Kansas is not a state that is naturally rich in lakes, but over the 20th century especially, many reservoirs were constructed in the state to prevent floods, create power, and provide drinking water for its citizens. Today, there are over 120,000 reservoirs in Kansas, and many of them serve recreational purposes as well as functional. Visitors and locals alike will enjoy the varied lakes stocked with walleye, catfish, and bass, the sandy beaches at their shores, and the massive parks full of trails and wildlife that border these pieces of natural paradise.


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1.Cedar Bluff Reservoir

Cedar Bluff Reservoir
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Cedar Bluff Reservoir is visually stunning, with tall, blocky limestone cliffs that stand over a hundred feet tall at the lake’s edge. The bluffs offer a great place to watch a colorful sunrise or sunset, and serve as a great hiking point around the lake. The water itself is huge, with plenty of opportunity for boating and fishing for walleye, bass, crappie, wiper, and catfish in the waters of Cedar Bluff Reservoir. The area of the lake is huge, over 10 square miles of water, and on part of its shores visitors will find Cedar Bluff State Park, which is split into two parts: one on the northern shore and one on the south side.


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2.Cheney Lake

Cheney Lake
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Located along the Ninnescah River’s northern fork, Cheney Lake is a reservoir that was completed during the 1960s. With nearly 10,000 surface acres of water, and almost seventy miles of shoreline available for recreation and use by the public, Cheney Lake is a great destination for families and groups of friends seeking a natural getaway. Jig fishing is incredibly popular on Cheney Lake, and lucky fishing enthusiasts will find an abundance of crappie, walleye, striped bass, white bass, wipers, and channel catfish in the lake. On the shores of the lake, there is also a plethora of activity options, such as hiking trails, campsites, picnic areas, wildlife watching, and hunting.


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3.Clark State Fishing Lake

Clark State Fishing Lake
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Clark State Fishing Lake lies tucked into the depths of Bluff Creek Canyon, a geographically beautiful place especially when compared to the flat plains that surround it. There are two lovely hikes around the lake area, including the one mile Jay Wood Memorial Nature Trail, and the 2.2 mile loop that is the gravel road from the trailhead to the K-94 highway. On the lake itself, visitors will find a boat launch to get them started on the water, and if they’re lucky, they may find some channel catfish, white bass, crappies, and even walleye in the lake. Hunters will find 900 acres of hunting land around the lake, and camping enthusiasts will find many primitive camping spots in the area where they can relax and observe the wildlife.



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4.Kansas Lakes: Clinton Lake

Kansas Lakes: Clinton Lake
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Clinton Lake is a reservoir near Lawrence that occupies a 7,000 acre space. It was built in the late 1970s to prevent flooding of the nearby Wakarusa and Kansas Rivers, and was filled very slowly to allow the natural plants and vegetation to remain. This method paid off, as now this vegetation has created a perfect habitat in the lake, ideal for the fish who dwell there. On the northern shores of the lake, Clinton State Park is a great place for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. There are hundreds of campsites, trails for mountain bikes, and even an archery range at the park, and the marina has launches, boat rentals, and even a floating restaurant.


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5.Crawford State Fishing Lake

Crawford State Fishing Lake
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This reservoir, originally a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) project during the Great Depression, is surrounded by a variety of nature, including grasslands and plains as well as green woodlands. The lake area is a great spot for bird watching, as it is home to cardinals, indigo buntings, hawks, Bell’s vireos, and dickcissels as well as many shorebirds at the lake’s edge and on its waters. Fishing enthusiasts may find channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. There are also several lovely hiking and nature trails around Crawford State Fishing Lake, ranging from the easy and scenic Spider Leg Trail and Deer Run Nature Trail to the more challenging 7 mile Drywood Creek Trail.


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6.El Dorado Lake

El Dorado Lake
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Just northeast of the city of El Dorado lies the lake of the same name, an eight thousand acre reservoir that is one of the largest in the state of Kansas. Surrounded by the tall grasslands and rolling prairies that Kansas is so well known for, El Dorado Lake has almost one hundred miles of shoreline available for recreational use. Visitors can spot birds like geese, warblers, and even majestic bald eagles in any of the natural areas on the shores of the lake, or look for other creatures like deer, prairie chickens, mink, and vultures. The lake itself is a popular destination for watersports like boating, jet skiing, and waterskiing, and there are plenty of fish in the water to tempt fishermen. Trails around the lake’s edge are suitable for hikers, mountain bikers, or horseback riders, who will spot some beautiful wildflowers in the area depending on the season.


