Size of the preserve
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is nearly 11,000 acres.
The Preserve headquarters lies 2 miles north of Strong City, Kansas on Highway 177 (Flint Hills Scenic Byway), 18 miles west of Emporia, 16 miles south of Council Grove and 85 miles northeast of Wichita. The property is in close proximity to the Kansas Turnpike (I-35) with convenient highway access to three of Kansas’ largest metropolitan areas: Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka.
Visiting the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve seeks to preserve this great treasure and make it accessible to all visitors. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, operated by the National Park Service, is open daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Two nature trails, the Southwind and Bottomland trails, are open daily. There are three backcountry hiking trails open on weekends during the off-season and daily during the summer.
What to See
Many see this parkland as a protected ecological landscape, others see it as a way to step back into history – but we have learned over the years that this park represents something for everyone. Whether you are a birdwatcher, a wildflower lover, a hiker or just an eternal student with an interest in history, archeology, ranching or architecture, this preserve will keep you busy. From the moment you step on the preserve, a spectacular panorama of hundreds of varieties of prairie grasses and colorful wildflowers unfold. You can find insects, lizards and snakes; and, other wildlife such as deer, fox, bobcats and coyotes. Birds such as hawks, wild turkey, falcons, prairie chickens and a wide variety of grassland nesting birds are also present on the preserve.
Why The Nature Conservancy Selected the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
In 1996, Congress authorized a new public/private national park unit in the Flint Hills of Kansas, in order to provide a major missing element of the National Park System. By 2004, however, the preserve’s private partner had run into financial difficulty, to the extent that it appeared portions of the land would be sold to satisfy debt and other liabilities. The Nature Conservancy responded to a request by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to come to the aid of the nation’s only tallgrass prairie within the National Park System.
What The Nature Conservancy is Doing at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
The Kansas Chapter has launched a $5 million fundraising campaign to assure that the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve will fulfill its dual mission of providing the public with a rich experience of the tallgrass prairie and the region’s historic ranching traditions. Funds will be dedicated to the purchase surface and mineral interests and to retire an existing long-term grazing right. This will allow the Conservancy and the National Park Service the necessary flexibility for comprehensive natural resource management. The partnership will oversee the planned reintroduction of bison while providing for continued cattle grazing in other areas of the preserve, providing an educational experience of both ranching heritage and the pre-settlement landscape. Controlled burning of the prairie at irregular intervals will help maintain the full beauty of a landscape that has changed little in nearly 10,000 years.