Kansas provides numerous state parks that invite residents and visitors to explore Kansas outdoors. Whatever your interest — hiking, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, bike riding, horseback riding, hunting, or just plain relaxing, a Kansas state park has what you’re looking for. Most offer utility and primitive camping and access to lakes, trails, and wildlife areas. A few are preserved natural areas so visitors can enjoy unspoiled, wild Kansas. Many parks also host events such as concerts, festivals, and competitions.
Cedar Bluff State Park – Cedar Bluff State Park is just 13 miles south of Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas. The park straddles Cedar Bluff Reservoir: the Bluffton Area on the north shore and the Page Creek Area on the south shore. Camping, boating, outdoor sports, wildlife viewing, and other opportunities are available in the park. With a unique look into Kansas’ history, the many activities available at Cedar Bluff make it a quality destination. Cedar Bluff State Park is located in Trego County 21 miles southeast of WaKeeney.
Cheney State Park – Cheney Reservoir was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation, with final construction completed in 1964. Its primary uses include fish and wildlife management, recreation, flood control, and water supply for Wichita. The reservoir complex consists of 9,537 acres of water at the conservation pool, 5,249 acres of wildlife area, and 1,913 acres of the state park. The reservoir is located 17 miles west of Wichita in Cheney, Kansas.
Clinton State Park – Four miles west of historic Lawrence, Kansas, is Clinton State Park in the Osage Cuestas woodlands. The 1,500-acre park is located on the northern shore of Clinton Reservoir. Boat ramps and courtesy docks allow easy access to the reservoir, known for clear water and good fishing. Anglers, boaters, and campers enjoy the Clinton Lake Marina. It offers boat slips, retail sales, and equipment rentals. Whitetail deer, turkey, waterfowl, and numerous species of songbirds inhabit the carefully managed areas. During the spring and fall, bald eagles frequent the shoreline and nest at the reservoir. In spring, native wildflowers are easily seen from a self-guided nature trail. Other trails throughout the park provide mountain biking, hiking, and even cross-country skiing. Activities such as picnicking, swimming, archery practice at the range, or camping on one of the nearly 500 campsites in the park are available. The park also offers over 200 RV sites with water and electricity.
Crawford State Park – The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the 150-acre lake on Drywood Creek in the early 1930s. Shortly after that, a fish hatchery was built below the dam. In 1965, Crawford State Park was established. One of the most beautiful parks in the state, Crawford is located on the Ozarks’ edge. Redbud trees offer spectacular beauty in spring, plus multicolored foliage in the fall. The area provides an unequaled opportunity for wildlife and scenic adventures. There are two recorded archaeological sites identified within the boundaries of Crawford State Park. It is located nine miles north of Girard, Kansas, on Highway 7.
Cross Timbers State Park – Cross Timbers State Park at Toronto Lake is located in the gently rolling hills of the Verdigris River Valley in southeastern Kansas. This 1,075-acre preserve overlooks the 2800-acre Toronto Reservoir marking the northern reaches of a region known to early explorers, pioneers, and today by ecologists as the Cross Timbers. Forested flood plains are surrounded by open prairie, hills of oak savannah, and forests. This setting allows visitors to enjoy wildlife in their natural setting and see some of Kansas’ most diverse flora and fauna. Those enjoying outdoor study and nature observation will find the park a great area for their pursuits. The park offers many recreational activities, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, picnicking, boating, and fishing are popular pursuits. Cross Timbers State Park is located 12 miles west of Yates Center, Kansas.
Eisenhower State Park & Melvern Lake – A 1,785-acre park of rolling hills with 18 miles of trails, horseback riding trails, a playground, beach, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball court, and basketball court for your family gatherings. Eisenhower State Park is located on the North shore of Melvern Lake, about 10 miles northwest of Melvern, Kansas.
El Dorado State Park – Sitting on the shore of El Dorado Reservoir, the park consists of trails for horses, hiking, biking, and swimming beaches. El Dorado State Park is located 3 miles east of El Dorado, Kansas.
Elk City State Park – Providing numerous recreational opportunities, Elk City State Park is located approximately five miles northwest of Independence, Kansas.
Fall River State Park – Home to a remarkable diversity of plant and animal life, the park provides six hiking trails that offer visitors an up-close and personal perspective on this unique area. Fall River offers good fishing opportunities for channel catfish, white bass, crappie, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, and walleye. Fall River State Park is located between the Cross Timbers region and the grasslands of the Flint Hills, near Toronto, Kansas.
Flint Hills Trail State Park – This crown jewel of Kansas trails extends 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington, Kansas. Following the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, it is the seventh-longest rail trail in the U.S. and the longest trail in Kansas. The park is open to non-motorized travel – hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Glen Elder State Park – Sitting on the shores of Waconda Lake, one of Kansas’ largest lakes, the park offers nearly unlimited recreational opportunities, including boating, hiking, volleyball, softball, and bike riding. Glen Elder State Park is located in Glen Elder, Kansas.
Hillsdale State Park – This park offers outdoor recreational opportunities to fishermen, boaters, hunters, swimmers, horseback riders, model airplane fliers, hikers, naturalists, photographers, and sightseers. Hillsdale State Park is located in Paola, Kansas.
Kanopolis State Park – Kansas’ oldest recreation area includes 15,000 acres of rolling hills, bluffs, and woods. Kanopolis Reservoir at a normal pool covers 3,000 acres and is located just off Highway K-141, 33 miles southwest of Salina. Construction of the reservoir’s dam began in 1940 but was halted in 1942 due to World War II. Construction resumed in 1946, and the project was completed in 1948.
