Cliff Drive Vintage
Cliff Drive, established in 1900, is the only Missouri
scenic byway located in an urban area, passing right through Kansas
City. The 4 ½ mile historic drive is also one of the shortest scenic
byways in America.
Situated within historic Kessler Park, established in
1895, the long, linear park stretches from roughly Paseo on the west
to Chouteau traffic way on the east. The design and planning effort of
the park and byway were an integral part of the evolution and
development of Kansas City as a major metropolitan area.
Visitors have been streaming through the park for over a century, the
first by horse and buggy.
wonders of the drive include limestone bluffs
next to steep forested
slopes descending to the industrial Missouri River bottoms. A
small portion of high quality forest lies between Cliff Drive and
Chestnut Trafficway where large trees tower over ferns, wild ginger,
Soloman's seal, dogtooth violet, and many varieties of wildflowers.
Near the east entrance
to Cliff Drive (just west of the intersection of Van Brunt and
Gladstone Boulevards), a well established but primitive trail runs
along the steep slope which parallels Gladstone Boulevard. The
trail travels through a forest of large maples and passes a half-dozen
springs issuing from the hillside.
The famous Cliff Drive
Spring originally served the pioneer Scaritt family, in their log
cabin high on the hillside above. Long ago, these pioneers kept
their milk and butter cool in the waters of the spring. In 1899,
the city acquired the property from the Scarritt estate. The
natural spring has been through many transformations during the years.
Falling into disrepair, the fountain was restored in 1959, only to be
closed in 1962 due to water contamination.
Covered by earth, the
scallop-shelled fountain was discovered again in the late 1980’s by a
contracting company and was restored to its state today as a beautiful
hiking are very popular along the drive and the more adventurous explorers
can be found climbing along the steep bluffs of the park.
Cliff Drive is
located just northeast of the convergence of Interstates 70, 35, and 29,
south of the Missouri River. The byway runs from the intersection of The Paseo
and Independence Avenue, through to Indian Mound on Gladstone Boulevard at
An easy way
to access Cliff Drive is from an entrance near the Kansas City museum at
Benton and Gladstone Boulevards.
of America, updated July, 2015.