Need Guidance For Southern Western Kansas

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Hero!, May 16, 2006.

  1. Hero!

    Hero! Member

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    I'm traveling northward via auto and entering Kansas on hwy 1 from Okla which will turn into hwy 183.

    The issue is I want to go to Colorado and I'm not sure which would be the most scenic route through Kansas: Dodge City-Garden City-Colorado OR Copeland-Ulysses-Colorado.

    Sure appreciate your guidance on this or any other routes you think might be superior.

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Hello Hero,

    I may be the only member here who has been in that area of the world for any lenght of time. In general, the scenery along US 50 and south is not very different from that in the Amarillo-Dahlhart, Texas region. The most scenic route through Western, KS lies between US 96 and I-70, much further north than what you have proposed.

    That being said, I vote for the southern route you have chosen. OK 1 and US 183 come in just east of Ashland. I would take 183 through the Cimarron River valley. Some rugged terrain in that area. Several years ago, Ted Turner bought up two of the large ranches in that area and is supposed to be establishing some Buffalo herds there. This is real Old West ranch country where horses are still the best way to get around. Then follow 160 west to Meade and on to Colorado. This was also the area that the Dalton Gang once roamed (and robbed) and where the cattle drives from Texas passed on their way to Dodge City.

    West of Meade, you're back to the flat High Plains. Climb a windmill or grain elevator and you can see all the way back to Texas.

    If you can, go to Wal-Mart and get a Delorme Atlas of Kansas. Those maps have all the terrain features marked plus all the backroads. Very handy to have.

    The US 50 route is pretty desolate. That highway follows the Arkansas river all the way to Canon City. Its not very photogenic in my opinion.
     
  3. Hero!

    Hero! Member

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    Mucho Thanks for the good info, Alex!

    I'm off to Wally-World.
     
  4. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    You may wish to go over to Rt 83 and photograph the Monument Rocks.

    There is also an interesting private museum close by too if you like fossils and other interesting things for sale:
    http://www.keystonegallery.com/pdf/Keystone_Gallery_Brochure-Print.pdf

    The fella has everything wired for 12 volts! Solar panels - wind generator - burning stove - really energy independent! Last time I was there I picked up two Moqui balls and shot Monument Rocks at sunset.
     
  5. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    My recommendation for SW Kansas is: Just avoid it. :wink:

    Earl, ducking and running
     
  6. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Or go up through the Texas panhandle and stop at Palo Duro Canyon.
     
  7. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

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    US Hwy 83 is my road of choice when traveling north-south through western Kansas. There is a lot of interesting stuff if you're willing to look for it.
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    That was the area I alluded to between US 96 and I-70. Certainly worth the time and distance if you can spare it.
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Alex may have forgotten that I lived most of my life in Kansas and considering that I am a little older I imagine that I may be the person around here that has the most experience with the area.

    If you have the time, I would head north on 283 through Ness City and over to Wakeeney on I-70 then west to the Chalk Cliffs region along the Smoky Hill River. There is another canyon that lies along the east of the Chalk Cliffs named Wild Cat Canyon http://abyss.kgs.ku.edu/pls/abyss/pubcat.phd1.View_Photo?f_id=681&f_hd=Y

    Many photo ops because this region has been relatively unphotographed. I have a two year body of work but it is still not widely circulated. I have some images from there in the portfolio labeled "Antiquity" on my site...link is at the bottom of this post.

    The other thing that you could do is to head out west on Highway 160 into eastern Colorado. you will run along the edge of the Comanche and Cimmaron grasslands and nearer to Trinidad Colorado you will encounter some dry water ways and scenic breaks in the prairie. This area is also scarcely photographed so far as I know. I had wanted to spend a lot of time there and photograph...just never got around to it.

    I don't know where in Colorado you want to go but going into Trinidad and over to Laveta and west of Walsenberg will put you on the route to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa, Colorado. A person could spend days in the Sand Dunes depending on light conditions there are always new images to be made there.

    Southern and Western Kansas, other then the areas that I mentioned and small towns along the way, is of little scenic interest. It is largely high plains prairie and cultivation.

    Good luck and enjoy your trip.
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    As an addendum to the Chalk Cliffs and Wild Cat Canyon recommendations, please be aware that this is prime rattlesnake country and this is a time of year where they will be active. I have spent many, many days in the formations and not had any nasty experiences...summer and winter...my recommendations are to be aware.
     
  11. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Thanks Donald for the info. I grew up in Kansas. Never knew there was that kind of scenery there. Word has it that when they started to build the interstate, people were in a panic. When they piled up dirt to build overpasses, no one had seen hills that high. (unless they lived in the flint hills in eastern Kansas, some of those are 200-300 ft high). Some of the farm towns might provide some old time looking shots. As long as you keep cars, Mc Donalds and wallmart out of the picture.
     
  12. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Hey, another Wheathead! Guess there's about five or six of here now.

    The farm towns are drying up fast. Many of the old buildings with some style and charm are being replaced with the ubiquitous steel boxes. Economically viable, but no charm or style at all. However, there are some jewells left that are happened upon. Its just a matter of taking a few minutes to get off the highway and drive around a town that looks promising.

