Mount Sunflower Trip Report
Drive Up, 07/09/09
With little children, and a busy graduate student life, highpointing has devolved into hitting targets of opportunity. Although it takes me to new and interesting places, they are often out-of-the-way, and must be combined with some other trip to be feasible. Such was the case with the highpoint of Kansas: Mount Sunflower.
Although less than 20 miles from I-70 in the western part of Kansas, Mt. Sunflower is a lonely and desolate place, but easily accessible. We visited this spot as part of a road trip from Austin, Texas to Yellowstone National Park. We exited I-70 at the town of Oakley, and drove west on US-40, passing through small towns, endless fields of corn and wheat, and the occasional grain processing plant. A few miles past the town of Weskan, the first turn, and subsequent ones, were well-signed the entire way. Part of the drive involved dirt roads, but they are well-graded, and should be passable for any vehicle in good weather.
The highpoint itself was very similar to Nebraska's Panorama Point, substituting bison for cattle. The traditional sunflower sculpture made from railroad spikes has been augmented with a large sign, register, and other decorations. We were surprised to see another vehicle there as we approached, and met a nice gentleman who was there while visiting other sights in the area. There is a nearby covered picnic table, but we opted to spread a blanket on the grass and eat our lunch there instead.
After eating our lunch, wandering around, and letting the kids have a break from the car, we loaded back up and headed north to the interstate. Most of the roads where dirt farm roads, and we passed a grader doing maintenance. In a short while, we were back on the interstate, and headed for Yellowstone, getting all the way to Casper, Wyoming before spending the night.
In highpointing, sometimes it's the summit which is difficult, and other times it's the approach. Mt. Sunflower was defiantly one of the latter. While I don't think we'll be back anytime soon, it was a nice place to stretch our legs and have lunch, and offered a nice escape from the monotony of the interstate into the Kansan countryside.