Wetlands and Wildlife
National Scenic Byway
The Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway is the gateway to a panoramic display of birds and wildlife. It curves around Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge for 77 miles.
These wetlands are comprised of acres of radiant water that are the temporary home for clouds of birds as they make their annual migrations. Opportunities abound for bird and wildlife watching, hiking and many other nature activities.
The words of a local naturalist sum it nicely, "There are 650 bird species in the United States, 417 in Kansas and 320 in Cheyenne Bottoms�"
Cheyenne Bottoms is a natural lowland encompassing some 41,000 acres. The core wetland areas is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks as the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. It covers 19,857 acres of which 12,000 acres generally are covered with shallow fresh water. It is considered the largest marsh in the interior of the United States and the most important migration point for shorebirds in North America. Each year, Cheyenne Bottoms attracts 45% to 90% of North America�s shorebirds during migration. Visitors can drive along the dikes for some magnificent bird watching. Besides birds, the Bottoms is also home to 23 species of mammals, 19 species of reptiles and 9 species of amphibians. The new Kansas Wetlands Education Center tells the story of the Kansas Wetlands complex and offers visitors additional opportunities to experience wildlife viewing. It is located at the south edge of Cheyenne Bottoms.
Northwest of the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is the Nature Conservancy Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, covering over 7,300 acres. Be sure to stop at the information kiosk two miles east of Hoisington on K-4, where you can learn more about the importance of the Cheyenne Bottoms lowlands.
Less than 20 miles away from Cheyenne Bottoms (as the bird flies), is the other jewel of the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
Quivira is 22,135 acres of prairie grass, saltwater marshes, sand dunes, canals, dikes and timber. During spring migration Quivira is a staging area for over 500,000 birds. It is also an important stopover point in both spring and fall for sandhill cranes and the endangered whooping cranes.
Hiking trails include the wheelchair-accessible Migrant�s Mile Nature Trail and the easy and scenic Birdhouse Boulevard. Quivira also has a lovely Visitor�s Center with interpretive displays.
Both Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Byway communities also provide opportunities to enjoy Kansas natural offerings. Great Bend is home to the Central Kansas Raptor Rehab Education Facility. In addition, the Hoisington High School Environmental Science class is developing a songbird habitat scheduled for completion in fall 2005.
Byway visitors can also explore the Underground Tunnels in Ellinwood or stop in Claflin where the 100-year old furniture store has literally taken over the entire town with "old fashioned" storefronts throughout.
This byway was designated a National Scenic Byway on September 22, 2005.
For more information, contact the Kansas Scenic Byways Program, 1-800-684-6966,
Download the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway brochure by clicking here.
A detailed website has been created for this byway. Visit it here.
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