National, State and Local Parks

Historic Fort Hays Kansas USA

Fort Hays Historic Site Kansas USA
Fort Hays Historic Site Kansas USA

How to get to Hays, Kansas, USA
Via I-70, US-40, and US-183 lies the town of Hays, Kansas, one of the more popular places in the area. Hays and Salina were a big deal when the interstate was first built. If you have noticed when you first approach an interstate, it will have north and south or west and east directions depending on the interstate. With that they will have an important town name in addition to the sign so people know where things are. West of Hays, you will get names of towns on the signs that aren’t even in Kansas such as Limon or Denver in Colorado. East of Hays you will get signs for Salina, Topeka, Kansas City, St. Louis, etc. Based on that information, we can figure that Hays is recognized more than some cities in the state. 

Old Fort Hays Historical Marker
Old Fort Hays Historical Marker

In addition to the interstate and US-183, there is Bypass US-183 that travels around the southwest parts of town, including Fort Hays State University. If you are traveling from East I-70 to South US-183 or from North US-183 to West I-70, this is an excellent way to skip town traffic along Vine Street or US-183. Vine Street is one of the main roads in town with many places to eat. The road actually named “Main Street” takes you through downtown, the library, pool, park, etc. There are also enough businesses north of the interstate to choose from.

Fort Hays Historic Site Kansas USA
Fort Hays Historic Site Kansas USA

Besides Fort Hays State University, you can visit the Sternberg Museum, Old Fort Hays, a golf course, country club, and more parks. My family likes to visit a park east of Main Street and just north of Bypass US-183. There is a playground, picnic areas, and a great view of Big Creek from the bridge going over it. We like the location of Hays mostly because it is a nice halfway point to meet up with family out west. We have many places to stop for food right off the interstate along US-183 north or south. Occasionally, even though it is slightly off track for us, we like taking the bypass so we can check out more of the town and Fort Hays.

Jellison Covered Bridge - Fort Hays University Kansas
Jellison Covered Bridge – Fort Hays University Kansas

Fort Hays State University Kansas

In the southwest part of Hays, there is the university of Fort Hays State. Along Bypass US-183, you can view some of its sports complexes such as the tennis and baseball fields and their basketball stadium. Slightly east, you can find its campus and educational buildings. 

Fort Hays State Kansas
Fort Hays State Kansas

There is a nice bridge otherwise known as the Jellison Bridge. If I had to pick a cool place at the university, this would be a top pick. Looking south from South Campus Road, it is cool to see the length of the bridge over the water and through the trees. This is a route for students to get to and from the Custer, McMindes, and Agnew Halls or the Performing Arts Center and Nursing Departments. 

Jellison Covered Bridge - Fort Hays University Kansas
Jellison (Covered) Bridge – Fort Hays University Kansas

The main campus extends as far north as North Campus Drive, as far east as Elm Street and Lewis Drive, and as far west and south as the Big Creek Trail. Again, all sports complexes however are near Bypass US-183 west of the trail. There are signs that will help guide you to the fields and stadiums. For people living out west, they consider this to be a decent sized and popular college. K-State and Kansas Universities are all located in the east of the state and Wichita State being centrally located south. This is most likely the next best choice after these three public colleges. There are many community colleges you can find in western Kansas towns such as Garden City, Liberal, Dodge City, Colby, Goodland, etc. 

Fort Hays State University Kansas USA
Fort Hays State University Kansas USA
Fort Hays State Kansas
Fort Hays State Kansas

After everything mentioned, for any future college students, the choice is yours. Visitors can tour at times and see its beauty with all of the buildings, trees, and water such as Big Creek in the background of the college. It looks satisfying enough to be a decent university that deserves to be seen by more people. Feel free to stop by and check out the university! It might be the one for you! 


Waconda Lake Kansas

How to get to Waconda Lake, Kansas, USA
Waconda Lake out in north central Kansas is located west of Beloit and east of Downs. There isn’t much at all in the south part of the lake. All of the activities and important parts are up north. The lake extends as far west as Cawker City and as far east as Glen Elder.

