Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in east-central Kansas preserves and protects over 10,000 acres of Tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
- Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
When the first European explorers traveled across the prairies they found vast grasslands teeming with wildlife. The Tallgrass Prairie stretched 170 million acres of North America from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
The grassland was fertile and attracted settlers looking to farm. Today less than 4% of tallgrass prairie remains in the United States.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was created on November 12, 1996, as a private-public partnership. The park was created to interpret both the prairie ecosystem but also the cultural heritage of ranching.
In 2009, The National Park Service and Nature Conservancy reintroduced bison to the prairie.
The visitor center is right off of the main parking lot. You can pick up a trails map for the park and learn more about the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem.
We really enjoyed the displays in the visitor center that show how the prairie looks different each season, how wildlife handles the rough winters, and what grasses are in the prairie.
Junior Ranger Program
You can download the English or Spanish version of the booklet and complete the book at home or before your visit to the park.
Self Guided Cell Phone Tours
Click on the Complete Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Tour for the entire tour, click on the individual links below, or call (620) 805-3185 and enter the tour stops to learn about the history of the 1881 Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch, the prairie, and the one-room schoolhouse.
Spring Hill Ranch House
Spring Hill Ranch House was built in 1881. The four-level ranch house is the centerpiece of Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch.
The 11-rooom house is designed in French Second Empire architecture.
The National Park Service conducts guided tours of the house during the year.
Spring Hill Ranch Barn
Spring Hill Ranch Barn is one of the largest historic limestone barns in Kansas. You can watch a 10-minute orientation film within the barn.
Bison are now grazing in both Windmill and West Traps pastures. Make sure to check the park's website for any hints on where the bison are roaming.
The preserve has a combination of front country and backcountry trails available for visitors.
There are over 40 miles of trails within the park. Trails are open 24 hours a day year round including holidays.
Make sure to stay a football field distance from bison at least 100 yards.
Dog Friendly Trails include the Bottomland Nature Trail, Southwind Nature Trail, and Fox Creek Trail, Z Bar Spur.
Lower Fox Creek School
Construction of the schoolhouse was completed in May 1882.
Classes were held in the schoolhouse until 1930.
The one-room schoolhouse is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May 1 through December 31.
The Lower Fox Creek School is located just down the road from the visitor center. There is a dirt road that lets you park near the school.
Bus tours are currently canceled due to health restrictions.
A bus tour podcast is found here. Bus tours normally run from May through October.
The 6.4-mile bus tour takes you into the preserves backcountry. On the tour you learn about the prairies plant and wildlife eco-system, American Indians, the geology that created the Flint Hills and the legacy of ranching.
Tours last approximately 90 minutes.
National Park Passport Stamps
Tallgrass Prairie N Preserve, Strong City, KS
Tallgrass Prairie is part of the 2006 Passport Sticker Set.
We use the Explorer Edition Passport Book that can be expanded and updated. This is a great way to track all of the parks you have visited over time.
We like to use these circle stickers for park stamps so we don't have to bring our passport book with us on every trip.
On November 12, 1996, the 10,894-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was created as the 370th national park unit.
The National Park Service will own no more than 180 acres of the preserve, leaving the majority of the preserve’s land in private, non-profit ownership.
In April 2005 the National Park Trust completed its mission at the preserve by transferring its land ownership to The Nature Conservancy, which now works closely with the National Park Service on a wide range of tallgrass prairie restoration projects.
Over 35 species of reptiles and amphibians can be identified in the Flint Hills, like box turtles, great plains skinks, collared lizards, Texas horned lizards, and bull snakes.
Over 150 species of birds can be identified in the Flint Hills, like greater prairie chickens, dickcissels, wild turkeys, vultures, and red-tailed hawks.
Over 35 species of mammals can be identified in the Flint Hills, like jackrabbits, bobcat, white-tailed deer, coyote, and bison.
Over 30 species of fish can be identified in the Flint Hills, like bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, smallmouth bass, and Topeka shiner.
Things to know when planning a visit
2480B KS Hwy 177
Strong City, KS 66869
The park is located 2 miles north off Strong City.
18 miles west of Emporia
16 miles south of Council Grove
85 miles northeast of Wichita
Historic buildings are open everyday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Hiking trails are open 24/7 year-round, closing only in times of prescribed fire.
Entrance Fees: $0.00, there is no fee to visit the park.
Camping: Camping and overnight parking are not authorized
Pets: Pets are not allowed inside park buildings or on the bus for prairie tours. The exception is Service Animals.
Snakes: A few venomous snakes live on the preserve including the massasauga rattlesnake and copperhead. Snakes are most active in the warm summer between April and October.
National Park Service Website - https://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm
Lodging near Tallgrass Prairie
National Park Sites near Tallgrass Prairie