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Kansas is located in the American Midwest, and its national historic sites and trails are famous tourist destinations. From the Missouri River to the Smoky Hills to the Great Plains, the state offers a diverse historical, cultural, and natural landscape, making it a great weekend vacation option.
It has many attractive and scenic locations, such as National Historic Sites, National Preserves, National Historic Trails, and Kansas State Parks. That is the perfect solution for an experienced hiker searching or simply bored and looking for something to do. Most parks are free, making them ideal day outings for budget-conscious families.
Check out our list to find a place that meets your needs and expectations.
1. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Topeka, KS
Brown v. Board of Education is a landmark case. The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was founded in 1992 in Topeka, Shawnee County. One of four schools that segregated African-American students, the former Monroe Elementary School is now part of this historic site.
Its name derives from the 1954 case Oliver Brown et al. vs. The Board of Education of Topeka et al. The Supreme Court found that racial segregation in schools violated the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” provisions.
Brown v. Board of Education case changed the U.S. educational and racial history. According to the Supreme Court’s decision, “different educational facilities are fundamentally unequal.” Legal segregation in public schools was abolished as a result of this case.
Teachers, bureaucrats, engineers, clergy members, and students demanded equal treatment. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site does not charge an admission fee.
Various displays, informative videos on court cases, traditional screenplays, and interactive activities are available to visitors at this historic site. This location will undoubtedly become one of your most memorable vacation spots.
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is one of the great national parks to visit if you want to feel like you’ve returned in time. Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.
2. Fort Larned National Historic Site, Larned, KS
Fort Larned was built near the Sante Fe Trail along the Pawnee River. In 1964, the Fort was designated as a national historic site, and in 1966, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Fort Larned National Historic Site is 410 acres in Western Kansas, 110 miles northwest of Wichita, and includes nine reconstructed 19th-century buildings and a U.S. Army Fort.
A commissary, a hospital, a quartermaster’s storeroom, stables, and commanders’ quarters are among the seven offered for visitors. The shops, warehouses, officer’s row, and blockhouse made up the rest of this national monument.
Fort Larned National Historic Site has a well-preserved fort and high-quality Sandstone buildings where the Santa Fe Trail Guardians were housed, which functioned from the mid-1800s through the late-1800s.
Traveling through the Great Plains was dangerous for explorers, traders, and mail coaches during confrontations with Plains Indians. The U.S. Army constructed a chain of forts along vital transportation corridors to guard and protect the traffic. The Fort is one of the best-preserved forts from the Indian Wars period.
The Fort Larned National Historic Site is one of the famous national parks that will satisfy your curiosity about this historical period. Explore this historic Fort and hike the Hiking Trails to get a sense of life in ancient times.
Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about Fort Larned National Historic Site.
3. Fort Scott National Historic Site, Bourbon County, KS
Fort Scott National Historic Site is 125 miles east of Wichita, Kansas. The U.S. National Park Service controls this national historic site as well. It’s named for General Winfield Scott and is found in Bourbon County. The 17-acre park features a restored tallgrass prairie and a landmark military station and is open all year.
Fort Scott National Historic Site was founded in 1842 when many Native American tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands. The objective of the Fort was to keep Native Americans and new immigrants apart. Fort Scott’s troops shaped U.S. history.
In 1850, this National Park functioned as a military base for the United States Army, and it was crucial throughout the Battle of Kansas and the American Civil War. Visiting this historical place can help you learn more about American history.
There are 20 significant structures on the site, including officers’ barracks, dragon stables, infantry barracks, a parade field, and a 5-acre grass prairie. There is a variety of wildlife to see, including white-tailed deer, turtles, snakes, and many bird species.
Fort Scott soldiers escorted travelers west on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and other nearby trails. During its existence, the fort was never attacked. Fort Scott was abandoned in 1853 by the U.S. Army. The Fort was used as a military base during the Civil War, with the Union Army occupying various structures starting in 1861. Soldiers were assigned to guard railroad workers installing tracks in the area after the Fort was abandoned in 1865.
The original buildings include officer’s barracks, quartermaster’s storeroom, bakehouse, and carriage sheds. Three different architectural styles are also used at the Fort and the parade ground.
Fort Scott National Historic Site is an exciting historical and natural attraction you and your companions will enjoy. Visitors can view the site and learn about the history of the Great Plains. Every year, over 22,000 tourists visit this location.
To learn more about Fort Scott National Historic Site, visit the National Park Service’s website.
4. Nicodemus National Historic Site, Nicodemus, KS
The Nicodemus National Historic Site, located 110 miles northwest of Salina, Kansas, is one of the national historical sites that made Kansas’s national parks list. It was founded in 1996 as a focal point for people’s hopes and goals for a better life, and it now preserves 161 acres of land on this historic site.
After the American Civil War, African Americans created the town of Nicodemus in northwest Kansas in 1877. Nicodemus was named after a formerly enslaved person. Nicodemus is the oldest and only African-American town west of the Mississippi River, founded by African Americans during Reconstruction. The town represented African Americans’ pioneer spirit, as they sought personal freedom and opportunity rather than being stuck in their familiar surroundings.
