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Celebrating Kansas by Car

Stephanie Bergmann, independent living marketing and sales director

By Stephanie Bergmann, independent living marketing and sales director

Just when I think I’ve seen everything in Kansas, I stumble across something surprising, funny, or just plain beautiful. That’s why I love road trips! A day’s drive can uncover cool adventures right in our own backyard.

Outdoor sites are a fun and safe remedy for wanderlust at a time when COVID has made air travel and hotels risky business. So, if you need a getaway, buckle up! Every month this year, I’ll take you along for the ride to some of my favorite stops.

If you love to laugh, the Annual Outhouse Tour in Elk Falls is a gas! (Get it?!) Townspeople decorate toilets to match kooky themes, such as “Bath and Potty Works,” “Winnie’s Poo Haus,” and the “Super Bowel” (instead of Super Bowl).

Twenty or more crazy commodes are on display each year, and visitors vote for their favorite. The winner earns the coveted chamber pot trophy. The contest started 25 years ago as a joke, but became so popular that Elk Falls is now considered the outhouse capital of Kansas.

Even if you can’t make November’s porta-potty parade, Elk Falls has other attractions. From the 1893 iron truss bridge that spans the Elk River, you can see the waterfall that inspired the town’s name.

Just down the road, Elk Falls Pottery sells intricate, handmade stoneware. Behind the store, you can explore a rock garden that dates back to the Depression. Concrete sculptures, bridges, and benches decorate the property. The current owners, Steve and Jan Fry, bought the land in 2004 and began restoring the garden, uncovering dozens of stone elephants and other artwork. They now welcome visitors to enjoy its odd history.

If you’re tempted to check out Elk Falls for yourself, the small town of about 100 people lies 80 miles southeast of Wichita. It’s an hour and half drive that’s well worth the trip!

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