Kansas hit the big screen more than 80 years ago when Dorothy and her dog Toto, buoyed by high winds, fly away in the famous tale The Wizard of Oz, crying “we’re not in Kansas anymore!” Famous for massive windstorms that rip across the flat Great Plains, the same flat land serves as America’s breadbasket. Yet, the state is so much more than that. Kansas was settled more than 12,000 years ago by nomadic tribes, the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, Kiowa, and Comanche who came to hunt the vast herds of bison, naming it for “people of the south wind.” In the 1500s, explorer Coronado traveled through looking for gold, followed by French explorers in the 1700s, who took ownership for the French King, only ultimately to be sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Kansas’ path to statehood in 1861 was long and treacherous. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 brought about a violent competition between the North and South, both trying to send settlers to the area, to make it a free or slave state. Ultimately, settlers in the Kansas Territory were left to decide the issue of slavery. Today, Kansas is the Geodetic Center of North America—the point of reference by which all property lines and boundaries in North America are surveyed. Brilliant yellow fields of sunflowers punctuate miles and miles of wheat fields, and scenic drives crisscross the enormous western plains and gentle rolling hills, farmland, pastures, and forests in the northeast. Learn about frontier Kansas and Bleeding Kansas along historic routes that were once Native American trails. Hospitable Midwesterners welcome you at every turn and authenticity is on full display in western leaning towns that have not changed a lot in a hundred years. 

Kansas Scenic Byways