Wildlife Watching Sites in
Northeast Kansas

Click on the map markers or the names in the list below to learn about
wildlife watching opportunities in Northeast Kansas!

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Wildlife Watching in Kansas      Site Index

bullet- Hillsdale Lake

Travelers to Hillsdale Lake should stop at the visitor center at the northeast end of the dam. Many interpretive displays explain the lake's history, recreational opportunities, and natural resources. (If you are planning to visit the western parts of the lake, be sure to pick up a map because the roads can be confusing.) Behind the center, bird feeders attract resident sparrows, juncos, woodpeckers, and chickadees. The 1.5-mile Hidden Spring Nature Trail, which begins at the visitor center, takes hikers through an oak-hickory forest. Look for fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, woodland birds, and a couple of the most respected reptiles in eastern Kansas: the venomous timber rattlesnake and the copperhead. Flocks of ducks, geese, pelicans, and gulls are seen on the lake during migrations. Late November may bring large flocks of snow geese. At the bridge over Little Bull Creek, scan the flooded timber for wintering bald eagles. Throughout the year, look for cormorants, gulls, grebes, and ducks. A great blue heron nesting colony is visible to the west from the Rock Creek bridge. With binoculars and a spotting scope, approximately 50 large stick nests can be seen in the tallest sycamores growing from the creek bottom about 0.5 miles away. Both equestrians and hikers can enjoy the 24 mile horse trail east of the lake. (Caution: This is in a hunting area, so wear bright colors during hunting seasons).

Camping icon 99 Utility campsites, 100 Primitive campsites in the State Park.
You may reserve a campsite online.

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Trail icon Hidden Spring Nature Trail (1.5 mile loop); Horse Trail (24 miles).

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

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: From the intersection of U.S. 169 and K-68, north of Paola, drive 3 miles north to 255th Street. The Hillsdale Reservoir Visitor Center lies 3.2 miles west of this intersection through the town of Hillsdale.
For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: The entities responsible for management of Hillsdale are below.  Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the area.

US Army Corps of Engineers (913) 783-4366; 13,100 acres
Click here to visit the US ACE Hillsdale Lake web page.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (913) 783-4507
Click here to visit the KDWPT web page for Hillsdale State Park.  You may download brochures for Hillsdale State Park and the trails or email the Park Manager from the links at the top of that page.

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bullet- Baker Wetlands

Baker Wetlands, which has been designated by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark, is important habitat for the northern crawfish frog. Located just south of Lawrence, Baker Wetlands is part of the Wakarusa River bottomlands. The north half of the site is wetland. The south part consists of riparian woodland, old cropland, and two plots of native prairie totaling 45 acres. The prairie areas contain prairie cordgrass, eastern gamagrass, switchgrass, Indiangrass, big bluestem, swamp milkweed, compass plant, Jerusalem artichoke, and Maximilian sunflower. Smallmouth salamanders breed here in March. Other amphibians include western chorus frogs and leopard frogs. Many times the area is dry, but when water is plentiful, so are the rails, ducks, shorebirds, and herons. Songbirds include marsh wrens, sedge wrens, swamp sparrows, LeConte's sparrows, and common yellowthroats.

While in Lawrence, be sure to visit the Prairie Park Nature Center, a 72 acre preserve located near the Baker Wetlands.  A new (1999) education center has fascinating dioramas and displays of native wildlife, complementing the nature trails in the park.   Click here to visit their web site.

Trail icon No developed trails.

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

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: Baker Wetlands is just south of the Lawrence city limits on 31st Street between Haskell and Louisiana streets. Park and walk in from the north gate, halfway between Haskell and Louisiana, or from the east gate at 35th and Haskell.  For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: Baker University.  Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the area. (785) 594-3172

573 acres

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bullet- Kansas Museum of Natural History

When you are in Lawrence, you should visit the Kansas Museum of Natural History located in Dyche Hall on the campus of the University of Kansas. The museum offers a number of interesting educational displays about natural sites in Kansas, as well as a gift shop.   A highlight is the North American panorama on the first floor - a wraparound diorama depicting the habitats of North America from the arctic to the tropics.  It was constructed for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and is a landmark of interpretive display design.

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: The museum is located on the campus of the University of Kansas.  From downtown Lawrence, go west on 9th street to Mississippi (traffic light).  Turn left and go south until you see the large parking lot next to the stadium.  Public parking is either on the street or in the lot (as marked).  The museum is the ornate limestone structure on the east side of the street.   For a Google Map, click here.

Ownership: University of Kansas (785) 864-4180
Click here to visit their web site.

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bullet- Clinton Lake

Home of the bald eagle!  In 1989 Clinton Lake generated statewide headlines when a pair of bald eagles nested in the Deer Creek arm of the reservoir. This was the first nesting in Kansas since pioneer days. The birds have returned annually to the highly protected aerie. High limestone bluffs, clear water, wooded shorelines, tallgrass prairie, croplands, and miles of hiking and camping trails make this one of the most remarkable recreation and wildlife-viewing sites in Kansas. Start your visit at the Corps of Engineers Information Center. A walk on the Backwoods Nature Trail will give you the opportunity to learn about the natural history of this area. Visit the dam and its overlook on the north end, drive through the Clinton Wildlife Area in the upper reaches of the reservoir, and walk the various hiking trails. The prairie blooms from spring to fall with prairie violets, Missouri evening primrose, lead plant, butterfly milkweed, Baldwin's ironweed, and dozens of other wildflowers. Bullfrogs and painted turtles are found in the wetlands in summer. Look for slender glass lizards along the bluebird trail. Squirrels, foxes, coyotes, white-tailed deer, bobcats, beaver, and mink are sighted year-round. Nesting birds include Canada geese, wood ducks, red-bellied woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, mourning doves, eastern bluebirds, red-tailed hawks, and American kestrels. Eight trails in the vicinity of the lake can be experienced by avid hikers and naturalists.

