national parks in Kansas

The 3 Best National Parks In Kansas + Visiting Guide

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(Last updated on: 06/08/2022)

The best national parks in Kansas- a guide. Here I will show you the most beautiful, unique and cultural national parks in Kansas. Keep reading as I discuss the best accommodations in Kansas, an essential packing list, and of course the best national parks in Kansas.

What is a national park?

national parks in Kansas

To make things clear before I begin: What is a national park?

 A national park is an area protected due to its cultural heritage, boasting varied wildlife and beautiful landscapes. They are typically known for their unique features that set them apart from other natural areas. The aim of a national park is to preserve the site and benefit from this by gaining visitors. This way, the natural environment is conserved but not destroyed by social factors. The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.

Why visit the national parks in Kansas?

national parks in Kansas

Why visit the national parks in Kansas? The national parks in Kansas reveal a huge amount of American history above else. You can learn about the Indian wars era, nature conservation throughout time, segregation in the 1890s-1960s and more.

If you love hiking there are plenty of trails to discover, but if that’s not your thing then you can enjoy your day on site, exploring the natural beauty, as each host an array of activities to engage in. So, what’s stopping you?

How many national parks in Kansas are there?

There are 5 national parks located in Kansas, each one unique. Every year 98,000 people visit Kansas for the national parks alone, which highlights the popularity of the sites. Keep reading to find out the 3 best national parks in Kansas.

national parks in Kansas

The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Kansas

What are the best accommodations when visiting the national parks in Kansas? Here I have found the most conveniently located, best quality and best priced accommodations.

Booking.com

Private Chase County Cabin on Middle Creek

County cabin on middle creek is just a 24 minute drive from Tallgrass prairie. The cabin is a peaceful haven with a beautiful woodland surrounding. The log cabins interior boasts a homely décor with comfortable furnishing, fully equipped with an upstairs bedroom, kitchen, living space and bathroom. It’s perfect for visiting the national parks in Kansas due to the great location and dreamlike accommodation, you’re sure to have a memorable visit with this one! Click here to find out more.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Great Bend, an IHG Hotel

This holiday Inn is just a half an hour drive from Fort Larned. This hotel has beautiful polished rooms with an un suite and desk. There is a restaurant located in the hotel serving delicious buffet breakfasts every morning. As well as this, there is a gym and jacuzzi located on the site for no extra charge. Click here to learn more.

Hotel Topeka at City Centre

Hotel Topeka is just a 14 minute walk from Brown vs board national historic site. Apart from being brilliantly located, it’s also well facilitated. There is a swimming pool open all year round, as well as a fitness centre and restaurant on site. Each room is equipped with a tea and coffee maker and en suite. The comfortable beds are perfect for rewinding after a day of exploring the national parks in Kansas. Click here to find out more.

Cyrus Hotel, Topeka, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Cyrus hotel is a beautiful accommodation just a 20 minute walk from Brown vs board national historic site. The interior is aesthetic and relaxed with amazingly comfy beds. There is a restaurant and coffee house on site so there’s no hassle with finding them elsewhere, plus they serve delicious American meals and great coffee to start the day off right. Click here to find out more.

Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in Kansas

national parks in Kansas

So apart from the usual packing essentials like toothbrushes, phones and snacks, what is an essential packing list for the national parks in Kansas? Here are all the extras you need for your trip in a short list, so you get the best out of your trip!

Litre water bottle

It’s always good to have a water bottle in any season to stay hydrated all day long whilst out and about. A litre water bottle is the perfect choice. I recommend the Yetedole water bottle for its built in straw and beautiful colour selection.

Picnic backpack

A picnic backpack is super convenient for visiting the national parks in Kansas. This Fly-bye picnic bag has a cooler and two pouches at either side for water bottle storage. Enjoy lunch in a pretty outdoor spot, surrounded by natural beauty.

Hiking boots

If you are planning on hiking whilst visiting the national parks in Kansas, it’s essential to invest in a pair of comfortable hiking boots. Not only do these cushion your feet, but you will be at your best hiking ability all day long!

Sun cream stick

Even if it’s not the sunniest day, it’s important to apply SPF to protect your skin from high exposure. This Aloha sun stick is convenient for packing with its cylinder shape, as well as being eco friendly and amazing for applying.

The best national parks in Kansas

What are the best national parks in Kansas? Here I will break down the most exceptional national parks in Kansas, renowned for their beauty, historic value and cultural significance.

Tallgrass Prairie

national parks in Kansas

Tallgrass Prairie is a very special national park, not just physically but culturally, said to be ‘The jewel of the flint hills‘. The site once covered an astonishing 170 million acres, but now covers just 11,000. There is plenty of rich history that tells the tale of Tallgrass Prairie and how it has reduced over the years.

The tallgrass on site reaches its maximum height in September and October, a truly unique site. So I recommend visiting around this time.

There are several nature trails to explore on site, including the Fox creek trail. This trail is for any ability, stretching only 5.6 miles and taking roughly 2 hours to complete. Make sure to look out for the wildflowers along the way!

If you’re looking for a more advanced hike, try out the ‘Take 12 to West branch‘ hike. This will take anything from 4 to 12 hours depending on whether you choose the full route. It starts from the scenic overlook trail, then passing into the windmill pasture make sure to keep a 100 yard distance from the Bison. When you reach Prairie fire loop there is a stunning view of the park to admire. You will end at marker 27 where you can rest before trailing back.

Don’t forget to stop by at the Visitor centre where there are several exhibits to explore that teach you about the science, geology and history of Tallgrass Prairie.

Fort Larned

national parks in Kansas

Fort Larned is one of the best national parks in Kansas for its history. On site there are delicate sandstone buildings that were once used to protect troops known as guardians of the Santa Fe trail in the 1860s and 70s. As well as this, the nature is impeccable, with varied habitats and species ranging from rattlesnakes to beavers. Kansas is famous for birding, and the fort just so happens to be a major bird migration route, so it’s great for bird spotting.

There are many opportunities to learn about the history of Fort Larned, one of these being the nature trail. The looped path is roughly a mile, and along the way you can find animals and plants native to the area. Below is a map of the trail:

national parks in Kansas

The main attractions on site however will be the sandstone buildings. You can enter these sites and see where soldiers and officers lived day to day life. Discover the warehouses where supplies like food and clothing where made and the shops where anything from food to weaponry was sold.

Brown vs board of education

national parks in Kansas

Brown vs board national historic site exploits the side of American history that is often overturned. This historic site is one of the best national parks in Kansas due to its education and history. The Brown vs board of education was a court case made in 1954 that stated that the law of racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The national park is located on the site of ‘Monroe elementary school‘, one of the elementary schools for black children before the Brown vs board case.

Today you can explore the history of the site through exhibits hosted in the galleries within the site, which depict significant people who have contributed a lot to the racial fight for justice. Visit the brown vs board mural on site, depicting the fight for racial equality. This artwork was completed by volunteers.

National Parks In Kansas- further reading

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