When most people think of Kansas, they might imagine flat prairies and endless fields of wheat. But there’s much more to this Midwestern state than meets the eye. From rolling hills and rocky outcroppings to pristine lakes and winding rivers, Kansas has plenty of outdoor activities to offer for adventure-seekers and nature lovers alike. Kansas may not have the mountains or oceans of other states, but it more than makes up for it with its diverse array of outdoor activities. From hiking and camping in the tallgrass prairie to kayaking on Lake Shawnee, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the natural beauty of this Midwestern state. So get out there and explore all that Kansas has to offer!
Here are some of the top things to do for outdoor enthusiasts in Kansas.
1. Hiking and Camping at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a unique landscape that showcases the beauty of the Great Plains. This preserve covers over 10,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and is home to bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and a variety of bird species. Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails and enjoy camping in the peaceful surroundings.
2. Canoeing and Fishing on the Kansas River
The Kansas River is one of the state’s longest and most beautiful waterways, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Visitors can rent canoes or kayaks and paddle down the river, stopping along the way to fish for bass, catfish, and other species. The Kansas River is also a popular spot for camping, picnicking, and wildlife watching.
3. Exploring the Flint Hills
The Flint Hills region of Kansas is known for its stunning landscapes, rolling hills, and rocky outcroppings. Visitors can explore the region on foot, horseback, or mountain bike, with trails ranging from easy to challenging. The Flint Hills also offer opportunities for wildlife watching and birding, with over 300 bird species recorded in the area.
4. Rock Climbing at Rock City
Rock City is a unique geological formation in north-central Kansas that consists of massive sandstone concretions. This area offers some of the best rock climbing opportunities in the state, with challenging routes for experienced climbers and easier climbs for beginners. Rock City is also a great spot for hiking and wildlife viewing.
5. Visiting Lake Scott State Park
Lake Scott State Park is a hidden gem in western Kansas, featuring a 100-acre lake surrounded by rugged sandstone cliffs and rolling prairies. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating on the lake, as well as hiking, camping, and wildlife watching in the surrounding area. The park also features a historic adobe pueblo, which was inhabited by Native Americans over 600 years ago.
6. Cycling on the Prairie Spirit Trail
The Prairie Spirit Trail is a 51-mile rail-trail that runs from Ottawa to Iola in eastern Kansas. This scenic trail passes through small towns, farmland, and prairies, offering stunning views of the countryside. The trail is open to hiking, cycling, and horseback riding, with plenty of opportunities for picnicking and wildlife watching.
7. Exploring the Gypsum Hills
The Gypsum Hills, also known as the Red Hills, are a series of low-lying hills in south-central Kansas. These hills are made of red gypsum rock and offer stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can explore the area on foot, horseback, or ATV, with trails ranging from easy to difficult. The Gypsum Hills also offer opportunities for camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
8. Watching Wildlife at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a sprawling wetland complex in south-central Kansas, home to a diverse array of wildlife species. Visitors can watch sandhill cranes, pelicans, and other waterfowl from observation towers and hiking trails, and spot bison, deer, and coyotes roaming the prairies. The refuge also offers fishing and hunting opportunities, as well as educational programs and events throughout the year.
9. Stargazing at the Flint Hills Discovery Center
The Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kansas is a museum and educational center dedicated to the Flint Hills region. In addition to interactive exhibits and educational programs, the Discovery Center also offers stargazing events throughout the year. Visitors can explore the night sky with telescopes and learn about astronomy from knowledgeable guides.
10. Hunting at Milford Lake
Milford Lake is the largest lake in Kansas, covering over 15,000 acres of water and offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hunting is a popular activity at Milford Lake, with abundant populations of deer, turkey, and waterfowl. The lake also offers fishing, boating, camping, and hiking opportunities, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
11. Visiting the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas is a must-visit destination for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike. This museum showcases the life and legacy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene and was an avid outdoorsman. Visitors can explore exhibits on Eisenhower’s military and political career, as well as his love of golfing, fishing, and hunting.
12. Golfing at Prairie Dunes Country Club
Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas is a world-renowned golf course that has hosted multiple USGA championships. This challenging course is known for its rolling hills, challenging bunkers, and stunning views of the surrounding prairies. Golfers can also enjoy the club’s amenities, including a clubhouse, pro shop, and dining options.
13. Exploring the Konza Prairie Biological Station
The Konza Prairie Biological Station is a research station and nature preserve in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. This preserve covers over 8,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and is home to a variety of wildlife species. Visitors can explore the area on hiking trails and learn about the region’s ecology and conservation efforts.
14. Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Lake Shawnee
Lake Shawnee in Topeka, Kansas is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts, offering kayaking, paddleboarding, and other activities on the lake. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, hiking, and picnicking in the surrounding park, which features a golf course, playgrounds, and other amenities.
15. Exploring the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area
The Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is a wetland complex in central Kansas, home to a diverse array of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife species. Visitors can explore the area on hiking trails and observation decks, and watch for migratory birds during the spring and fall. The area also offers hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as educational programs and events throughout the year.
Kansas may not be the first destination that comes to mind for outdoor enthusiasts.
However, the state offers plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, fishing, hunting, or just enjoying the great outdoors, Kansas has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your gear, and head out to discover all that this hidden gem of a state has to offer.
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