Bourbon State Fishing Lake

Upper end of Bourbon State Fishing Lake
The upper end of the lake is a good place to look for fishing birds such as kingfishers and green herons.
- All photos by Jim Mason

Aged to perfection! Located in the forest-prairie mosaic of the Osage Cuestas, Bourbon State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area offers great wildlife viewing. Wolfpen Creek's woodland and shrubs along the hillsides provide cover and food for a variety of mammals and birds.

The chatter of squirrels and the clear, crisp call of the northern bobwhite quail are commonly heard. Muskrats and mink are found in and near the water. Eastern cottontails and white-tailed deer can be seen throughout the area.

The secretive American woodcock nests in the thickets; its presence is betrayed only by the springtime sound of a nasal "peent" at dawn or dusk. In May and September many species migrate through including wood warblers, ducks, wading birds, and shorebirds.  Watch the lush shoreline vegetation for feeding great blue herons.  Prairie wildflowers and butterflies are abundant from spring through fall. Painted turtles, sliders, bullfrogs, leopard frogs, and several species of water snakes are seen around the lake. Ground skinks are found in the rocky areas, with prairie king snakes and six-lined racerunners in the surrounding grasslands.

This chasm created by the overflow at the north end of the lake provides a cross-sectional view of the characteristic limestone and shale geology of the Osage Cuestas.

Overflow at Bourbon State Fishing Lake


Boat ramp, Picnic shelters and tables.

Camping icon Primitive camping only.

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Trails icon No developed trails.

Click here to get county birding lists for Kansas. Click the icon to find a birding list for Bourbon county.

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Bourbon State Lake map

Directions: From Moran (26 miles west of Ft. Scott) go 9 miles south on U.S. 59 to the Elsmore turnoff. Drive 5 miles straight east to the lake and wildlife area.

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map of this area,
click here.

Ownership: The entity responsible for management of Bourbon State Lake is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.  Contact them at (620) 431-0380 if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.  277 acres
You may download the KDWPT brochure on Bourbon State Fishing Lake from
their web site.

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Funded by the Chickadee Checkoff Program
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The Natural Kansas web site © 2011 by
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use requires written permission.  If you are a Kansas resident, please assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.

Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism