It’s time to hit the road to explore Trego County and join the 36.5 million tourists who visit our state each year!
This May 2-8, we’ll be celebrating National Travel & Tourism Month. Tourism is a vital piece of the Kansas economy, supporting 66K jobs and contributing $7.3 billion to the state’s economy, a $775 million increase since 2015!
We believe our residents are our best ambassadors, so we’ve created the #TourTrego challenge to help spread the word about all the great things to see and do in Trego County. It’s a fun, interactive way for you to enjoy our county by sharing your best selfies on your Facebook page along with he hashtag “#TourTrego.” Each time you do, your name will be entered in a drawing for $50 in Wampum bucks to spend at one of WaKeeney’s businesses.
We’ve put together a list of the most popular places to explore around our county to help you get started.
Hiking, Fishing, and Fun!
Cedar Bluff State Park & Reservoir is Trego County’s natural playground where visitors can explore hiking trails, camp, fish, view wildlife, and enjoy watersports throughout the year. Share a photo of your child hooking a fish at Pa’s pond, located in the Bluffton Area on the North Shore, or find your favorite spot for a selfie along Agave Ridge Nature Trail.
Travel the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway
It’s a well-known fact that Trego County holds many scenic wonders. The Kansas Byways Program has taken notice of this by designating a 60-mile route through Trego as one of their eleven Kansas tourism routes, naming it the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway.
Kansas’s First “Highway”
Along the route, fourteen miles south of Cedar Bluff State Park on K-147 Hwy., you’ll find a stretch of the original Smoky Hills Trail that settlers used to travel from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado on the Butterfield Overland Despatch. Look for the limestone post marking the trail’s path. Information about the trail is carved into the top of the limestone post, along with an arrow pointing towards the next marker along the trail.
Taking the Kids to an Authentic Prairie Schoolhouse
Continue on K-147 Hwy., turning north when you get to Hwy. 283, and keep an eye out for Wilcox Schoolhouse, a one-room building constructed of hand-cut, native limestone. In May 2006, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and refurbished with grants from the Kansas Historical Society’s Heritage Trust Fund and other gifts.
Built in 1886, the school was named for William Wilcox, the first settler and postmaster of Wilcox township, and served the community as a school, place of worship, and community center for decades. After the school closed, it served as a manufacturing site for the World War II “Cotton Mattress Program” and later it became a local hub for a motorcycle club called the Hi-Plains Gravel Grinders. You’ll find the schoolhouse 16-miles south of WaKeeney on Hwy. 283. Don’t forget to get a photo and tag it with #TourTrego!
Wildlife and Wildflowers
As you drive along Hwy. 283, look for wildlife, such as jackrabbits, mule deer, and meadowlarks, the Kansas state bird. The recently installed interpretive signs along the route can provide you with more information about the prairie and its flora and fauna.
A Rockhound’s Paradise
Get out your cameras out for a selfie at one of Western Kansas’s most notable geographic features!
Castle Rock and the nearby Badlands is a geologist’s and paleontologist’s playground. Along the trails that crisscross the rock outcroppings, earthen pyramids, and striking white towers, or “hoodoos,” you’ll find the fossilized remains of animals from the Cretaceous Period. Look for sharks’ teeth, mollusks, ammonites, plesiosaurs–a predatory marine reptile–giant selfish, mosasaurs, and squid-like animals that have all become part of this unique landscape. There’s also a chance you might find fossils of animals that roamed our prairie in more recent ancient times, such as mammoths and saber-toothed tigers of the pre-historic era.
Digging into Trego County’s History
The Trego County Historical Society Museum has added onto their floor space in recent years and now offers even more for history buffs to explore. Filled with collections donated by the local community, visitors will find everything from prehistoric era fossils, to 20th century home and farm artifacts that have come directly from the families of Trego County. Of special note, is an ornate 1920s facade that once graced the front of the WaKeeney State Bank, the extensive Purinton Fossil Collection, and a mural by local artist Laurie Albin that celebrates our founders and the history of the region.
