Destination Kansas: Playing and exploring in the high plains

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The high plains of Kansas have a lot to offer tourists. This region makes up the western third of the state.

In the town of Liberal, follow the yellow brick road to meet Dorothy. While “The Wizard of Oz” never specified where Dorothy Gale started her trip to Oz, Liberal claims it. Visit Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz, 567 E. Cedar St., and skip down the yellow brick road.

A few blocks from Dorothy’s house, take flight at the Mid-America Air Museum, 2000 W. Second St., Liberal. More than a third of all B-24 command pilots in World War II were trained at the former Liberal Army Airfield. You’ll find more than 100 aircraft. The oldest is from 1932.

“There is nothing more fun than putting a kid in an airplane who’s never even seen one up close,” Bob Immell, the museum director, said.

Any trip west would not be complete without a visit to the Wild West. One of the best places for that is Boot Hill Museum, 500 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd., Dodge City. The newly renovated museum will take you back to the 1800s. A visit to the museum includes getting to watch the gunfight shows at noon and 6:30 p.m.

In Garden City, take a dip with the family at Garden Rapids at the Big Pool, 504 E. Maple St. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Admission is $3.

Next door to the pool, take the kids to the Lee Richardson Zoo, 312 E. Finnup Dr., Garden City. The zoo is free for visitors to walk through. Hang out with a snow leopard, rhino, giraffe, and many other animals. Visitors can drive through the zoo if they pay $10.

To celebrate the nature of the high plains, stop by Historic Lake Scott State Park, near Scott City. It is fed by natural springs and surrounded by a wooded canyon with rocky bluffs.

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park (Courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism)

About 10 miles north of the lake, there’s Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park featuring scenic views and fossil formations.

Another short drive, about 15 miles to the east of Little Jerusalem, gets you to Monument Rocks, sometimes called the Chalk Pyramids. The area is privately owned, but you can visit during the day as long as you are careful to preserve the formations. It was the first natural landmark the Department of the Interior chose to be a National Natural Landmark. The area has also been designated as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas.

From nature to family fun to wildlife and Kansas history, a trip to the high plains of Kansas has something for everyone.

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