The western Kansas roadside attractions compared

Driving through the vast, flat emptiness which is the entirety of Kansas, tourists have for ages been enthralled and saved from interminable boredom by various roadside amusements. Let's rank three of them.

At the top of this list, I'll place the High Plains Museum in Goodland.

Second, I'll place the larger and slicker Prairie Museum of Art and History:

prairie museum art history

prairie museum art history dolls

prairie museum art history mannequins

This museum features a house, a church, a school, a barn, and a couple other buildings that were moved to the site. The inside part features a doll collection. As at the other museum, their mannequins gave me the creeps, but the dolls were even worse. They also do not have a helicopter. Bonus feature: part of the main structure is built into the ground a la some original Great Plains dwellings.

And, at the very end of the list I'll place Prairie Dog Town. If you appreciate quirky, this is your place. If, however, you find depressing the sight of prairie dogs living in what looks like a large, barren backyard together with cages housing various other animal, this is not your place.

Personally, I found it a dumpy, depressing hell hole, and all I wish is that I didn't catch any diseases from walking amongst the prairie dogs.

After seeing the roadside signs for 50 miles, I was expecting something akin to one of those Wild Safari places, where you at least drive through a gate. Instead, PDT was based in a ramshackle building that reminded me of Colorado Auto Parts in beautiful Lennox, CA. I said to the lady behind the counter: "How much is it? Oh, hmmm, $5.95. Hmmm..." as I began my internal debate on whether I really wanted to see a six-legged cow and a five-legged steer. "Hmmm..." I continued my internal debate.

Soon a shill arrived and stated how this was her third or fourth trip here, and how much she enjoyed it.

"Let me put it this way," said the lady behind the counter, "the only way we can pay to feed the animals is through your admission fee."

Well, that's all it took to sell me. "You mean, if I don't buy a ticket, the animals will starve? OK, give me two tickets."

All thoughts of buyer's remorse soon faded when I stepped past the counter and saw a wood cage full of rattle snakes (most lost in deep, deep slumber). "Is it OK if I kick the cage?" I said jokingly.

"I'll do you one better," counter-lady said and began scraping across the chicken wire on top of the cage with a board. That brought the snakes to life, but to get an even greater effect she stuck the board in the cage, causing one of the rattlers to try to strike it. Too bad they were just diamondbacks and not mojaves.

The outside area of PDT is about .5 acre of unhappy animals, some free, some caged. It's not like they're wallowing in their own filth or something, but it's not the San Diego Zoo by any stretch of the owner's imagination.


Oakley, KS
United States
39° 7' 48" N, 100° 50' 60" W
January 6, 2007 – 9:43pm