Glacial Hills Scenic Byway – Kansas

In early 2003, the 63-mile stretch of Highway K-7 between Leavenworth and White Cloud was designated by the State of Kansas as the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway. The area was once covered with glaciers, leaving behind a scenic landscape of rolling, wooded hills, rock-strewn soil and valleys with clear, running streams.

Beginning at the intersection of K-7 and K-92 in Leavenworth, the byway traverses Leavenworth, Atchison and Doniphan Counties along the same path that Lewis and Clark traveled over two hundred years ago. Roughly paralleling the Missouri River, the byway has also been designated by the National Park Service as the official route of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

The Glacial Hills Scenic Byway will take you through rolling hills, rich farmland and across Missouri River bluffs between Leavenworth and the Kansas/Nebraska border.  Representing the earliest days of pioneer settlement along the Missouri River, you will pass through four communities, which are rich in history and provide a number of attractions.

Architectural heritage abounds in Leavenworth, Atchison, Troy and White Cloud, showcasing many historic structures. Driving tours are available in Leavenworth, and Fort Leavenworth, a walking tour in White Cloud, and a historic barn tour in Troy.

Along the way, you will discover impressive views of the Missouri River, historic barns, abundant railroad history, and numerous museums and sites associated with Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, Amelia Earhart, and Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 campaign tour through Kansas Territory.

Leavenworth, Kansas

The entrance to Leavenworth and the daunting walls of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary are at the southern end of the byway. The first settlement in Kansas Territory in 1827, you can tour historic Fort Leavenworth, the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River.

While in Leavenworth, you can also take a walking or driving tour of the many historic places in the community. The Historic Wayside Tour features 13 historic sites along the riverfront in the downtown area as well as 6 additional sites that can be reached by car. Maps are available at the Welcome Center North at the corner of Cheyenne & 4th Street, at the Welcome Center South in Ray Miller Park, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 518 Shawnee.

The city of Leavenworth has been ranked the number one historic city in the state, June 2001, in the ePodunk Historic Small Towns Index.


Frontier Army Museum – Reynolds Avenue, Fort Leavenworth. For tour information, call (913) 682-4113, Museum (913) 684-3191, Gift Shop (913) 651-7440. Open Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Sunday and Holidays, Noon to 4:00 p.m.; Closed Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving and Easter. Free Admission, Donations Accepted.

Harvey Mansion, now the National Fred Harvey Museum. Kathy Weiser, 2004.

Carroll Mansion – 1128 5th Avenue, Leavenworth. The mansion is open May through August, Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, 1 – 4:30 p.m.; September through April, daily 1 – 4:30 p.m. Closed in January and major holidays. Admission is charged. Operated by the Leavenworth Historical Society, (913)682-7759

First City Museum, 209 Delaware, Leavenworth. The museum is open Thursdays & Fridays Noon – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For special visits or tours, please call (913) 682-1866 or 800-844-4114.

Historic Wayside Tour – Take a walk back in time to where the West began. Leavenworth, the “First City of Kansas,” invites you to step back in time and explore the rich history of Leavenworth by visiting our Historic Wayside Tour. Waysides are interactive displays located throughout Leavenworth that feature unique local artwork depicting images of significant historical people, structures or events associated with the site. Digital technology allows you to hear a recorded narrative with the mere push of a button. There are 13 waysides located in the riverfront downtown area that can be experienced as a walking tour as well as six waysides that can be reached by car. In addition, there are waysides located within the welcome centers at the north and south ends of town.

The National Fred Harvey Museum, at 624 Olive Street. Special arrangements for tours can be made by contacting the museum at (913) 682-1866.

After leaving Leavenworth, you will travel on toward Atchison, where the route has been designated as the Amelia Earhart Memorial Highway. The world-famous aviatrix’ birthplace in Atchison is now a museum.


Benedictine College in Atchison.

Benedictine College in Atchison.

Atchison is noted for its grand Victorian homes along brick-paved streets and its important role in the early history of Kansas. The Chamber of Commerce operates a Tourist Trolley May through October, which features several specialty tours, like the Haunted Homes Tour and the Trolley Tour of Lights at Christmas.

Atchison is home to five museums, plentiful attractions, and wonderful views of the Missouri River basin. The town also boasts 18 homes on the National Register of Historic Places.

Atchison also offers Warnock Lake located south off 274 Rd. and Price Blvd and the AtchisonState Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area three miles north on Highway 7 and two miles west.


Atchison County Visitors Center and Museum. Located in the restored Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th St. Admission is by donation. Summer hours are: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Winter hours are: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. (913)367-6238.

Atchison Rail Museum. Located adjacent to the restored Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th St, (913) 367-6454.

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Located at 223 N Terrace St. Admission: $2.00. Summer hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (913) 367-4217.

Cray Historical Home Museum. Located at 805 N. 5th St. Museum hours fluctuate depending upon when you visit, (913) 367-3046.

Wildlife abounds along the Missouri River as you again travel northwest through the rolling hills to Doniphan County and Troy, Kansas.

Troy, Kansas

Statue in Troy, Ks. Kathy Weiser, 2003.

Troy was established in 1855 and houses several historic buildings.  A self-guided barn tour is available to view the Byre and Bluff barns.  Brochures are available at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  While in Troy, be sure to visit the famous “Tall Oak” Monument on the south lawn of the historic courthouse and the Fred Baker House where Lincoln stayed before giving his famous Cooper Union Address.

Ghost Town Tour is also available, which is sponsored by the Native American Heritage Museum in conjunction with the Kansas State Historical Society.  There are 50 ghost towns in Doniphan County.


Ghost Town Tour.  A small fee is charged and reservations are required.  Call 785-365-2604

Native American Heritage Museum.  Located at 1737 Elgin Road, Highland, Kansas one mile north of U.S. 36, two miles east of Highland, Kansas.  $3.00 adults, $2.00 seniors and students (K-12, college), annual passes are available.  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

Continuing your travels northwest, you can visit the Iowa, Sac & Fox Mission State Historic Site, which is just three miles outside of Highland. It was established in 1837 to serve and train Indians being relocated to Kansas from their ancestral homes.

Continuing on your journey, you will reach the small community of White Cloud.

White Cloud, Kansas

White Cloud, Kansas Overlook, viewing the Missouri River, Missouri and Iowa, by Dave

White Cloud, Kansas Overlook, viewing the Missouri River, Missouri and Iowa, by Dave Alexander

Along the Missouri River near White Cloud are the unusual towering Bluffs of Loess (pronounced like “luss”), which extend to southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska. The bluffs are characterized by sharp-edged ridge crests and slopes, which are sometimes very steep.  An overlook in White Cloud affords views of four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa.

This almost “ghostly” small town, which now only has about 200 residents, once boasted a population of over 2,000.  Though it hardly seems possible, this sleepy little village hosts one of the largest flea markets in the country twice a year – on the weekend that includes the 1st Sunday in May, and the weekend that includes the 1st Sunday in September. It was listed by McCall’s Magazine as “one of the best flea markets from coast to coast.”

At the northern terminus of the byway, an iron pillar on a bluff high above the road marks the 40th Parallel. Set in 1855, the marker denotes the Kansas/Nebraska state line and was used in surveying the two states, as well as portions of ColoradoWyoming and South Dakota.

For more information on the Glacial Hills Byway, see Kansas Tourism website here

Also See:

Byways & Historic Trails – Great Drives in America