Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve offers a glimpse into the past.

When I watched the videos from our epic Southwest USA road trip there’s one thing that surprised me:

We didn’t name the lady in the GPS.

We named our vehicle, but we didn’t name the bossy lady who kept telling us where to go.

In a quarter mile turn right on Kansas 177 North. In a thousand feet turn right on Kansas 177 North. YOU’RE AT KANSAS 177 NORTH TURN RIGHT YOU FOOL WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

Crap. You missed it.

In a quarter mile, make a U-turn mumble mumble stupid drivers nobody ever listens to me.

Bossy.

We’d left Wichita and were on our way home. Even though it was Day 30, we still wanted to take the scenic route, so we drove Kansas 177 North. This American Scenic Byway took us through the Flint Hills until we reached Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a microcosmic glimpse into what the Great Plains looked like a couple centuries ago. What used to cover 400,000 square miles was reduced to a few thousand acres, but parks here and there preserve this unique ecology, including the one we were visiting.

Path through Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Path through Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Jim and I stopped at Tallgrass because we had learned about the importance of this ecosystem when we visited Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in northeastern Illinois. That preserve had been undergoing a massive restoration project at the time.

Restoration is important. Many endangered species now have a fighting chance because a portion of the prairies that once swept the Great Plains is being restored. Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve is a cooperative effort between the non-profit group The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.

Visiting is free, and even includes a cell phone audio tour.