There’s something about the wide open plains and sweeping prairie grasses of Kansas that just make one long for the open road…and a nice, long road trip. With stops to see presidents, famous pioneer girls, and historic sites, chances are it will be a road trip you’ll remember for a lifetime. RVshare can help you find the perfect RV rental — and the perfect place to camp in it — for your trip to Kansas.
1.) Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
If you’re interested in presidential history, your Kansas RV trip planner needs to include a stop in Abilene, Kansas. It may be a small town, but it has a big place in history as the hometown of the only 5-star general to become President of the United States. Visit the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum and learn about Ike’s years as a boy growing up in the midwest, his military career, and his legacy as president. There are five buildings that make up the museum complex, including Eisenhower’s boyhood home, a visitors center that offers an introductory film to help you find your way around, the presidential library, and a Place of Meditation gravesite where President Eisenhower, his wife, and his first-born son are laid to rest.
The library is also a research facility that assists scholars and history buffs from around the world, and it holds 26 million pages of historical records, 335,000 photos, 768,000 of motion picture film, and 70,000 artifacts that provide insight into the time when Eisenhower lived and served as president.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
Address: 200 Southeast Fourth St., Abilene 6741
Contact: (785) 263-6700
Price: $12 for adults, $3 for kids 6-15, $9 for seniors 62 and over, $9 for a student with ID, free for children 5 and under and for active military
Where to Stay
The Covered Wagon Campground in Abilene offers veteran discounts for guests. The family-owned campground has a swimming pool, showers, and wifi. The Salina KOA is also nearby and has a pool, horseshoes, and a pond where guests can paddleboat or fish.
2.) Little House on the Prairie Museum
Ma, Pa, Laura Ingalls and her sisters — even evil Nellie Oleson — can cause those of us who grew up with the books and TV show to sigh with nostalgia. We long for a simpler time when kids ran barefoot all summer and Laura’s greatest sin was losing her bonnet. Your Kansas RV trip itinerary should make time for a visit to the homestead where real-life Laura Ingalls lived with her family, and where her little sister Carrie was born. The site also has a one-room schoolhouse, a post office, and a farmhouse from the same era. The cabin now in place near the museum was built according to Laura’s own descriptions. Learn more about what life was like on the prairie in the later 1800s and see the wildlife and flora and fauna that would have been there when Laura was growing up.
Little House on the Prairie Museum
Address: 2507 CR 3000 Independence 67301
Little House on the Prairie Museum 2507 CR 3000 Independence, KS 67301 (620) 289-4238 [email protected] littlehouseontheprairiemuseum.com
Contact: (620) 289-4238
Price: $3 for adults, $1 for kids
Where to Stay
Elk City State Park is five miles from Independence and has lush oak and hickory woodlands and rolling meadows. The park has a boat ramp, swim beach, playgrounds, and hiking trails along with campsites.
Find a slice of Sweden in Lindsborg — in fact, the town is known as Little Sweden, USA. A wonderful stop on a Kansas RV vacation, Lindsborg was settled by Swedish immigrants and is a great place to learn about Swedish culture, try some Swedish food, and shop for colorful Scandinavian souvenirs like Dala horses. Hemslojd Swedish Gifts is a great place to start (grab some lingonberry jam and Swedish cookies while you’re there!). You can also watch the craftsmen work in the on-site workshop. Finally, stop in at the Old Mill Museum to learn more about pioneer life and see how the plentiful Kansas wheat was made into flour.
Where to Stay
The Old Mill Campground is a no-frills, neat and clean campground right in Lindsborg. There is a small park area with leafy green trees and 24 thirty amp electrical hookups. Camping is usually first come first served, though on holidays and special event weekends, reservations are recommended. The cost is $7/night with electric hookups. The Movies ‘N More RV Park is also in Lindsborg and has 30/50 amp hookups, water and sewer hookups, laundry, showers, and wifi.
4.) Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the only preserve in the national park system dedicated to the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, and a wonderful stop on Kansas RV road trips.
