County #11: Barton

Our spring break adventures started for us in the Great Bend area this year.  The boys’ great-great grandfather helped found the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and wetland basin, so we were all really excited to check it out.

We took the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway to get there. This byway was beautiful – and a simple 90-minute drive to see it all from start to finish!

The Kansas Wetland Education Center was our first stop, and it was amazing and FREE!  Museum-quality exhibits were intermingled with live animals and animal specimens, including two of the cutest owls I’ve ever seen.

The building also features floor-to-ceiling windows, which made bird-watching easy on the windy and chilly Kansas morning.

Staff were on hand to help kiddos with some special (and again, FREE) spring break educational activities.  The day we stopped by they were making bird feeders!

After our super-fun morning at the Education Center, we ventured out to the actual wildlife area across the road, The wildlife area consisted of a dirt road and a network of ‘pools’ where migrating birds rest, nest and move on. Did you guys know that Cheyenne Bottoms is the country’s largest inland freshwater marsh?!

Binoculars would have been handy, but many of the pools were so close to the roadway that you could see the birds pretty well.

There was an observation tower on the property, but we skipped that due to the wind.  At the exit of the wildlife area, there was a scenic overlook that offered a stunning view of the park.  It was beautiful!!

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