17 Things to Know Before You PCS to Ft Riley

I admit I didn’t know much about Ft Riley or Manhattan, Kansas before we arrived. This post focuses specifically on the important things you should know about living on or near Ft Riley before you come here. Fact, opinion, or observation, here are 17 Things to Know Before You PCS to Ft Riley.

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welcome-to-Manhattan-Kansas 17 Things to Know Before You PCS to Ft Riley

17 Things to Know Before You PCS to Ft Riley

Because You are in Kansas Now

So, you have PCS orders to Ft Riley, and you want to know a little about your home for the next two to three years?  Here are a few things to help you acclimate to the midwest. Because Dorothy, you are in Kansas now.


1. Location

Before you PCS to Ft Riley, you should know that the post is located in Manhattan, Kansas. The Fort Riley Community also includes Junction City and Ogden.

The post is in the middle of nowhere, more than two hours from Kansas City or Wichita and an hour from Topeka. Both Kansas City sports franchises are located side by side on the Missouri side of Kansas City, just like the International Airport.

2. Dirt Roads & Highways

There are more dirt roads in this state than any other state in the union. That’s saying a lot if you’ve ever been to Louisiana or Mississippi.

As you’d expect, Kansas has a lot of highways too. I-70 runs east-west across the entire state, designating it as a danger of high trafficking (people and substance). If you have a TxTag account, you can breeze through toll stops in Kansas without stopping for a ticket.

Make sure you don’t speed through Ogden on your way to Fort Riley. It’s a speed trap.

3. It’s Not That Flat

I know. I thought Kansas was flat too. But the area around Ft Riley is very hilly. You can’t escape them if you like to walk, run or hike. And the hills offer some scenic landscapes to enjoy the local vegetation.


4. The Weather

But it is windy. We’ve been here two years and witnessed an equal number of hurricane warmings. You are probably familiar with how common hurricanes are but may not be aware of the extremes in temperature. We didn’t expect that the winters are bitterly cold, and the summers are brutally hot.


5. Diversity

Before You PCS to Ft Riley, know that this area lacks diversity. If you are used to a multicultural environment, you will not find it here. And that is directly reflected in the black hair and skin services I rely on to stay beautiful, as well as the foods and cultural activities that fuel this blog. According to the last census, 17% of the population is non-white. The remaining population, Hispanic, Black, and Asian, is 5.8%, 5.5%, and 5.1%.

6. Politics & Religion 

Kansas is a fairly conservative state that recently elected a Democratic Governor. Like Kansas City, Manhattan is a pocket of complicated yet progressive thought due to the overwhelming, if not transient, military and student populations.

The ratio of Republicans edges out Democrats 46-42%, with the rest identifying as independent.

Welcome-to-Kansas-Highway-Sign 17 Things to Know Before You PCS to Ft Riley


7. Jobs are Abundant

If you are interested in working, you will find a job on-post, in Manhattan or Junction City. The current unemployment rate in Manhattan is 3.4%, which means there is a job for anyone who wants one. The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. And unfortunately, many jobs pay a little better than minimum wage.

Fort Riley

8. Visitors to Ft Riley

As of June 4th, Ft Riley has modified the Trusted Traveler Program to eliminate the requirement for each passenger in a vehicle who is 16 years or older to present a photo ID when escorted by a trusted traveler. This policy is for travelers from within a 70-mile radius of Ft Riley. All other visitors must gain entry through the Visitor Control Center.

The Visitor Control Center is located at Exit 301, U.S. Interstate Highway 70 at Fort Riley’s main gate, is open 24 hours daily.


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9. Manhattan is a College Town

Manhattan is home to the Kansas State University Wildcats. School pride is deeply-rooted here, and so is the color purple. Banks, businesses, and buses are splashed with dark purple To show their devotion to the school. In fall 2017, Kansas State University had an enrollment of 22,795 or more than 41% of the city’s population.

Kansas State University was recognized as the first bicycle-friendly University in Kansas. And Manhattan has more than 40 miles of biking and walking paths in the city. Click here for downloadable maps.

10. University Rivalry

All you have to do is attend one football game to see there’s no love lost for their fellow Kansas Big 8 rival, the University of Kansas Jayhawks. As of 1902, it is one of the longest-running rivalries in college football. With 117 match-ups as of 2019, Kansas leads the matchups 64–48–5.


11. Aggieville & Alcohol

Aggieville is also called the Ville, is the 6 block neighborhood adjacent to the KSU campus. It’s where you will find most of the college kids on the weekend. But there are also a few good places to eat, get a beer, or work from home for the free Wi-fi. It’s also the location of many popular festivals like the Nothing Festival and Taste of the Ville.

Did you know that Kansas is one of eight states never to ratify the 21st Amendment? Nonetheless, alcohol is legal– thank Goodness. It can be purchased on Sunday, but only after 12 pm. Bars close at 2 am.

12. Manhattan Regional Airport

The regional airport’s single airline carrier is American Airlines, and they only fly back and forth from Chicago and Dallas. Click here to access the website and schedule. And if you keep an eye out, you might be able to find a good deal for a weekend adventure.

13. Rideshare Services

Uber, Lyft, and ATA Bus all provide ridesharing for the general public, complementary paratransit services, and transportation in and around Flint Hills and KSU.

14. Recycling

I have yet to see recycling buns around town. And none of the garbage companies offer curbside glass recycling. You have to take your glass to the recycling plant yourself. I have many garbage collection issues here in town; if you’re interested, let me know in the comments below.

15. Controlled Burning

For a few weeks, farmers burn the prairie grasses in a controlled burn designed to replenish the fields every year. It can be a challenging time for people who have respiratory disorders like asthma. The burning season takes place in the spring.

16. Housing

Ft Riley offers a blend of new and historic housing spread out in 5 different communities across the post. And each has its own management team, with a distinct personality based on family size and rank. We have five Community Centers across Ft Riley. There are five community centers with amenities like a pool, fitness center, a computer lab, meeting space, and an arts and craft center.


17. Artillery Trailing

The first two or ten times you hear the BOOM and feel the house shake is the worst. Then you get used to it. Sometimes it’s the only thing that reminds me that there is a military installation here because I rarely venture on-post.

I used to chuckle when people referred to the drive to Ft Riley as long. It’s only 15 minutes from my front door. However, the post itself is humungous. Combine that with the snail’s pace speed limit, and you’ll quickly understand why I only go for the doctor’s appointments (785-239-3627) at Irwin Army Hospital.

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  1. Chard Kim

    I am also planning a trip to. I need to get ready for this and get more information about the current situation. can you tell me if they still do passport photos?

  2. Melissa

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read the last comment. When I first moved here I thought everything was going to fall off the walls and the windows rattled so much it scared me to death. Then eventually you just get used to it like its normal.

  3. Valerie

    I am planning a trip abroad right after we get to Riley. Do you know if they still do passport photos on-post?

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hi Valerie. No they don’t do passport photos here any more. Just DA photos from what I understand. I had mine done at UPS, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Their camera– or the subject matter– sucked. lol. I didn’t like the photo quality. You know you can download an app and take the photo yourself against a white background. Just make sure you don’t smile or cover your face in anyway.

  4. Sandy

    I didn’t realize Fort Riley was so far from Kansas City. I guess I need to get ready for a few road trips.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      We used to go to KC, Wichita or Topeka at least one or two weekends a month before covid-19. I look forward to the return to normal life whenever that is. Right now we have a mask mandate and many businesses are open to reduced or limited hours.

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