Flint Hills Festival – Saturday 5/21

Entrance to the Flint Hills Discovery Center

Entrance to the Flint Hills Discovery Center

This Saturday, the Flint Hills Discovery Center will be hosting their annual Flint Hills Festival.  Live music, tasty food, archery, rock climbing, and, yes, bison chip throwing – all focused around celebrating the Flint Hills.

On their website, you can find out more details about the schedule.

If you go:

Buy your tickets at the door or get in free with a Flint Hills Discovery Center membership.

Adult (18-64): $9
Youth (2-17): $4
Military, College Students, Educators and Seniors (65+): $7
Under 2: free

315 S 3rd St.
Manhattan, KS 66502

4/23/16 = Free state parks day!

Pick a park, any state park in Kansas on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and entrance is free! It’s tied in with Earth day celebrations, and really, since it’s free, there’s no reason not to get out there and check out some of what Kansas has to offer.

Plus, some of the parks are holding special activities from snacks to guided nature hikes to 5k run/walks. Get more information from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s our list of top 10 trails, many of which are in the state parks. And if you need more info on just what’s out there, we know of a good book!

Top 10 trails

Kansas Day events 2016

January 29 marks Kansas Day. It celebrates the day that Kansas was admitted into the Union back in 1861, becoming the 34th state. Flag_of_Kansas

A great way to celebrate the Sunflower State, particularly since the weather should be so nice for January, would be to get out on a trail, helped out by our handy Kansas Trail Guide!

Here are just some of the places holding special Kansas Day events. Click on the links to get info about times and other details.

Check out Quivira Wildlife Refuge after dark on 11/6/15

Our relationship with Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (well, by our, it’s mostly Jonathan) is a long one. He has tracked and spotted all kinds of animals out on the salt marshes and sand prairie lands. Some of that has included night spotting of deer, which can be a cold and tiring business. But dedication to wildlife and learning more about it can make those sacrifices worth it.

Sunset at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Mark Conard

Sunset at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Mark Conard

And if you want a chance to see what’s out and about in the refuge at night, Friends of Quivira is hosting a night tour on November 6. From their website:

Discover the Refuge after dark, when many of the creatures not seen during the day can be spotted. Participants ride in vans and SUVs along the Refuge roads using spotting scopes to find deer, beaver, coyotes, bob cats, raccoons and any other nocturnal creature that may be out and about.

For more information, call the Refuge at 620-486-2393 or email FOQ@friendsofquivira.org

Birds and butterflies at Chaplin Nature Center on 9/26

Back in high school biology, each fall, part of our homework was to tag monarch butterflies. It involves capturing the little orange and black buggers and putting a small, special tagged sticker on them and then releasing them back into the world.

Photo by USFWS Midwest

Why do this? Well, I have to say that I never forgot that biology class and running around Sunset Park with a butterfly net. But on a more practical and less specific level, it allows biologists (real ones, not high schoolers) to see when and where a butterfly was first captured and tagged and track it to where it was recovered to look at migration patterns, effects of weather, life span, etc. (I suppose at the other end of the migration path are people looking for dead butterflies with stickers on them, which seems less fun.) You can find out about the project at Monarch Watch.

And why do I ramble on about this? Because the monarch butterflies have arrived in Kansas, and Chaplin Nature Center will be running a free event this Saturday 9/26 from 10am to 3pm where you can help capture and tag monarchs as well as learn more about their migration through the Sunflower State.

There will also be members of the Wichita Audubon Society leading free nature hikes throughout the day.

If you go:
Chaplin Nature Center
27814 27th Dr, Arkansas City, KS 67005

2 miles south of Geuda Springs, then 2.6 miles east on 272nd Rd, or 3 miles west of Arkansas City on Hwy 166, then north 2 1/4 miles on 31st Rd.

Trails are open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week

The Visitor’s Center is open on Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. year round. It is closed Mondays and holidays.

September 1 – November 15, Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Kansas state parks will be free on 9/26 this year!

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas have come together for Healthy Fun at the Parks Day on Saturday, September 26, 2015. As a part of that, all of the state parks will be free on that day! Normally, a daily use entrance fee is $5.

Plus, they’ve made a coloring book and a map of all 26 state park locations. Coloring books will be available across the state at state park locations, rest stops, and tourism offices, or you may have picked one up at the Kansas State Fair.

So head out to a state park near you on Saturday and enjoy a free visit! If you need some guidance on the trails you can find at the parks, check out our book.

You can learn more about the free day here.Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 4.33.15 PM

Portland Alley Pedalfest – September 12 and 13

Portland Alley Pedalfest – September 12 and 13

PedalfestPoster2015There are lot of great ways to enjoy the Prairie Spirit and Southwind Rail Trail, but what better way than with camping, live music, food vendors, and a beer garden? Oh, and of course – cycling!

Props to Thrive Allen County for driving a grassroots effort to promote healthy living and a vibrant trails community in Allen County.  Saddle up your bike and head out to Iola September 12 and 13th to join the fun at the annual Portland Alley Pedalfest.

They’ve got a Family Fun Ride as well 25, 50, 75, and 100 mile rides – sign up at EventBrite.

National Trails Day is June 6!

National-Trails-Day-copyright-American-Hiking-Society-00001We were pretty excited about National Trails Day – the first Saturday of June. It’s the country’s largest celebration of trails, and Kansas has hundreds of miles of great trails (hint, find out more with our book!).

But then, as can happen in Kansas, the weather has turned and a lot of trails may not be in great condition for a hike. Something to keep in mind – as best you can, stay off trails for a couple of days after a big rain since bike treads and hoof prints particularly will leave indentations in the mud that will then harden, making a previously well-groomed trail into a rutted mess.

For those ready to take on the always changing Kansas weather, volunteers have worked hard to put together some events across the state. Here are the National Trails Day events happening in Kansas –

4/25/15 – Free entrance to Kansas State Parks!

Image from Kansas Tourism

That’s right, this Saturday 4/25/15, it’s free entrance to the grand state parks of Kansas!

The state parks have some of the best trails in the state – some of our favorites include Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail at Wilson State Park, Agave Ridge Nature Trail at Cedar Bluff State Park, Elk River Hiking Trail at Elk City State Park, and Hike, Bike, and Bridle Trail at Lake Scott State Park.

Plus, a lot of the visitor’s centers will be having activities and open houses from family-friendly exhibits and activities to guided hikes to 5K runs to fishing tournaments. Check out the events list here – there’s a great range of stuff for outdoor lovers of all ages.kick1

If you happen to go to Cedar Bluff State Park, Lovewell State Park, El Dorado State Park, Elk City State Park, or Perry State Park, give a big thanks to the volunteers out there helping keep the parks clean for the Earth Day Park Clean Up.

The weather forecast looks partly cloudy and warm for Saturday, so get out there and explore!

Beach House at Lake Scott open now through Memorial Day

Beach house photo from Friends of Lake Scott

On Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 6pm now until Memorial Day, you can visit the Beach House at Lake Scott State Park.

Out on the western plains of Kansas, Lake Scott was created in the late 1920s, and the Beach House is privately owned and not always open. The Spanish Revival architecture style building was constructed in the 1930s, and you can stop by to get food items, fishing equipment, bait, boat rentals and camping supplies.

There’s also indoor showers if you’ve taken a dip in the lake or to freshen up after the hike around the lake – one of our top 10 Kansas trails.