    Don, didn't mean to cut your experience out of the picture. Glad you jumped in.
     
  13. Nancy

    Nancy Member

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    I'm taking notes here. I grew up in upstate New York and then moved to the Pacific Northwest where in both places I could walk out the back door and be in the middle of paradise. I've spent the last 30 years here in Kansas and I'll admit it's taken me nearly that long to develop an appreciation for this state. I love the Flint Hills, but I think I was most impressed when my husband and I headed south one day and ended up in the Gyp Hills. I'd have to say it's one of the most beautiful places in the state, and probably one of the best kept secrets.
     
  14. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Nancy, I agree with you that the gyp hills are among the most scenic areas in Kansas...Thank you for mentioning them. The area between Medicine Lodge and Sun City and Lake City is really quite scenic.
     
  15. Travis Walker

    Travis Walker Member

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    SW Kansas

    While some may say the High Plains are rather boring, it's one of the very few places where you can look up and see an enormous sky. I've gotten excellent cloud shots while out in northwest and central Kansas, so there shouldn't be much of a problem getting those in the southwestern part of the state. As a proud Kansan, I'm glad to hear that you'll be driving through the state taking pictures.

    P.S. The Smoky Hills are a great place to photograph as well.
     
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Member

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    Smoky Hills

    Hi Travis. You know I've heard of the Smoky Hills, but I'm not really sure where they are. Would that be north of McPherson? We've visit Maxwell Game Preserve every now and then (another good place to photograph) and I'm wondering if that would be located in the Smoky Hills.
    BTW, I'm just a hop, skip, and a jump south of you, probably about 30-40 miles.
     
  17. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    North and west Nancy, around the Kanopolis area.
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Nancy, I grew up south of Russell, Kansas and lived in Hutchinson and Wichita for years until I moved to Arizona a little over a year ago.

    The Smoky Hills provide the basis for the name of the Smoky Hill River which begins in western Kansas (west of Hays) and flows through the Cedar Bluff reservoir and Kanopolis Reservoir to beyond Salina, Kansas.

    The Smoky Hills lie along the course of the river and certainly are evident near where I grew up. They gained their name because at times there is an atmospheric haze when viewing them from a distance.

    Another very scenic area in central kansas are the canyons of the Saline River drainage north of Russell Kansas. The canyon road can be accessed in only a few places as it meanders through the canyon toward the Saline River. There are places where indian fire rings still are evident on the hills overlooking the Saline River. A major indian trail runs from that region into sourthern Kansas. There is also evidence of indian activity along Sellens and Goose Creeks which flow from the south in Barton county into the Smoky Hill River to the north in Russell County.

    Additionally there is evidence of the dugouts that the first German/Russian immigrants inhabited along Langdon Creek and Sellens Creek in the 1869-1874 period prior to the establishment of the Indian Act inacted in 1874. These can be found in section five of Fairfield township of Russell County. A really and sometimes scenic place to observe the history of the region.
     
  19. Nancy

    Nancy Member

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    Thank you Alex and Don for your replies. Don, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information. It's so much more fun and interesting to know a bit about the places we visit. Unfortunately whenever we head west we usually have a destination in mind and rarely get off I-70. Next time we'll have to plan ahead and leave some time to take a few side trips!
    We may be heading to Kanapolis next Sunday to join my parents who are spending Memorial day there. Hopefully we'll have a little time to do some exploring during our short visit.
    I will definately print this out and save it for a reference.
    Thanks again.
     
  20. Travis Walker

    Travis Walker Member

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    Howdy there. I've been in McPherson for about two years now and I haven't gotten myself over to Maxwell. I've heard it's a pretty neat place to visit from people around here. I really should drive on over there sometime. What do you like to photograph at Maxwell?
     
  21. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Nancy,
    Instead of I-70, drop several miles south and follow K-4 or US 96.
    Alex
     
  22. Nancy

    Nancy Member

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    Alex, we've gone west on 96 to Colorado and yes it is a nice drive.

    Travis, you definately need to head up to Maxwell for a visit. They have a couple of yearly events that are worth taking in. One coming up soon is their "Prairie Days" which is held the first weekend in June. When we visited they had demonstrations of powder gun shooting, tanning hides, etc. I've attached a photo I took of one of the reenactors. We've taken a tour out into the buffalo herd. At this time of year they have several calves in the herd. Also I've found lots of wildflowers and they have a nice small lake for camping and fishing.
    They have another "Mountain Man Festival in October, and then in November they have a round-up and sale of some of the buffalo. I haven't been to that but I think it would be fun to photograph.
    You can find more information at http://www.cyberkraft.com/maxwell/
     

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  23. rlingg

    rlingg Member

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    lol

    As a Sedgwick County refugee and WSU grad, I agree.

    Of course, one still must pass through on the way to Colorado or to visit family and friends. I suggest going native and wearing a sweat-stained to off-white t-shirt one size too small and a stinky John Deere hat.

    Worked for my father his whole life. :smile:
     
  24. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Unless your commited to snoose streaks on the side of the car from spitting out the window at 70mph, your still going to be spotted a mile off.