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Byway Communities – Kansas Wetlands Education Center

Byway Communities


Hoisington Post OfficeStop at the Hoisington Chamber Office (tel. 620/653-4311; Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) on Main Street for a copy of the pole art scavenger hunt brochure, a Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway driving tour guide, map of the Cheyenne Bottoms basin, or any other information about Hoisington. The Pole Art Walking Tour on Main Street depicts the birdlife and nature of Cheyenne Bottoms. The metal art banners of local artists Bruce and Brent Bitter can also be seen here at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. Stay at Hoisington’s Rodeway Inn & Suites and relax in the Duck Blind Lounge.  Be sure to plan a trip to attend Hoisington’s Labor Day festivities, which has been held since 1896.


Claflin storefronts on Main StreetRemember the good old days when a haircut at Casey’s Barber Shop cost a nickel? On Main Street, historic downtown storefronts were recreated by Miller’s of Claflin. Inside, the buildings showcase one of the largest furniture stores in Kansas.  Learn more about the local history by visiting the Claflin Historical Society Museum (111 E. Hamilton St.). Claflin is located on Highway 4, east of Hoisington. North of Claflin are seven historic limestone bridges constructed by the Works Project Administration. To see what’s happening in town, visit the message barrel on Main Street.

Great Bend

Fisherman at Stone LakeWhere the river bends is the county seat of Barton County, Great Bend. Attractions include a zoo, waterpark, museums, and historic sites.  Hike or bike public trails located along the Arkansas River or cast a line into Stone Lake. For Byway travelers planning to stay in the area, Great Bend has a variety of lodging and dining options to choose from. For more information go to visitgreatbend.com or contact the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 620/792-2750 or toll free 877/427-9299; cvb@visitgreatbend.com); the office, located at 3111 10th Street, is open 9 a.m.-12 p.m and 1-5 p.m.


Historic Starr-Wolf BuildingIf you’ve spent time in western Kansas, you know the forecast usually calls for wind. Underground tunnels were built along Main St. to shelter people going about daily business and shopping. Call 620/564-2400 to schedule a tour of Ellinwood’s tunnels. The rich history of Ellinwood can also be seen aboveground in historic buildings and antique stores. Spend a night at the Historic Wolf Hotel.  Agriculture is the main business in rural Kansas; celebrate the After Harvest Festival the 3rd weekend of July. Enjoy the tastes of Kansas with steaks or brats from the Ellinwood Packing Plant.


Wheat harvestSpacious skies and amber waves of grain describe the beauty that many Kansans are proud to call home. In the small town of Hudson (pop. 125) you’ll find the one of the last independent flour mills in the U.S. For over 100 years Stafford County Flour Mills Company has been producing high quality flour branded Hudson Cream Flour. You’ll feel right at home at the Wheatland Cafe, which serves a Sunday buffet (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, veggies, fresh-baked bread, and homemade ice cream for dessert.


Bird watchers at Quivira NWFStafford is known as the Gateway to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Early settlers called the place Sod Town and their simple dwellings were replaced by beautiful homes and buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Stafford First United Methodist Church (218 W. Stafford St.) with architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Check out 29,000 glass photographic negatives at the Stafford County Historical Museum documenting life in Stafford County from 1880 to 1920.  Try the homemade pie at The Gathering Place (105 N. Main St.; open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed-Thur; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri-Sat).

St. John

Country RoadThe Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway route begins or ends a few miles north of St. John at the intersection of US 281 and NE 70th St.  Look for tall cottonwoods (the state tree of Kansas), cattle, sandhills, and wildflowers between St. John and Quivira. The first structure built in St. John was a small Mormon church, known as the “Church on the Hill.” Other attractions include the African-American Martin Cemetery. Looking for a bite to eat? Try the Pueblo Nuevo for authentic Mexican food or a Kansas T-bone steak (806 E. 1st Ave.; Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.).