Historic Sites and National Parks in Kansas

March 10, 2023

national parks in Kansas

The state of Kansas is home to a number of national parks, including some great historic sites and natural reserves. From settlement history to Civil Rights Movement eras, these sites will capture your interest.

The National Park Service manages four national historic sites and a preserve, as well as five National Historic Trails in the state. Explore these sites with us!

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Located off state route 177 in Strong City, Kansas, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. This ecosystem once covered over 150 million acres in North America, but today less than 4% of that remains intact.

The preserve's wide-open spaces, historic ranch buildings, and numerous hiking trails are sure to delight visitors. Over 500 species of plants and a diverse array of wildlife await exploration.

You'll be able to see mule deer, bison, and other large grazing animals, as well as a wide variety of birds including greater prairie chickens. You can also take in panoramic views of the prairie and the surrounding area from a scenic overlook.

Associated Sites of Kansas

The state of Kansas is home to many historical sites, museums and other interesting attractions. Some of these are associated with national parks and others are not.

One of the most popular attractions in Kansas is the Monument Rocks, which are also known as Chalk Pyramids. These unique and significant rock formations are located in the western region of the state and were designated as a National Natural Landmark.

The site offers a range of activities, including hiking and picnicking around the rock formations. It also provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the geology and history of the area.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site, in southeast Kansas, was once a military outpost built by the United States Army. Its history is a fascinating look at a time when the nation was transformed from a young republic into a powerful, transcontinental country.

Originally called Camp Scott and named for General Winfield Scott, it was established in 1842 to guard the Indian frontier. Soldiers from the fort protected migrant trails, kept peace between American Indian tribes and played an important role in the Mexican-American War.

As the Civil War drew closer, Union commanders viewed Fort Scott as a strategic base of operations to protect Kansas from Confederate invasions. Troops occupied many of the old fort buildings, including the stables and hospital. They also constructed new buildings and over 40 miles of fortifications.

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Fort Larned is one of the best-preserved 1860s to 1870s military outposts on the Santa Fe Trail. Today, visitors walk the 400' square parade ground and explore seven of the nine original stone structures, which include barracks, post hospital, two company officer's quarters, commanding officer's quarters, quartermaster storehouse, and shops building.

The fort was used from 1860 to 1878 and served as a military post protecting travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. It also served as a distribution point for tribal annuities. Raids by Plains Indians increased during the Civil War, and armed escorts became standard for wagon trains.

Nicodemus National Historic Site

Nicodemus National Historic Site is a great place to explore history. It preserves, protects and interprets the oldest surviving black pioneer town west of the Mississippi.

The African Americans who settled in this area were determined to make the most of new opportunities that didn’t exist for them back in the South. With courage, perseverance and a lot of hard work, they built homes, businesses, clubs, churches, schools, and a way of life that was previously denied to them.

The town of Nicodemus grew from several dugouts across the prairie to a thriving community with church buildings, stores and gathering places serving 700-700 people. The town’s prosperity depended on the presence of a railroad line. However, the nearest rail line ran several miles south.


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