An Afternoon on Grass

We love to go to out-of-the-way places, and the Flint Hills Wildlife Drive provided us just that. Spent a glorious Sunday afternoon in the middle of nowhere and had a marvelous time.


An Afternoon on Grass

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 26, 2001

The vistas on this drive are worth all the time you might invest in getting to this out-of-the-way spot. Though the tour is labeled as a wildlife drive we didn't see a whole lot of wildlife, but we did see several birds that we had not seen before.${QuickSuggestions} The roads for most of this drive are rock, not gravel. Take your time and you'll be fine, even in a car. Also, there are no road signs once you get past the first few miles of the drive, so follow the instructions you find in this journal carefully. The instructions begin in the entry "Best Way to Get Around" and continue throughout the journal.${BestWay} The town of Cassoday, KS is located along Hwy K-177 and is the starting point for this tour. K-177 curves southwest at the south end of Cassoday and is the first point of directional references. Instead of taking the southwest curve of K-177 follow the dirt road that branches off of it heading directly south. This road will take you past the old high school and a water tower. The first turn east is 140th Road, take this turn and follow the road as it curves briefly to the south and then turns back east. Where the road turns east there is a sign designating it as 135th Road. Continue east for seven miles. See the journal "Flatland Beginning" for a continuation of the driving directions.

A Blotch on the Landscape

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 27, 2001

You've now come 4.5 miles north from Lapland and have reached a stop sign. Don't turn, just continue north another 4.5 miles. Along this stretch the road becomes very rocky, but it is well-maintained. Though the vistas are still spectacular, the landscape along this stretch is marred by oil wells and storage tanks. However, it's my best guess that these roads are well-maintained due to the existence of these structures. We continued to see birds along our way and also continued to encounter cows. There are few fences here and the cattle have the run of the place. Across the roads occasionally you'll come across a metal cattle guard. If you don't want to rattle your vehicle apart, take it slow over the cattle guards.

Make sure you pay attention to your mileage from the last stop sign, going only 4.5 miles. You'll come to a fork in the road at the top of a very high hill and your inclination will be to go to the right -- but don't do that!!! Go to the left (the west). The next stretch of road will take you past some of the most beautiful vistas of open grassland in the country. See "Beautiful Vistas" for continuing driving instructions.

Cassoday Sights & Attractions
Cassoday
Cassoday, Kansas

Beautiful Vistas

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 27, 2001

After you make the turn at the top of the hill stop and take a look around. As the song says, "On a clear day you can see forever." You find yourself alone at the top of the world looking out on what the land must have looked like to native Americans or the first European pioneers to cross the prairie. Ah, the Grand Canyon may be grand, but this is breath-taking, something you don't see every day. Enjoy, as this may be the only time there is so much space between you and any other human being on the planet. The greens of the grassland are vibrant and leave you with the impression that it IS "easy being green," in fact, green is the only thing to be. Alas, there comes a point in time when you realize that you must move on as the sun may set on you in this isolated spot if you linger any longer.

It is 5.5 miles west to the next intersection, at which point you turn north again and travel another 2.6 miles. Turn west (left) at this intersection and proceed for 1/2 mile to Sharpes Creek Road.

See the entry "Sharpes Creek Road" for continuing directions.

Cassoday Sights & Attractions
Cassoday
Cassoday, Kansas

Sharpes Creek Road

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 27, 2001

When you reach Sharpes Creek Road, turn north. The directions I had for this wildlife drive had the end point in the town of Bazaar, 11 miles from where you turn onto Sharpes Creek Road. However, I never did find the town of Bazaar. Our tour ended at Cottonwood Falls just off of Highway K-177.

Sharpes Creek Road brought it's own beauty, though not the vistas we had just viewed. The road winds around through a few wooded glens and passes over the Kansas Turnpike. It was such a drastic contrast in mindset sitting on the rustic overpass above the turnpike. Here we were feeling miles away from civilization and yet civilization sped just below us. As we drove off this overpass we found a snake basking on the roadway in the late afternoon sun. Just past this was a small wooded area. Always on the lookout for movement in the surrounding area, I motioned my husband to stop the car. There were two deer calmly grazing off to our left. They allowed us to watch them for a good ten minutes before they moved on. This was all within 1/4 mile of the Kansas Turnpike, but it seemed eons removed from that world.

