Kansas fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Kansas fall foliage. — Nick Romano
Thanks to T.H. Korthanke, the town of Hiawatha is known as “The City of Beautiful Maples.” Starting in the World War I-era, Korthanke planted maple seeds all over the area [http://www.travelks.com/Hiawatha]. Residents have added to this pool over time, and, come fall, the town is aglow with red foliage. Every October, Hiawatha holds the Maple Leaf Festival, which celebrates the namesake tree. The event includes street vendors, bakeries, hot-air balloon, dancing and "drag" races. Start your quest downtown on Oregon Street, named after the Oregon Trail, which passed near its borders.
601 Oregon St., Hiawatha, KS 66434 | Get Directions
Baldwin City, Kansas
Prairie-bound fall-foliage seekers will be happy to note that there are two maple leaf festivals in Kansas. Even older than Hiawatha's event -- Baldwin City's dates back to 1958 -- Kansas's official website boasts that Baldwin's "Victorian neighborhoods and the historic Baker University campus, adjacent to downtown, are brimming with fiery red maples." [http://www.travelks.com/s/index.cfm?aid=197] The Baldwin City event features a parade, live music and historic tours of the area [http://baldwincitychamber.com/news/events], all while celebrating the Kansas fall foliage. Start your quest on the campus of Baker University, which "started as an attempt to tame the rough Kansas territory more than 150 years ago."
720 High St., Baldwin City, KS 66006 | Get Directions
Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway
The 77-mile stretch in Kansas known as the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway is bedecked with native stone buildings and metal street art. The byway connects Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge; both wetlands are home to 300 bird -- and millions of birds, including the elusive whooping crane. The route was selected by National Geographic as one of the best highways and byways to view fall foliage.
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Claflin, KS 67525 | Get Directions
Millions of birds make migratory stops at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. It's on the route of the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, one of the nation's most heralded fall-foliage drives.
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Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.