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7.Kansas Lakes: Fall River Lake

Kansas Lakes: Fall River Lake
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Located in Fall River State Park, near the Flint Hills and the Cross Timbers regions, Fall River Lake is a scenic destination with a lot of activity and beautiful nature to offer its visitors. With green, tree lined shores that turn stunning shades of red and orange in the autumn, Fall River Lake is set on a 980 acre park that offers six hiking trails, a course for orienteering, and cabins for camping. The lake is a calm and tranquil place which is popular for canoeing, kayaking, and other slow boat travel on the still, peaceful waters so visitors can enjoy all the gorgeous nature that Fall River Lake has to offer.



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8.Glen Elder Lake

Glen Elder Lake
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Also known as Waconda Lake, Glen Elder Lake is one of the most popular and oft-visited lakes in Kansas. Located in the Solomon River Valley, it is easily accessible via Highway 24, and it is one of the best lakes in the state for fishing. Fishers will find crappie, walleye, and a variety of bass including striped, white, and largemouth in the waters of Waconda Lake, and Glen Elder State Park, on the shores of the lake, offers a great opportunity for swimming, kayaking, and land activities like hiking, hunting, and camping. Campgrounds in the area are modern and diverse, and there are also other amenities for visitors such as nature trails, picnic shelters, educational programs, and even sand volleyball courts near the swimming area.


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9.Kansas Lakes: Hillsdale Lake

Kansas Lakes: Hillsdale Lake
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Hillsdale Lake is a natural habitat for the bald eagle, the symbol of America. The eagles often join other birds of prey, as well as many human visitors, in hunting for largemouth bass and other fish in the waters of the lake. Hillsdale Reservoir was completed in the early 1980s, and today it is a pretty place to enjoy nature via boat or by foot. Kayaking and canoeing are very popular on the water, as are more adrenaline-pumping sports like waterskiing, tubing, and sailing. On land, visitors can learn about the area the visitor’s center, hike on the Hidden Spring Nature Trail, or hop on horseback and ride the Saddle Ridge Trail, which contains over fifty miles of well maintained trails for humans and horses alike.


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10.Horsethief Lake

Horsethief Lake
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Horsethief Reservoir has a long history for a lake so new. It was first proposed in the 1930s, but the dam was not approved until 2009. Completed in 2010, Horsethief Lake is now a popular spot for visitors, who enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, camping, and more in the area. Located in Western Kansas, in the town of Jetmore, Horsethief Lake has 450 acres of water, filled with fish and surrounded by a park that measures over a thousand acres. Because the lake is still so new, recreational activities are still in development, but already it has become a busy and fun place to spend a day or a weekend away. All types of watercraft are welcome on the lake, and in fact it has become a popular place for kite-boarding.


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11.Kanopolis Lake

Kanopolis Lake
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Located near Ellsworth, Kansas, Kanopolis Lake was constructed in the 1940s, which makes it one of the oldest reservoirs in the state. The purpose of this lake is for flood control, so its shoreline varies greatly, from a meager 41 miles during dry seasons to a staggering 135 miles of shoreline when it is full. But regardless of the lake’s changing size, it’s a great destination for recreation, and there are six designated recreational areas around the lake, with hundreds of campsites and marinas with boat launches. Kanopolis State Park is also on the edge of the lake, and there visitors will find over twenty five miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and swimming beaches.


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12.Kansas Lakes: Kaw Lake

Kansas Lakes: Kaw Lake
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From an aerial perspective, Kaw Lake is a massive serpentine figure, with three major ‘fingers’ that stretch out in different directions. This 17,000 acre lake was built for purposes of flood control as well as for hydropower, wildlife conservation, and recreation. Around the lake’s 168 miles of shoreline, visitors to Kaw Lake will find hundreds of campgrounds and facilities for both tent and RV camping, as well as two swimming beaches. There are boat launches and marinas for those who wish to spend the day waterskiing, tubing, or fishing, and Kaw Lake is also a popular spot for anglers to try their luck at catching catfish.


