In the pursuit to find some of the best roads in Kansas, we recently took to Google Earth and began scouting the entire state from above.
During this search we ran across a variety of roads, all over the state, that look like they might bring the pleasure back to driving. Throughout this summer we'll be traveling across the state to visit these roads and give them a proper run.
Our first stop took us to a small town in southeast Kansas called Cambridge. Like so many small towns in the countryside, this place appears to be not much more than an intersection to those passing through. While it looks like they may have had a few small businesses at one point, coming through town on the weekend will likely result in an experience similar to that of visiting a ghost town.
Once you're there, you'll want to connect with Main street and begin heading north out of town. This will put you on 281st, our road of interest for this project. Your initial thoughts will likely be concern over the quality of the road and what lies ahead. What you see leaving town is pretty much what you'll get through the remainder of your trip heading north. The road is old and, while not in complete disrepair, it won't be getting much smoother. In fact, you'll also notice a lack of lines to differentiate which side is which. This is fine because, in all honesty, you won't need to share the road with too many other motorists.
Despite the run down appearance, most vehicles will perform nicely on 281st. The occasional curves are easy to handle at the posted speed (we didn't see one, so we assumed 55mph) but the straights in between offer the opportunity to turn your enthusiasm up a touch if desired. Much of the east side of the road is lined with trees, offering some variety to the typical Kansas setting, and as you move further north you begin to see examples of the Flint Hills.
A couple sights worth mentioning during your trip up 281st include a log cabin from the late 1800's, a natural cave, and a longhorn cattle ranch. The property holding the cabin and cave are promoted as visitor friendly, so be sure to stop and take a look around. The longhorn cattle ranch doesn't have much of a shoulder outside so, should you stop to get a closer look, be mindful of other motorists.
- - words & photos // james sanny