Explore the World Renowned Cheyenne Bottoms
The largest interior marsh in the United States, Cheyenne Bottoms is one of the most important shorebird migration stopover points in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of all shorebirds that migrate east of the Rockies pass through this 40,000-acre lowland, including 90% of North America's population of Wilson's phalarope, long-billed dowitcher, white-rumped sandpiper, Baird's sandpiper, and stilt sandpiper.
Bordered on three sides by low bluffs, Cheyenne Bottoms lies in a natural basin that traps water from the Blood and Deception Creeks. Maintaining the Bottom's mosaic of aquatic habitats - large, small, shallow, deep, weedy, and open - requires careful management. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism uses dikes, pumps, and water diversions to control water levels on the nearly 20,000 acres it manages. The Nature Conservancy manages nearly 8,000 acres, restoring grassland and marsh habitat with rotational grazing, prescribed fires, and other management techniques to create a diversity in vegetation.
A joint project of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center interprets the wetlands and wildlife of Cheyenne Bottoms. Visitors are welcome, so be sure to stop as you travel the Byway.
Named a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Cheyenne Bottoms was once threatened by conversion to agriculture and diminishing water supply. In the 1990s, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secured funding for renovations to safeguard this world-renowned natural area.