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Explore beauty of Cimarron National Grasslands

Kansas Tourism: This shortgrass prairie is one of only 20 protected national grasslands.

February 2, 2024

3 Min Read
Cimarron National Grasslands, near Elkhart, Kan.,
SHORTGRASS: Cimarron National Grasslands, near Elkhart, Kan., is one of 20 national grasslands in the nation. Photos by Kansas Tourism

by Colby Sharples-Terry

Nestled in the southwest corner of Kansas, the Cimarron National Grasslands are a magical place. Measuring 108,175 acres near Elkhart, the area is the largest public land in Kansas and the only land managed by the Forest Service.

As one of 20 national grasslands in the nation, Cimarron is ideal for wildlife watching, photography, hunting, camping and fishing. From its diverse wildlife to its breathtaking landscapes, Cimarron National Grasslands beckons those who yearn for an authentic encounter with the natural world.

The Cimarron National Grasslands

Shortgrass prairie

The Cimarron National Grasslands offers visitors a chance to step back in time and witness the untouched landscapes that once defined the American frontier. This national treasure provides an immersive experience into the shortgrass prairie. The rolling grasslands, punctuated by rugged canyons, create a picturesque backdrop that captures the essence of the untamed Midwest.

One of the main draws for tourists visiting Cimarron National Grasslands is the opportunity to witness the rich diversity of wildlife that inhabits the area. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the chance to observe a wide variety of avian species, from majestic raptors soaring overhead to the melodic calls of songbirds hidden in the tall grasses.

Man putting up a tent

The prairie chicken leks are famous here, and it is considered the premiere place in Kansas to observe them. For those with a keen eye, sightings of pronghorn antelope, coyotes and the elusive black-tailed prairie dog are common. The grasslands act as a living tableau of ecological balance, showcasing the intricate relationships between flora and fauna that have evolved over centuries.

Outdoor recreation

Cimarron National Grasslands provides an array of recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are 3 different systems for OHV trail riding and one open OHV area. Hiking trails wind through the prairie, offering both novice and experienced hikers the chance to explore the diverse ecosystems within the grasslands.

Photographers will find ample opportunities to capture the essence of the Great Plains, whether it be the golden hues of sunrise casting long shadows across the grass or the vibrant wildflowers that bloom in the spring.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, camping under the vast Kansas sky is an unforgettable adventure. Primitive campsites are available, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature in a serene and unspoiled environment. As night falls, the absence of city lights reveals a dazzling display of stars, creating a celestial panorama that adds to the magic of the experience.

Cimarron National Grasslands

Cimarron National Grasslands serves not only as a playground for nature enthusiasts, but also as a testament to the importance of conservation. Efforts to preserve and restore native grasses have been ongoing, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the same unspoiled landscapes that have captivated visitors for centuries.

Guided tours and educational programs are available to provide insight into the delicate balance of the prairie ecosystem and the ongoing efforts to protect its biodiversity. Visitors are encouraged to embrace the principles of “Leave No Trace,” fostering a sense of responsibility for the preservation of this natural wonder.

To learn more, visit travelks.com.

Sharples-Terry is public relations and communications manager for Kansas Tourism. Kansas Tourism aims to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas to maximize the positive impacts that tourism has on the state and local communities. For more trip inspiration and to order a free Kansas Travel Guide, head to travelks.com.

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