Kaw River State Park – The park property presently consists of 76 acres of land on the south bank of the Kansas River in west Topeka. The area is mostly hardwood forest overlooking the Kansas (Kaw) River and is adjacent to MacLennan Park and Cedar Crest (the Kansas Governor’s residence) to the east.
Lake Meade State Park – The park rests in the High Plains of southwest Kansas with an 80-acre lake that provides excellent opportunities for the angler, and there is a nature trail that has been marked at the northwest corner of the lake. Meade State Park is located 5 miles West of Meade, Kansas.
Little Jerusalem Badlands – This 332-acre area encompasses 220 acres of dramatic chalk rock formations left when an inland sea covered Kansas. These fragile but ruggedly spectacular geologic formations provide breathtaking views and are also home to wildlife – from bats, and ferruginous hawks to snakes, toads, lizards, and plants found nowhere else in the world. The park, which provides a mile-long stretch of 100-foot-tall spires and cliffs, is located between Oakley and Historic Lake Scott State Park.
Lovewell State Park – This 1160-acre State Park, located 18 miles northeast of Mankato on U.S. Highway 14, offers a blend of camping, fishing, wildlife watching, and special events.
Milford State Park – Located near Junction City on the shores of the state’s largest lake, 16,000-acre Milford Reservoir. Milford State Park offers a multi-purpose trails system, great for nature lovers and backpackers. The brushy and rocky coves contain crappie and largemouth bass, but coves in the Rolling Hills and Curtis Creek areas are traditional hot spots for crappie. Milford State Park is located in Milford, Kansas.
Mushroom Rock State Park – In this five-acre park, Dakota formations can be seen that are the remains of beach sands and sediments of the Cretaceous Period, 144 to 66 million years ago. The concretions make up Mushroom Rocks, the largest of which measures 27 feet in diameter. Mushroom Rock State Park is located near Marquette, Kansas.
Perry Lake State Park – Sitting on the southwest portion of Perry Reservoir and features a sand beach and picnic areas. Perry State Park offers 22 miles of biking and hiking trails in the Delaware Area and 25 miles of equestrian trails in the Jefferson Point Area. Perry State Park is located near Ozawkie, Kansas.
Pomona State Park – Located on the south shore of Pomona Reservoir, a 4,000-acre lake that features scenic beauty and an abundance of wildlife. Pomona state park consists of 490 acres. Recreational opportunities await you with three hiking trails, a swim beach, day-use picnic areas, volleyball and basketball courts, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, and a nine-hole disc golf course. Pomona State Park is located 30 miles south of Topeka, Kansas, in Vassar, Kansas.
Prairie Dog State Park – The park occupies 1,150 acres on the shores of Keith Sebelius Reservoir. Prairie Dog State Park is home to a thriving prairie dog colony and is the site of the last remaining adobe house in Kansas. The renovated adobe house was built on the site in the early 1890s. Sebelius Reservoir is well known for its excellent fishing for black bass, walleye, wiper, crappie, catfish, and saugeye. Prairie Dog State Park is located near Norton, Kansas.
Prairie Spirit Rail Trail – This linear park is located along a former rail bed of the old Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Fort Gibson Railroad. Running between Iola and Ottawa, a distance of 51 miles, the trails pass through 10 charming rural communities. This greenway and travel corridor is open to pedestrians and bicyclists who will enjoy diverse ecosystems, including tallgrass prairie, riparian areas, agricultural lands, and communities.
Sand Hills State Park – A 1,123-acre natural area has been preserved for its sand dunes, grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. Popular activities at the park are hiking, horseback riding, hunting, bird watching, and wildflower walks. There are eight distinct trails within the park, broken down into interpretive, hiking, and horseback riding trails. There are 14 miles of trails that weave in between 10 to 40 feet high sand dunes. Sand Hills State Park is located North of Hutchinson, Kansas.
Scott State Park – Park provides an ideal setting for boating, swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation. Scott State Park is a stunning oasis of natural springs, deeply wooded canyons, and craggy bluffs. The 1,020-acre park surrounds the 100-acre, spring-fed Scott State Fishing Lake, and nature trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders, and naturalists. The Steele home, the original settlers’ dwelling in the area, has been preserved much as it was 100 years ago. The park also boasts the northernmost pueblo in the U. S. – El Cuartelejo. Scott State Park is located near Scott City, Kansas.
Tuttle Creek State Park – This Park offers visitors various outdoor recreation possibilities. Tuttle Creek Reservoir, the state’s second-largest lake, offers 12,500 acres of water and approximately 100 miles of rugged, wooded shoreline to explore. Tuttle Creek State Park has numerous nature trails, a mountain biking trail, and a scenic equestrian trail that offers explorers various routes to explore the Flint Hills environment. There is an 18-hole disc golf course, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and the state-of-the-art Fancy Creek Shooting Range. Excellent channel cat and flathead fishing are available in the lake and in the river above and below the lake. Tuttle Creek State Park is located in Manhattan, Kansas. Also See: Dam Foolishness at Tuttle Creek
Webster State Park – Park offers boaters ample launching facilities on a usually uncluttered lake at the conservation level. Webster State Park is located in Stockton, Kansas.
Wilson State Park – Park sits on the south side of Wilson Reservoir. Wilson State Park is divided into two areas: Hell Creek and Otoe. Wilson State Park is one of Kansas’ premier recreation hot spots to fish, hike, water-ski, and boasts of having one of Kansas’s best Mountain bike trails. Wilson State Park is located in Wilson, Kansas.
Compiled by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated October 2022.