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13.Lyon State Fishing Lake

Lyon State Fishing Lake
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For a close look at the tall grassy prairies that Kansas is well known for, visitors should heat to Lyon State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area. The lake is well surrounded by grasslands as well as a wooded area full of dogwood, sumac, and elm trees. There is plenty of wildlife to be spotted, from prairie chickens and deer to meadowlarks and mourning doves. The area has restrooms, picnic areas, boat launches, and a swimming beach available for visitor use, and the waters of Lyon State Fishing Lake are full of bluegill, redear, channel catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. During the hot days of summer, fishers tend to stick to the early morning and late evening to try their luck, but the lake is great for other types of boating and water activities during the rest of the day.


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14.Melvern Lake

Melvern Lake
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Located just a 40 mile drive from Topeka, and a slightly longer but still completely reasonable 85 mile drive from Kansas City, Melvern Lake has three swimming beaches perfect for an afternoon spent sunbathing on the sand or splashing in the shallow waters of the shoreline. Melvern Lake is on the edge of Eisenhower State Park, as well as the Melvern Wildlife Area so there is plenty to do on land, from hiking and bird watching to camping. Melvern Lake is home to a bountiful population of fish including sunfish, channel and flathead catfish, bluegill, sauger, large and smallmouth bass, walleye, and crappie, and the lake is popular with boaters for fishing and recreational purposes alike.


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15.Kansas Lakes: Milford Lake

Kansas Lakes: Milford Lake
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Clocking in with 15,700 surface acres of water, Milford Lake is the largest man-made reservoir in Kansas. There is plenty of opportunity at Milford Lake for water sports like jet skiing, water skiing, tubing, sailing, and boating, and the waters are also perfect for visitors with kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards. Known as the Lake of the Blue Water, Milford Lake also has some lovely sandy beaches perfect for a day spent with friends or family while relaxing and playing in the sunshine and the cool, refreshing waters. Along the 163 miles of shoreline, visitors will find Milford State Park, which has campsites, cabin rentals, marinas, nature trails, picnic shelters, and even a dedicated beach reserved just for jet skis.


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16.Perry Lake

Perry Lake
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Perry Lake is a local favorite for recreation among residents in northeast Kansas, and it is conveniently located to major cities like Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City. This hidden gem has 11,000 acres of water which are accessible via a number of boat ramps and marinas around the shoreline. Fishing is huge at Perry Lake, with a huge population of sauger and a reputation for providing breeding stock to many other lakes in Kansas. On land, there are miles and miles of hiking trails, as well as a system of trails for ATVs. The area is home to wildlife such as deer, turkey, rabbits, and even bald eagles.


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17.Scott State Fishing Lake

Scott State Fishing Lake
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Lake Scott State Park is a large natural area in western Kansas, with over a thousand acres of land reserved for camping, hunting, and fishing. There is even an original settlers’ house on the property for history buffs, originally owned by the Herbert Steele family who lived on and worked the land for generations before donating it to the state. On this property is Scott State Fishing Lake, a small spring fed lake that is full of walleye, saugeye,sunfish, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and crappie. During trout season, visitors can acquire a permit to fish for trout.


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18.Tuttle Creek Lake

Tuttle Creek Lake
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Located on the Big Blue River in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Tuttle Creek Lake was constructed in the 1950s as a dry dam, but as time went on there became a demand for recreational lakes, so today Tuttle Creek Lake is the second largest lake in Kansas. There are eleven parks along the 100 or so miles of shoreline of Tuttle Creek Lake, and each has something great to offer like campsites, picnic shelters, volleyball courts, and trails for hiking, biking, equestrians, or even off roading. The lake itself, which is 14 miles long, is great for boating, and a sunny day at Tuttle Creek will often find hundreds of day trippers enjoying the water in their boats or kayaks.


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19.Kansas Lakes: Wilson Lake

Kansas Lakes: Wilson Lake
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This hidden gem in central Kansas is often called the clearest lake in the state for its still, translucent waters. With a great habitat for growing and thriving, Wilson Lake holds the state records for the size of its smallmouth bass, walleye, and striped bass, so it’s a great spot to try your hand at fishing. There are many other fish in the lake as well, but those looking for a big catch can try for striped bass, which have been known to weigh in at over forty pounds. Over eight thousand acres of land surround Wilson Lake that are often used for hunting, and during the summer, there are plenty of great campsites for those looking to spend a night, a weekend, or even longer away.


