Visiting Kansas On Your Next Road Trip

Visitors to Kansas find a captivating tapestry of nature – grazing buffaloes, slinking bobcats, rocky canyons, not to mention lots of open prairies, golden sunflowers, and sand dunes. Plus there is plenty of camping at Kansas campgrounds and Kansas RV camping resorts for the road traveler, which will make you feel right at home.

In Kansas’ southwest corner near Elkhart, Cimarron National Grasslands protects a 100,000-plus acre tract surrounding the Cimarron River and covering portions of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. Cimarron’s rolling grasslands also contain a scenic, self-guided automobile tour which passes by an authentic prairie dog town. Once the hunting range of Kiowa and Comanche Native Americans, today’s Cimarron is still the home of animals such as elk, beavers, pronghorn sheep and porcupines. Birders enjoy views of mountain chickadees, roadrunners and prairie chickens.

Visiting Kansas On Your Next Road Trip

Visiting Kansas On Your Next Road Trip

Another of the “Sunflower State’s” southwestern wonders is Big Basin Prairie Preserve, approximately 40 miles south of Dodge City. Big Basin’s floor was probably formed when salts dissolved far below the earth’s surface, causing the land above to sink and reshape into a one-mile wide, one-foot deep bowl, or basin. Big Basin contains a mixed grass prairie brightened with spring wildflowers, nesting meadowlarks and grasshopper sparrows. Just a half-mile east in a stand of cottonwood trees is Little Basin, a smaller basin formation that’s the curious site of a seemingly boundless, clear water spring called Jacob’s Well. While striped lizards sun themselves in the rocky basins, a hefty herd of American bison roams wild and free on the preserve’s hillsides, with individual buffaloes often lumbering past visitors’ vehicles to rub and roll their wooly hides on dusty roadways. RV camping is easy to find throughout Kansas at Kansas campgrounds and Kansas RV camping resorts too!

In the Smoky Hills of the north central high plains near Phillipsburg, Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge was Kansas’ first such federal sanctuary. The refuge’s woodlands, mixed with grass prairie, lake and farmland provide habitats for jackrabbits, black-tailed prairie dogs and mule deer. Kirwin’s feathered population is amazing to watch, too. On Bow Creek and the North Fork of the Solomon River, Kirwin and its reservoir are situated on the Central Flyway. So this protected territory is a routine feeding ground for thousands of migrating geese, mallards and shorebirds. Great blue herons and white pelicans share the preserve’s water, woods and skies with golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and meadowlarks. For RV travelers who’d like to stretch their legs, there’s a short interpretive walking trail at Kirwin’s Crappie Point.

Sand Hills State Park is a unique south central attraction north of Hutchinson, Kansas. With a series of forty dunes dating back to the end of the Ice Age, this sand prairie was formed when blustery winds deposited sands from the Arkansas River. The sandy hills were subsequently anchored by the roots of native prairie grasses, making their appearance more typical of America‘s eastern seaboard than of the country’s middle territory. Surprisingly alive with vegetation, this inland dune area is decorated with grasses, sedges, shrubs and wildflowers lending colors of lavender, gold, green and crimson to the landscape. To gain an insider’s perspective on Sand Hills’ dunes, woodlands and water, guests can hike or horseback ride on one of several engaging park trails where they’re likely to see green herons, bluebirds, coyotes or evidence of plains pocket gophers.

In Kansas’ central hill country north of Canton, Maxwell Wildlife Refuge and neighboring McPherson State Fishing Lake are great places for observing wild western species like bison and elk. Herds of 200 American buffalo and 50 elk live in Maxwell’s hills. Free-roaming bison can be seen on refuge roads as well, from the park observation tower or on guided tram rides sponsored by a private group called “Friends of Maxwell.” Rusty colored buffalo calves born during the months of April, May and June grow up to develop the typical darker brown adult bison coat during the autumn season. Also in the fall, elk viewing becomes especially captivating when bull elks bugle and bellow in their efforts to attract female harems. Because its enjoyable to camp Kansas nearly all year round, we recommend making reservations at Kansas campgrounds and Kansas RV camping resorts ahead of time.


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