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Kansas fights back after it is ranked last in a list of beautiful states


Too many people hear the word Kansas and think of this.



In "The Wizard Of Oz," scenes of Kansas are in black and white. In real life, people apparently imagine just a big, flat rectangle. And rankings of the most beautiful states put Kansas last. One particular ranking by Thrillist did so. Kansas was last, which is why Kynala Phillips, a reporter at the Kansas City Star, said, wait - that's unfair to Kansas.

KYNALA PHILLIPS: It's understated and diverse. And if you don't really have a reason to stick around and really breathe and take in all of the beauty, you might miss it.

INSKEEP: A, Phillips is right. I drove across Kansas a few years ago for NPR, discovered enormous grasslands and hills. But that's just my opinion. Phillips is a reporter who wanted facts, so she asked readers to prove the beauty of Kansas with photos.

MARTÍNEZ: And they did. One shows the stark beauty of Monument Rocks. Another shows flowers outside the state capitol, another - highway leading off into the distance into Flint Hills. Danielle Moreno (ph) supports this.

DANIELLE MORENO: I think Kansas is one of those states that people oftentimes don't even consider.

MARTÍNEZ: Danielle moved to Kansas for college and stayed.

MORENO: Sure, yeah, you don't have as many other mountains. Or you don't have a lot of rivers. But you have these immense and vast fields that just look like infinity.

INSKEEP: Which Kevin Muhammad (ph) knows because he grew up in northeast Kansas.

KEVIN MUHAMMAD: You have a lot of things that are left untouched. And when it's been untouched and kind of, like, less traveled, you see a lot of nature at its finest. It's almost like you kind of, like, travel back in time to sort of - it's like a time capsule.

MARTÍNEZ: And there's one more thing.

MORENO: Something else that I really love about Kansas is its people. People are very, very welcoming, very friendly.

MUHAMMAD: I think you really have to live there to really appreciate what Kansas has to offer.

MARTÍNEZ: Photos meant to prove their points can be found at kansascity.com.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.