The Road to Nowhere - Top 5 Motorcycle Stops between Kansas City and San Antonio

Dec 5, 2021

Tags:rentertravelkansas citysan antonio

Honda Gold Wing ridden on The Road to Nowhere.

Despite its name, The Road to Nowhere is your ticket to a wealth of exciting places and memorable stops between Kansas City, Missouri and San Antonio, Texas. US Route 83 has historical significance as a road that connects Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It’s still the shortest connecting route between these countries. This doesn’t make the Road to Nowhere “short” or crowded by any stretch of the imagination—US-83 takes you along the 100th meridian and through the harshest and emptiest landscapes in America. From the wide-open plains of the north to the parched deserts of the south.

Motorcycle enthusiasts are in for long stretches of uninterrupted riding and twisted roads, punctuated by otherworldly and surreal attractions. Sometimes the Road to Nowhere leads you to out-of-the-way places, like the enigmatic Chalk Pyramids of Kansas or the ancient Paint Rock Pictographs of Texas. Other times it travels through locations notable for their intimate relation to American literature and history—Liberal, Kansas, the setting of The Wizard of Oz, and the Alamo are both located on or near the Road to Nowhere.

The only thing that’s certain on this fantastical road trip is the need for a reliable street bike. Riders Share is the go-to resource in this department: you’ll find an assortment of newer motorcycles available for rent.

1. Chalk Pyramids — Smoky Hills Region of Kansas

Ride past Oakley, Kansas on a warm summer day, and you’ll encounter the sprawling flowerbeds and rocky scenery that marks the beginning of the Sunflower State’s Smoky Hills area. The Smoky Hills’ defining feature is the Chalk Pyramids, otherwise known as Monument Rocks or the Kansas Pyramids. 

These massive rock formations will remind you of Arches National Park in Utah and are just as awe-inspiring to behold for the cross-state traveler. The Chalk Pyramids, chock-full of preserved fossils, rise 70 feet above the open expanse, having been deposited eons ago when this part of Kansas was an unknown seabed. 

Once you’ve had your fill of these otherworldly attractions, we recommend stopping at the Keystone Gallery on US-83, located between Oakley and Scott City. Here you can pick up maps of the area and take a look at the gallery’s fossil displays and art and sculptures crafted by local artists.

A word of caution: the Pyramids lie on publicly-accessible private land. You’re more than welcome to hop off your motorcycle rental and check them out on foot, although you won’t find any amenities unless you hit Keystone Gallery, Oakley, or Scott City.

2. Lee Richardson Zoo — Garden City, Kansas

More engaging than the fossils of Kansas’ Chalk Pyramids are the live animals on display at Lee Richardson Zoo, located in Garden City, the biggest town in this portion of the Great Plains. Although Garden City is best-known for its gigantic, 2.6-million-gallon public swimming pool, Garden City’s museum has a wider appeal. Here you’ll lay eyes on animals native to climes and climates far removed from the Kansan plains—rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and monkeys from the heart of Africa await every visitor with an hour to spare. 

Once you’ve exhausted your curiosity at the zoo, ride over to the pool south of US-50 at the end of 4th Street if you need to cool off. Otherwise, ride to Garden City’s brick-paved downtown area and check out the dusty antique shops and modern department stores. Windsor Hotel, the “Waldorf of the Prairies,” is located downtown, too. It once drew the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody but is currently closed for refurbishment work. Finally, escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city at the Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area off the west side of Business US-83, half a mile south of Garden City.

Garden City is home to a wealth of amenities—gas stations, motels, eateries, you name it. Admission to Lee Richardson Zoo is free; if you’d like to do the drive-through tour, you’ll have to pay a small fee.

3. Dorothy’s House — Liberal, Kansas

Lovers of The Wizard of Oz—whether the famous 1939 Technicolor adaptation or the 1900 children’s book by L. Frank Baum—will want to make a point of stopping in Liberal, Kansas. This dusty little town claims to be the actual setting of Dorothy’s Kansan home in The Wizard of Oz and has gone to the great length of constructing recreations of the film’s sets. 

The reconstructions are located one block north of US-54 (a very twisted road) at Dorothy’s House, also known as the Coronado Museum. Here you’ll find a historical museum, replicas of Dorothy’s bedroom, and miniature Yellow Brick Road bristling with models of Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow! The Museum’s Coronado moniker stems from its possessing a horse bit from Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado’s 1541 expedition through the area. If this sounds like loads of fun already, consider the fact that every October the town holds OzFest at Dorothy’s House. If you don’t end up riding your motorcycle rental through town in October, you can visit the Mid-American Air Museum on Liberal’s old army airfield; it’s one of the largest air museums in America and home to over 100 different aircraft types spanning the entire history of aviation. Aircraft from World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War are especially well-represented.

Dorothy’s House lies 68 miles south of Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City. It’s a straight shot down US-83. Hungry? There’s no better place in all of Kansas to grab a hot plate of pancakes than at Liberal’s Pancake House, fittingly located on Pancake Boulevard, a section of US-83 and US-54. Pancake Boulevard also boasts most of the motels and restaurants in town.

4. Paint Rock Pictographs — Paint Rock, Texas

South of Ballinger, Texas, you’ll travel back into the prehistoric past. The Paint Rock Pictographs near Paint Rock, Texas constitute the largest collection of prehistoric drawings in the state. You’ll get to see over 1,500 of these pictographs covering the limestone buff on the Concho River’s north bank like a series of surreal tattoos. These pictographs vary in size—some are only a few inches tall, while others run as tall as five feet. Although many of the pictographs date from the 19th century and were created by local Comanche Indians, some are believed to date from 1,000 years ago, when the Kiowa and Apache people lived in this area. The town of Paint Rock itself is worth a stop and perhaps a few pictures; it’s made up of idyllic, abandoned buildings and churches. Note: Like the Chalk Pyramids of Kansas, the Paint Rock Pictographs are themselves located on privately-owned land.

5. The Alamo — San Antonio, Texas

Although it’s a detour on the Road to Nowhere, the Alamo needs no introduction. Located smack dab in the center of bustling San Antonio, the Alamo is a centerpiece of American history and the site of a defining battle for the American Southwest. This small 18th-century Mexican Church took on monumental significance for Texans in their war for independence against Mexico in the fateful year of 1835, when a band of mercenaries led by Davy Crockett and Colonel William Travis captured the location and were later killed defending it from the Mexican Army. 

Nowadays the church is the endpoint of many a Texan history buff’s Southwest pilgrimage, making it one of the most-visited spots in the entire United States. After paying your respects to the heroes of the Alamo, take the River Walk through downtown San Antonio to get a taste of the city’s wealth of attractions. If you’ve rented a motorcycle in Kansas City, the Alamo is the perfect place to make your “last stand” on the Road to Nowhere!

If you’re looking to soak up the history of this historic place, stay at the relatively-affordable Menger Hotel across the street. Entry into the Alamo Church is free; the church itself is open on a daily basis.

A road trip to Nowhere is guaranteed to take you somewhere—if you have the right ride to get you there. Riders Share is going to be the easiest solution for renting a motorcycle. It’s convenient, easy to use, and reliable; you’ll be renting from riders like you, so you’ll have a wide selection.