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20 Best Lakes in Kansas



More Places to Visit in Kansas:

From alluring small-town destinations to lively attractions of big cities, there’s no place like Kansas for a spectacularly memorable vacation. Kansas has every kind of attraction that any traveler could ever look for with a culture that weaves the peace and relaxation of towns with the hustle and bustle of the city together seamlessly. No matter where in Kansas your travels take you, you’ll find exciting activities for all ages and interests like horseback rides through a national park, a hot air balloon ride across the skies or a gastronomic trip down foodie lane. Take your pick from outdoor adventures, head indoors for historic trips, or maybe even follow the Yellow Brick Road to Dorothy’s house and find yourself in the magical Land of Oz.

Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area

Declared one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas, the Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area is one of the top draws of the Little Apple in Kansas. It is best known for its outstanding geography, which has a stone creek bottom that forms a natural ford. The top draw of the Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, however, is the long and broad waterfall in the park that has served as a landmark of the park for generations. Standing just 5-feet tall and 60-feet long, the waterfall provides a serene respite from the busy nature of the city. When the stream of the water is normal, visitors can take a canoe, kayak or other small boats up the stream for nearly half a mile. The area also offers great birdwatching and cat fishing, while a short hiking trail can be explored as well.

7960 State Lake Road, Manhattan, Kansas 66502; Phone: 785-539-9999

Kanopolis State Park

As the first state park in Kansas, Kanopolis State Park is largely regarded as the park to have started it all. The park has drawn many visitors to Marquette’s Ellsworth County since it was first established in 1955, all of whom were eager to explore the best of the region of the Smoky Hills. From rolling hills, pleasant woods and bluffs to beaches and full-service marinas, the Kanopolis State Park has a lot to offer to its visitors. Travelers can enjoy a horseback ride along the hills, mountain bike or hike along a 1.5 miles of trails or camp at one of the 14 areas in Langley Point and Horsethief. The most popular route in the park is called the Buffalo Track Nature Trail, where visitors can study area’s native plans and wildlife alongside the rich history of Native Americans in Kansas.

200 Horsethief Road, Marquette, Kansas 67464; Phone: 785-46-2565

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Education, recreation and culture come together at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The park was founded to keep pressing ecological and environmental issues at the forefront of the city’s agenda. With an arboretum spanning across 300-acres and 45-acres of botanical gardens, the Overland Park achieves its goal with ease. Top places to visit in the arboretum include the Train Garden and the award-winning Monet Garden, while a trail also laces through the grounds to give visitors a chance to explore Wolf Creek and the 800 plant species that call the prairie and grounds home. Art lovers can also see 39 different sculptures throughout Overland Park like the Chinese Cultural Exchange collection and several other temporary exhibits.

8909 West 129 Street, Overland Park, Kansas 66013; Phone: 913-685-3604

Overland Park

Whether you’re looking for adrenaline pumping activities, relaxing excursions through greenspaces or cultural trips around the city, Overland Park has it all and more. Got a taste for high-flying activities? Head to iFLY and discover your wings at the ever popular indoor skydiving center in the city. Overland Park is just as popular for its museums and cultural attractions like the Museum at Prairiefire, the American Jazz Museum and the American Royal Museum and Visitors Center. Spending time outdoors is just as enjoyable in Overland Park with tree top adventures, rope swings, zip lines and more at Go Ape! There’s also a 300-acre arboretum to be explored for a relaxing and rejuvenating walk. As the second most populous city in Kansas, the locals, and getting to know them, is just as enjoyable as the city’s most popular attractions.

Lawrence

Urban savvy meets quirky fun at the lively and vibrant city of Lawrence. Lawrence is so well known for its charm and hospitality, in fact, that it’s been nominated two times in a row for Midwest Living’s Greatest Midwest Town award. Take in all that Lawrence’s nature has to offer at attractions like the Prairie Park Nature Center and Baker Wetlands Discovery Center or simply enjoy the peace and quiet at Clinton Lake. For those who want their vacation to be a treat for both the mind and body, museums and enlightening spaces like the DeBruce Center or the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area add a great educational element to any itinerary. Better yet, don’t plan an itinerary. Stroll through Lawrence and discover its gems along the way. After all, sometimes, spontaneity is the best policy at some vacations.

