If you're like me, you're always thinking about travelling and future vacations. I realize that many people drive *through* Kansas each year and get very little pleasure out of doing so, so I decided to propose a wonderful stop to make along I-70 in Northeast Kansas: the Konza Prairie.
The Konza is a research area carved out of the gorgeous Flint Hills. It is owned by the Nature Conservancy and used by Kansas State University to learn about prairies. Most of the Konza is off-limits to the public, but part of the area has hiking trails available to regular folks like you and me, and that's where all of these photographs come from.
The Konza is beautiful in all seasons. If you come during the summer, I encourage you to try to get out early in the morning or in the evening, because Kansas summers can be hot and muggy. If you can make it in the early summer, you have a chance to see colorful wildflowers.
Another advantage to visiting in the early morning is the chance to see wildlife. It is common to see white-tailed deer and wild turkey here, as well as many other types of birds.
One particularly interesting part of the Konza - to me, anyway - is that the prairie is periodically burned. Researchers burn different parts of the prairie at different rates. Some sections are burned each year, some less often. I've never read any of their findings, but I love to do a bit of observation on my own. It's fascinating how quickly the prairie reseeds itself and comes back to life. The rebirth process is gorgeous, and I love the smell of the freshly burned prairie.
To visit the Konza Prairie, take exit 307 off of I-70 [it's the exit in between the two main Manhattan/K-State exits] to McDowell Creek Road. Then travel four miles south until you see the sign that says Konza on the right side of the road. A short trip down a gravel road will take you to the hiking trails parking lot.
Kansas may not be most folks' idea of a vacation destination, but if you're driving through anyway, consider a stop at the Konza. It's grassland at its finest.