Zebulon Montgomery Pike's exploration of Kansas was part of his second expedition. He was actually dubbed "The Lost Pathfinder" by his biographer, W. Eugene Hollon. Pike's expedition was launched by Gen. James Wilkinson without the initial authorization of President Jefferson. Wilkinson's intent has remained a mystery, however, Pike departed from St. Louis, Missouri in July 1806.

His route took him west along the Missouri River. His party then traveled through Kansas, camping one occasion, near the Pike Trail Marker west of Delphos. He then traveled to a nearby Pawnee Indian Village. When Pike led his first American expedition across the plains of Kansas, he boasted that game was so plentiful "one hunter could easily support two hundred men a day..." and later as he stood at the top of a hill he was amazed to see "buffalo, elk, deer, antelope and panther."

They stayed at the Pawnee village for several days and legend says that Pike demanded that the Pawnee lower the Spanish flag and replace it with that of the United States. Pike and his men went up the Arkansas River to the site of Pueblo, Colorado, exploring much of the country, and eventually sighting the peak that is named after him, Pike's Peak.