Gypsum Hills

Ancient floodplains, buttes, canyons, mesas and sinkholes are rare on the Great Plains.  Yet, nestled in the Kansas grasslands is the Gypsum Hills, or Red Hills, with plenty of geologic diversity.  The Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway is enchantingly noteworthy for its rolling, weathered hills, picturesque vistas and outdoor recreational options.  The drive affords tantalizing views of the rugged landscape and includes two scenic overlooks to help you soak it all in.

Yet the Gypsum Hills' geological good looks are just the beginning. The region boasts a history and spirit enriched by cattle ranching, Native-American heroes Chiefs Black Kettle and White Bear, temperance-movement heroine Carrie Nation, westward-moving American pioneers, and much more. You'll also find art galleries, a drive-in theater in Medicine Lodge, museums, restaurants, and shops to leisurely explore and enjoy. And in the hills' parks, enjoy biking, birding, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, and swimming.

  • Route Description

    Medicine Lodge to Coldwater: Beginning at the intersection of US-281 and US-160 in southwest Medicine Lodge, KS, head west for 40 miles straight towards Coldwater, KS. 

    Coldwater to Medicine Lodge: Beginning at the intersection of US-183 and US-160 in north Coldwater, KS, head east for 40 miles straight towards Medicine Lodge, KS.

  • Itinerary

    Begin your tour in Medicine Lodge and discover how Carry Nation got her start. Continue on to the Frontier Stockade Museum to learn more about life on the frontier.

    As you travel westward, stop at the two overlooks to get better views of the impressive red hills in all of their unusual formations. Take an extra hour to "dare to do dirt" and take the scenic gravel drive south of the byway to immerse yourself in the lush cedar-trimmed red hills. Or plan an extra day or two to go on a trail ride. 

    When you arrive in Coldwater, head southwest to Coldwater Lake for some outdoor activities: fishing, boating, swimming, etc. 

    In the spring of the year, organize a group of hardy birdwatchers to watch prairie chicken mating rituals. 

  • Points of Interest + Amenities

    For history, recreation and ample wildlife, discover this western section of the state that bisects the beautiful Gypsum Hills along this 42-mile byway.

    For more information about the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, contact:

    Dollie Mathes
    Medicine Lodge Tourism

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