The beautiful Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas, is an unexpected, yet exciting destination for athletes who want to experience the beauty of the Scenic High Plains and the challenge of the rugged and remote landscape. Located just an hour and a half west of Wichita, the area’s rolling hills, gypsum rock outcroppings, and gravel roads provide unique opportunities for unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re into bike riding, running, horseback riding, hiking, or motorcycle riding, the gorgeous Gyp Hills has something for everyone.
1. Open Range Gravel Race
The Open Range Gravel Race is an ultra endurance cycle race through the High Plains and Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas. The event is held annually in April. This course is one of the most dynamic courses in the state, winding through red dirt hills, flat mesas, sandy roads, buttes, steep canyons, and gravel roads. Bicycling Magazine once named the Gyp Hills the most beautiful bicycle ride in Kansas.
The Open Range 200K course features paved, gravel, sand, and dirt private and public roads. It starts and ends in Pratt, Kansas, goes through the brick-lined Main Street of Medicine Lodge and the High Plains of Sun City. As an alternative to the Open Range 200K, there is the Open Range 100K, a non-competitive race for those looking for a shorter challenge. Both races will challenge riders of all levels. With access to some of the most beautiful private ranches in Kansas, participants in the Open Range Gravel Race get to see vistas of rocky landscape rarely seen by the general public.
2. Gyp Hills Quest
The Gyp Hills Quest is a Red Dirt 20K/5K race through the beautiful, rugged Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas. The race is held annually in Medicine Lodge during the last weekend in September, which is Peace Treaty Festival weekend. Running enthusiasts come from all over for the unique experience of running through some of the most beautiful landscape in Kansas, and then stay to celebrate the area’s rich heritage at the Festival.
The race follows both public and private roads giving participants access to glimpses of the scenery that not many people get to see. The 20K course consists of approximately one mile of paved road and the rest gravel and dirt roads. This run will challenge runners of all fitness levels. You probably won’t set any personal records in this race, but this adventure will test your resolve and nourish your body, mind, and spirit.
3. Gypsum Hills Trail Rides
The Gypsum Hills Trail Rides, located 10 miles west of Medicine Lodge, offers the unforgettable experience of horseback riding through the Gyp Hills. The red bluffs and white-capped buttes, gypsum ledges, and deep, cedar-lined canyons provide a gorgeous backdrop of color and beauty for spectacular riding experiences all year long.
The rides cover the same land once roamed by the five Great Plains Indian Tribes. A multitude of wildlife, including white tail and mule deer, wild turkey, coyote, and bobcats, are often spotted on the trail. With access to ten thousand acres, riders enjoy the wide-open spaces that make this ride unlike any they’ve ever experienced.
Gypsum Hills Trail Rides encourage guests to visit for more than just their trail rides. They also offer camping, backpacking, and hiking. They host many different types of events including family reunions, birthday parties, anniversary parties, nature tours, and other adventures.
4. Gyp Hills Hike
The Gyp Hills Hike happens each October on the four-generation Kirkbride family ranch, located just southwest of Medicine Lodge. The moderately difficult hike lasts about four to five hours or between five and eight miles. The terrain in the Gyp Hills is rugged in places, but the experienced guide leads the group slowly and cautiously in those locations. As always in the Gypsum Hills, there is the possibility of encountering wildlife on this hike. Hikers of all ages can enjoy this hike, as they have had several participants in their 80s!
5. Motorcycle Riding along the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway
The Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway stretches forty-two miles from Medicine Lodge to Coldwater. This ride is especially for those looking for respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life in a more-populated area, as this road is mostly isolated.
Bikers will savor the experience of zipping along the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway as it’s known for its alluring views of rugged landscape. They may even encounter cattle in their pastures, roadrunners, and other seasonal wildlife. The drive includes two scenic overlooks to help you soak it all in and fully experience this grand countryside.
The Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas is truly the hidden jewel of the Midwest. Many who visit find it hard to believe they are even still in Kansas. Not only is this area breathtakingly beautiful, it also offers many exciting opportunities for athletic enthusiasts of varying interests, ages, and abilities. Whether you enjoy bike riding, running, horseback riding, hiking, or motorcycle riding, the Gypsum Hills of Kansas has something for you!