Kansas Scenic Drives
Are you traveling through the beautiful state of Kansas? There is a plentiful amount of scenic routes to discover, so be sure to do your homework ahead of time so you know where you would like to spend your time in Kansas. You don’t want to miss what this lovely state has to offer. Here are some of the most scenic drives in Kansas.
Flint Hills Scenic Byway
This is a magnificent route throughout the year that shows the panoramas of the tall grass meadow. The Flint Hills Scenic Byway Byway is 47.2 miles long and runs across the Flint Hills of Kansas, located on K-177, and is between Council Grove and Cassoday. The byway takes you through the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve that showcases a limestone mansion and the Fox Creek schoolhouse and barn.
Frontier Military Historic Byway
This byway takes you along unique historical, cultural, and natural attractions and sites. It runs along the eastern edge of Kansas and is about 167 miles long. It connects Fort Leavenworth to Fort Scott and on toward the Oklahoma border. It is an approximation of the old trails the Army would have used. Some of the sites you can see along the way are the Shawnee Mission Park, Miami State Lake, Legler Barn Museum, Weston Bend Bottomlands, and Fort Scott restored Victorian.
US-36 Treasure Hunt
Each year in Kansas, there is a treasure hunt held. It takes place each September and spans the entire state of Kansas. It is a massive yard sale that has been given the name the Kansas Treasure Hunt. The route is 400 miles, and more than 28 towns participate. It has everything from flea markets to yard sales, food booths, local celebrations, and much more. There is also lodging available along the route.
Glacial Hills Scenic Byway
Beginning at the intersection of K-7 in K-92, the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway runs 63 miles through the Glacial Hills in northeast Kansas. It takes you through Atchison, Leavenworth, Troy and White Cloud. Along the Mississippi River, these towns are some of the earliest from the pioneer days. Lewis and Clark camped along a creek that is now known as Atchison on their trip out west. They also stopped by what is now called Leavenworth on their trip back.
Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway
Bisecting the Gypsum Hills, the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway runs about 42 miles. You can see deep canyons, flat mesas, red soils, high hills, and caprock formations along the route. The byway shows off Kansas’s most beautiful landscapes between the farmland and mid grass prairie and the rugged gypsum-capped mesas. It runs through the western Medicine Lodge to the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 183 in Coldwater.
Native Stone Scenic Byway
Experience the heavenliness of the scenic Native Stone Scenic Byway. The state of Kansas is known for its limestone and the rock has been used for many historical buildings and creates natural landmarks. The Native Stone Scenic Byway showcases the natural rock formations and the craftsmanship of masons who have used the limestone to create beautiful architecture. The route runs along K-177, K-18, K-4, and K-99, which is in the Mission Creek and Mill Creek valleys.
Post Rock Scenic Byway
The Post Rock Scenic Byway runs through pastures, paries, and fields and is over the Smoky Hills of weathered bedrock. Due to both the beauty and the route’s challenges, pioneers back in the day were forced to work for their land here. Their legacy is captivated by what remains of their resourcefulness, such as stone fence posts that are just as functional now as the day they were built.
Prairie Trail Scenic Byway
Beginning at the south in Canton, the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway is 56 miles long. In Canton, there is the Stars and Stripes Military Museum and 1883 Pioneer jail and the last Carnegie library that was built. Along the route, you can also have an opportunity to see bison and elk. There are tram tours available on the weekends. There is a local feature known as the Twin Mounds that can also be spotted from the trail.
US-36 North Meander
The US-36 North Meander route passes through Agra and Kensington’s little towns before it hits Smith Center. The route runs through Marysville which is one of the most vibrant cities in Kansas. There is a pony express museum in Marysville that can be easily accessed from the route. The Pawnee Indian Museum is another place you can stop at from US-36 and is one of the best Trans-Mississippi West museums.
Smoky Valley Scenic Byway
At sunrise and sunset, the Smoky Hills are filled with a blue appearance, where it got its name. It travels through the Smoky Hill River Valley and you can experience the native grasses and wildflowers all year long. There are rock outcroppings that hint at the foundation underneath the landscape, a chalky limestone left by an ancient sea. Over 200 years ago, some travelers carved their names on the walls of the Threshing Machine Canyon and some can still be seen today.
Western Vistas Historic Byway
This route is known for its rugged landscape. Once an ancient ocean was covering the short grass prairie but when the water receded and started to erode the rock, the ocean’s floor of limestone turned into both flat plains and oddly shaped buttes, mounts, and other formations. There are active fossil digs that began in the 1870s. You can explore Fort Wallace which is known as “the fightin-est fort in the West.”
Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway
The Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway is a 77-mile route that connects two of the world’s most prominent natural wetlands: the Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. There are more than 60,000 acres of wetlands and millions of migrating birds, such as waterfowl, shorebirds, and Whooping Cranes. Along the route, he can also see native stone buildings, metal street art, underground tunnels come up WPA art and bridges, a stretch of the Santa Fe trail, an operating flour mill, and much more.
Now that you are well informed about the abundance of scenic routes in Kansas enjoy your visit to this historically fascinating state. From Limestone to man-made buildings, Kansas has many sites to offer.
Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!