The three Land and Sky Scenic Byway counties got a big prize June 2. That day, Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Mike King signed a designation resolution. It turned the northern 88 miles of Highway 27 into the 12th Kansas byway. “We are excited to extend the byway program into Northwest Kansas,” King said. The byway crosses Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace Counties. It is the first byway entirely in Northwest Kansas. It’s the only one in the nation to focus on agriculture.
Teamwork was key for achieving designation prize
Ken Klemm, Sherman County’s byway representative, said what the byway’s Steering Committee feels. “We’re so pleased that our team showed such cooperation and vision. We’re more pleased to share our wonderful agricultural heritage and scenic vistas with thousands of travelers from all over the world!”
The Kansas-Nebraska line is Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s north end. The byway’s northern stretch crosses the Arikaree Breaks. The byway makes a sharp turn west of St. Francis. It follows Highway 36 on the south sides of St. Francis and Wheeler. It turns south toward Goodland at Wheeler. The byway crosses Interstate 70 at Goodland. Take I-70’s Exit 17 and explore from the middle of the byway. From the south, start where Highway 27 and Highway 40 intersect in Sharon Springs.
Travelers can enjoy the Wallace Branch of the Great Western Cattle Trail, scale the highest point in Kansas at Mount Sunflower and explore the deep canyons and rugged landscape of the Arikaree Breaks. It features thousands of acres of crops, livestock and wildlife along the route.
“Land and Sky Scenic Byway is a wonderful opportunity for all of Northwest Kansas,” Mona Carver, Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Chairperson, said. “The recognition is so exciting. We’re the Breadbasket of America. Agriculture needs recognition.” Carver is KDWPT’s Travel Information Centers Manager.
The designation did not come overnight. “The steering committee has worked for 14 months. That’s a quick turnaround. The process has often taken three years,” Donna Price, Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director, said. “We could not have earned this prize so fast without our entire team. The team includes consultant Cris Collier. I’m proud of our progress. We continue to work together for our communities.”
The designation provides a marketing bonanza. KDOT will mark the byway’s route. They will mark it on the official state map. KDWPT will include it in the Kansas Byways Guide, Kansas! Magazine and Kansas Visitors Guide. Find the byway on Kansas Byways website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages. Land and Sky Scenic Byway has its own Facebook page. Byway communities are also eligible for grant applications to enhance the route.
“Having Western Kansas recognized for its beauty is exciting,” Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Laurie Klemm said. “People don’t realize the beauty of our state. When people get off I-70, they appreciate the beauty of Kansas.”
Tourism is economic development. The scenery along the byway will bring more travelers to Land and Sky’s communities. People want to visit beautiful places. Then they want to live there.
KDOT, KDWPT, Kansas State Historical Society and teams like Land and Sky’s Steering Committee all work together in the Kansas Byways Program.
Steering Committee members are: President Helen Dobbs, Cheyenne County Development Corporation, St. Francis; Vice-President Jayne Humphrey Pearce, Wallace County Visitors Bureau Tourism Director; Donna Price, Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director; and Roxie Yonkey, Land and Sky Scenic Byway Coordinator; Goodland; Board members John Foster, Sharon Springs; Cheyenne County Commissioner Brett Poling; Sherman County Commission Chair Ken Klemm; Wallace County Commissioner Adam Smith; Rod Klepper, Bird City; Gary Walter, Oberlin, Arikaree Breaks; Mike Hopper and Mona Carver, Goodland, KDPWT.by