Post Rock Scenic Byway
Settlers on the treeless prairie built miles of fencing using limestone posts and left a legacy of creative artistry.
The World’s Largest Czech Egg, measuring 20x15 feet and painted brightly in traditional Czech patterns, towers over smaller decorated eggs throughout Wilson, the Czech Capital of Kansas. Travel north to Lucas, where the Grassroots Art Center displays a full-size, two-seat automobile made from can-pull tabs and other works by self-taught artists using recycled materials. A few blocks away, see 40-foot-high cement trees topped with sculptures at S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. For dinner, land in Sylvan Grove at the aviation-themed Fly Boy Brewery and Eats for prime rib, catfish, and other weekend specials.
Wetlands & Wildlife
National Scenic Byway
Towns: Hoisington, Great Bend, Ellinwood
Scan the wetlands and skies for whooping cranes, pelicans, and herons passing through North America’s most important bird migration route.
Arrive at sunrise to watch a pod of pelicans takes flight off the waters of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, a massive marsh hosting hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds in spring and autumn. A stop at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center explains the international importance of this inland freshwater marsh (the largest in the country). Swoop through Great Bend Coffee for a latte before flying south toward Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, a rare-in-the-Midwest inland saltwater marsh near Stafford, where trails lead to closer views of ducks, geese, and several endangered species.
Prairie Trail Scenic Byway
Deep in the heart of Kansas, find feisty frontier tales, a revved-up motorcycle museum, and a deliciously Scandinavian town.
Stories about a wild buffalo herd stampeding through Ellsworth and shootouts between rowdy cowboys at the train depot are highlighted through frontier silhouettes and interpretive signs on the Historical Walking Tour of Ellsworth. The Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette exhibits more than 140 vintages (since 1914) and rare motorcycles of various makes and models, including one presumably owned by Elvis Presley. In Lindsborg, Crown and Rye celebrates traditional and reimagined Swedish fare, such as Pannkakor (pancakes) for Sunday brunch and Köttbullar (meatballs) for dinner.
Flint Hills National Scenic Byway
Towns: Cottonwood Falls, Strong City, Council Grove
Endless grassy hills make for a roller-coaster drive through the world’s largest remaining swath of native tallgrass prairie.
Past an 1870s limestone fence lies the 1859 Rogler Ranch, now the Pioneer Bluffs Center for Flint Hills Ranching Heritage near Matfield Green. After hiking the nature trail, round up the kids and use your smartphone to explore ranch life. For a close-up view of a triple waterfall, take a short, easy hike to Chase Lake Falls at Chase State Fishing Lake. In Council Grove, new exhibits fill two historic locations. The Kaw Mission examines the intersection of cultures on the Santa Fe Trail: the Kansa people, other Native American tribes, and those who settled here. Last Chance Store tells of the final supply stop for westbound traders on the trail.