Dodge City

Have you heard the saying, “Get the heck out of dodge!”? Well, it’s time to forget it because when it comes to Dodge City, Kansas, the only direction you should be heading is in. The Queen of Cowtowns, Dodge City offers visitors the opportunity to travel back in time to the Old West through original and unique attractions. Known as the cowboy capital of the Midwest, the best way to start a visit to Dodge City is by heading to the Visitor Information Center. From there, visitors can start a tour of the historic sites of the city such as the Historic Trolley Tours. Notable museums to visit include the Boot Hill Museum and the Kansas Heritage Center. On the other hand, high octane activities can be enjoyed at popular destinations like the Dodge City Raceway Park or the Long Branch Lagoon Water Park.

Kansas City

There isn’t any other city quite like Kansas City. One of the top destinations in the Midwest, a lot has happened in Kansas City, and its historic sites alone are enough to fill a full weekend’s itinerary or more. History buffs can visit the Korean-Vietnam War Memorial, the country’s first dual-war memorial, or step along every camping spot that Lewis and Clark stopped at in Kaw Point Park. Racing fanatics, on the other hand, can experience heart thumping action at the Kansas Speedway. Don’t forget to pop into one of Kansas City’s many barbecue joints. Passionate about smoked meat, you haven’t really tried barbecue until you’ve had Kansas City’s award-winning smoked meat.

Manhattan

Known affectionately as the Little Apple, Manhattan, Kansas, is home to big flavors, big attractions and even bigger adventures. Despite being a relatively small town, Manhattan has a big 150-year history, which ought to be reason enough to visit Manhattan. The Riley County Historical Museum is home to enlightening and interactive exhibits while Goodnow House, the former home of Isaac Goodnow is an interesting state historic site to explore. Educational attractions, on the other hand, are perfect for families traveling to Manhattan. Some must-see sites include the Flint Hills Discovery Center and the Sunset Zoo, while outdoor activities are best enjoyed at beautiful locations like the Konza Prairie, K-State Gardens and the Tuttle Creek Lake. Make sure to visit the many geographic wonders of Manhattan in the alluring Flint Hills.

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Olathe

There’s more to Olathe than meets the eye. Ranked as one of the best 100 cities to live in America and home to some of the highest ranked educational institutions in Kansas, Olathe draws both tourists and curious individuals interested in calling Olathe their new home. Despite being a relatively small city, Olathe is home to a handful of unique museums and attractions that make a for the perfect relaxing weekend destination. Travel back in time to the days of the old settlers and at the Johnson County Old Settlers or visit the only Santa Fe Trail stagecoach stop that receives visitors at the Mahaffie Stagecoach stop and Farm Historic Site. Recreational stops to visit include the 4-acre Olathe Veterans Memorial Park, the 17-mile long Indian Creek Hike and Bike Trail as well as the impressive Cedar Creek Falls.

Hutchinson

Travelers looking for tons of extreme activities all in one place should look no further than Hutchinson, Kansas. Excitement knows no boundaries in Hutch with attractions like Cosmophere, where visitors can explore the largest combined collection of space artifacts from Russia and the United States in the world. If you’re more interested in heading underground than to outer space, a trip to Strataca will take you 650 feet underground into one of America’s active salt mines. Meanwhile, the past and present come together at the Yoder Amish Community, which is home to 100 Amish families who welcome visitors to explore their communities. If you’re more interested in exploring the nature and wildlife of Hutchinson, stop by the Dillon Nature Center, the Hutchinson Zoo or the Hedrick Exotic Animal Farm for an outstanding experience.

Monument Rocks

Stunning from afar and absolutely awe-inspiring up close, the Monument Rock are located in the western region of the state and are part of the Kansas’ Eight Wonders. Designated as a National Natural Landmark, the monuments, which are also referred to as the Chalk Pyramids, are 70-feet tall formations composed of Niobrara Chalk. The monuments are estimated to be about 80 million years old and are thought to have been formed when most of the area were part of a great inland body of water. When seen from a relatively close proximity, the formations resemble certain things which have earned each of them their names. Some of the formations to see include Charlie the Dog, Eye of the Needle, and Little Pyramids. Other things to see at Monument Rocks are layers of shells and fossils that are hundreds of thousands years old.

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

Open 365 days a year and free to the public, the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is located in the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. It consists of 41,000 acres of wetlands, making it the largest of its kind in the country, and is best known for spectacular birdwatching it offers to all visitors. Each season brings unique birds to the wetlands, making it a great destination all year round. The winter season brings a larger bird population including eagles, while spring sees the wetlands filled with nearly half a million geese and ducks. Sandhill and Whooping Cranes also call the wetlands home in the spring, whereas summer brings thousands of shorebirds to the area. In the fall, those who visit Cheyenne Bottoms can see white tailed deer up close along with some waterfowl.