Waconda Lake, Kansas, USA.

South of Cawker City, you can take Lake Drive for some scenic views. South of Glen Elder, you can take Glen Elder Dam Road for more scenic viewing. Additionally, even if you are just travelling along US-24 & K-9 north of the lake, it does cut through part of the lake so you can have another decent view looking south.

World's Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas, USA
World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas, USA

Fun Fact: Cawker City, Kansas has the world’s largest ball of twine for any photographers out there!

Glen Elder State Park, Kansas, USA
The town of Glen Elder is a decent town with a view of the lake daily. West of the town is Glen Elder State Park, or the state park used to visit Waconda Lake. Restrooms and showers are nearby the Pawnee, Kanza, Kaw, Arikaree, and Takoda campgrounds and the Glen Elder Marina. US-24 & K-9 is the main route to get to Cawker City and Glen Elder. If you are coming south on K-128, you can just keep on going straight even after its end and it will take you directly to the campgrounds and the state park. Coming west on US-24 & K-9, the turnoff after Glen Elder Dam Road seems to be a more direct way to access the state park. It is an unnamed road south of the highway but north of it, the street is called 190 Road.

Boat Ramp at Waconda Lake, Kansas, USA

Cawker City and Glen Elder are both small towns but are very near Waconda Lake. US-24 & K-9 run through and near these cities which give these towns some more popularity. Since it is closer to Glen Elder, they named the state park after the town and gave its citizens a better view of the town. However, I am a little more familiar with Cawker City since some of my family has lived there before.


Cedar Bluff State Park Kansas

Cedar Bluff Reservoir is a lake out west in the state of Kansas. If you were to look at a map of western Kansas, this is most likely the first lake you would notice from its size. The main way to get there is by taking K-147 via I-70 or K-4. There are also ways to get there from US-283. I like taking this route through the Smoky Valley when I am going south or even north coming from family out west. 

Cedar Bluff State Park Kansas USA
Cedar Bluff State Park Kansas USA

Going east from US-283 or west from K-147 south of the lake takes you to the Cedar Bluff State Park-Shop. It is just another area to visit at the south end of the lake. Traveling on K-147, you can spot a fish hatchery to the east. There is a nice dam and a 14 foot tall bridge over the Smoky Hill River along the way north to Ogallah and I-70 or south to Brownell and K-4.

However, I recommend going towards the northeast part of the lake where Cedar Bluff State Park is located. This is where my grandparent loved to fish. We go here mainly to remember them and also enjoy the great scenery of the lake. The wood branches coming out of the water really caught my attention for some reason. Maybe I’m not the only one who enjoyed that look so I thought I might mention it. There will be enough restrooms near the campgrounds of the park if you wish to visit. 


El Dorado Lake Kansas

How to get to El Dorado Lake
El Dorado Lake is one of two great big lakes closest to Wichita, Kansas. To the west is Cheney Reservoir which you can get there from Wichita by taking via K-251 from US-54 and US-400.

To the east is the El Dorado Lake which you can get to from Wichita by taking via K-254. US-54 and US-77 also meet up in the town of El Dorado.
K-177 runs on the east side of the lake and I-35 runs through the north part of the lake and even cuts through a part of it. If you look on the map, you can tell that the south and the east part of the lake have more activities since it is more accessible to the two-laned highways. 

El Dorado Lake Kansas USA
El Dorado Lake Kansas USA

Driving via K-177
Driving via K-177, you can visit the Shady Creek Area or the Bluestem Area.

Shady Creek Area
Towards the south you can find the Shady Creek Area by taking Access Road to NE 6th Street. You can find tons of designated camping areas with a boat ramp to use as well as plenty of restrooms. It will be a right turn after the park station unless you want to go to the Shady Creek Sales & Service building. If you are taking Access Road west from the highway and you don’t want to take NE 6th Street to the campgrounds, just continue west to find more excitement by the Walnut River.

