Western Vistas

Historic Byway


ROAD CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION. Between Colorado State Line and KS 27, a stretch of US 40 is closed due to bridge construction work until November 1, 2024. Wallace County is still open for business! See maps for various detours to help you reach your destination.

  1. KanDrive - Road Closures
  2. Travel Wallace County - Detour & Map

About Western Vistas

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

  • Driving Directions

    Distance: 102 miles

    Traveling from Scott City, KS to Sharon Springs, KS: Beginning in Scott City, head north on US 83. At the intersection with K-95, turn left and head north for a drive through Historic Lake Scott State Park. Upon leaving the park, continue north on US 83 towards Oakley, KS. On the way to Oakley, don't forget to stop by Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. 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 on US 83 and head south towards Scott City, KS. On the way to Scott City, don't forget to stop by Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. When you return to US-83, head south. At the intersection with K-95, turn right and head south for a drive through Historic Lake Scott State Park. Upon leaving the park, continue south on US 83 until the route eventually concludes in Scott City, KS.

  • Plan Your Road Trip

    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…

    Fort Wallace Museum

    ROAD CONSTRUCTION UPDATE! ROAD CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION. Between Colorado State Line and KS 27, a stretch of US 40 is closed due to bridge…

    Fick Fossil and History Museum

    The Fick Fossil & History Museum is home to many world-class fossils including the bones of the oldest documented mosasaur skull in the…

    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…

    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…

    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…

    Keystone Gallery

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

    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…

    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…

    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. The highest point in…

    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…

  • Things to do along the way


    Kansas Byways

    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…

    Glacial Hills

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

    Post Rock

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

    Gypsum Hills

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

    Smoky Valley

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

    Frontier Military

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

    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…

    Route 66

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

    Wetlands & Wildlife

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

    Native Stone

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

    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…

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