Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area
Although known primarily for birds, the area also contains raccoons, deer, beavers, muskrats, and mink as well as a variety of reptiles. Western painted turtles, sliders, diamondback and northern water snakes, and Graham's crayfish snakes frequent the water's edge. In spring and fall, massasauga rattlesnakes regularly bask in the sun on the road.
A good place to get a feel for the
expanse of the landscape at Cheyenne Bottoms,
Two of the water control structures are visible just a short distance to the north, and the wetlands themselves stretch out of sight into the distance. On a good day during migration, large flocks of shorebirds or waterfowl may be seen from here.
Be sure to bring your binoculars and spotting scope!
At least 320 species of birds have been recorded at the Bottoms. The area is critical habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, least tern, and piping plover. More than 25 species of ducks and geese have been identified at the Bottoms and at times have numbered in excess of 600,000 birds. In mid-March thousands of sandhill cranes stop on the way to their staging area along the Platte River in Nebraska. April brings tens of thousands of shorebirds to the mudflats where they probe the mud for bloodworms, the larval stage of a small fly known as the midge. During the summer, swarms of these insects are seen over the marshes. Common shorebirds include a variety of sandpipers, plovers, phalaropes, avocets, godwits, and dowitchers. Summer visitors often encounter huge flocks of red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds. Herons are also common during the summer; great blue herons, snowy egrets, black-crowned night herons, and American bitterns search the shallows for fish and frogs. A highlight of fall migration is the impressive flocks of undulating, circling, white pelicans. At times, large "islands" of the birds are seen across the marsh.
Primitive camping is available at the roadside area on NE 40 Rd. ~1 mile west of the Area Headquarters.
Visitors can drive or walk on approximately 15 miles of gravel roads within the area.
The responsible entity for management of Cheyenne Bottoms is
the Kansas Department
of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism. Contact them at (620) 793-3066
if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
The Nature Conservancy owns 7,500 acres immediately northwest
of the state property.
The new Kansas Wetlands
Education Center is located near the south entrance of Cheyenne
Another informative website on regional attractions is maintained by
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to