Kansas is a Midwestern U.S. state with no less than 26 state parks, including the famous Prairie Spirit Rail Trail. Boasting a wealth of outdoor recreational activities from hiking and mountain biking to fishing, camping, and horseback riding, Kansas state parks have something for everyone.

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1.Cedar Bluff State Park

Cedar Bluff State Park
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Cedar Bluff State Park is a state park and public recreation area in Trego County that spans 850 acres along the shorelines of Cedar Bluff Reservoir. The park is split into two areas – the Bluffton Area and the Page Creek Area. The Bluffton Area comprises 300 acres on the north shore and boasts a variety of facilities, including two boat ramps, campgrounds, rental cabins, picnic areas, and recreation such as shore side basketball, sand volleyball, horseshoes, a BMX track, and a lovely beach. The 500-acre Page Creek Area is on the south shore and is less busy than the Bluffton Area with large shade trees, sandy shorelines, and primitive camping grounds. Notable features in the park include Threshing Machine Canyon, which is home to rock carvings dating back to the mid-19th century.

32001, KS-147, Ellis, KS 67637, Phone: 785-726-3212

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2.Clinton State Park

Clinton State Park
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Located on the north shore of Clinton Lake at the western edge of Lawrence, Clinton State Park is a 1,500-acre state park and public recreation area offering an array of watersports and excellent fishing in the clear waters of the reservoir. Just four miles west of Lawrence, the year-round Clinton State Park features one of the largest marinas in the state, picnic shelters, playgrounds, year-round camping with both primitive and campgrounds, overnight cabins, and spectacular natural landscapes. Other amenities include hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing trails, an archery range, a one-mile self-guided nature trail, a park with a 10-hole disc golf course and an 18-hole disc golf course. There is also a beautiful beach with safe swimming area, sand volleyball, a trout pond with a fish cleaning station and two fish feeders, a mountain bike skills course, and two playgrounds.

798 N 1415 Rd, Lawrence, KS 66049, Phone: 785-842-8562

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3.Crawford State Park

Crawford State Park
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Crawford State Park is a 500-acre state park with a 150-acre lake that offers a wealth of recreational activities. Located on the edge of the Ozarks, nine miles north of Girard, the park features six campgrounds with spectacular views of the lake and a group use area at the south end of the lake. There are also five lakefront rental cabins in a beautiful lake setting, including two boat ramps, several hiking and biking trails, a lovely beach with safe swimming, fishing and pleasure boating. Crawford State Park boasts some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the state with a wide variety of lush foliage and wildflowers that support several species of butterflies and birds.

1 W Lake Rd, Farlington, KS 66734, Phone: 620-362-3671

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4.Cross Timbers State Park

Cross Timbers State Park
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Nestled in the hills of Verdigris River valley in southeast Kansas, Cross Timbers State Park is a state park and recreation area south of Toronto in Woodson County. Vast prairies surround a once-favored hunting and camping ground of Native Americans, and the verdantly forested flood plains, terraces and rolling hills of oak savannah offers spectacular natural scenes of the diverse flora and fauna in Kansas. The park features shaded campsites with easy access of the lake, several hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails, including the Chautauqua Hills Trail, and plenty of recreational activities such as backpacking, fishing, pleasure boating, and wildlife watching at the adjacent 4,600-acre Toronto Wildlife Area.

144 KS-105, Toronto, KS 66777, Phone: 620-637-2213

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5.Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower State Park
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Eisenhower State Park is a 1,785-acre state park in Osage County that is home to the 6,930-acre Melvern Lake, thousands of acres of tallgrass prairie and verdant woodlands. Located northeast of Emporia and south of Topeka, the park features utility campsites, primitive camping in several areas, including Five-Star, Sailboat Beach, and Omaha Swim Beach, and 15 equestrian campsites with individual corrals in the upper loop of Westpoint Campground. Other facilities in the park range from overnight cabins, primitive yurts, and several boat ramps to the Jones Family Activity Area with a basketball court, playground, and horseshoe pits. There is also a sand volleyball court, a swimming beach, an 18-hole disc golf course, picnic shelters, a fly-fishing pond, and a walk-through archery trail with 19 targets.

Osage City, KS 66523, Phone: 785-528-4102

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6.El Dorado State Park

El Dorado State Park
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Nestled in the scenic Flint Hills three miles east of El Dorado in Butler County, El Dorado State Park is the largest of Kansas' state parks, sprawling along the eastern and western shores of El Dorado Reservoir for 4,000 acres. Conveniently located near three state highways and the interstate, the park offers a wealth of recreation and outdoor activities, ranging from hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails to boating, fishing, kayaking, and other water sports. The 98 miles of shoreline are home to a wide variety of shore and wading birds, as well as small mammals and other wildlife, making for excellent bird and wildlife watching and photographic opportunities.

618 NE Bluestem Rd, El Dorado, KS 67042, Phone: 316-321-7180

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7.Elk City State Park

Elk City State Park
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Elk City State Park is an 857-acre park west of Independence in Montgomery County that lies next to the 4,500-acre Elk City Reservoir and the 12,000-acre Elk City Wildlife Area. Boasting beautiful landscapes with rolling meadows of big bluestem and Indian grass and dense oak and hickory woodlands that are home to a diverse variety of wildlife, the small park offers a variety of recreational activities for everyone from pleasure boating, fishing, kayaking and swimming to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping. There are children’s playgrounds and shady picnic spots, and the lake area offers picturesque panoramic views of the wooded hills and limestone bluffs. Favorite hiking trails in the area include the Eagle Rock Mountain Bike Trail, the Table Mound Hiking Trail, the Squaw Creek Hiking Trail, the Post-Oak and Green Thumb Nature Trails, and the 15-mile Elk River Hiking Trail.

4825 Squaw Creek Rd, Independence, KS 67301, Phone: 620-331-6295

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8.Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge

Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge
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Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary and refuge and essential resting area for migrating waterfowl. Located near the city of Hartford, in northwestern Coffey and southeastern Lyon Counties, the 18,463-acre refuge was established as part of the John Redmond Reservoir flood control project in 1966 and is currently managed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The sanctuary forms part of the floodplain of the Neosho River and features a diverse range of landscapes, including lush wetlands, prairie grasslands, hardwood forests, and croplands, which provide a safe habitat with plenty of food for resident wildlife and migratory birds. The Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge offers activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, bird and wildlife watching, and a variety of educational programs.

530 W Maple Ave, Hartford, KS 66854, Phone: 620-392-5553

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9.Glen Elder State Park

Glen Elder State Park
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The Glen Alder State Park is on the north shore of the 12,500-acre Glen Elder Reservoir, which is also known as Waconda Lake, a reservoir in the Mitchell and Osborne counties. Located just west of the city of Glen Elder, the reservoir was built for flood control and irrigation and offers a quiet rural place to relax and enjoy a range of activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and bird watching. The park also features the living museum of the Waconda Heritage Village, which highlights the history of the Native American tribes who lived in the region, as well as a visitor's center, a marina, an amphitheater, and camping facilities. Other activities that can be enjoyed include volleyball, softball, and cycling around the park.

2131 180 Rd, Glen Elder, KS 67446, Phone: 785-545-3345

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10.Hillsdale State Park

Hillsdale State Park
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Located between Spring Hill and Paola, Hillsdale State Park is built on the shore of Hillsdale Lake in eastern Kansas and features two hiking trails. Located in the rolling hills of Miami County south of the Kansas City Metro Area , the state park boasts more than 12,000 acres of park and wildlife area, including 4,500 acres of water and over 50 miles of shoreline, and offers a wealth of activities including fishing, pleasure boating, swimming, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, and seasonal hunting. The park is also home to the Saddle Ridge equestrian area on the east side of the reservoir, which offers over 30 miles of marked horseback riding trails.

26001 255 St, Paola, KS 66071, Phone: 913-783-4507

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11.Historic Lake Scott State Park

Historic Lake Scott State Park
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Lake Scott State Park is a 1,280-acre state park and recreation area in Scott County that surrounded the spring-fed freshwater Lake Scott. Established in 1928, the park, also known as Scott State Park is open for year-round recreation including boating, fishing, picnicking, camping, and hiking, as well as attractions such as the site of a ruined Taos Pueblo called El Cuartel, which is the only known Indian pueblo in Kansas. After having escaped the Spanish colonial rule in New Mexico, the Taos Indians built a settlement known as El Cuartelejo with protective pueblos and an irrigation system to water their crops. The community was abandoned after 20 years and later reoccupied by a group of Picuri Indians, and today the ruins stand as a National Historic Landmark. Lake Scott State Park features several campgrounds with modern restroom facilities, a swimming beach, a playground, and a paddle boat and canoe rentals.

Scott City, KS 67871, Phone: 620-872-2061

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12.Kanopolis State Park

Kanopolis State Park
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Kanopolis State Park is a 2,000-acre state park and wildlife sanctuary amid the rolling hills, bluffs, and woods of the Smoky Hills in eastern Ellsworth County. Located southwest of Salina, the park is home to a 3,500-acre reservoir, which offers pleasure boating, fishing for white bass and crappie, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. The surrounding shoreline offers excellent hiking on over 25 miles of trails, camping, bird and wildlife watching and seasonal hunting and facilities such as a marina, equestrian rentals, campgrounds, and overnight cabins. Hiking trails include the enthralling 1.5-mile Buffalo Track Nature Trail, which is rich in native plants and wildlife, as well as Native American history.

