#23 – Kansas City Cliff Drive
3500 Gladstone Blvd Kansas City, MO 64123
Features: Biking/Running Path, Disc Golf Course, Rock Climbing, Scenic Views
Good for: “Getting out” of the city.
Tip: Explore Cliff Drive by bicycle or on foot to get the best experience.
Cliff Drive is State Scenic Byway in historic Northeast Kansas City. The winding, paved drive throughout the heavily wooded area overlooks the Missouri River and Kansas City Industrial parks. It’s the perfect spot for runners, bikers, rock climbers, disc golfers and view seekers.
About Cliff Drive
Unlike other, more popular scenic byways (like the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66), the 4.5-mile Cliff Drive is short – the shortest scenic byway in the United States. Cliff Drive is also the only scenic byway in Missouri located in an urban area.
To receive a State Scenic Byway designation, a byway must be recreational, historic, cultural, archeological, scenic or natural. Cliff Drive qualifies in three ways – Cliff Drive was a historically significant urban design and planning effort. It was critical to the development of Kansas City, and it preserves natural features of the Missouri River Valley.
The History of Cliff Drive
A famous Kansas City pioneer family was among the first to settle around the Cliff Drive area. The Scaritt family built a log cabin high on the hillside and used the natural springs in the area to cool their milk and butter.
In 1899, Kansas City bought the land from the Scarritt estate. The natural spring was transformed into a fountain and eventually fell into disrepair. In the 1980s, the scallop-shelled fountain was rediscovered and restored into the waterfall it is today.
Today, the area is far from a pioneers’ homestead. The large park offers something for everyone – A paved path throughout the forests for walkers, runners and bikers. Limestone bluffs for adventurous climbers. Benches for the view seekers. Dirt trails for the hikers and mountain bikers. Each weekend, Cliff Drive is closed to vehicles, giving pedestrians full access to the road.
The reviews on Google and Yelp are true – there is a lot of trash dumping along Cliff Drive. Unfortunately the area is pretty secluded, so people have the time and privacy to dump their trash. We stayed on the main paved road and didn’t venture onto the paths throughout the park, so the ravines filled with trash wasn’t as visible. The views are still gorgeous and the cliffs are astonishing. It’s such a perfect escape from the city, even though you’re just ten minutes from Downtown. xx, Libbie.