Typical canyons and bluffs in the upper lake area.
- Photo by Jim Mason
|The Smoky Hill River valley is the scenic setting for Kanopolis
The best hiking and wildlife viewing are in the
Horsethief Canyon area at the north end of the lake.
migrating waterfowl can be seen in spring and fall. Look for geese, mergansers, pintails, wigeons, shovelers, teal, mallards, gadwalls, buffleheads, and goldeneyes. Watch for collared lizards, Texas horned lizards, six-lined
racerunners, Great Plains skinks, and other reptiles. In grassland areas mule deer, horned larks, meadowlarks, and kingbirds are common.
Beaver and raccoon live along
the waterways. Watch for
turkeys and prairie dogs in the state park area. In open woodlands and croplands watch for
white-tailed deer, pheasants, bobwhite quail, and coyotes. In winter, bald eagles
are commonly seen flying over the lake, and turkey vultures can be seen in summer.
This cave is one of the must-sees in the canyon.
- Photo by Dana Gythiel
|Prairie wildflowers such as purple poppy mallow, prairie
spiderwort, yucca, prairie wild rose, butterfly milkweed, and blue false
indigo, along with little bluestem and sideoats grama grasses are only a few
of the 423 species of plants that can be found along the Buffalo Track
Canyon Nature Trail.
The Cheyenne sandstone formation,
up to 100 feet thick in places, makes the walls of the canyon. It has
been sculpted by wind and water over the ages into various caves, spires and
rugged escarpments that invite rock scrambling!
Mushroom Rock State Park features unique
sandstone formations in a setting of prairie and riparian woodlands.
To reach it, drive 6 miles north of the Venango
junction and 2 miles west.
- Photo by Jim Mason
|User fees, Restrooms, Water available, Picnic tables.|
utility campsites and over 200 primitive campsites in
the State Park.
6 cabins (make a
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Buffalo Track Canyon Nature Trail (0.75
mile one way); the Horsethief
Canyon area trails total over 24 miles, with several
shorter loops possible, passing through the bluffs, uplands and bottoms of the
very scenic area
north of the lake.
|Pick up a Kanopolis Legacy Lake Driving Trail guide from the Corps office and tour 27
sites in the area, including Mushroom Rock State Park.|
Click the icon to find a birding list for Ellsworth County.
Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches
I-135 in Salina, take K-140
about 21 miles west to K-141. Travel approximately 9 miles south to the state park
office in the Horsethief Canyon area north of the dam (red
arrow on map). To get to the Corps of
Engineers Information Center, which features exhibits on the area's archaeology, history,
and natural resources, drive to the south side of the dam, then take the east road.
For a Google Map of this site,
entities responsible for management of Kanopolis are shown below.
Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
US Army Corps of Engineers
(785) 546-2294; 18,000 acres
Click here to
visit the US ACE Kanopolis Lake web page.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
& Tourism (785)
Click here to visit the
KDWPT web page for Kanopolis State Park.
You may download the KDWP brochures on Kanopolis State Park
Buffalo Track Canyon trail or email the Park Manager
from the links at the top of that page.
Funded by the
Chickadee Checkoff Program
Click here for a brochure!
Kansas web site
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
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