592 NE K-156 Highway, Great bend, Kansas 67530; Phone: 877-243-9268

Wichita

Sitting on the banks of the Arkansas River in the south-central region of Kansas, Wichita is the largest city in the state and the 48th-largest city in country. Unsurprisingly, the city gets over six million visitors a year, all of whom are incredibly eager to experience all of the entertainment, attractions, food and museums that Wichita has to offer. Entertainment is found in many variations at Wichita with tons of music venues, theatres and live comedies, such as the historic Orpheum Theatre, running shows every week. When it comes to the great outdoors, Wichita has tons of parks, trails, water parks and wildlife attractions to enjoy. At the top of the list is the Sedgwick County Zoo and the Tanganyika Wildlife Park. With so much to do in Kansas’ largest city, a trip to this part of Kansas alone is enough to fill a whole week with excitement and adventure.

Sedgwick County Park

A massive park with tons of beauty of behold, the Sedgwick County Park offers families, friends and solo travelers alike with fun activities to enjoy. The park is situated in the northwest portion of Wichita and is home to four lakes, over four miles of paved pathways, and wooded areas that play host to hundreds of birds and other wildlife. Fishing enthusiasts can try their hand at old rod and reel fishing from a bridge or a dock. Meanwhile, kids can get up close with nature while feeding the ducks and geese that roam through the park. Sports enthusiasts can also rent use of basketball courts, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, volleyball courts and more. Make it a treat for the family and extended relatives alike by spending a full day at the park by the barbecue grills and enjoy a feast while the kids enjoy all the park has to offer.

6501 W. 21st Street North Wichita, Kansas 67212; Phone: 316-794-2774

Arkansas River Trail

As the longest and most visited multi-use trail in Wichita, the Arkansas River Trail is the best place to visit for quality recreational fun for the whole family. The trail features 10-miles laced throughout the city, with the main portion of the trail situated along the southwest bank of the Big Arkansas River. Following the trails also provide visitors with convenient access points to several attractions in the city including several museums, an ice rink, zoo and stadium. Runners or bikers navigating the Arkansas River Trail can explore the nearby Sims Park by way of a pedestrian bridge or stop by attractions like the Exploration Place, Cowtown Museum and Watson Park.

21st Street North and Galena Street, Wichita, Kansas

Drinkwater and Schriver Flour Mill

Built sometime in 1875, the Drinkwater and Shriver Flour Mill, better known as the Cedar Point Mill, is a cultural and historical attraction in the heart of Cedar Point. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the mill ran for approximately 100 years along the banks of Cottonwood River to produce flour for local and nearby bakeries. Although the mill is currently under much needed renovation, the Cedar Point Mill is still spectacular to visit. The building can be admired from the adjacent side of the Cottonwood River dam while the granary is best examined from the front of the property. The surrounding area also makes for a pleasant walk with the woods providing a quiet respite from every day life.

1st Street corner Main Street, Chase County, Cedar Point, Kansas; Phone: 816-808-1610

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Lake Scott State Park

A breathtaking oasis of natural beauty, the Lake Scott State Park is regarded as one of the top 50 state parks to see in the country. All 1,020 acres of the park are adorned with stunning features such as craggy bluffs, natural springs, and deep wooded canyons. In the center of the park, the 100-acre Scott State Fishing Lake offers great fishing and swimming opportunities along with other watersports. Additionally, a 160-acre wildlife area sits just west of the park for wildlife observation and hiking. History buffs and archaeology enthusiasts will love a trip to the park to see over 26 archaeological sites. Sites like the El Cuartelejo, a National Historic Landmark, are found in the park along with sites like the Steele home and Battle Canyon.

101 West Scott Lake Drive, Scott City, Kansas 67861; Phone: 620-872-2061

Cheney State Park

Sitting on the southern end of the Cheney Reservoir is the 1,900-acre Cheney State Park. Founded in 1964, the park is just 20 miles to the west of Wichita and has grown to be one of the most popular utility camping sites in the state. There are over 200 utility camping sites in the park with several other camping amenities available such as seven modern cabins that can be reserved ahead of time. Avid sailors can also stop by the Ninnescah Sailing Center to cruise through the waters of one of the country’s top sailing lakes or go for an open water fishing trip. Avid hikers or trekkers can set off on the Giefer Creek or Spring Creek trail to venture through the natural beauty of the park or simply enjoy observing the wildlife as they explore the area.