Honoring U.S. Veterans
WaKeeney is known for its many monuments celebrating the sacrifices of our military veterans.
The Iwo Jima monument at WaKeeney’s East exit on I-70 memorializes the soldiers of World War II in the Pacific Theater. Based on Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal, WaKeeney’s monument was designed and created by local volunteers and veterans, and paid for through donations that came from across the United States.
The metal and rock monument acts as a base for the stars and stripes to unfurl in our famous Kansas wind–a suitable welcome’s into our city where only a mile north on Hwy. 283 you’ll find the Kansas Veterans Cemetery, the final resting place for our state’s military men and women from every branch of service.
The F-14 Tomcat
Plan a stop at Eisenhower Park at WaKeeney’s West exit on I-70 to get up close to an F-14 Grumman Tomcat fighter jet. This decommissioned Air Force jet was one of 712 that served as interceptors, to gain air superiority, and as a multirole fighter between the years 1970 to 2006.
Enjoy a Day in Our Parks
Begin a game of “Geocache” in one of our beautiful parks. Follow pre-set coordinates to different points around our county and see if there is a treasure left by the last person to find the location in this hi-tech game of hide and seek.
Do you like Frisbee golf? Make your way to WaKeeney’s Boy Scout Park to play the nine-hole course. It’s challenging and fun and is the perfect place for an exciting challenge with friends. Don’t forget to get a group selfie and add #TourTrego as you upload it to your Facebook page!
Celebrating and Shopping in Downtown WaKeeney
WaKeeney celebrates Christmas all year long! Look for all the Christmas trees in front of our Downtown businesses and visit North Pole Park where Santa comes to visit during our annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There is a new photograph mural depicting the “Christmas City of the High Plains” during the holidays and you’ll need to get your best smile on to get a selfie behind one of the park’s holiday cutouts of elves and snowmen.
New LED lights were installed on the buildings of all our downtown business’s rooftops in 2020 in celebration of the 70th anniversary of our famous 35-foot Christmas tree. They are operational throughout the year, flashing colors during the evening hours.
Get Your Game On
Big Creek Golf Course is a nine-hole course featuring 3,213 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 35. The course is part of the Kansas Golf Association with a rating of 36.3 and a slope rating of 111, with several elevation changes that make it more challenging than a typical prairie track. The buffalo grass fairways are comprised of rolling hills that end at watered greens.
A series of tournaments are scheduled on Sundays throughout the golfing season, providing you with multiple opportunities to join other competitive golfers on the links. (Call 785.769.3160 for more details and to register.)
Toast Your Staycation
A Culinary Journey Through Trego County
Lift a glass and take a selfie with your friends at Shiloh Vineyards. They offer twelve wines, including four fruit flavors and eight traditional vintages of dry white, red and dessert wines. Find your favorite inside their tasting room, then take a stroll across the grounds and enjoy the farm life. Shiloh Vineyards is located south of I-70, west of WaKeeney at Exit 120.
WaKeeney has a wide variety of great restaurants with delicious menu options. Put some spice in your life at Tropical Mexican Restaurant or sit down at the Brazen Bull for great local cuisine, steak, and burgers.
The Western Kansas Saloon & Grill serves up a great selection of entrees and beverages, along with the ambiance of the Old West in one of Downtown WaKeeney’s oldest buildings. Look for the unusual A-frame building to find delicious diner food at Jake and Chet’s Cafe and Sundowner Lounge. If you are in mind for something sweet, check out the baked goods at Hometown Bakery. Cakes, donuts, cookies, and sandwiches are all made fresh daily.
For people on the go, we recommend a quick stop at one of our fast-food restaurants. Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonalds, and Dairy Queen will serve you a good meal quickly so you can get back on the road to fun!
Now that you’ve enjoyed your day like a tourist, upload your pictures to your Facebook page with the hashtag “#TourTrego” for a chance to win $50 in Wampam bucks, while spreading the word about Trego County, Kansas!