Cimarron National Grassland

Cimarron National Grassland is a National Grassland located in Morton County, Kansas. One landmark within the grassland includes Point of Rocks. Point of Rocks is a large rock outcrop that was used as a landmark on the Cimarron Cutoff on the Santa Fe Trail. Also within the grassland is a spring from which travelers on the trail would get water. Cimarron National Grassland is located near Comanche National Grassland which is across the border in Colorado.


The Cimarron River
The Cimarron River is the largest stream the flows through the grassland. Strangely enough though it usually doesn't flow above ground. Yet lush vegetation still grows on the banks.

Point of Rocks
Point of Rocks has been an important landmark for travellers to this region of Kansas. It signifies the closness of springs and thus water. Many springs are known to exist in the region of the Cimarron River near Point of Rocks. Because of this Point of Rocks was an important landmarks for travelers heading west on the Cimarron Cutoff and for modern day ranchers. Point of Rocks is the 3rd Highest Point in the state of Kansas with the elevation at its summit being 3,540 feet.

Cimarron National Grasslands is well known to wildlife enthusiasts who travel to Morton County to explore the rolling sandsage prairie. Sand sagebrush is a conspicuous 3-foot-tall shrub with gray-green foliage. Local wildflowers include silky prairie clover, sweet sand verbena, sand milkweed, hairy gaura, field goosefoot, and wild begonia. Elk and pronghorns are found in the area. If you wish to see them, call the district office for the current location of the herds. While driving the roads be alert for porcupines.

Bird species normally associated with the arid southwest or the mountains are sometimes found here. Throughout the year Kansas listers search for rarities such as mountain chickadees, scrub jays, Steller's jays, roadrunners, bushtits, curve-billed thrashers, and western tanagers. Mountain plovers are sometimes found in early August. Nesting birds include Cassin's sparrows, lark buntings, scaled quail, and lesser prairie chickens. Several prairie chicken booming grounds, or leks, have observation blinds for public use. Call the district office to make reservations.

Several species of amphibians are commonly found on the grasslands. After rains in spring and summer, drive the roads at night and listen for the calls of plains spadefoot toads, Great Plains toads, Woodhouse's toads, and plains leopard frogs. Common reptiles include ornate box turtles, northern earless lizards, Texas horned lizards, and western rattlesnakes.

A self-guided auto tour is a scenic 50-mile drive that highlights many of the interesting wildlife features, including a prairie dog town. Portions of the historic Santa Fe Trail, marked by limestone posts, are visible in many locations. One stop is Point of Rocks, an important landmark on the trail and a great place to find rock wrens. Middle Spring provided trail travelers with a dependable, year-round source of water. Today, pools of water are dammed by beaver. The water and trees are an attractive oasis to wildlife of all kinds.

More Information on the Cimarron National Grassland

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