Saturday, July 10, 2010
While on the long slog through Kansas, where we continued to accidentally take our covered wagon along the Santa Fe Trail, we stopped for the night in Great Bend. I had read online that Great Bend had a Farmer's Market and an organic farm that gave tours, and I found us a place to camp at Cheyenne Bottoms. Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest marsh in the interior of the United States.
We found the marsh no problem. It was gorgeous and so teeming with life that I felt a bit overwhelmed. Herons, egrets, sandpipers, ducks, and all manner of shorebirds were everywhere. Finding the campground was another thing altogether. The directions on the website made it seem so simple: 1/2 mile west of the area office. Great. Now, where's the area office? About half an hour of dragging the wagon down one dirt road after another, and we finally found the area office, and then the campground. Since the place was so hard to find, we had the campground all to ourselves, and it was free! If you're ever road-tripping through Kansas, I highly recommend a stay at this campground. There are no facilities (no bathrooms or water), but it is secluded and beautiful, and the marsh makes for amazing wildlife viewing and walking/bicycling. Just don't forget the bug spray.
In the hopes that future visitors googling Cheyenne Bottoms happen upon this link, I'm going to include specific directions to the campground: Take 281 north from Great Bend. Approaching from this road there will be a sign for Cheyenne Bottoms Refuge. Turn right where the sign indicates, onto a gravel road. Follow the road for a mile or two. You will pass farms on both sides of the road. The campground is on the right, with nothing to indicate its presence except for a gate with a faded brown tent symbol. Good luck!