They say birds are the most accomplished aeronauts the world has ever seen, good thing you can get a front-row view of their wonderous flight right here in Kansas. The south-central region of Kansas is home to the largest marsh in the interior United States, Cheyenne Bottoms. This 41,000-acre wetland provides incredible bird watching views and is considered the most important shorebird migration point in the western hemisphere. Here over the next few weeks, Cheyenne Bottoms will welcome over half a million feathery friends, making it a top bird-watching destination in the world.
You don’t have to be a Twitcher (term reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked or counted on a list) to find fun and adventure exploring the marshland. The folks at Kansas Wetlands Education Center are top-notch wildlife educators and provide powerful insight to the importance of wetland ecosystems. Walk through state-of-the-art exhibits that tell the story of Cheyenne Bottoms from its ancient geological formation to the management challenges of the future. Discover the magnificence of these wetlands and the animals and plants living there. Interactive exhibits include a wetland floor projection game, augmented reality watershed simulator, wetland children’s activity area, build a bird and build a plant stations, shorebird and wetland plant adaptation magnetic boards, aquatic invertebrate viewer, and wetland critter doors.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center building offers a panoramic view of their mitigation marsh. They have binoculars and spotting scopes available to help you get a closer look at the wetlands and wildlife outside the Center. Visitors can enjoy the sights of birds at the feeder, frogs sitting at the water’s edge, blooming sunflowers, harriers gliding over the marsh, and whatever surprises nature has to offer. You can also buy a bird identifying book as you head out the door to explore the wetlands via the driving tour.
Nearby, you will find the vibrant community of Great Bend. They have attractions and amenities to turn this trip into an unforgettable experience. Here are some of my favorite things to do while in the GB, go right ahead and add these to your itinerary and use the #ToTheStarsKS and #ILoveGBKS so we can follow along!
Great Bend Brit Spaugh Park & Zoo- The Great Bend Zoo features species from around the world and maintains a Raptor Rehabilitation Program and bonus, they offer free admission.
Barton Planetarium- Their 360° dome with high-def digital projection makes for out-of-this-world video viewing and night sky projections!
Great Bend Public Art- Bust out your walking shoes! Capture all the artistic features of Great Bend on this walking tour. You will find 12 unique murals, 5 bronze sculptures, and 6 quilt art instillations.
Shafer Art Gallery- Displays significant works by Gus Shafer, objects from Barton Community College’s growing permanent collection, and a rotating series of exhibitions from regional and national artists.
Wetlands Waterpark- A splashing good time in the warmer months, this waterpark is big fun for everyone!