Greening pastures and fields of waving wheat greet you, as you approach the south-central Kansas town of Medicine Lodge (80 miles southwest of Wichita). But just to the west looms red-rock country: buttes, rocky spires, and canyons thick with cedars. Like the setting for your favorite western movie, the Gypsum Hills cut a rugged 20-mile-wide swath west and then south into Oklahoma.
Startling scenery awaits around every turn along a 29-mile loop you can drive through the red hills, loaded with gypsum. An ancient sea carved the mesas and ravines in this ranch country 65 million years ago. The landmark Twin Peaks, nearly identical cone-shaped buttes, tower on the horizon.
Yuccas, prickly pear cactuses and evening primroses dot the countryside in May and June. Spring-fed ponds pop up in grassy valleys that end abruptly where the red earth pushes skyward into craggy, red monoliths. For a closer look at the land, rent a mountain bike or ride a horse on miles of backcountry trails.
Back in the prairie town of Medicine Lodge, visitors tour the home of Carry Nation, who started her ax-wielding temperance movement here. You also can visit the Stockade Museum, a replica of a frontier outpost built to protect settlers from the Kiowas, who first claimed the area.
Medicine Lodge Chamber of Commerce
Pratt Convention & Tourism