Sunday, May 1, 2022

Kansas - Just What We Thought, and Completely Different

 April 28 - May 1, 2022
Scott City, Kansas 

Knowing we'll be traveling through the flat of the country doesn't mean we don't comment on how flat and treeless it is all the way into Kansas. A new state for us! 

Leaving Lamar, Colorado, we end up on a road called a highway, but lacks basics like a center line. Eventually we find our way to a wider road that takes us to Scott City, Kansas. None of these roads have pull-overs, passing lanes, or turn-outs, with ditches on both sides. Make it very clear to your RV/truck when you head out that this is not the route to have any issues!

Just 13 miles north on Highway (a real one) 83 we turn off to Scott Lake State Park. After miles and miles of flat, this is a lovely surprise. Site 2 in Circle Drive Campground is in the trees (satellite connects but the winds limit watchability), level dirt with 50 amp and water, very nice picnic table and large space. Glad to see no fire rings and fires-prohibited signage as high winds are expected for the weekend.

Knowing we would be traveling into Kansas I was excited when I read Debbie's post about this area, and reserved a few days to see the unique places they discovered here.

Passing oncoming trucks is very exciting.

About the time we find green, we also find bugs.
After a late lunch we take a drive around the little lake.

Tessa is convinced that grass in our yard no longer exists.

Lovely to have a site near the water and no wind so we can enjoy being outside for a few hours.

Top of the list to see is Monument Rocks. Although this was the first place in Kansas added as a National Natural Landmark, the chalk formations on are private property. The cattle ranch allows public access, and when visiting it is especially important to respect their generosity so that access continues.

Pulling out of the state park we notice a bison herd relaxing along the fence line. A white herd! Very sacred in most Native American spirituality, these are powerful animals. It's a blessing to have this opportunity.

The white bull is magnificent.

The herd includes a few brown bison. Also beautiful.

A white calf is very good medicine.

From a distance on our way to the monument I think I'm seeing more silos, but Bill notes it's the monument! And then they're there - the road goes right through them. It's very cool being able to walk all around with just the distant lowing of cattle and twittering swallows overhead.

Tessa again questioning our destination choices.

Swallow condos

Thanks to Bill for having me back up to capture this shot.

Throughout the area are more interesting formations, both the white chalk and some golden cliffs. So unexpected here. 

From the monument we head to nearby Little Jerusalem Badlands, the second smallest state park we've visited. 250 acres of niobrara chalk canyons. The lack of an open restroom shortens our visit, but from one of the two available trails we're able to appreciate the uniqueness of this natural beauty found below the plains. 

Even though I've seen pics of the cool monuments, Kansas is still very different from my expectations. Especially after eastern Colorado. Before crossing into Kansas we saw a lot of trashy yards, homes in need of repair, unmaintained small towns. Here everything is neat, clean, well-maintained. Even abandoned homes and businesses aren't broken or surrounded by weeds. 

The wide open plains support a diversity of life styles, cattle ranching, agriculture, oil production, etc. The state parks protect the surprising natural beauty. It's an interesting combination that grows on me during our short visit. 

So many trucks travel two-lane Hwy 83 - visible across 6 miles of fields.

Neither side is crops, but are so different!

Back home our quiet lunch turns into a cacophony of hail, thunder, lightening, and hard rain. The size of pellets, the hail sounds like it's coming through the roof and windows. Although still 75 degrees, the hail remains on the ground for over an hour. 

A river runs through it.....

A couple hours later, and 300 miles to the east, the same storm drops tornadoes, destroying property. Traveling in the spring is not for the timid!

We enjoy a calm and dry night, but wake to the return of high winds. Another thunder storm is forecast for our Monday travels so we again plan an early exit. About mid-day friends start checking on us, and I realize maybe we should be more concerned about weather than we are!!

The only other thing on my list is the nearby Punished Woman Battle Fork historic site. The wind nearly knocks us off our feet while we check out the location of the last Indian battle in Kansas. 

The cable around the monument comes in handy for holding on to in the high wind!!

September 9, 1878, over 300 Northern Cheyenne warriors, women and children left their camp (escaped their captivity) in Reno, Oklahoma. Scouts discovered them crossing the plains in Kansas, and Lt Lewis was dispatched to return them. On September 27, the fleeing tribe and the military came together in this small canyon. No information is provided on wounded or killed natives, but Lewis was shot in the leg and died on his way to the nearest fort. Under the cover of darkness the tribe escaped to Nebraska.

