, and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, a prestigious affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and one of the most comprehensive space museums in the world. These are just a few of the aviation attractions in Kansas.
Of course, Kansas started making aviation history as early as 1923 when Atchison born aviator Amelia Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's license. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, as well as the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. In 1937, she mysteriously disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator. Visit Amelia's Birthplace Museum in Atchison.
THE LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION
In 1804, the Lewis & Clark Expedition set off to explore the length of the Missouri River. When Lewis and Clark spent two weeks traveling through what is now Kansas, little did they know what an impact they would have on future travelers following in their footsteps 200 years later. The expedition arrived in what is now Kansas on June 26, 1804, and camped three days near what is today Kansas City, Kan. The Frontier Army Museum at Fort Leavenworth features exhibits on the expedition. Near Atchison, the members of the expedition celebrated the first Fourth of July west of the Mississippi River. At White Cloud, the northernmost town in Kansas along the Missouri River, the Lewis & Clark Lookout offers a spectacular view of the four states of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED IN KANSAS
There are a number of unique family attractions in Kansas that offer pleasant surprises to visitors willing to travel off the main highways. Here are just a few examples. Strataca in Hutchinson allows you to travel 650' below the Kansas prairie to experience an active salt mine and the only underground salt museum in the western hemisphere. Cheyenne Bottoms (the largest inland marsh in the United States), and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Great Bend, are major stopovers for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, including pelicans, sandhill cranes, plovers, and thousands of ducks and geese. Kansas was once a great inland sea, and the remains of giant sea creatures are still being uncovered. Dig up your own fossils on a guided tour with an experienced archeologist near Scott City. And the Garden of Eden in Lucas is a monument to individualism. Characters from the Bible are carved out of native rock and cement. You have to see it to believe it.
THE OLD WEST IS ALIVE AND WELL IN KANSAS
The "Old West" is alive and well in Kansas, and there are a variety of different western experiences throughout the state. The Boothill Museum in Dodge City immerses its visitors into a nostalgic Gunsmoke atmosphere, where fist fights and gunfire portray what you might have witnessed on the streets of Dodge City in the 1870s. In addition to the Boot Hill Museum offering over 60,000 objects, photographs, and documents, families will enjoy the Long Branch Saloon and a visit by Miss Kitty, as well as the Boothill Cemetery, where most people were buried with their boots on. A visit to the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita provides a living history museum where you'll experience life in the 1870s complete with the sights, sounds and activities common to a Midwestern cattle town. And, real life cowboys still live in Kansas. Moore Ranch, located near Dodge City allows guests to come out and experience the Old West lifestyle. You can herd and drive cattle, learn to rope, learn to brand and relax by the campfire at the end of the day.
BYWAYS, HIGHWAYS AND TRAILS
Did you know that Kansas lays claim to eleven byways, eight scenic (two of which are National Scenic Byways), and three historic? Each byway tells its own story, whether you are looking for remnants left by ancient glaciers, tall grass prairies or evidence of the Wild West. These beautiful drives offer panoramic vistas, family friendly activities, and an affordable way to discover America's heartland. In addition to the byways, Kansas also includes miles and miles of westward expansion history located along the Santa Fe, Chisholm and Oregon trails and the Pony Express Route, offering families even more opportunity to leave the beaten path and learn the history of our adventurous predecessors.
AGRITOURISM - IT'S THE REAL DEAL IN KANSAS
Outside its bustling urban centers, Kansas is woven with the rich fabric of rural life, and authentic agritourism abounds. At Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch in Overbrook, families can step back in time and imagine what settlers traveling westward on the Santa Fe Trail experienced. Bison thrived for thousands of years on the native prairie grasses, and bison are back to stay, thanks in large part to family-owned ranches like this one. The Cowboy Way Ranch in the beautiful Flint Hills is a 1,000 acre working cattle ranch that offers visitors a once in a life time experience...the spring prairie renewal pasture burn. As the burn starts in the evening you personally take part in dragging fire and watching the hills light up as the night falls and the sun sets. Few attractions in Crawford County match the genuine, down-home appeal of the Hickory Creek Farms Agritourism Attraction. Special Family Fun Days on the farm in the fall include a corn maze, critter corral, hayrack rides, Hickory Creek Express, pumpkin catapult and live duck races.
While there are few other states that can offer an authentic rural experience like Kansas, our major cities offer an urban experience full of culture, shopping and fun! The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, the Wichita Art Museum, housing one of the country's finest collections of American Art and the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence are just a few good examples of the many cultural opportunities available to travelers. Dining options run the gamut including the state's famous barbeque and fried chicken selections, delicious farm to table experiences and fine dining. And thanks to our state's thriving wheat production, Kansas is known as "the breadbasket." If you haven't tried our fresh-baked breads, pies and other goodies at restaurants, diners and bakeries across the state, you're missing out!
BEAUTIFUL SCENIC BYWAYS, HISTORIC HIGHWAYS, AND THE BEST OF SMALL TOWN KANSAS
Kansas is home to 11 byways; nine scenic, two of which are National Scenic Byways and two designated historic byways, including the newest, Route 66. In addition to being beautiful drives, the byways each have a fascinating history and an abundance of activities to enjoy. Each offers travelers an opportunity to experience a small portion of Kansas' unique landscape or to follow the route of an historic military trail.
Before the days of interstate highways, travelers wanting to drive cross-country followed fabled Route 66. Many travelers are surprised to learn that the "Main Street of America" passes through the southeastern corner of Kansas. Although Route 66 through Kansas is only 13.2 miles, the flavor of the route is still alive in the three small towns along the way - Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs. Although interstates have created a faster way to travel cross-country, Route 66 is still a popular route for travelers ready to experience a little small-town nostalgia.
NATURAL AND UNTOUCHED
In a few special places, the Kansas landscape is much the same as it once was - largely natural and untouched. Visitors wanting to experience natural Kansas can walk through wildflowers in prairies undisturbed by civilization, view wildlife in their natural environments, or discover some of the best geological finds in the world. Regardless of the season or interest, the wild beauty of Kansas offers wonderful travel opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Two magnificent options: visitors can see most of America's remaining virgin prairie at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the heart of the Flint Hills. And in south central Kansas, the Gypsum Hills (or Red Hills) feature flat mesas, deep canyons, sharp high hills, and red soils.