Kansas, United States

About Kansas

Kansas is located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa tribe, which inhabited the area. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. The state is divided into 105 counties with 628 cities, and is located equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is located in Smith County near Lebanon. The geodetic center of North America was located in Osborne County until 1983. This spot was used until that date as the central reference point for all maps of North America produced by the U.S. government. The geographic center of Kansas is located in Barton County.

Kansas Tourism and Recreation

Kansas has 23 state parks, 2 national historic sites, 24 federal reservoirs, 48 state fishing lakes, more than 100 privately owned campsites, and more than 304,000 acres of public hunting and game management lands. The two major national historic sites are Ft. Larned and Ft. Scott, both 19th century army bases on the Indian frontier. In 2002, the top five parks (based on number of visitors) were Hillsdale State Park (1.6 million), El Dorado State Park (1 million), Clinton Lake, Perry Lake, and Tuttle Creek Lake.

The most popular tourist attraction, with over 2.4 million visitors in 2002, is Cabela's (Kansas City), a 190,000 square-foot showroom and shopping center featuring a mule deer museum, a 65,000 gallon aquarium, a gun library, and Yukon base camp grill. The next ranking visitor sites in 2002 were Harrah's Prairie Band Casino (Mayetta), the Kansas City Speedway, Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita), Woodlands Race Tracks (Kansas City), New Theatre Restaurant (Overland Park), Exploration Place (Wichita) and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center (Hutchinson).

Topeka features a number of tourist attractions, including the state capitol, state historical museum, and Menninger Foundation. Dodge City offers a reproduction of Old Front Street as it was when the town was the "cowboy capital of the world." Historic Wichita Cowtown is another frontier-town reproduction. In Hanover stands the only remaining original and unaltered Pony Express station. A recreated Little House on the Prairie, near the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, is 13 mi (21 km) southwest of Independence. The Eisenhower Center in Abilene contains the 34th president's family home, library, and museum. The state fair is held in Hutchinson.

Kansas Climate

Kansas contains three climatic types, according to the Köppen climate classification: humid continental, semi-arid steppe, and humid subtropical. The eastern two-thirds of the state (especially the northeastern portion) has a humid continental climate, with cool to cold winters and hot, often humid summers. Most of the precipitation falls in the summer and spring. The western third of the state - from about the U.S. Route 183 corridor westward - has a semiarid steppe climate. Summers are hot, often very hot, and generally less humid. Winters are highly changeable between warm and very cold. The western region receives an average of about 16 inches (40 cm) of precipitation per year. Chinook winds in the winter can warm western Kansas all the way into the 80°F (27°C) range. The far south-central and southeastern reaches of the state have a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, milder winters and more precipitation than the rest of the state. Although not strictly falling in all of the zones, some features of all three climates can be found in most of the state, with droughts and changeable weather between dry and humid not uncommon, and both warm and cold spells in the winter.

Precipitation ranges from about 46 inches (1200 mm) annually in the southeast of the state, to about 16 inches (400 mm) in the southwest. Snowfall ranges from around 5 inches (130 mm) in the fringes of the south, to 35 inches (900 mm) in the far northwest. Frost-free days range from more than 200 days in the south, to 130 days in the northwest. Thus, Kansas is the 9th or 10th sunniest state in the country, depending on the source. Western Kansas is as sunny as parts of California and Arizona.

Kansas Transportaion

Kansas is served by two Interstate highways with one beltway, two spur routes, and three bypasses, with over a total of 874 miles (1,407 km) in all. The first section of Interstate in the nation was opened on I-70 just west of Topeka on November 14, 1956. I-70 is a major east/west route connecting to St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, in the east and Denver, Colorado, in the west. Cities along this route (from east to west) include Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Junction City, Salina, Hays, and Colby. I-35 is a major north/south route connecting to Des Moines, Iowa, in the north and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the south. Cities along this route (from north to south) include Kansas City (and suburbs), Ottawa, Emporia, El Dorado, and Wichita.

The state's only major commercial airport is Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, located along US-54 on the western edge of the city. Most air travelers in eastern Kansas fly out of Kansas City International Airport, located in Platte County, Missouri. For those in the far western part of the state, Denver International Airport is a popular option.