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

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE WIZARD OF OZ")

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

MARTINEZ: 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.

MARTINEZ: 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.

MARTINEZ: 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.

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

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