Those who think of Kansas as nothing but flat farmland do not expect to see the variations of terrain, the wildflowers and plant life, and especially the waterfall that are part of the Chase State Fishing Lake environment. Few Kansans and not all local residents are aware of this set of three waterfalls cascading down from the lake. The lake itself is not huge, but its clear waters make for fine fishing (I've read), the park is popular with bird watchers.
To reach Chase State Fishing Lake from Cottonwood Falls, take Main Street (which is not the main street in town - Broadway is) west in the direction of Elmdale. The entrance to the park is about a mile and a half west of Cottonwood Falls. If you wish to view the falls seen in these photos, walk across the earthen dam, then follow the footpath to your left down the embankment. There are three sets of falls, of which only the top and middle are shown in my photos.
Many states, both in the eastern and western United States, have National Forests. Here in Kansas, in northern Chase County, you will find the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. This unique place is operated as a partnership between the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Kansas Park Trust.
Although the Preserve covers 10,894 acres, it is but a small remnent of the 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie which once covered vast stretches of the North American continent. Less than 4 % of the original tallgrass prairie remains, mostly in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
At the Preserve you will find the magnificent old Spring Hill Ranch House, built in 1881, and a large limestone barn. On the back porch of the house is the visitor information center. There I enjoyed viewing a very informative 10 minute orientation film. I also took a short hike on one of the two trails which give visitors a close up look at the prairie. Although I was there on a gray November day, the prairie was still beautiful.
The preserve along KS-177, a short distance north of Cottonwood Falls. It is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
The Z Bar/Spring Hill Ranch was built in the early 1880's by Stephen F. Jones, a wealthy cattle rancher and businessman. The National Park Service offers free, informative tours that give great insight into prairie, frontier, and ranching life of the late 19th century.
Located two miles north of Strong City and US 50, along Hwy 177, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is one of the latest additions to the United States National Park System. Visitor's services are still being developed, but losing yourself in the shoulder high (or taller) grasses can be both disorienting and transcendental. This ecosystem once covered the entire mid-west part of the United States, reaching from Indiana to the Rocky Mountains. Sadly, less than 10% exists today.
Start your tour at the barn, one of the largest in the state.
This notice board is between the post office and the municipal building in Cottonwood Falls. A glance at it and you will see the adds for a cat fish fry, church supper, farm auction, craft show, and puppies free to 'good homes'. It gives you a taste of what it is like in this small town as you read it.
This building houses a quaint museum where you can learn about the history of this region. It is located a couple of blocks from the courthouse. You can see the courthouse in the distance behind it. Some times the museum is closed. It is usually open on weekdays after noon. The Chase county chamber of commerce should be able to give you better information about when local attractions are going to be open. The number to call is 1-800-431-6344.
Chase county fishing lake is a short distance from down town Cottonwood Falls. It is a good place for a picnic or to do a little bird watching.
This wagon is one of the exhibits at the museum in down town Cottonwood Falls. Covered wagons were used by the settlers on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.