Signage is positioned perfectly for seeing historic locations in the canyon.

Sunday morning we continue northeast to another new state, Nebraska!


  1. Thanks for the visit to Monument Rocks! It along with Castle Rock were on our trip plans a few years ago, but rain and wet dirt roads didn't let it happen.
    We did find several Wizard of Oz exhibits that were fun to visit :) Our highlight of Kansas.

    1. They were definitely worth the visit! I'd love to see the Wizard stops - next time :-)

  2. I have a very good friend that lives in Kansas so have visited the state often but those tornadoes leave me not wanting to stay long! Those chalk cliffs rising up are amazing! Safe travels!

    1. Agreed tornadoes are a huge turn off! The cliffs are such a fun surprise, and the little slice of Kansas we saw was lovely.

  3. It’s Gay…we haven’t visited Kansas. I’m loving the monuments…just sitting there out in the middle of nowhere land. Bill has a good eye and reverse is often the best way forward when we are on adventures!

  4. Aren't they amazing?? Blogs take us to some pretty cool places for sure. It's usually the critters he has me back up for :-)

  5. I'm glad you liked what you saw of Kansas....I thought we were crazy for finding it a charming state. Not a WOW state, but it catches you in a subtle but interesting way. Well....except for those tornadoes. We'll probably never cross that state again but the times we did, we enjoyed ourselves.

    1. I think charming is the right word. I'm still struck by how clean everything was. Maybe the wind just blows out all the dirt and trash :-))

  6. The chalk formations were totally unexpected in Kansas. The only time I was there mid 70s I thought the wind would push me out of the state. Cool finds as always.

    1. I thought I'd been in high winds until this spring proved me wrong!

  7. Laurel ( 3, 2022 at 2:36 PM

    Well, you make Kansas sound appealing! And your photos of the chalk formations are beautiful. The combination of flat countryside and winds (and hail!!) do not sound appealing, though—so maybe we'll try for fall if we ever travel through? So interesting how differently you describe Kansas in comparison to eastern Colorado. Safe travels as you continue on!

    1. I'd visit Kansas again but I agree Fall is the better option! The contrast between the two areas was really interesting.

  8. It is interesting how we all found Kansas a great state to visit. Who knew there was so much to see, and we didn't even get to the salt mines! We did love finding these Badland areas. Boy, I hope you eventually get away from this weather. I can't believe how many terrible storms have moved across the country. Thanks for sharing the Punished Woman Battle Fork. We did miss this. Stay safe as you move east.

    1. It is fun that we all liked it! After so much dry we've actually enjoyed the rain and snow. The wind and hail can definitely stay away though!

  9. One year I'm going to plan our route to COS going through that area. You and Debbie have convinced us that area warrants a stop.

    1. I'd definitely come through later in the year, then I'd like to spend more time in the state - it's surprising!!

  10. HA! “Lacks basics like a center line” and your other descriptors. Welcome to all of rural Virginia and specifically the road that leads to the farm lane. Love your bugs pictures, too funny.
    WHITE buffalo – how fantastic!! I thought they were very very rare. I wonder if those folks breed them?
    What interesting monuments. And chalk. I didn’t know there was anything like this in Kansas. It looks like nuclear silos there in a straight line through that window. Really amazing formations and in KANSAS. Who would think? No me? Thanks!
    I had no idea eastern Colorado was so dumpy. Maybe I knew and forgot. It’s been some years since we drove through either place. So glad you were not in tornado alley for that storm.
    What an interesting name, Punished Woman. The stories of the Indian Wars are so sad and so awful. I’m ashamed of my country’s attempt at Genocide.

  11. I've only ever seen one other white one so seeing three in a herd was a big surprise. A lovely one certainly. They were on a ranch and may have a breeding program. The silos are oil storage for the handful of derricks in the area. The dumpiness wasn't so noticeable until compared with the extreme difference in Kansas. Nebraska has also been much cleaner. The difference in descriptive words used for the battle between the memorial plaque and websites was interestinng- how history is perceived is definitely at the mercy of its historians.