16000 NE 50th Street, Cheney, Kansas 67025; Phone: 316-542-3664

Wilson State Park

A magical addition to any itinerary, the Wilson State Park is one a gem amongst Kansas’ state parks. There are two parts to the park: Hell Creek and Otoe. As a whole, the park features 5 areas which feature both modern and primitive camping sites. Cabins in the area are equipped with plumbing and electricity, making perfect for campers who don’t necessarily want to let go of some luxuries. While the 4-mile mountain biking loop is a local and visitor favorite, the main draw of the Wilson State Park is the majestic 9,000 acre Wilson Lake, the clearest lake in Kansas. Aside from boating, fishing and hunting opportunities, the Wilson Lake is also great for hiking, biking, camping and hunting. Don’t forget the smallmouth bass and striped bass fishing that draw fishing enthusiasts from all over the nation to its shores.

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

Topeka

Find the top attractions in Kansas at the Top City of Topeka. The city offers exciting attractions like the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center, the number one family attraction in the region, and events throughout the year like the Top City Treasure Hunt. Even visitors looking for a quiet weekend in the city will find something to do whether it’s appreciating history at several historic sites or perusing the art at any of Topeka’s top museums. Families traveling to Topeka can enjoy a wealth of family activities at every corner like the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Museum. Visitors looking for the best that Topeka’s great outdoors has to offer can bust out their walking shoes or bring along their mountain bikes for explorations of trails like the Lake Shawnee and Shunga Trails.

339 Veterans Parkway, Wichita, Kansas 67203

Geary County State Park

Ready to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kansas up close? Head to the Geary County State Park in the spring or after a particularly rainy day to get a look at the incredibly Geary Lake Falls. The trek to the falls are a treat in and of itself with the trek starting at the northeast end of the Geary County State Fishing Lake. In addition to the water falls, there’s a lot of sports and leisure fishing activities to enjoy at the park and gorgeous vistas all around for your eyes to behold. For those who are visiting the park when the water fall is dry, don’t be discouraged. The rock formations are breathtaking as well and make a spectacular backdrop for photos of you and your travel companions.

U.S. Highway 77, Junction City, Kansas 66441; Phone: 785-238-3014

Flint Hills

Magical and memorable, the Flint Hills is a mesmerizing place to visit amongst the gorgeous rolling backdrop of Kansas’ grasslands. Extending from Marshall County all the way to Cowley County, the hills are most beautiful in the spring when their gentle slopes are dotted with lovely white wildflowers. For all other seasons, the Flint Hills provide the perfect spot for some honest to goodness outdoor fun like mountain biking, trail biking, hiking, camping and more. Indeed, the choices are quite varied with peaceful and relaxing excursions to adrenaline pumping fun. There are even cultural attractions waiting to be explored at the Flint Hills with various museums and sculptures situated throughout the area.

Shawnee Mission Park

When in Shawnee, Kansas, there’s no place to enjoy the great outdoors better than at the Shawnee Mission Park. The multi-use park spans over 1,600 beautiful acres of land, making it the largest park in the county. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the most visited park in Kansas as visitors are always eager to make use of the great amenities. Perhaps the biggest draw in the park is the lake, which is perfect for sail boarding, fishing, boating and many other water sports. Eleven shelters situated strategically around the park are also great locations for a family picnic, with nature trails, play areas and even a disc golf course nearby for public consumption. Don’t forget to stop by the Theatre in the Park, the Shawnee Mission Park Marina and the Shawnee Mission Park Beach for a complete experience.

7900 Renner Road, Shawnee, Kansas 66219; Phone: 913-888-4713

Salina

If there’s one thing that Salina takes very seriously, it’s making sure that each and every visitor to their humble town has an outstanding time. Welcoming and lively, Salina’s reputation as a thriving arts community precedes itself through breathtaking concerts, theatre performances, festivals, galleries and public art. Essentially, Salina is perfect for the cultural traveler who can’t get enough of art and the way it brings communities together. Art isn’t the only draw to Salina’s hospitable town either as nature lovers can spend hours wandering through 700 acres of parks. Biking, swimming, hiking, fishing, golf, it’s all there just waiting to be enjoyed in the fabulous green spaces of Salina. Families traveling with kids can also visit top attractions like the newest zoo and wildlife museum of Kansas.

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