[KANSAS FLINT HILLS] — In the middle of Kansas, the breadbasket of the US, lies the Flint Hills — hundreds of thousands of acres of tallgrass prairies, open rangeland with very few trees, even less fences and the best grazing land in the country.
The Flying W Ranch and the Clover Cliff Ranch in Chase County, Kansas has put on this cool shindig with their cousins and neighbors since ’96. Called Flames in the Flint Hills, they attract a couple of hundred people from all over the country every year.
Do they need all these city slickers to help them light the prairie on fire? No. But they started this as a way to spread their ranching heritage, educate about this centuries-old practice and even let people participate in lighting the fields.
The Flying W is a 7,000 acre working cattle ranch, with about 50 horses, hundreds of cattle, bunkhouses for guests and cool events all throughout the year.
Every summer, ranchers ship cattle from as far away as Texas to fatten up on the thick grasses that we’re about to help regenerate for the upcoming season. Not from corn, grass. As it should be.
Cattle will put on several pounds a day eating all that thick tallgrass, which is loaded with mineral-rich nutrients from the flinty soil. Some say this is the best beef in the world. All because of this magical stony soil. Flying W will host about 2,000 head of cattle every summer, here, like us, to eat up the good stuff.
Flames in the Foothills is an all-day event, people can stay in bunkhouses on the ranch, in nearby towns and B&Bs, then come Flame Day, everyone heads to the Flying W for all-day events, music, storytelling, barbecue, hayrides and two big prairie lighting events that last late into the night.
This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, I highly recommend it. Book now, it usually sells out long in advance. These cowboys choreograph this thing like a bunch of Frenchmen… it is magical.
Here’s some more info in this great article from the Chicago Tribune. And the Nature Conservancy, who are doing an amazing job here. And the Kansas City Star.
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