Gypsum Hills
aka Red Hills, Gyp Hills & Medicine Hills

 Far south, central & west Kansas

Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway Map
Gypsum Hills Scenic Drive Map

Gypsum Hills, Red Hills, Gyp Hills
Red Cedars lining the Kansas Red Hills
Gypsum Hills or Red Hills of Kansas

The Gypsum Hills (also known as the Gyp Hills, Red Hills & Medicine Hills) are a region of rolling hills, mesas, canyons and buttes in central Kansas, just north of the Oklahoma border. The area has many red cedar trees and the ground contains iron oxide or rust, hence one of the area's other names, the Red Hills

The area was Medicine Hills to the Native Americans, and the stream that passes through the area and near the community of Medicine Lodge is the Medicine River. But wait, the area has also been called Cimarron Breaks.

Much of the most interesting scenery is along dirt roads on the open range. But, if you are unwilling to leave the paved highways, you may still enjoy the drive and views along US Highway 160 between Coldwater and Medicine Lodge, and south along US Highway 281. The state of Kansas has designated the 42 mile route, from Coldwater to Medicine Lodge, the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway. The biggest disadvantage of viewing the Gypsum Hills along the Byway is there is no shoulder and few places to pull over to take photographs or enjoy the view.

A drive along these roads is likely to be rewarded with glimpses of pheasant, deer, raccoons and other wildlife. In addition to the Scenic Drive Route shown below, other good dirt roads include Sun City/Township Road from US-160 to Sun City and Lake City Road to Lake City.

The Red Hills area has interesting geology with sink holes, over 100 caves that have formed in the gypsum, and several collapsed natural bridges.

To the far west of the region, Big Basin Prairie Preserve in Clark County is a National Natural Landmark. The Big Basin is a natural, 100 feet deep circular, crater like depression about a mile in diameter. The preserve also contains buffalo herds and Little Basin which surrounds St. Jacob's Well, a natural sinkhole with a permanent, spring fed pool of water. 

ring-necked pheasant in the Gypsum Hills
This male ring-necked pheasant was pretty brave for the first weekend of Kansas' pheasant season.

Gypsum Hills

Gypsum Hills cows
Much of the Scenic Drive is open range land and cattle may be in the road

Kansas Gypsum Hills


Gypsum hills fire damaged trees
The Gypsum Hills were hit by the largest wildfire in memory in March of 2016.
Six weeks later there were many charred trees, but the land was lush otherwise.

Gypsum hills and pond - Kansas
More of the lush landscape following the 2016 fire

Keiger Creek red bluffs
Keiger Creek on US-160 at the west end of the Gypsum Hills near Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area

Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area
Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area, south of Minneola.

Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway Map
The Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway and Gypsum Hills Region

Gypsum Hills Scenic Drive Map
Click on the map for a larger version of the "Gypsum Hills Scenic Route." The route begins 2 miles west of US-281
where Gypsum Hills Road turns south from the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway. Gypsum Hills Road is paved.
Turn west onto unpaved Scenic Drive and travel west to unpaved Lake City Road. Much of this route is
through open range.  But really, any of the roads in this area include some beautiful views.

Kansas Attractions  Kansas Travel & Tourism Home

LAS-5/16 copyright 2005-2019 by Keith Stokes