Most Kansans already know that the Flint Hills south of Council Grove and the wildlife areas southeast of Great Bend provide some of the prettiest scenery anywhere.
But the designation of highways in those areas as National Scenic Byways may increase the state's opportunity to share these beautiful views with visitors outside the state.
The two stretches of highway added to the National Scenic Byway Program are Kansas Highway 177 from Council Grove south to Cassoday and portions of Kansas Highways 4 and 156 that connect Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Great Bend. The Flint Hills Scenic Byway runs through the Kansas Flint Hills and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, where visitors can view one of the last remaining large areas of untouched prairie in the nation. The Wetland and Wildlife Scenic Byway shows off an important migration area for hundreds of thousands of birds.
The designation may attract additional tourists and federal grants from outside the state, but it's also a reminder to Kansans of some of the outstanding vistas their state has to offer. Kansans tend to think their state has little to offer to tourists, but the Scenic Byways designations are clear evidence to the contrary.