With tomorrow being Healthy Trails Adventure Day, which allows free entry to any of the Kansas state parks, I thought it would be fitting to create a Kansas State Parks road trip!
Kanopolis State Park
Our first stop is Kanopolis State Park, just northwest of Marquette, Kansas. Kanopolis is a wonderful place to spend the sunrise. Take a hike on the Horsethief Canyon trail, visit the spillway waterfall and make sure to check out the actual lake!
Mushroom Rock State Park
Mushroom Rock State Park is just north of Kanopolis State Park by a few miles. It’s down a small dirt road. While the main rock that the park is named after is accessed via a quick 2-3 minute walk down the trail to the south of the road, make sure to check out some of the other rock formations in the area!
Wilson State Park
Wilson State Park is one of my favorites in all of Kansas! Wilson Lake is known for it’s amazing clear, blue waters! In fact, it’s known to be the clearest lake in Kansas! A plethora of activities await here, from boating and kayaking, to mountain biking and hiking. The cliffs that jut inward along the rim of the lake make for great kayaking, while the trail above these same cliffs belongs to the Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail.
Cedar Bluff State Park
To the west of Wilson State Park lies Cedar Bluff State Park. Cedar Bluff State Park is the main attraction of the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway. The most interesting feature about the reservoir is the giant 100 foot bluffs that line parts of the south side of the lake.
Lake Scott State Park
Our final stop is Lake Scott State Park, along the Western Vistas Historic Byway. You’ll want to leave a lot of time to work with at Lake Scott, as there’s plenty to do! Lake Scott is located inside of a canyon. Surrounding the lake are the walls of the canyon, with spring waters from springs like the Big Spring feeding into the lake. While the beauty of the lake is stunning, it’s history is equally amazing! Within the park’s boundaries is the only known pueblo in Kansas, El Quartelejo. It was built by Native American’s who entered the region after fleeing Spanish rule in New Mexico in the 1600’s. To the south of Lake Scott is the beautiful Battle Canyon. At first glance, Battle Canyon appears to be a scenic canyon that cuts through the prairie. Digging deeper into the history of the region presents even more though. Battle Canyon was the site of the last Native American battle in Kansas. Today, a monument stands at the spot where many of the Northern Cheyenne women and children hid during the battle. When visited Lake Scott, make sure to visit all of these areas, as they are truly remarkable! If you have a little time, the hiking trails make a great way to finish off the day. Feel free to stay and camp as well. Lake Scott has some wonderful camping grounds to spend the night at!
Optional side trips: Many of the best side trips are located near Lake Scott. The absolute must are the giant 70 foot tall chalk pyramids called Monument Rocks! In addition, just to the north of the lake lies the Little Pyramids and the badlands of Little Jerusalem. Castle Rock can also be found between Cedar Bluff State Park and Lake Scott State Park.