The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway offers incredible views of the native grasses and flowers of the tallgrass prairie - one of the last remaining such landscapes left in America. Much of the land along the Byway looks as it did thousands of years ago when the Kaw, Osage and other native tribes lived here. Early settlers navigated the famous Santa Fe Trail through here, some stopping to build the towns of Council Grove, Cottonwood Falls and Strong City.
Today, the Flint Hills area is home to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and such historic venues as the Kaw Nation Heritage Park and Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Museum. You'll also find towns filled with charming shops, restaurants, artwork and antiques.
- Begin your journey across the prairie in Council Grove just as the travelers on the Santa Fe Trail once did. Pick up a self-guided tour map of Council Grove at the Council Grove Convention and Visitors Bureau on Main Street.
- Plan on having lunch at historic Hays House (the strawberry pie is dreamy!).
- Continue south on the byway across the majestic Flint Hills for approximately 20 miles. Stop at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve to tour the barn and homestead and to take a ranger-guided tour out onto the prairie to experience the vastness of the landscape.
- Hike the 1.75 mile Southwind Nature Trail and visit the Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse to get the lessons of yesterday.
- There's a four-diamond hotel with ranch brands for room numbers located in Cottonwood Falls, and numerous beds and breakfasts provide overnight lodging in and near Cottonwood Falls.
- Visit the art galleries, antique stores and shops in downtown Cottonwood Falls. Tour the Chase County Courthouse (don't miss the jail on the upper floor), Roniger's Native American Museum (check at the courthouse for times) and the Chase County Museum to experience life in Chase County.
- If you're in Cottonwood Falls on a Friday night, stop in for a live music jam by local musicians at Prairie PastTimes.
- Continue south three miles and stop at the Scenic Byway Overlook to get a 360-degree panoramic view of the Tallgrass Prairie.
- Tour Pioneer Bluffs, a place for you to connect to history, community and sustainability. Celebrate the history and experience of the tallgrass prairie and its Flint Hills ranching heritage; and see how Pioneer Bluffs has been a community resource and gathering place to explore sustainable ways to live in harmony with nature.