What is the Big Kansas Road Trip? It's an opportunity to explore the landscape and history, visit with locals, and support the economy within a rural area that most folks would probably just pass through otherwise. The 2019 version of this second annual event featured four days chock full of events and attractions in three […]

What is the Big Kansas Road Trip? It's an opportunity to explore the landscape and history, visit with locals, and support the economy within a rural area that most folks would probably just pass through otherwise.
The 2019 version of this second annual event featured four days chock full of events and attractions in three far northwest Kansas counties. A booklet, or online guide, provided a schedule for participants to choose from (see https://bigkansasroadtrip.com/)
Last weekend, the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) rolled through the counties of Cheyenne, Sherman, and Wallace.
Here is what one day of the BKRT looked like for us.
The trip from Pratt to St. Francis took about 4 hours. Before the sun set on our half day of BKRT, we: visited the Cheyenne County Museum, where we learned, among other things, that the voice of the Jolly Green Giant, Len Dressler, and astronaut Ron Evans both hail from St. Francis; trekked to the Cherry Creek Encampment, which has a fascinating history connected with the sad story of the Sand Creek Massacre in southeast Colorado; toured the Arikaree Breaks, which is a true Kansas wonderland; and, after dinner at a St. Francis restaurant, took dusk stroll at the Keller Pond and River Walk, which is a great area for birding that hugs the Republican River, just northwest of St. Francis (as skies darkened, we had a great visit there with a local couple, who talked about the birds they had seen and also filled us in on a nearby historic site, Beecher Island).
We didn't actually overnight one of the BKRT counties but rather stayed at the Bison Inn in McDonald, which is just east of Bird City (Cheyenne) in Rawlins County. This restored historic hotel, built in 1888, was a listing we found on Airbnb. It offered a quiet location in a small town which, like many western Kansas counties, has a declining population. Next door to the hotel we visited McDonald Grocery, which the clerk there claimed was the smallest grocery store in Kansas.
Our small world experience happened at the Arikaree Breaks. Out hiking down the dirt road there, we saw and visited with Kari Kyle, director of the Kiowa County Senior Center, and her children.
All in all, our day ended with us wishing we had just a little more time to explore the wonders of Cheyenne County.