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Kansas byways, the roads that connect us all

Kansas Tourism: See more of the state of Kansas through your windshield with these recognized byways.

January 13, 2023

3 Min Read
Motorcycle touring Kansas
ROAD TRIP: Make the trip from Point A to Point B a little more scenic by taking one of Kansas Tourism’s recognized 12 byways. Each showcases distinct features of the state.Courtesy of Kansas Tourism

Kansas is home unique topography that encourages travelers to get off the main roads and really experience the beauty within our borders, with unique communities and attractions along the way. Next time you find yourself on the road, find one of these byways to get you to your destination Kansas-style.

Glacial Hills Scenic Byway gets its name from the rolling hills and rock-strewn valleys carved by ancient glaciers. The receding ice left behind a beautiful landscape and highly fertile farmland.

Over the Smoky Hills region’s weathered bedrock, the Post Rock Scenic Byway winds through 18 miles of fields, pastures and prairie. The landscape’s unique beauty and challenges meant pioneers had to earn their space here, and the legacy of pioneers’ creativity and resourcefulness lives on.

Visit a rugged landscape on the culturally and visually fascinating route known as the Western Vistas Scenic 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 also oddly placed and shaped buttes, mounts and other chalk formations.

The 47-mile-long Flint Hills National Scenic Byway offers incredible views of the native grasses and flowers of the tallgrass prairie — one of the last remaining tallgrass landscapes left in America. Much of the land along this byway looks as it did thousands of years ago when the Kaw, Osage and other native tribes lived here.

Agriculture’s trail

The Land and Sky Scenic Byway is the only byway in the state that focuses on agriculture and travelers along this 88-mile-long byway will see thousands of acres of rotating crops, livestock and wildlife along the route. Kiosks and interpretative signage tell the story of agriculture and show the life cycle of crops, including wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans and sunflowers.

Discover the natural beauty of the panoramic 75-mile-long Native Stone Scenic Byway. Seen in everything from hillsides to courthouses, these amazing natural limestone formations and stonework used in architecture can be found along highways K-177, K-18, K-4 and K-99.

Wildlife trails

Along the Wetlands and Wildlife Natioanal Scenic Byway, you’ll encounter landscapes and communities shaped by the powerful forces of motion and change. You’re entering a region formed by ancient and ongoing geological movement, a land of stunning bird migrations, wild winds and weather, and of richly layered human history.

Named for their hazy blue appearance at sunrise and sunset, the Smoky Hills divide the more easterly mixed-grass prairie from the shortgrass prairie of the Western Great Plains. The Smokly Valley Scenic Byway is 60 miles long and travels through the Smoky Hill River Valley.

Travel through time visiting multiple forts along the 168-mile-long Frontier Military Historic Byway. Originally built to move soldiers and supplies, the Military Trail has watched American history unfold.

Get your kicks

Kansas' Route 66 Historic Byway offers opportunities for visitors to enjoy a variety of experiences to get their own kicks while driving the original Kansas portion of Route 66, found in the Ozark Plateau southeast corner of the state.

When you travel the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, you follow in the steps of Native Americans, explorers and pioneers as they sought food, shelter, adventure and a better life. Early traders followed the nearby Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico, 19th-century cowboys drove cattle along the Chisholm Trail and huge herds of bison roamed the majestic Flint Hills.

Ancient floodplains, buttes, canyons, mesas and sinkholes are rare on the Great Plains. Yet, nestled in the Kansas grasslands are the Gypsum Hills, or Red Hills, with plenty of geologic diversity. The 42-mile-long Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway is enchantingly noteworthy for its rolling and weathered hills, picturesque vistas and outdoor recreational options.

You can learn more about each byway, routes, and stops along the way at travelks.com.

Sharples-Terry is public relations and communications manager for Kansas Tourism. Kansas Tourism aims to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas to maximize the positive impacts that tourism has on the state and local communities. For more trip inspiration and to order a free Kansas Travel Guide, head to travelks.com.

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