Top 10 Landmarks in Kansas

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 09:59 am. Originally published on March 8th, 2021

What is a Landmark?

From famous buildings to impressive and inimitable landscapes and geological formations, landmarks are those treasures in each state you don’t want to miss. See where history happened with your own two eyes or get familiar with the incredible natural beauty that surrounds you; either way, Kansas offers some incredible U.S. landmarks to add to your itinerary.

What are Some Famous Landmarks in Kansas?

1. Hollenberg Pony Express Station

2. Fort Leavenworth

3. Constitution Hall State Historic Site

4. Sumner Elementary School

5. Red Rocks State Historic Site

6. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

7. The Keeper of the Plains

8. Fort Larned

9. El Quartelejo

10. Wagon Bed Spring

Kansas Landmarks

Here are some can’t-miss landmarks all across the scenic Sunflower state.

1. Hollenberg Pony Express Station

Pony Express Sign, Hollenberg Ranch, Off Route 36, Nebraska marks the spot in 1860/61 that Pony Express functioned

A state historic site that’s also known as the Cottonwood Pony Express Station, the Hollenberg Pony Express Station featured prominently in the 1800s, when hundreds of pioneers as well as Pony Express mail delivery riders stopped in by this small but cozy waypoint. Today, the historical site and museum offers tours of rooms furnished with period fixtures, the opportunity to try on historic clothes accurate to the time, and a visitor center with heaps of fascinating information about the lifestyle of the day. There’s also a short hiking trail on the grounds for those hoping to stretch their legs and take in some fresh air.

Things to do near the Hollenberg Pony Express Station: Located in the northeastern section of the state, close to where Kansas meets Nebraska’s border, the Hollenberg Pony Express Station is just outside the small town of Hanover. It might not be close to many urban adventures, but it is within an easy day’s drive of Fancy Creek State Park, as well as several campgrounds. Here are some RVshare rentals near Hanover, Kansas.

2. Fort Leavenworth

 colorful fall foliage at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA

The oldest continually active military reservation west of the Mississippi River — and the oldest permanent settlement in the state of Kansas, period — Fort Leavenworth was opened back in 1827 and remains an iconic U.S. landmark to visit today. It is, however, an active United States Army garrison, so don’t be surprised when you run into some fine folks in uniform. What exactly is done here? Well, military installations of this kind are essentially cities for soldiers, offering everything from sports and recreation to religious services, restaurants and more. Many of these fixtures are open to the public, and visitors are welcome to self-guided tours of the property (so long as they provide proper ID and clear security).

Things to do near Fort Leavenworth: Located in the town of Leavenworth, a suburb of Kansas City, there’s a great plethora of things to do near Fort Leavenworth — especially if you cross over to the Missouri side. Topeka is only a short drive away, too; here are some nearby campgrounds and RVshare rentals to consider.

3. Constitution Hall State Historic Site

Constitution Hall, in Lecompton, the former capital of the Kansas Territory, where Kansas attempted to join the Union as a slave state, which was blocked by Congress. Lecompton, Kansas, USA

A National Historic Landmark also known as Lecompton Constitution Hall, Constitution Hall State Historic Site protects and preserves this important part of both Kansan and American history. At this hall, a group of antislavery protestors met in 1857 to speak out against the proslavery constitutional convention meeting being held, shaping the future of Kansas’s eventual place in the Union. Visitors will learn, through educational programs as well as interactive exhibits, in much more depth about the complicated history of slavery in the state of Kansas, as well as the brave people who wouldn’t keep quiet about this injustice.

Things to do near Constitution Hall State Historic Site: Located in the town of Lecompton, which is nestled along the southern banks of the Kansas River, Constitution Hall State Historic Site is about equidistant between the cities of Topeka and Lawrence, which offer many options as far as restaurants and shopping opportunities go.  There are also plenty of campgrounds in the area, as well as some great local RVshare rentals to consider.

4. Sumner Elementary School

Topeka, Kansas / United States of America - November 2nd 2019 : Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Exterior of building, eastern facade with main entrance.

Another important fixture in Kansas’s fraught racial history, Sumner Elementary School was involved in the famed Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case in 1954. In this case, a child by the name of Linda Brown attempted to enroll in Sumner only to be denied access because she was Black and forced to go to Monroe School, an all-Black institution further from her home. The ensuing lawsuit was originally heard by the Supreme Court, who ruled that segregation laws in public schools are unconstitutional. Today, Sumner Elementary School is a National Historic Landmark known for its unique Art Deco architecture style as well as its historical significance. However, the school has since closed and was put up to auction, and is currently seeing renovations to eventually serve as a community center and human rights memorial. (Note: the Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site pictured above is actually at Monroe School, since Sumner was still holding classes when the site was first divised.)

Things to do near Sumner Elementary School: Located in the Kansas capital city of Topeka, Sumner Elementary School is surrounded with other fun to-dos like the Kansas Museum of History and the Topeka Zoo. Here are some nearby RV campgrounds to stay at — and the RVshare rentals you need to get to them!

5. Red Rocks State Historic Site

Events are held on the front porch of Red Rocks State Historic Site every Sunday.