Bluestem Area
To the east north of the Shady Creek Area you can find the Bluestem Area that includes some cabins, more campgrounds, and a swim beach. There are many restrooms and showers you can use to clean up, change clothes, etc. Apart from the highway and anywhere east from it the area is surrounded by the lake on both sides. This is in my opinion probably one of the cooler places to visit for the day.


Milford Lake Kansas

Milford Lake is the biggest lake in the state and you can see why when you look at it on a map. There are many ways to get there since it is so big, so I will just share how to get there from I-70 coming from both directions. If you are coming east, you can take Milford Lake Road north to East K-244, and the alternate route (Alt K-244) will take you to North K-57 faster. Or if you are traveling west, simply take North US-77 to North K-57 and get to the same place. There you can either stay south at the Rolling Hills Park or ride the dam up north to Milford State Park

Before I continue, let me tell you more background information about the lake. Milford lake is known for fishing and boating. Many state competitions involving these activities are held specifically at this lake for its size. This is somewhere you should consider if you are into fishing and boating. There are many places for you to do these things here which is why I recommend this lake in particular to you.

East Rolling Hills Park Beach Milford Lake Kansas
East Rolling Hills Park Milford Lake Kansas

Last time I visited Milford, our family decided that East Rolling Hills Park is where we would swim. There is a nice beach located in this area after a few right turns once you are on the road directed by signs on K-57. There were a few playgrounds and restrooms near the beach that came in handy and there were plenty of trees on the west side providing a lot of shade for us in the evening. There is an outlet, fish hatchery, and nature center on the east side of the highway as well on the south side. Also to the east of the lake, you can even go golfing at the Rolling Meadows Golfing Course.

Taking a trip up north to Milford State Park, there are more swimming beaches, picnic benches in shade, more fishing spots, and more with plenty of restrooms and showers provided nearby. There is an overlook of the lake just right after the dam where you can go free of charge with a playground aka North Overlook Park. We visited here a time or two for a nice rest, a fun time on the playground, and a time for good pictures to keep for memories. There is a lot of housing and lodging north of the lake and east of the state park that are right next to the lake and have a decent view of everything in the comfort of their own homes. 


Kanopolis Lake Kansas

Kanopolis Lake is located west of Salina and Lindsborg, and east of Ellsworth and the town of Kanopolis. You can get here via K-141. Take K-140 or K-4 to get to this highway.

Up north you can find more campgrounds and hiking grounds to take. For the people wanting to ride a boat, a way to do it is going to the Buzzard Bay Boat Ramp. My youth group took me here once and it was pretty interesting. We went hiking, and then made a campfire to cook hotdogs and smores. There is one public swimming beach along Beach Road. The best way to get here is by taking Vendago Road west. It splits into Horsethief Road and Beach Road and you can navigate from there depending on your desired destination. 

Langley Point State Park Kanopolis Lake Kansas USA
Langley Point State Park Kanopolis Lake Kansas USA

Down south include more campgrounds, but most importantly, in my opinion, a better beach for swimming. There are showers and restrooms nearby. There are also some included up north for the activities up there. The way to get there is by taking Langley Point Road.

Langley Point State Park Beach Kanopolis Lake Kansas USA
Langley Point State Park Beach Kanopolis Lake Kansas USA


On the other side of the highway, the same road is called Riverside Drive. This is how you get to the outlet which requires another left turn. This is where the Smoky Hill River comes back from the lake and meets Sand Creek. Last time I went here, I saw people swimming, so I assume you can swim as well. There are restrooms in the same area. Or if you don’t like the water, it is a good place to take pictures.


Popular Lakes to visit in Kansas, USA

Clinton Lake

This reservoir is located near Lawrence, Kansas. K-10 used to end right at the lake, but it now bypasses the city of Lawrence and ends at the Kansas Turnpike aka I-70. You can still travel here off an exit at the southwest side.