The Nicodemus National Historic Site includes the Nicodemus Schoolhouse, African Methodist Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church, St. Francis Hotel, and the 1939 township hall. The township hall is the only facility available to the public and the home of the visitor center. However, do not be concerned! The visitor centers will provide more information on the other structures.
This is the place to go if you want to learn more about American history. Take a Nicodemus National Historic Site tour and learn about the history of African-American liberation.
Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about Nicodemus National Historic Site.
5. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Strong City, KS
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is situated in Kansas. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was established by Congress in 1996 as a public-private collaboration. The preserve is 11,000 acres and is available all year, and bus trips, hiking trails, wildlife watching, and explanatory tours are all available.
The U.S. National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy are co-managing the site. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was established to protect the remaining vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem and the herding culture in Kansas.
The prairie covers around 4% of North America’s 400,000 miles of prairie ecology, mainly in the Kansas Flint Hills. Since 2009, this national preserve has been home to the bison herd.
Over 40 miles of hiking trails are available. Keep a lookout for bobcats, badgers, coyotes, and white-tailed deer. Tallgrass Prairie is the term given to this area because some grasses can grow up to 8 feet tall.
Visitors can see the bison herd and tour private farms within this national preserve. Visitors can go on hikes and visit a cultural ranch.
Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
6. California National Historic Trail, Northern Nevada
The 5,000-mile California National Historic Trail passes through ten states. It’s a mid-nineteenth-century route for westward migration. In the 1830s and 1850s, approximately 250,000 people traveled overland to reach California’s bountiful farmlands and mythical goldfields.
Emigrants have several options for getting to the country. On the California Trail, there isn’t just one hiking trail. Many hiking paths, highways, and tourist sites in the United States follow the footprints of pioneers rushing to California. These roads began in Missouri and Nebraska. After traveling through Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, it splits into Idaho and Utah. They travel via Nevada and California, with Oregon currently open to visitors. This method will also benefit today’s gold miners and explorers.
The California National Historic Trail offers a variety of activities, including auto tours, hiking, horseback riding, museums, and camping. Guests will also hear fascinating facts and stories of the emigrants, missionaries, and fortune seekers who traveled these routes.
Visit the National Park Service’s website for more information about the California National Historic Trail.
7. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail was established in 1978. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is roughly 8,000 miles long and follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition across sixteen states. The trail has almost 100 stops. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Lewis and Clark expedition, which began in May 1804 and lasted until September 1806.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail honors the Oregon Trail and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which attempted to document and explore the United States’ historical, natural, and cultural riches from 1803 to 1806.
In May 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition established a practicable route across western North America, and they were supposed to claim these regions to stop European expansion. The mission was successful; Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean after crossing Louisiana. They established the base for future connections with American Indian tribes.
Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.
8. Oregon National Historic Trail
The Oregon National Historic Trail is also known as the Oregon Trail. The Oregon National Historic Trail is primarily an interstate highway. It has a 2,170-mile route across seven states: Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri.
Around 400,000 people packed their things into covered wagons and embarked on the Oregon Trail. Other national park sites include Scotts Bluff, Fort Laramie, original trail segments, Hollenberg Pony Express Station, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Auto tours, hiking, sightseeing, and wildlife watching are available on the Oregon National Historic Trail.
Go to the National Park Service’s website to learn more about the Oregon National Historic Trail.
9. Pony Express National Historic Trail
The Pony Express National Historic Trail was used for long-distance communication in the 19th century. The Pony Express relay of horse-mounted riders across this trail for 1 ten days or more, transporting mail from Missouri to California via Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.
Riders could travel between 186 Pony Express stations, 5 and 25 miles apart. The rider would change horses at each station and continue their route.
Before the telegraph, this Pony Express trail passed across eight states and was the only way to communicate east-west. On August 3, 1992, the Pony Express National Historic Trail was designated a National Historic Trail.
Make sure to stop by the passport stamp stations to learn more about the history of this mail transportation system.
Go to the National Park Service website to learn more about the Pony Express National Historic Trail.
10. Santa Fe National Historic Trail
The 900-mile Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This Santa Fe trail runs across Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico and has become a popular walking destination.
The Mountain Route, which travels further west into Colorado before continuing south, and the Cimarron Cutoff, which travels into Oklahoma and crosses the Cimarron Desert, split up in Kansas. The trial was established in 1822 to facilitate trade between the US and Mexico.
Most tourists use different routes because it’s difficult to pinpoint their exact paths. The Colorado route offers spectacular views of agriculture, mountains, rivers, and lowland meadows. Bent’s Old Fort, bathing holes, and bird-watching spots are among the trail’s other attractions.
To learn more about the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, visit the National Park Service’s website.
In the End
Hopefully, you now know the 10 Most Popular historic sites & trails. Take advantage of your time off!
So that’s everything we need to keep you informed. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.