The formal name of the preserved home of William Allen White, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and a political advisor to several presidents, Red Rocks State Historic Site — which is, indeed, composed of red masonry — is definitely a site worth seeing in the quaint Kansas town of Emporia. White and his family — including his mother, who lived in a specially crafted outbuilding set aside for that purpose — lived here from 1899 until the time White died in 1944. Today, it’s both a state historic site and National Historic Landmark, and a series of free events are held on the porch each Sunday (a running program known as “Sundays on the Porch”).

Things to do near the Red Rocks State Historic Site: Emporia lies approximately midway between Kansas City and Wichita, meaning it’s ripe for things to do within an easy day’s drive. It’s also closeby to Eisenhower State Park as well as Pomona State Park and others; here are some RVshare rentals in the area to consider.

6. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

A long winding rural road in the Kansas Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve shows the depth and space of the green pasture and tall grassland available in this preserve.

Kansas is known for its vast grasslands — it is a Great Plains state, after all — and an iconic U.S. natural landmark to check out is the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. This endless sea of grass once covered more than 170 million acres of our continent, reaching well outside the confines of what we know today as Kansas, but most of it has been transformed into farmland. In fact, today, less than 4% of the original prairie remains.. but fortunately, that portion is protected by the National Park Service. Visitors can learn more about these historic lands and how we can protect them today, as well as seeing first hand where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.

Things to do near Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Just west of Emporia and north of Strong City, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is both in the middle of nowhere and closeby to big, built-up spaces; both Wichita and Kansas City are only about two-hour drive away. Plenty of local state parks make great campsites; here are the RVshare rentals that’ll carry you comfortably through this part of the country.

7. The Keeper of the Plains

WICHITA, KANSAS - AUGUS 31, 2018: Downtown Wichita at dawn from the Arkansas River and Keeper of the Plains.

An iconic and unmissable 44-foot steel structure marking the place where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers join, the Keeper of the Plains is a well-known landmark in Wichita, Kansas — and an absolutely unmissable photo opp. The land marked by this sculpture has been considered sacred by Native Americans since time immemorial, and today is home also to the Mid-America All-Indian Museum. The base of the sculpture itself offers informational displays on the tribes whose land this originally was, as well as roaring fire pits, or Rings of Fire, that are manually lit at 15-minute intervals to ensure everyone stays safe.

Things to do near the Keeper of the Plains: Wichita is easily one of the most happening cities in the state of Kansas, with a great botanical garden, many museums, and more. Plus, there are some excellent campgrounds nearby, as well as some RVshare rentals worth looking into.

8. Fort Larned

Front porch of enlisted mens quarters at the fort

Originally constructed to protect travelers and mail couriers along the Santa Fe Trail as the tensions between pioneers and Native Americans raised, Fort Larned — today known as Fort Larned National Historic Site, an NPS-managed property — was built in 1860 and stayed in service until 1878. When first established, the original fort — which was actually built about three miles downstream of the Fort Larned site you can visit now — was called Camp Alert, because the men who were garrisoned here always had to be on alert for Native American warriors. Today, those who visit will learn more about life on this well-preserved army post as well as the complex political situations that necessitated it.

Things to do near Fort Larned: Located a few miles west of the town of Larned and far from any of Kansas’s large cities, Fort Larned is close to the related Pawnee Rock State Historic Site, as well as Ford County State Park, Meade State Park and others. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals to consider.

9. El Quartelejo

The remains of ancient ruins from the Pueblo people in western Kansas

El Quartelejo — sometimes spelled El Cuartelejo — is the field of archeological remains left behind by the northernmost Native American pueblo. In fact, it is the only known pueblo in the state of Kansas. The origins of this community remain somewhat mysterious, though historians have some guesses. El Quartelejo might have been established by Native Americans who’d left New Mexico before being rounded up and brought back by the Spanish; others speculate that this area was inhabited by Taos and Picuris people who fled New Mexico after the Pueblo Revolt failed. Either way, it’s a stunning piece of world history to see for yourself.

Things to do near El Quartelejo: This landmark is actually located inside a state park — Lake Scott State Park, to be exact, just north of Scott City in western Kansas. Other area wildernesses worth checking out include Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park and Cedar Bluff State Park; there are also some great RVshare rentals in the area.

10. Wagon Bed Spring

Those who traveled Santa Fe Trail found Wagon Bed Spring to be a welcome oasis.

Known also as Lower Spring or Lower Cimarron Spring, Wagon Bed Spring is — spoiler alert — no longer a spring. It’s run dry. But it was once! And due to its location along the Santa Fe Trail, this spring was invaluable to travelers passing through the area, who found it to be the first reliable water source after the Arkansas River 60 miles away. This spring was labeled a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and standing before it, you can feel the long, hard journeys people took to get here — and how much hope they must have felt when they arrived.

Things to do near Wagon Bed Spring: Tucked into the southwestern corner of the state along K-25 between Ulysses and Hugoton, Wagon Bed Spring is rightly in the middle of nowhere — that’s what made it such an oasis to those on the trail. But today, your RV rental makes it easy to feel at home no matter where you are!

Planning an RV Trip to Kansas

As we hope this guide has proven, there are so many incredible landmarks to put on your bucket list in Kansas — and we have all the resources and details you need to make it into an incredible RV trip.

For one thing, we’ve got the RV rental itself covered — obviously. But we’ve also detailed the best campgrounds in the state of Kansas, as well as writing guides to its best state parks and major cities.

As always, we can’t wait to hear all about your adventure. Get out there and enjoy yourself — but don’t forget to take some pictures for us!

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