The waning days of summer break bring another chance to experience the great Kansas outdoors.
The state offers many outdoor attractions curated for families and individuals. The beauty of visiting outdoor sites is there won’t be crowds or lines.
We have rounded up a list of eight outdoor Kansas attractions you should visit before school starts and fall sets in.
Peace is bountiful at this 11,000-acre prairie in Strong City. Visitors can expect to see bison, wildlife, wildflowers, vistas, a historic ranch and a one-room schoolhouse.
Start your visit by stopping in at the visitor’s center, 2480B K-177 highway, where guests can find trail maps to guide them through the prairie.
Visits to the preserve are free and open year-round.
The National Park Service recommends visiting Tallgrass Prairie at the end of summer and beginning of fall as the tall grasses are starting to reach their maximum height.
Hikers can take a 12-mile hike through the preserve that offers views of the prairie and bison. Other activities at Tallgrass include a self-guided tour of the ranch and bison viewing on the scenic overlook trail.
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The second stop on our list is just a short drive from Topeka. The Konza Prairie is just south of Manhattan at 100 Konza Prairie Lane.
Most of the Konza Prairie is a biological research station and off-limits to the public, but three nature trails are available.
The trails are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and are free to visit. The three trails vary in length, from 2.6 miles to 6.2 miles.
The prairie’s hiking trails take visitors through lowland gallery forest, across Kings Creek and over ancient limestone ledges that lead to the native tallgrass prairie.
The highest points offer a view of the Flint Hills and Kansas River valley.
Hikers can expect a moderate walk with occasional steep climbs, uneven footing and narrow pathways.
Kansas’ badlands are one of the state’s most unique features.
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is in western Kansas between Oakley and Scott City at the intersection of County Road 400 and Gold Road.
Visitors must purchase a Kansas State Parks vehicle permit for $5 to enter the park.
The state park is open sunup to sundown daily.
Visitors can hike two trails. The Overlook trail is one-quarter mile and offers a scenic viewpoint. The Life on the Rocks trail is 1.5 miles and takes hikers along the rim of the rocks and two scenic overlooks.
The park’s natural rock formations are thought to have formed as a result of the erosion of a sea that covered the area more than 80 million years ago.
The chalk outcroppings were said in the 19th century to resemble castles and received the name “Little Jerusalem” after the formations looked like the ancient walled city of Jerusalem from a distance.
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While you are visiting western Kansas and Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, make sure to stop at Monument Rocks and Castle Rock.
Both rock formations are similar to those found at Little Jerusalem.
Monument Rocks is 14 miles east and Castle Rock is 81 miles east of Little Jerusalem.
Monument Rocks, named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas by Kansas Sampler Foundation, features 70-feet-tall sedimentary Niobrara chalk formations.
Castle Rock is a single, large limestone, chalk and shale formation that sits in the Kansas countryside.
Art lovers will want to put the Garden of Eden, 305 E. 2nd St., in Lucas at the top of their list. This folk art exhibit features a variety of outdoor sculptures along with a stone log mausoleum.
There are several outdoor sculptures on display, but visitors can also take a tour inside of the house and mausoleum located on the property. Guided tours are $2-$7.
Garden of Eden is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
The home was previously owned by Samuel Perry and Frances Dinsmoor, who built it after retiring from farming.
Samuel Dinsmoor spent 1907 to 1928 building the cabin home and the Garden of Eden, which features 150 sculptures.
The sculptural environment was found to be a popular attraction and income from visitors provided financial security for the Dinsmoors.
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This park located just northwest of Lindsborg offers visitors the opportunity to dive into history.
The park, which is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, features a scenic outlook and Coronado Heights Castle, built in the 1930s.
The site is thought to be the spot where Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado ended his journey to find the “Seven Cities of Gold.”
In the 1540s, Coronado visited the modern-day Kansas wilderness in search of the cities, but the explorer returned home empty-handed.
Visitors for free can walk around and through the small fortification. A 3-mile mountain bike trail is located at the base of the park.
Travel back in time to visit Field Station: Dinosaurs in Derby.
This outdoor adventure park is the perfect place to take kids for an educational and fun experience.
The park, located at 2999 N. Rock Road, features 40 life-sized, moving and realistic dinosaurs.
The property is home to 10 acres of walking trails with dinosaurs from different eras at every bend and curve. Field Station also offers guests yard games, an observation tower, a maze and miniature golf.
The park is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon- 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13.75-$16.75.
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Topekans won’t need to drive far for this destination, and it is definitely worth a trip for out-of-towners.
The Topeka Zoo, 635 S.W. Gage Blvd., is home to many fantastic animals and attractions.
From elephants and giraffes to sloths and lemurs, there’s an animal for everyone.
The zoo’s Camp Cowabunga brings Africa to Topeka. Visitors can see African lions and painted dogs, red patas monkeys and offers several interactive elements.
Those searching for a serene experience can find it at Kay McFarland Japanese Garden.
The garden has been designed so visitors follow one of two paths that tell a story of love and family.
Inside the Japanese garden is a tea house, bridges, burr oak trees, streams and flowers.
The entrance fee to the zoo is $7.25-$8.25 and it is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
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Become one with nature at Overland Park’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 8909 W. 179th St.
The 300-acre botanical garden is home to more than 1,700 species of plants, a variety of landscapes and gardens, hiking trails and an open prairie.
The attraction is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Tuesday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday.
Admission is $1-$3. The arboretum has set dates when admission is free including Sept. 7, Oct. 5, 9 and 10, Nov. 2 and Dec. 7.
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