Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series about things for families to do over the winter break.
Great Bend is situated between two wetlands of international importance, which means some of the best bird watching can be found in our own backyard — or a short drive away.
Both the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge received the international designation from the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention. It bills itself as "an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources."
With the addition of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center on K-156 near the entrance to Cheyenne Bottoms, touring the wetlands has never been easier. The Education Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays, including today, but it will be closed New Year’s Day.
On weekdays, the public can now take bus tours of Cheyenne Bottoms from the Education Center. The cost for a 90-minute tour is $5 for adults and $3 for children; there’s also a 30-minute tour that costs $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Reservations must be made for these tours. For more information call the KWEC office, (620) 786-7456.
View Cheyenne Bottoms online any time at the KansasWetlands.com website. (Click on "Camera at Cheyenne Bottoms").
Another way to explore Cheyenne Bottoms and the entire scenic byway is via GPS (global position system) tour. A GPS Ranger is a system that plugs into a car and gives audio instructions and a guided video tour. More than 40 points of interest are located, including prairie dog towns, wetlands, and attractions such as Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo, the B-29 Memorial and Fort Zarah historical marker and park.
These pre-programed rangers can be rented for $10 at the Great Bend Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 3007 10th St., or at the Best Western Angus Inn, Travelodge, Travelers Budget Inn or Comfort Inn in Great Bend.