Proceeding on down Sharpes Creek Road my husband spotted a turtle by the side of the road. We felt it was in danger of meeting an untimely death, so we stopped and picked it up. As we drove to a nearby pond I held this saucer-sized turtle in my hands. This was no timid turtle. It was none too happy to be captured and struggled in my hand to free itself. I was surprised at the power in it's small legs. What a good feeling to let the little guy go and watch him swim away.

Soon we were at Cottonwood Falls and at the end of our wonderful afternoon on the largest remaining tract of prairie grassland left on this planet. We were glad we'd traveled that road seldom taken by others.

Sharpes Creek Road
Sharpes Creek Road
Cassoday, Kansas

Three Crosses, A Reservoir & the Beauty Begins

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 26, 2001

As you proceed along the first seven-mile eastward stretch, the landscape begins to subtly change. The flatland begins to undulate into softly rolling hills. We were captivated by the beauty of the place. We remained alert to the presence of wildlife, but we were not fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the coyote reported to be in the area. There were plenty of cows scattered across the open rangeland though. Even though cows are quite common I always enjoy seeing them. As this is open rangeland, don't be surprised to find cows in the middle of your roadway. They never seem very anxious to get out of your way either. I suppose that is because it is their home and you are, after all, the intruder on their space.

To confirm you are on the right path, you will pass three wooden crosses set upon a hill just prior to coming to the reservoir that serves as a landmark. Take a moment to park your car here and step out to look around you. If you spend most of your life in the city you will certainly appreciate the peaceful beauty of the place.

Continue to proceed east past the reservoir and shortly the road will turn to the south. For further driving instructions see the entry "An Important Turn."

Three Crosses, A Reservoir & Panorama
Cassoday
Cassoday, Kansas

Flatland Beginning

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 26, 2001

The first part of the 7 mile stretch along 135th Rd is not very impressive. On both sides of the road are pasture lands with herds of cows in the distance. The terrain is flat. However, this is where we saw a few birds that we had not seen before. One of these was the beautiful scissor-tailed flycatcher. A number of these birds leap-frogged along the barbed wire fence as we drove past, exposing their subtle salmon colored underbellies. We also observed a number of upland sandpipers. These birds were almost shot into extinction by early pioneers, but are now given complete protection and are making a come-back.

This area is supposed to be teaming with prairie chickens, but as near as I can tell we never saw one of them. Other birds that are reportedly in the area are red-tailed hawks (we saw one), common nighthawks, eastern meadowlarks, loggerhead shrikes and grasshopper sparrows.

When you come to the end of this seven mile stretch of east-bound road you should arrive at a small reservoir on your left-hand side. For further dirving instructions see the entry "And the Hills Begin."

Flatland Beginning
135th Road
Cassoday, Kansas

An Important Turn

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on June 27, 2001

Just past the reservoir the road turns to the south and intersects with an east-bound road. Take the eastbound road. If you continue on south you will go past several ranch houses and then come to a dead end. This is not part of the wildlife drive and merely causes you to back-track. I know this because I didn't turn to the east at this intersection but continued south -- pretty country but takes you nowhere.

The road to the east takes you up a high hill, and then another hill, and then another. Take your time through this part of the drive, stop the car, get out and listen to the stillness. Unfortunately the lands on either side of the roads throughout the entire drive are privately owned and so you must confine yourself to the road, but maybe you'd like to spread out a blanket on the trunk of your car and just sit for a while enjoying the open spaces and sounds of nature. It's not like you'll be blocking traffic because most likely you will be the only car on the road.

This stretch of road is 7.6 miles long and has some marvelous vistas. At the end of this stretch you'll come to the "town" of Lapland, actually just a couple of houses at a stop sign. Turn left at the stop sign. You'll be heading north at this point and will go 4.5 miles before coming to another stop sign. Keep heading north after the stop sign. See "A Blotch on the Landscape" for continuing directions.

Cassoday Sights & Attractions
Cassoday
Cassoday, Kansas

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j6463-Cassoday-An_Afternoon_on_Grass.html

©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009