Finding a Kansas prairie to explore isn't hard, as almost 40% of the state is covered by grasslands. Various animals, such as deer, sheep, and cattle can be seen feeding on grass in many a prairie in Kansas, though long prairie expanses that appear devoid of any living creatures are common as well. If you've ever driven through significant stretches of Kansas, you have most likely encountered a Kansas prairie and marveled at the breadth of its flowing grasslands. While these far-reaching grasslands may appear at times to lack anything of interest, a closer look can reveal an interesting world. A native Kansas prairie that hasn't been planted with crops can boast a rich diversity of animals and plants alike, so if you do a little exploring, you never know what you might come across.
The prairie lands that stretch across North America start in southern Canada
and work their way down to Texas.
As far as east to west is concerned, you can find prairie lands in the United
States between the Rocky
Mountains and the Mississippi River. A prairie is basically a type of land
that is dominated by grass species. Trees and shrubs can be found in prairies,
though they tend to be scattered about. Things like climate and geological history
determine the kinds of grass species that are native to the various prairie
lands. In Kansas, for example, you'll find more tallgrass prairie than you will
in all the other states combined. The eastern Kansas Flint Hills region itself
is home to 50% of the country's remaining tall grass prairie. The rolling hills
of the Kansas Flint Hills area present a picturesque landscape, and numerous
wildflowers spring up across the hills in the warmer months, adding to the rich
green color of the thriving grasses.
The Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve is one of the top tourist destinations in the Kansas Flint Hills region, and it covers some 10,800 acres. Bus tours are offered at the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve, and they can help you not only help you see a large part of it, but also learn more about it. Both backcountry and frontcountry hiking trails can be found at the reserve, and you can enjoy a self-guided tour of your own when hiking them. Don't forget to enjoy a tour of the 1881 ranch house at the reserve during your visit if you are a history buff. You can find the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the east-central part of the state, and it's basically equidistant from Wichita, Topeka, Salina, Manhattan, and Abilene.
Just south of Manhattan, you'll find another excellent prairie in Kansas that you can explore basically to your heart's content. The Konza Prairie Preserve covers 8,616 acres, and is also home to native tallgrass prairie. Both Kansas State University and The Nature Conservancy own this Kansas Flint Hills prairie, which supports more than 7,500 different kinds of plants and 40 different mammal species. An array of reptiles and amphibians call the preserve home as well, as do 20 different kinds of fish. As for invertebrates, there are approximately 700 different types of them here, and if you like birdwatching, around 200 types of birds can be spotted here. Seeing the bison here is among the bigger joys, as most people don't see bison very often, and you're bound to spot deer in good numbers, as they do well here as well. A self-guided nature trail and a scenic overlook can be found at the Konza Prairie, and group tours of the prairies can be arranged.
The Flat Hills region is just one place to go if you're looking to explore a prairie in Kansas. Since the state is nearly half covered in prairie land, a prairie is never far off. The High Plains area in the western part of the state boasts mostly shortgrass prairies, and you can explore mixed prairies in the Red Hills area, which is found in the southern part of the state near the Oklahoma border, and the Smoky Hills region, which dominates the north-central part of the state up to the Nebraska border.