Rolf Potts Chooses Five Kansas Highlights
Please join us in welcoming renowned travel author Rolf Potts to The Window Seat. He is the author of several travel memoirs, including his latest Marco Polo Didn’t Go There. His guest blog reveals his top five travel experiences in his home state of Kansas.
For the past ten years I’ve traveled across six continents writing for publications such as National Geographic Traveler, Slate, and the New York Times Magazine. I’ve piloted a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiked across Eastern Europe, traversed Israel on foot, bicycled across Burma, and driven a Land Rover from Sunnyvale, California to Ushuaia, Argentina. I’ve seen the world’s wonders, from Machu Picchu in Peru to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, to the Giza Pyramids. And whenever I’m ready for a peaceful break from my world wanderings, I come back home to my farmhouse in north-central Kansas.
This detail usually comes as a bit of a surprise to people. Why live in Kansas, they ask, when you can settle down in some far more exotic locale? My answer is that Kansas has always been home, and travel is an activity that gives you a keener taste for the place you know best. Even though I’ve been to over 60 countries, I find the prairie scenery beyond my front deck as fascinating as the view from Mexico’s Teotihuacan pyramids, or the distant Egyptian valleys of the Sinai.
Though the small wonders of Kansas are too numerous to itemize (and I encourage all travelers to wander the state without a strict itinerary), here are five of my favorite travel experiences in the Sunflower State:
1. Favorite Road Trip – K-177 and K-4 through the Flint Hills The Flint Hills are no secret anymore (they’ve been written up in some of the nation’s top travel sections), but they still make for a gorgeous road trip — and driving the smaller state highways are the best way to experience the region.
2. Favorite Museum – Sternberg Museum of Natural History The Sternberg is a national-class museum with a world-class collection of fossils — many of which were excavated in Kansas.
3. Favorite Hiking Trails – Cross Timbers State Park Hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife watching are prime activities in this landscape of forested flood plains, prairie terraces, and savannah hills.
4. Favorite Urban District – Old Town Wichita This renovated warehouse district hosts great entertainment and nightlife, and makes a great base to explore this historically and architecturally intriguing city.
5. Favorite Historical Site – Fort Larned National Historical Site This well-restored and maintained historical site offers a fascinating chance to experience 19th century military life on the Santa Fe Trail.
Rolf Potts is the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. His newest book is Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer.
From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.