The 10,894 preserve has miles of trails that wander through sweeping vistas, prairie grasses, and wildflowers. You can also take a ranger-led tour of the 1881 ranch house or a bus tour of the preserve. Guests can participate in catch-and-release fishing at three preserve ponds or hike the backcountry and (carefully!) observe the bison herd that lives there. If you do hike the backcountry, be sure to stop at the visitor center to get tips on how to do it safely.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Address: 2480B KS Hwy 177 , Strong City 66869
Contact: (620) 273-8494
Where to Stay
The Santa Fe Trail Campground is at Council Grove Lake, near the preserve. The lake offers fishing, boating, and plenty of wildlife watching. The campground has electrical hookups and flush toilets. Also along Council Grove Lake, Canning Creek Campground has more spots for RVs and places for boating and fishing.
Learn about the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision to end segregation at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Walk through the building, which was once Monroe Elementary School, one of the four former African-American elementary schools in Topeka. An outdoor playground and backstop are the same ones children would have played on when the school was open.
While in Topeka, also take some time to visit the Kansas State Capitol, one of the few in the country that offers tours to the top of the dome. If you’re taking a Kansas RV trip with kids, the Topeka Zoo is also a fun stop, and Old Prairie Town will give them an idea what life was like during pioneer times. See an 1854 replica log cabin, a blacksmith shop, a 1870s Victorian prairie mansion on the National Register of Historic Places, and the botanical gardens.
Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site
Address: 1515 SE Monroe Street, Topeka 66612-1143
Contact: (785) 354-4273
Where to Stay
The Topeka/Capital City KOA in Topeka is the largest in the area. RV sites have free cable TV and wifi, and guests can use the new saltwater pool. There are three fishing ponds at the campground, as well as a playground, hiking trails, and a playground for dogs as well. Nearby Lake Shawnee Campground has hookups, laundry facilities, a swimming area and playground, and showers.
6.) Dodge City
Head back in time, pardner, to Dodge City — the town once known as the most wicked town in the Old West. Make this the best RV trip in Kansas by visiting the town once frequented by such figures as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Big Nose Kate, and Clay Allison. Begin your stay at the Visitor Information Center, where you can decide how you want to spend your time in Dodge. You can purchase tickets for the Historic Trolley Tour and talk to knowledgeable volunteers who can help you plan your trip. You can witness gunfight re-enactments, guzzle down a sarsaparilla, and see Miss Kitty and the can-can girls at the saloon. You can also see the Bison & Longhorn Exhibit to see the animals up close and learn how the livestock played an important role in the development of Dodge City. You can see more animals at the Wright Park Zoo, one of the smallest zoos in Kansas. Admission to the zoo is free.
Where to Stay
The Water Sports Campground and RV Park has, ironically, no water sports…but it does have shady campsites and plenty of room for hiking, biking, or playing outdoors. Sites have full hook-ups, wifi, and laundry facilities. The Gunsmoke RV Park will make bookings for the shows in town for you and has a swimming pool, laundry, showers, and a game room. Fort Dodge RV & Camping Resort has electrical and water hookups, a nearby dog area, and on-site showers.
7.) Oz Museum
Along with presidents and pioneer children, one of Kansas’ most famous residents was a little girl with sparkly red shoes and a little dog, too. Visit the Oz Museum, which is dedicated to all things Oz. See the earliest Frank L. Baum books and Parker Brothers board games based on the story. Browse over 2,000 artifacts from 1900 to today that are displayed in the museum. There’s even an Oz Winery in town, and every fall the town celebrates Oz-toberfest, when the town brings to life the Oz characters and you can find The Tin Man or The Cowardly Lion wandering the streets of Wamego.
Wamego is also home to the Schonhoff Dutch Mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mill was used to grind corn in the 1800s, and now stands in City Park. Plan a picnic lunch in the beautifully landscaped park and learn more about the history of the town. As Wamego was also a stop on the Oregon Trail, there is a park dedicated to that time in history as well, where kids can see the wagon ruts still in the ground. You can also visit the birthplace of Walter P. Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation, and learn more about him in the Wamego Historical Museum.