200 Horsethief Rd, Marquette, KS 67464, Phone: 785-546-2565

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13.Kaw River State Park

Kaw River State Park
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Set on the banks of the Kansas River in Topeka, the Kaw River State Park is a 76-acre urban type state park that offers a range of recreational activities, including kayaking and canoeing on the Kaw River, and several well-developed hiking trails. The park is situated next to MacLennan Park and Cedar Crest (the Kansas Governor’s residence) and offers interesting natural features and views for nature-lovers. The day-use-only park is home to many birds and wildlife and offers fishing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boating.

300 SW Wanamaker Rd, Topeka, KS, Phone: 66606-9601

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14.Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge

Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge
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The Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge is a National wildlife refuge and sanctuary located along the North Fork of the Solomon River in Kansas that is home to a wealth of birds and wildlife. Established in 1954 for the conservation of wildlife, particularly migratory birds, the refuge features a variety of landscapes including short and tallgrass prairie, wetlands, and croplands, which attract a wealth of mammals and over 300 species of birds, including two state-listed, threatened and endangered species. Recreational activities in the refuge include car tours, bird watching, and wildlife observation, leisure boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and educational and nature programs for all ages. The Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge is also home to a visitor’s center and a museum.

702 E Xavier Rd, Kirwin, KS 67644, Phone: 785-543-6673

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15.Lawrence Nature Park

Lawrence Nature Park
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The Lawrence Nature Park is a secluded conservation area that is home to the Prairie Park Nature Center, which opened as a 100-acre nature preserve on the east side of Lawrence. The park and is home to a variety of birds and wildlife, such as beavers, deer, bobcats, and raptors, and features a range of habitats including wetlands, woodlands, and prairie grasslands. The Lawrence Nature Park offers self-guided and guided walking trails for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts, as well as educational programs for all ages. A nature center conducts a range of environmental and recreation programs for the public, and an education building features several exhibits and displays including natural habitat dioramas, and live animals.

S Folks Rd, Lawrence, KS 66049, Phone: 785-832-3496

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16.Lovewell State Park

Lovewell State Park
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Located off the beaten track in northern Jewell County, Lovewell State Park is a haven for outdoor lovers, offering a wealth of recreational activities including camping, fishing, wildlife watching. Located near the city of Webber in Jewell County, the 1,160-acre state park has access to Lovewell Reservoir and features full-utility and primitive campsites, rentable overnight cabins, two fish cleaning stations, an archery range, and the Pioneer Day-use Area with a children’s playground, basketball and sand volleyball courts, disc golf course and horseshoe pits. A historic school built of limestone hosts summer church services, and the Southwinds Swimming Beach is ideal for swimming, picnicking and relaxing.

2446 250 Rd, Webber, KS 66970, Phone: 785-753-4971

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17.Meade State Park

Meade State Park
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Meade State Park is a state park and recreation area with an 80-acre fishing lake, a safe swimming beach, two short nature trails, and campgrounds with both electric and non-electric sites. Situated in the High Plains of Meade County in southwest Kansas, the park was originally part of the Turkey Track Ranch and now offers a wide range of recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, camping, pleasure boating, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. The lake is stocked with a variety of fish species from bluegill to largemouth bass, and a boat dock is available for launching boats. The 360-acre park is home to a good range of mammals and birds, including deer, turkey, and rabbit.

13051 V Rd, Meade, KS 67864, Phone: 620-873-2572

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18.Milford State Park

Milford State Park
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Milford State Park is set on the southeast shore of the 16,000-acre Milford Reservoir, which is formed by the Milford Dam and is the largest lake in Kansas. Located northwest of Junction City, the park offers a range of recreational activities such as excellent fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, as well as seasonal hunting, and wildlife photography. The park is surrounded by 19,000 acres of public land, along with the 1,100-acre Steve Lloyd refuge, the Milford Fish Hatchery, and the Milford Nature Center, which offers educational and nature programs for all ages. Park facilities include several modern campgrounds, swimming beaches, picnic shelters, a full-service marina, boat ramps, and a multi-purpose trails system. The park also has a large yacht club.

