Magically Melt Away Worries, Cares, and Stress
Posted on Mar 22, 2023 by Visit Emporia
Possibly one of the most blissful experiences to be had in our beautiful Flint Hills is a jeeping expedition. You’ll find that worries and cares and stress seem to magically melt away as you explore the lesser-known byways of our tallgrass prairies and majestic hills.
A perfect outing for nature-loving families and friends, exploring off the beaten path also comes with a few caveats that align with our Visit Emporia Pledge:
- Stay golden.
- Leave no trace.
- Respect the land and its people.
The soaring vistas, dotted with sparkling rivers, streams, and ponds, and punctuated with serene rolling green hills is a view you’ll never forget–and something you’ll not see anywhere else in the world. Our famous wide-open blue skies with Georgia O’Keeffe-style puffy white clouds drifting by will fill you with peace and meditative wonder.
Many of the favorite sights and routes for jeeping enthusiasts are lyrically charted in William Least Heat-Moon’s bestselling book about the Flint Hills, “PrairyErth”. The book (it’s huge, with over 600 pages) offers insight, both geographical and historical. For example, Jacobs’ Mound:
“The South Fork bounds the western side of the quadrangle, and Jacobs’ Creek nicks the northeastern corner, and along this fluvial notching, and in a smaller strip further south on the Verdigris River, lie the most ancient things of substance in Chase County–260-million-year-old shales and limestones, strata formed when the seven continents lay as one… Nearly all things in the quadrangle lie within sight of the most distinctive feature in the county, Jacobs’ Mound… its abrupt rise from a rolling plain and its isolation and symmetry have made it the best landmark around.”
Pack a picnic with gourmet fare from Vault Meats & Cheeses, 509 Commercial St., or opt for hearty take-along sandwiches from the Wagon Wheel Bar & Grill, Emporia’s longest-running grill and bar, located at 2909 W. 9th Ave. Try a Pizza Burger or the fabulous wings, and don’t forget the homemade potato salad and coleslaw!
Jeeping on the gravel and low maintenance roads through the Flint Hills will prove that Kansas is definitely not flat! The hills come alive in Spring with sweeping carpets of emerald green grasses and brightly-colored native wildflowers. With fewer than 13 people per square mile, your primary company will be the hawks, songbirds, deer, and coyotes commonly spotted throughout the region. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagle sightings–and maybe an ambling skunk or sly bobcat. You might not encounter a single other being of the human kind.
Evenings in the Flint Hills will dazzle your senses with breathtaking sunsets and brilliant stars, a prime dark sky location. Your off-road adventure will bring home just how truly unique the Flint Hills are; rich with adventure, beauty, and history.
Teter Rock (be sure to get a selfie!) is a popular destination–and one not advised for standard vehicles. The last three-quarter-mile track is a rutted uphill lane through a glacial rock-strewn pasture, almost guaranteed to puncture tires and damage the family car. But once you reach the hilltop, a panoramic display, uninterrupted by civilization, stretches in all four directions.
Early settler James Teter erected a pile of local rock at a high point on his land in the 1880s as a guidepost for homesteaders searching for the Cottonwood River. As the oilfield village of Teterville grew during the 1920s oil boom, the rocks were used for building construction and the Teter marker disappeared. Teterville faded as the Teter Oil Fields played out, but the Teter Rock landmark was reconstructed in 1954 to honor Flint Hills pioneer James Teter.
The stunning Flint Hills, mostly west of Emporia and extending north and south for several hundred miles, are one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. Visit Emporia has created routes that will take you through some of the most picturesque areas, revealing little-known hidden gems that will be fun for the whole family. The Flint Hills have hundreds of miles of beautiful minimum maintenance roads to explore. Choose from five route options that interconnect to create shorter or longer drives. Special points of interest along each of the routes are highlighted.
We want you to come back again and again, so please heed these cautions: Portions of these routes are on low/minimum maintenance roads, meaning the road can be extremely rough or rocky, and some areas have low water crossings. Never attempt to drive through running water. These routes were designed for sport utility vehicles; we do not recommend attempting them by car. Parts of these routes are remote; cell phone service may not work in all areas. Print out a copy of the route map and bring it with you in case online maps are inaccessible.
All routes utilize public roads, but the land on either side of the road is privately owned. Do not leave the roadway–you’ll be trespassing on private land. Much of the area is open range with no fences. Be respectful and remain on the road. Watch out for cattle and other wildlife that may be in or crossing roadways; the animals have the right of way.
During Spring (March–May), ranchers perform controlled burns to renew the land. Keep a safe distance from any fire and never drive into heavy smoke.
Last but not least, live the Visit Emporia Pledge: leave the Flint Hills as beautiful as you found them. Do not litter. Do not disturb or remove plants, rocks, wildlife, architecture, or other objects from this unique ecological area. Learn more and find out how YOU can take the Visit Emporia Pledge here.
Find “PrairyErth” by William Least Heat-Moon at your local library or from bookstores everywhere, including Flint Hills Books at 130 W. Main St. in Council Grove.
Lift your spirits with a memorable adventure that can only be had in our beautiful Flint Hills. Check the Visit Emporia website or visit us on Facebook, and Instagram, for more activities and events to welcome the Spring season!
Visit Emporia welcomes travelers and meeting planners, and serves as the visitor information center for Emporia, Kansas and surrounding area.
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