Address: 511 Lincoln, Wamego, 66547
Contact: (785) 458-8686
Price: Adults 13 and up are $9.00, children 3-12 are $7.00, children under 2 are free
Where to Stay
8.) Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
If you’re looking for Kansas RV trip ideas for children, consider bringing them to the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park. The farmstead helps kids get a better idea of what frontier farm life would have been like. Guests can visit with more than 250 animals and birds and see how they lived and were cared for by pioneer families. The farmstead also has flowers and vegetables to teach children about gardening and farming, a one-room country schoolhouse, and a turn-of-the-century main street. Kids can also see how Native Americans lived by walking through an encampment there.
Bottle-feed baby goats, try your hand at milking cows or ride a horse-drawn wagon through the woods at the farm. It’s sure to be an eye-opening afternoon for modern kids (and adults!).
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
Address: 13800 Switzer, Overland Park, 66221
Contact: (913) 897-2360
Price: $2 per person, extra activities like mining, wagon and pony rides, and feeding baby goats are an extra fee
Where to Stay
The Walnut Grove RV Park in Merriam is about a 15-minute drive from Overland Park and has showers, laundry, a dog park, and a community room. Wifi is also available at the campsites. Cottonwood Camping is in Bonner Springs.
9.) Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth is a U.S. Army installation and the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C. Leavenworth is the Department of Defense’s only maximum security prison, but it is also home to many historic sites and homes, a world-class museum, and monuments commemorating important times in United States military history.
Visit the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area to learn more about the African-Americans who served in the military beginning in 1866. The Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery is one of the first twelve established by President Lincoln, and veterans since the War of 1812 have been laid to rest there. Col. Henry Leavenworth, a War of 1812 veteran himself, is buried there. The Frontier Army Museum is a great place to learn more about the Frontier Army from 1804-1916, and the history of Fort Leavenworth. The Berlin Wall Monument has pieces of the wall that separated East and West Berlin during the Cold War, and a good reminder that history isn’t always hundreds of years in the past.
U.S. Army Fort Leavenworth
Address: 290 Grant Ave., Unit 1, Fort Leavenworth, 66027
Contact: (913) 684-4021
Where to Stay
The Riverfront Campground in Leavenworth is along the Missouri River and offers picturesque camping and electric hookups. Suncatcher Lake RV Park is also in Leavenworth and has full hookups and a beautiful lakeside setting.
10.) Amelia Earhart Birthplace and Museum
If you’re interested in aviation history, you may already know that Amelia Earhart’s Birthplace and Museum are in Atchison, Kansas. Be sure to take a day to see her birthplace and early childhood home, built in the early 1860s by her father. Although the most famous female aviator lived in many cities during her lifetime, she always considered Atchison her home. Tour the home and see the parlors, the sun room, the original kitchen, the butler’s pantry which now houses exhibits and pictures of Amelia’s life, and the second floor of the home. You can even spend some time reading the different theories about what happened to Amelia during her last known flight.
Amelia Earhart Birthplace and Museum
Address: 223 North Terrace Street, Atchison, 66002
Contact: (913) 367-4217
Price: adults are $6.00, children 12 and under are $1.00
Where to Stay
The Beacon RV Park is just across the border in St. Joseph, Missouri, about a half hour drive from Atchison (and where the Pony Express got its start!). The park offers wifi, cable TV, and a camp store. Most of the sites are back-ins, but there are some pull-thru sites available as well. Warnock Lake Campground a few miles southwest of Atchison has campsites with 30 amp electricity. The lake allows fishing and swimming, and there are picnic areas, a shelter house, and play equipment for kids.
The wide open roads of Kansas are a great place to head on a road trip — and if you need a few more suggestions for your Kansas itinerary, try some of these as well. Whichever spots you choose to visit, you can’t go wrong!