3612 State Park Rd, Milford, KS 66514, Phone: 785-238-3014

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19.Mushroom Rock State Park

Mushroom Rock State Park
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Located in the Smoky Hills region of north-central Kansas, Mushroom Rock State Park us a state park and recreation area named for its unusual mushroom rock formations. The aptly named rocks are known as hoodoos, which are formed through a process of nonuniform erosion and weathering. The five-acre park is home to two famous two mushroom rocks and a giant shoe rock, as well as numerous other rock formations. Facilities at the small state park are limited, but there are picnic tables and basic ablutions.

Ave K, Brookville, KS 67425, Phone: 785-546-2565

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20.Prairie Dog State Park

Prairie Dog State Park
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Prairie Dog State Park is a 1,150-acre state park set on the shores of Keith Sebelius Lake in Norton County. Located in western Kansas, the Prairie Dog State Park is famous for being home to over 300 prairie dogs, a population which has grown from nothing since the park was established. Facilities at the park include primitive campsites with shower and restroom facilities and reservable cabins, a 1.4-mile nature trail with Story Walk signage to explore the park and observe wildlife, and two vintage 19th-century buildings, including a one-room school and renovated adobe house. The Keith Sebelius Reservoir offers excellent fishing for black bass, catfish, walleye, crappie and wiper, and the 6,400-acre Norton Wildlife Area is home to white-tailed and mule deer, pheasant, waterfowl, and rabbits.

13037 KS-261, Norton, KS 67654, Phone: 785-877-2953

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21.Prairie Spirit Trail State Park

Prairie Spirit Trail State Park
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Prairie Spirit Trail State Park is a Kansas State Park built around a rail trail. The 51-mile trail begins in Ottawa and ends in Iola, following the former route of the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston railroad. The path is paved with hard-packed limestone and asphalt in different areas and is open to hikers, joggers, and bicyclists year-round, from sunrise to sunset. The Prairie Spirit Trail connects with two popular trails, the nine-mile-long Southwind Rail Trail which runs between Humboldt and Iola and the longer 117-mile long Flint Hills Trail which stretches from from Osawatomie to Herrington. Passing through charming rural Kansas communities, the Prairie Spirit Trail offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

1310 N State St, Iola, KS 66749, Phone: 785-448-6767

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22.Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
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Set in northeastern Stafford County near the town of Stafford, the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a refuge and sanctuary for a large variety of migrating birds. Home to salt marshes that have been listed on the Ramsar list as a Wetland of International Importance, the 22,135-acre park offers excellent bird-watching, drawing visitors and ornithologists to view rare and unusual species of birds, which are uncommon in Kansas. A visitor’s center features informative exhibits and displays that tell the story of the refuge and showcase the myriad of bird species that call the refuge home, and there area restrooms and drinking fountains in the center.

1434 NE 80th St, Stafford, KS, Phone: 67578-8818

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23.Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
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The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas and protects an essential example of the once-vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem that grew in this area. Situated just north of Strong City, the United States National Preserve was established to preserve the remaining tracts of tallgrass prairie that was once covered 400,000 square miles across the continent. Today, less than 4% remains, most of which is in the preserve, along with a growing Tallgrass Prairie bison herd. In addition to viewing a unique and beautiful landscape with herds of bison, visitors can also enjoy hiking, fishing, and education programs at the park.

2480B Kansas 177, Strong City, KS 66869, Phone: 620-273-8494

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24.Tuttle Creek State Park

Tuttle Creek State Park
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Tuttle Creek State Park surrounds the Tuttle Creek Lake on the Big Blue River, which was built for flood control and today offers a wealth of recreational activities. Located near Manhattan in the Flint Hills of Northeast Kansas, the 1,200-acre reservoir park provides a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, archery, pleasure boating, swimming, fishing, camping, and golf. The park is made up of five individual areas including River Pond, Rocky Ford, Cedar Ridge, Fancy Creek, and Randolph and offers both utility campsites and primitive campsites, along with overnight cabins, a full-service marina, courtesy docks, boat ramps, and a swimming beach. The state park also hosts the Country Stampede Music Festival every summer.

5800 River Pond Rd A, Manhattan, KS 66502, Phone: 785-539-7941

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25.Wilson State Park

Wilson State Park
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Set in the scenic Smoky Hills region of Kansas, Wilson State Park is a public recreation area set on the south shore of 9,000-acre Wilson Lake reservoir. The popular state park offers a wealth of outdoor and recreational opportunities on one of the state's prime water recreation areas, ranging from water-based activities such as boating, fishing and swimming to land-based recreation like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping and wildlife watching. The 945-acre park consists of two areas, namely Hell Creek and Otoe, both of which have utility and primitive campsites, day-use areas, swimming beaches, boating access, marinas, and several hiking and nature trails.

3 State Park Road, Sylvan Grove, KS 67481, Phone: 785-658-2465

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25 Best Kansas State & National Parks