El Dorado Lake

This reservoir is located near El Dorado, Kansas east of Wichita. The Kansas Turnpike goes over its north side and you can exit via US-77 or K-177 to visit this lake to take pictures of nature. If you are coming from the south end, you can also follow US-54 east of Wichita and El Dorado and find it to the north.

Cedar Bluff Reservoir

There are very few lakes on the west side of Kansas, but if you are willing to take the trip, you can find this lake located south of I-70 and north of K-4 via K-147. If you look out west, it is very hard to spot lakes that exist in Western Kansas. An honorable mention is Lake Scott State Park that is north of Scott City and is probably one of the only lakes like Cedar Bluff that exist in this region of the state. Cedar Bluff Reservoir is probably one of the biggest lakes in this part of the state and is worth visiting sometime.

Wilson Lake

Lake Wilson Kansas
Lake Wilson Kansas

This lake is located in west central Kansas south of K-18 and north of I-70 via K-232.  K-181 meets up with K-232 here and is another way to get to Wilson Lake. K-232 goes an extra mile south of I-70 to get to Wilson, Kansas in which the lake or the city was named after. Although a very big lake, there appear to be even bigger lakes in Kansas than this one. It is still a great place to visit nonetheless like all the other ones mentioned and like some other big lakes, there are houses near the lake to give people inside a great view day and night.

Milford Lake

Milford Lake is the largest lake in the state of Kansas with an area of 64 square kilometres. This lake is located north of I-70, west of Junction City, and west US-77 via K-57. K-244 meets up with K-57 from I-70 and is another way to get to Milford Lake. If you draw a line of symmetry on US-81, Wilson and Milford Lakes almost appear to fold on one another on a map. Even though looking similar in that way, out of all the lakes in Kansas, this is probably one of the more special ones since it holds a record for the state. I am sure you can do all sorts of things like you can with all lakes: Ride a boat, camp, fish, hike, and most importantly, relax.


Geographic Center of the 48 Contiguous U.S. States

Chapel at the US Geographic Center of the Continental United States
Chapel at the US Geographic Center of the Continental United States

Near Lebanon, Kansas is the Geographic Center of the 48 contiguous U.S. states just a couple of miles away from the town. You can find it in the northern part of the state via US-281 and K-191. Alaska and Hawaii are not included since they do not border any other U.S. state.

When you arrive, you will notice that there is a flag pole with a U.S. and Kansas flag on it.  There are also places to sit and have a picnic in the shade. A small white building with a cross symbolizes the religion which our founders believed in. Other than that, there is not much there besides the things already mentioned.

If you are standing in the area, you can spot the town Lebanon with your eyes since it is not that far away. Lebanon is a very small town. In fact, the population is only about 200 people. However, I am pretty sure the visit will still be interesting.

Wilson State Park Kansas

Wilson State Park

You can stop by Lake Wilson (Wilson State Park) above if you are heading North to US-281 (from I-70) via scenic Kansas Highway 232.


Cold Places in the U.S.

If you like the cold or you want to travel to somewhere cold for vacation because you just can’t handle the heat, there are some places in the U.S. that you can go to. They are all up north near Canada. Minnesota, Maine, and North Dakota are some of all 13 states that border it. But the coldest place has to be Alaska, where the average temperature is always somewhere below freezing. In the summer there, you have sunlight for around 80% of the day, while in the winter, you only have a few hours. This is a link to an article for more about Alaska.

Or visit somewhere in Middle but high in altitude like the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain National Park Snow
Rocky Mountain National Park Snow

If you want to travel to Minnesota, for example, you should travel up north to St. Paul where you can visit the Como Park Zoo Conservatory, the Science Museum, the Cathedral of St. Paul. Also, Minneapolis has the Institute of Art, Sculpture Garden, or Minnehaha Falls. There are just examples, there is so much more in this state and in other northern U.S. states already mentioned.