Camping icon 240 utility campsites, 220 primitive campsites in the State Park,
           2 cabins (make a reservation online).

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Trail icon George Latham Hiking Trail (4.5 miles round-trip); Rockbottom Hiking Trail (7.6 miles); Benjamin Trail (12.6 miles); Rimrock Trail (11.5 miles); State Park Trails (11 & 14 miles).

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

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: To reach the dam, take K-10 highway from either !-70, US 40 or US 59 to the Clinton Lake exit.   Maps, hiking and horse trail information, and Backwoods Nature Trail guides are available in the Corps of Engineers Information Center, just north of the dam. Park permits, camping information, and the wildlife area map can be obtained from the Clinton State Park office, about 1 mile west of the Corps center.  For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership:  The entities responsible for management of Clinton are below.  Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the area.

US Army Corps of Engineers (785) 843-7665; 18,856 acres
Click here to visit the US ACE Clinton Lake web page.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (785) 842-8562
Click here to visit the KDWPT web page for Clinton State Park.  You may download a brochure for the park or email the Park Manager from the links at the top of that page.
The Clinton Wildlife Area brochure may be found here.

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bullet- Lawrence Riverfront

Looking for eagles? A visit to the Lawrence Riverfront from November through March offers a chance to see wintering bald eagles.  The Massachusetts street bridge over the Kansas River in downtown Lawrence lies above the Bowersock Dam, the only dam on the Kaw River.  The waterfall created by the dam makes the river below it free of ice, even in the coldest winters.  When area reservoirs freeze in January and February, the site below the dam is often the only open water in the region and frequently attracts as many as 40 bald eagles, hungrily watching for fish stunned by their passage over the dam.  There are usually a half dozen or more eagles along that stretch of the river during the winter. The best time to view them is early in the day.

Trail icon The East River Mountain Bike Trail (5 miles), East Levee Trail (5 miles) and the North Levee Trail (5.5 miles) may be accessed from the opposite (north) side of the river.

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Discover what to see, eat and do in Kansas.
Plan your trip today, at TravelKS.com!

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

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: The Lawrence Riverfront is located at 6th and Massachusetts on the south side of the Kansas River in downtown Lawrence.
For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: City of Lawrence (785) 832-3540

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bullet- Perry Lake

Perry Lake is in the beautiful Delaware River valley of the Glaciated Region. The rolling bluestem prairie and hillsides of oak and hickory yield a large variety of wildlife. The reservoir, meadows, old fields, and riparian woodlands, as well as the marshes and mudflats, furnish living space for additional species. Hike on the Perry Lake National Recreation Trail (30 mile loop) through the shoreline and hillside communities. Visit Perry Wildlife Area to view the shallow-water habitats of the upper reservoir. In spring and early summer, search the mudflats for shorebirds. Among the cattails and sedges of the marsh you may find nesting sedge wrens, ducks, herons, muskrats, beaver, and mink. Watch for wild turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and white-tailed deer in the riparian woodlands. American kestrels, eastern meadowlarks, horned larks, and coyotes can be observed in the old fields and meadows. The oak-hickory ridges attract buntings, vireos, tanagers, thrushes, and warblers. Gulls, pelicans, ducks, and flocks of snow geese are common on the open waters during the fall migration. In winter bald eagles perch in tall trees at the water's edge.

bulletUser fees.  Restrooms, Showers, Boat Ramps, Swimming Beach,
Playground, Water available, Picnic tables, Shelter buildings, Cabins.

Camping icon  In the State Park, 124 Utility campsites, 350 Primitive campsites,
            4 Cabins (make a reservation online).
           Over 450 campsites are available in the Corps areas.

Visit TravelKS.com!
Discover what to see, eat and do in Kansas.
Plan your trip today, at TravelKS.com!

Trail icon Perry Lake National Recreation Trail (30 miles); Perry State Park Nature Trail (2.4 miles loop); Delaware Marsh Trail (1.75 miles loop); Thunder Ridge Nature Trail (3 miles loop).

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

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Location in KansasDirections: From U.S. 24 at Perry, travel 3 miles north to the Corps of Engineers Information Center (maps and trail information are available). The Perry Reservoir State Park Office is 5 miles west of Perry on U.S. 24, then 5 miles north on K-237. The office has park permits and maps of the wildlife area.
For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: The entities responsible for management of Perry are below.  Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the area.

US Army Corps of Engineers (785) 597-5144; 22,134 acres
Click here to visit the US ACE Perry Lake web page.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (785) 246-3449
Click here to visit the KDWPT web page for Perry State Park. 
You may download a brochure for the park or email the Park Manager from the links at the top of that page.

THE GLACIATED REGION

About a million years ago the Kansan glacier gouged out parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota and dumped them into the northeast corner of Kansas. This beautiful Glaciated Region of the state, bounded by the Kansas and Blue Rivers, has rolling uplands formed from wind blown glacial silt (loess), eroded valleys, meandering streams, and scattered rocks and boulders ("glacial till") all of which are reflections of glaciation.  Look for pink quartzite boulders, a characteristic glacial erratic that people often proudly put on their corner fence posts or by their entry drives.

Funded by the Chickadee Checkoff Program
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Click here for a brochure!

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

 

Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to Jim Mason