The largest city in the state, Wichita is located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River and is home to more than 389,000 people. The city is nicknamed “Cowtown” due to its being a destination for cattle drives from Texas heading north to the railroads in Kansas. The city is now an industrial hub that is home to multiple universities along with museums, theaters, and parks. The Arkansas River flows through the city and is joined by several southward-flowing tributaries. Wichita has a lot to do; the Wichita Art Museum is the state’s largest art museum with 7,000 works among its permanent collections. Wichita State University’s Ulrich Museum of Art shows modern and contemporary art with more than 6,300 pieces. This city has a vibrant music scene and is home to collegiate, professional and semi-professional sports teams.
While there is plenty to see and do in Wichita, a road trip from the city offers the opportunity to check out other interesting sites. If you have two to three days to explore, consider a road trip from Wichita to Albuquerque. With a drive of a little more than nine and a half hours, you will be able to spend more time having fun and exploring than on the road.
Upon reaching your destination, your adventure is not over. Albuquerque has a lot to offer; the city is bordered to the east by the Sandia Mountains, where there are hiking and biking trails to explore, as well as an aerial tramway that you can ride to the peak of the mountain. Spend some time in Old Town checking out historic buildings, Native American jewelry, and authentic New Mexican food. With plenty of options for camping in and around the city, spend a few days and enjoy the city!
Less than two hours on the road after beginning your trip, you will arrive at your first stop, the Big Well Museum in Greensburg, Kansas. The “World’s Largest Hand-Dug Well” was dug in 1887-1888 by men who used picks, shovels, a pull and rope along with a barrel to bring out dirt.
Initially the Well, which is 32 feet wide and 109 feet deep, was just a hole lined with rocks. In 1916 lighting and stairs were added to the Well and in 1939 it was opened to tourists. In 2007 a tornado destroyed the town of Greensburg; however, there was very little damage to the Well, which reopened five years after the tornado and now includes the Big Well Museum that tells the story of Greensburg and the tornado that flattened it.
Less than an hour and forty-five minutes from the Big Well is Dorthy’s House and the Land of Oz, located in Liberal, Kansas. It is here that the story of Dorothy and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” comes to life.
Visitors can check out a home that was built in 1907 and resembles the Gale farmhouse from the movie and then join Dorothy over the rainbow on a trip down the Yellow Brick Road. You can enjoy an animated “Land of Oz”, experiencing Dorothy’s adventure, where you will encounter the Munchkins, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Dorothy will guide you to a meeting with the Wizard and bring you back to her farm in Kansas where the adventure began. You can even see the model of the house that was in the movie made in 1939.
About two hours from Liberal, Kansas is the Rita Blanca National Grassland. Located in both the Texas panhandle and in part of Oklahoma, the National Grassland is the result of the 1930’s Dust Bowl and ranges in elevation from 4700 feet to 3700 feet. The protected land includes several blocks of native prairie grassland that is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, along with some property owned privately.
The land is considered semi-arid and is home to pronghorn, rabbits, prairie dogs, and predatory birds. The land area of the National Grassland is 92,989 acres, most of which is in Texas. Visitors to the Rita Blanca National Grassland will find that it is a pleasant place to experience wide-open prairie, whether in the car or by taking a walk. The area is popular for bird watching and a perfect place to relax and listen to the sound of the grass rustling in the breeze.
After your visit to the Rita Blanca National Grassland, continue on the road for about an hour until you reach Logan, New Mexico, and the Ute Lake State Park. Located on the eastern plains, the Park is home to a large reservoir (8200 acres) on the Canadian River. The Ute Dam was created in 1963 and is one of the state’s longest lakes, offers a number of things to do. Visitors can enjoy motorized boating, exploring the lake by kayak or canoe, or relax while sailing. Fishing is also popular, with largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and walleye. Ute Lake State Park offers opportunities for camping, as well as hiking and is known as a good place to go birdwatching.
While much of New Mexico has a desert landscape, your next stop includes another opportunity to enjoy some water in this dry state. About an hour and 15 minutes from Ute State Park is the Blue Hole, east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
A bell-shaped pool, the Blue Hole is an artesian well that once functioned as a fish hatchery. The water is clear blue in color with a year-round temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The diameter of the pool at its surface is 80 feet, while at its bottom it has a diameter of 130 feet. The Blue Hole is popular for folks looking to swim and cool off, as well as those seeking an opportunity to engage in scuba diving; in fact, it is one of the most popular destinations in the United States for scuba diving.
After a refreshing stop at the Blue Hole, you are just two hours from your final destination of Albuquerque! The city with the largest population in New Mexico, the city was founded in 1706 and is located in the north-central part of the state. Flowing north to south through the city is the Rio Grande and the city is bordered to the east by the Sandia Mountains and to the west by the West Mesa and Petroglyph National Monument. The city has an elevation ranging from 4900 feet above sea level to 6700 feet above sea level, resulting in it being one of the cities with the highest elevation in the United States.
Albuquerque has a plethora of opportunities for outdoor recreation as well as to explore the history of the area. Petroglyph National Monument, for example, is a great place to explore, offering numerous archaeological sites and approximately 24,000 images carved by Ancestral Pueblo people as well as early Spanish settlers. If you are planning to visit during October, be sure to plan around the annual International Balloon Fiesta, the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. The city has its share of museums as well, including the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Albuquerque has something for everyone and with so much to see and do, you will be tempted to stay a few days. Fortunately, you can find opportunities to camp in and around the city, giving you the time to check out all that interests you.