7 of the Best National Parks in Kansas

There are ten National Park Services in the state of Kansas, although the state has no National Parks. The national park services are comprised of five scenic National Historic Trails and four National Historic Sites. The state is also home to a National Preserve. Ready to explore all that The Sunflower State has to offer? Here’s our list of the best national parks in Kansas.

7 of the Best National Parks in Kansas

1. California – National Historic Trail

Covering 5,665 miles across ten states, the ‘California’ is the longest National Historic Trail in the United States of America. Emigrants travelled along this trail in wagons in the 1840s and 1850s moving from the Midwest toward the Pacific in search of gold and opportunity. This was the greatest mass migration in American history. Along the Kansas section of this trail, you can stop off at many historical sites of interest, for instance, the Hollenberg Pony Express Station. Gerat H. Hollenberg built this building on Cottonwood Creek about 1857  to capitalise on the Oregon-California emigrant trade that passed his door. The building served as a grocery store, a tavern, and an unofficial post office before becoming a Pony Express home station.

best national parks kansas
By Art davis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

2. Pony Express – National Historic Trail

The Pony Express National Historic Trail traces the route that men once rode on horseback to deliver mail from Missouri to California. It took the men just 10 days to cover the 1,800-mile trail. The route passes through eight states with plenty of places along the way to stop where you can admire the scenery and learn more about this historic route and company. In Kansas, you can stop at the Pony Express Barn & Museum, which is housed in the stone barn the Joseph H. Cottrell and Hank Williams constructed in 1859.

3. Lewis & Clark – National Historic Trail

Stretching some 4,900 miles (7,900km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, the ‘Lewis and Clark’ is the third-longest National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears in North Carolina and the California Trail are both longer. The trail follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which took place from 1804 to 1806. Lewis and Clarke set off to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. Following the Kansas portion of this trail takes you past many beautiful and historical landmarks, for instance, the Frontier Army Museum. This museum preserves one of the finest collections of nineteenth-century military artefacts in the United States.

4. Santa Fe – National Historic Trail

The Santa Fe National Historic Trail traces the old wagon route between western Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trail traverses through five states and along the way, you pass historic places of importance. Those in Kansas include Shawnee Indian Mission and the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site.

best national parks kansas

5. Tallgrass Prairie – National Preserve

Tallgrass prairie protects what remains of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which once covered 170 million acres of North America. Today, less than 4 per cent remains intact as most of it has been transformed into farmland. In the preserve is a wonderful array of flora and fauna. The list of local species found includes over 500 plants, nearly 150 birds, 31 mammals, and 39 reptiles and amphibians. The threatened and endangered Topeka Shiner lives here.

6. Fort Larned – National Historic Site

Fort Larned is a complete and authentic army post from the 1860s to the 1870s on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort once sheltered troops who were known as the Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail. The site is home to many buildings, for instance, the barracks, commissary, and officers’ quarters, and all are are furnished to their original appearance.

7. Brown v. Board of Education – National Historic Site

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education was pivotal as it ended legal segregation in public schools. This National Historic Site tells the story of this landmark case and that of the various people involved, for instance, teachers, secretaries, welders, ministers and students who all fought for equality.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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