I’ve driven from Denver to Kansas City so many times that I need to vary the routine any way I can. The last couple of years, I’ve been taking the southern route toward Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, west of Hutchinson. In the summer, and during fall migration, it’s a great place to see shorebirds, ducks and geese, raptors, and songbirds.
Because Quivira is in the middle of Kansas, it’s difficult to drive there in one day and get any birding done. On my 2014 trips, I decided to stay at the Do Drop Inn, located along Highway 50 in Kinsley, Kansas. (The exterior photos were taken in June and the interior photos in December.)It’s east of Garden City and Dodge City and about an hour west of the refuge. On both trips, I spent the night at the inn and then drove to the refuge the next morning.
I like the Do Drop Inn. The woman who runs the place (all by herself, as far as I can tell) is very nice. I’ve never stayed in an old motel with wooden floors before.
I like the fact that she made the bed with real bedding instead of standard hotel sheets and bedspreads. The comforter was pretty. The room had a TV, fridge, microwave, table and chairs, and a window unit for heating and cooling. It was clean.
If you have time for breakfast in the morning, Strate’s Country Kitchen, just down Highway 50, is where the locals go. Or you can drive an hour east to Stafford and eat at the Gathering Place. I recommend both.
In December, when I last visited the refuge, there weren’t many ducks and geese. I don’t know if that’s typical for December; I had expected to see a variety of ducks, if not much else. We saw a lot of red-tails, a great horned owl, some tree sparrows, a few mallards, and many, many birds so far out on the water that I couldn’t ID them with my Bushnell scope. The cranes weren’t back yet—the ranger expected them in February.
There are several different ways to get from Denver to Kinsley. Taking I-70 as far east into Kansas as possible and then heading south may be more exciting than driving south on 287 in Colorado. The latter route does go through Lamar, where you can bird the Community College Woods and other sites. But keep in mind that Highway 50 from Lamar through western Kansas is pretty quiet.
To reach the motel, call 620-233-6056. You can find the motel’s address on this page, but the link is broken. In December, my husband and I paid about $70 for one night.