Western Vistas

Historic Byway

Visit a rugged landscape on the culturally and visually fascinating route known as the Western Vistas Historic Byway. Imagine an ancient ocean once covering the shortgrass prairie. When the water receded and erosion set in, the ocean floor's limestone layers became not only flat plains but oddly placed and shaped buttes, mounts, and other chalk formations. Here, in western Kansas, is the Wild, Wild West of legend; this is where pioneers trekked, rustlers roamed, and Pueblo Natives sought refuge and hunted bison - all attempting to eke out a living.

The region surrounding the Byway is a geology and paleontology paradise punctuated with unusual rock formations and among the best fossil hunting areas in the world. Active fossil digs began with regularity in the 1870s. Early discoveries contributed significantly to the fossil record and included previously unknown and extinct animals, such as flying reptiles and toothed birds. While the area literally "rocks," its cultural history may be petrifying to some. Here you can experience El Quartelejo Museum and Jerry Thomas Gallery and Collection where Fossils Meet the Frontier and Art and History Tell a Story; then explore  Fort Wallace, "the fightin-est Fort in the West”; walk in the footsteps of bison hunter Buffalo Bill Cody; encounter the ruins from the migration of the Pueblo Indians to El Cuartelejo; and visit Battle of Punished Woman’s Fork, the site of the last conflict between the Northern Cheyenne and the United States troops.

Western Vistas Historic Byway Website

  • Route Description

    Distance: 102 miles

    Traveling from Scott City, KS to Sharon Springs, KS: Beginning at El Quartelejo Museum & Jerry Thomas Gallery and Collection (902 W. 5th/Hwy.96), travel east to the intersection of K-96 and US-83 in Scott City, head north on US-83 towards Oakley, KS. On the way to Oakley, don't forget to stop by Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park - The Newest State Park in Kansas! Once you get to Oakley, make a left on the classic US-40 Highway and head west towards Sharon Springs, KS. Staying on US-40, the route eventually concludes in Sharon Springs, KS.

    Traveling from Sharon Springs, KS to Scott City, KS: Beginning in Sharon Springs, KS, head east on the classic US-40 Highway towards Oakley, KS. Once you reach Oakley, turn right US-83 and begin heading south towards Scott City, KS. On the way to Scott, City, don't forget to stop by Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park - The Newest State Park in Kansas! Continue south on US-83 until the route eventually concludes at El Quartelejo Museum & Jerry Thomas Gallery and Collection (902 W. 5th/Hwy.96) in Scott City, KS.

  • Plan Your Road Trip

    The Winona Cafe

    Welcome to The Cafe in Winona At The Cafe in Winona, we serve up quality home cooking in a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, along with…

    Fick Fossil and History Museum

    Museum focuses on local fossils and history. See an extensive historic photo display, Mrs. Fick's creative folk-artwork with fossils and…

    Smoky Valley Ranch

    On this land, you'll find a sight that almost vanished from America — bison roaming a prairie as they did hundreds of years ago…

    El Quartelejo Museum

    Explore the El Quartelejo Museum as it leads the visitor through a developing story line, one which traces the history of this region of…

    Castle Rock

    Thousands of years ago, this area was covered by a chalk ocean, which accounts for the chalk bluffs and beds. The chalk bluffs are still a…

    Monument Rocks National Landmark

    Kansas' first National Natural Monument is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. The Niobrara chalk formation, rich in fossils, some reaching up…

    Fort Wallace Museum

    Fightin'est Fort in the West; exhibits on Custer's 7th Cavalry, Fred Harvey, BOD Stagecoach Station, Kansas Pacific Railway, barbwire folk…

    Mt Sunflower Bed and Breakfast

    8 amazing rooms of pure elegance tucked away in a charming old church. Where the prairie and the sky meet your eye. Highest point in Kansas…

    Butterfield Trail Museum

    This 1887 two story renaissance-style structure of brick and stone with mansard roof was originally the Logan County Courthouse. Now it…

    Buffalo Bill Bronze Sculpture

    Did you know that world famous Buffalo Bill Cody earned the legendary title "Buffalo Bill" in this part of the country? The legendary…

    Keystone Gallery

    Keystone Gallery is a combination museum, art gallery and gift shop. The museum section contains an extensive, scientific collection of…

  • Things to do along the way


    Kansas Byways

    Prairie Trail

    When you travel the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, you follow in the steps of Native Americans, explorers and pioneers as they sought food…

    Native Stone

    Discover the natural beauty of the panoramic Native Stone Scenic Byway.

    Route 66

    Kansas' Historic Route 66 Byway offers opportunities for visitors to enjoy a variety of experiences to "get their own kicks…

    Post Rock

    Over the Smoky Hills of weathered bedrock, the Post Rock Scenic Byway winds through fields, pastures and prairie.

    Glacial Hills

    The Glacial Hills Scenic Byway gets its name from the rolling hills and rock-strewn valleys carved by ancient glaciers. 

    Flint Hills

    The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway offers incredible views of the native grasses and flowers of the tallgrass prairie - one of the last…

    Wetlands & Wildlife

    Along the byway, you'll encounter landscapes and communities shaped by the powerful forces of motion and change. You're entering a…

    Land & Sky

    Travelers along the Land and Sky Scenic Byway have the opportunity to experience the Wallace Branch of the Great Western Cattle Trail, scale…

    Frontier Military

    Travel through time, visiting multiple forts along the Frontier Military Historic Byway.  Originally built to move soldiers and…

    Smoky Valley

    Named for their hazy, blue appearance at sunrise and sunset, the Smoky Hills divide the more easterly mixed-grass prairie from the…

    Gypsum Hills

    Ancient floodplains, buttes, canyons, mesas and sinkholes are rare on the Great Plains. Yet, nestled in the Kansas grasslands is the Gypsum…

    For more information about the Western Vistas Historic Byway, contact: