In 1976, a hearty group of cyclists from the Kaw Valley Bicycle Club searched for a way to celebrate the nation’s 200th birthday. Looking at their maps, they realized a round trip from Topeka to Cottonwood Falls, Kansas would be 200 miles, and cover some of the best cycling terrain in the state.
Thus began the Cottonwood 200, now in its 41st year. This is a a three-day tour, held every Memorial Day weekend, celebrating 7,800 miles, 41 years of cycling, and traveling the same paths used by Native Americans, settlers, and cattle drives.
The route crosses through lands that are the historic home of the Kaw (or Kansa) Indians, after whom the state of Kansas is named. Parts of the route follow the original Santa Fe Trail, used by settlers in their journey to the American southwest. Riders spend two nights in Council Grove, which served as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail and is home of numerous historic sites, including the Kaw Indian Mission Museum. On Sunday, May 28, riders visit beautiful Cottonwood Falls, where residents have restored several downtown buildings into artist galleries, unique western shops, and delightful restaurants. At Cottonwood Falls, participants can tour the Chase County Courthouse, one of the oldest working courthouses west of the Mississippi and home to a breathtaking spiral staircase. Other nearby sites include the Roniger and Chase County Museums, and the nationally renowned Z-Bar Ranch/Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve.