For those who think Kansas is as flat as the proverbial pancake, you’ve obviously never climbed Mount Sunflower. At 4,039 feet (1,231 m) above sea level, it is the highest point in Kansas and one of several invigorating summits every mojotraveler should seek out.
Now this next statement comes from someone who grew up in a rural, remote area. Mount Sunflower is out in the middle of nowhere. Take my word for it.
This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, read our DISCLAIMER here.
Finding Mount Sunflower Kansas
Unfortunately, too many people blow through Kansas on I-70, usually on their way to or from some of Colorado’s fabulous destinations. To get to Mount Sunflower if you’re heading west bound, take exit 76 at Oakley and follow U.S. 40 to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Weskan. About two miles farther, you’ll see a little brown sign for Mount Sunflower on your right. You’ll drive 11 miles north on a dirt road with plenty of grazing land and the occasional moo-cow. After a few miles, you’ll see another sign telling you to turn left and there’ll you find Mount Sunflower.
I write all of this for you because Siri and cell service are iffy here. Write it down too, or buy a paper map.
This is also important to remember: Mount Sunflower is located on private land, but the family that owns it loves their community and their auspicious designation in the state of Kansas, so they open it up for mojotravelers to enjoy. You are a guest in their home when you are here. Behave yourself.
What to do at Mount Sunflower Kansas
You will first see this fabulous sign, which faces east, so your selfie is going to look a little better before noon. This photo was shot about an hour before sunset, so don’t stress out too much if you can’t time it for the best selfie. Life is not always about the best selfie.
Open the mailbox to find a registration book and little treats that other travelers have left. When we were there, it was a box of Altoids, a few decorative beads and a little yellow container of something I was not sure about.
Be sure to walk around to the west side of the monument to learn the sweet story of Edward and Elizabeth Harold who homesteaded this land in 1906. Oh, how I wish there was a picture of them, but there’s one in my mind’s eye. I’m sure they look a little like my ancestors who worked a farm somewhat similar to this down in Independence KS at about the same time in history.
There’s a little picnic table and shelter provided by the Industrial Arts Class at nearby Weskan High School, if you want to have a picnic.
There are no trash bins at Mount Sunflower, so please take any trash with you. The Industrial Arts class also built a little library – just two short shelves with room for maybe two dozen books at most. I left of copy of my book Kansas Myths and Legends. Let me know if it’s still there when you visit.
But most importantly, take a moment to appreciate your surroundings. You may feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere, but this is indeed a special place. It is home to the descendants of Edward and Elizabeth Harold, a place that I’m sure tests their patience and fortitude at times, but a place that is the core of their being like my family farm is for me.
This, too, is the core of America. Breathe deeply. Feel the wind. Listen to the quiet. And post about that as you share your selfie and enviable location on Instagram.
Mount Sunflower not challenging enough for you? Check out these destinations that got our hearts pumping in making a real climb.
Climbing Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
You can’t do this anymore. Really, if you try it, you’ll become intimately acquainted with the Department of Homeland Security. But before the world went totally crazy, once a year the National Park Service would take a few journalists to the top of Mount Rushmore to discuss the care of the famous heads, the eco-system and security issues. And Bruce and I were fortunate enough to have that opportunity.
It’s nothing like Hollywood made it look in National Treasure: Book of Secrets or North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. For those who think that we should add another head to the mountain — that’s not going to happen. When the park service tells you there isn’t any room, believe them. There simply isn’t the space.
We saw goats nibbling on grass on the back side of Teddy Roosevelt’s head but I really can’t tell you an awful lot more about it. The NPS made us sign our life away for fear of encouraging other people to do exactly as we did. I can tell you this — it was awesome, one of our favorite experiences in traveling this beautiful country. But seriously, do not try this now. I’ll not bail you out of jail.
Climbing Diamond Head on O’ah’u, Hawaii
After an energetic day of snorkeling in O’ahu’s Makaha Bay, my husband and I were pumped up for another amazing feat of strength. From our hotel room on Waikiki Beach, we looked up and saw the iconic outline of Diamond Head.
Sure, we can do that. It’s only 560 feet above sea level. We were told one local woman in her 70s climbs it every day as a part of her fitness routine. Easy peasy, right?
The Mannlichen Royal Walk in Switzerland
I think the same 70-year-old woman from Diamond Head followed us to Switzerland just to show off on this spectacular mountain in the Bernese Alps. Taking a cable car up from from the village of Wengen, we saw a sign inviting us to take a Royal Walk. Well, why not?
Standing in the Wrong Line in Strasbourg France
We really need to pay closer attention to signage when we travel. In this particularly case, standing in the wrong line to enter the Strasbourg Cathedral resulted in climbing 300 feet in a 500 year old spiral staircase, ending in a fabulous view of the city, as well as some very sore calf muscles and perspiration stains on everything we wore. Would we do it again? Oh ya! Bring it on baby!
Climbing Down the Calgary Tower in Alberta Canada
And then there was the time we had to climb down the Calgary Tower in Alberta Canada.
Despite some sore knees, hips and other body parts, it was a heart warming experience.