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Wetlands Byway makes comfortable drive list
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Below are the points submitted by the Great Bend Convention and Visitors’ Bureau to have the Kansas Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway included in 50 Most Comfortable Drive list:

• Spectacular Viewing of Fall Migration at three wetlands of international importance: Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, The Nature Conservancy Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Waterfowl counts will reach and exceed 100,000 in a single day. The Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms is even open on weekends.

• Seven Authentic rural communities(ranging in size from 154 to 15,000) that showcase WPA mural at Hoisington, Underground Tunnel Tour in Ellinwood, historic bridge tour at Claflin, nationally registered Historic Homes in Stafford, Stafford County Flour Mill in Hudson, Raptor Center in Great Bend, and historic African American cemetery at St. John.

• Technology ranges from low-tech Facebook in Claflin which consists of a message barrel on Main Street to GPS handheld computer guided interpretive video tours of the wetlands and byway (first byway in the nation to use this technology). 

• Fall Activities and Events: October has pumpkin patches, Octoberfest, Drag Races, and National Wildlife Refuge Week, November and December include Victorian Tea, holiday festivities (parades, concerts, lights, tours, dances, ice skating, art shows, live theater).

• Interesting/surprising facts: Byway follows the migration path of the Central Flyway; Cheyenne Bottoms is a fresh water marsh while Quivira is a salt water marsh; Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest inland marsh in the interior of the United States; Wheatland Café in Hudson is a successful restaurant that serves one meal one day per week.

The Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, that ribbon of asphalt that winds its way for 77 miles through Barton and Stafford counties, has earned some national recognition.

According to a new national survey from The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and America’s Byways, 70 percent of Americans are planning on taking at least one road trip this autumn, and a combination of stable gas prices and abundant scenic routes should contribute to opportunities for weekend road trips or getaways.

In conjunction, they have released the 50 most comfortable drives. This is good news for Central Kansas.

Among the recommended treks is the Wetlands Byway. The Flint Hills Scenic Byway in eastern Kansas was also on the list.

The survey, completed by Kelton Research, also finds that most travelers want their journey to be something that is beautiful and unique, not just another trip on a superhighway. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people (80 percent) would opt for a scenic, touring drive rather than driving directly to their destination. Unlike summer road trips, which focus on the destinations, fall getaway trips are built upon the overall experience of the journey.

"It was great to be included," said Cris Collier, director of the Great Bend Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. "It’s great exposure, not only for Kansas, but for our region."

"Our survey showed that 97 percent of Americans planning a fall road trip agree that their overall comfort is the key to enjoying it, so we joined together with America’s Byways to unveil a list of the 50 Most Comfortable Touring Drives," said Gary Medalis, general manager for Goodyear consumer tires. "These top 50 touring drives encompass comfort and scenery to enhance the trip and are all within reasonable distance of major metropolitan areas."

"This fall, for not a lot of money, travelers can skip the superhighways and exit to the smaller roadways to experience some of the best roads America has to offer," said Derrick Crandall, spokesperson for America’s Byways and president, American Recreation Coalition. "While there are hundreds of fantastic drives along America’s Byways, we worked with Goodyear to create a list of some of the best, providing Americans with what they told us they are looking for - comfortable, nearby drives that provide scenic and unique landscapes.

Additional results from the survey revealed 49 percent of Americans would sacrifice their GPS units, while others (32 percent) would sacrifice music and good gas mileage (29 percent) to experience a comfortable drive. Americans would even go to extremes to guarantee a satisfying, comfortable drive on a road trip - with 30 percent responding that they would endure the pain of stubbing their toe, or enduring a bee sting (18 percent), or even a root canal (6 percent).

"Despite what some Americans may think, major sacrifices are not necessary to make their driving more comfortable," said Medalis. "For those in need of new tires, drivers should consider Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring tires, which are built for a smooth, comfortable ride. These tires help give drivers a refined handling and performance driving experience, and deliver, on average, 20 percent more cushion than standard tires."

For more information about America’s Byways, visit

America’s Byways is a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States.