The Best Kansas State Parks to Visit with Kids

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Do you need new places to explore outside with the family, without driving out-of-state? There are 28 Kansas state parks

We’ve listed out each park with its main amenities and how long of a drive it is from downtown Wichita. Be sure to check online or call ahead to be sure information is current and if you need to reserve ahead of time.

Below that, there’s more about reservations and fees to help you get adventuring!

Best Kansas State Parks to Visit with Kids

State Parks West of Wichita (Hutchinson/Scott City)

Cedar Bluff

Driving distance from Wichita: 3 hrs NW
Hiking: No
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

There’s also a BMX track for bicycling!

Cheney

Driving distance from Wichita: 45 min. W
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Great place for boating, fishing and swimming! Basically, #lakelife. Listed in our Top 10 Lakes with Swimming Beaches for Kids Around Wichita.

Kanopolis

Driving distance from Wichita: 1.5 hrs NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Kansas’ first born (as state parks go!) with sandstone bluffs, and caves in Horsethief Canyon as well as wide stretches of prairie, this is a fun park with trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding!

Best Kansas State Parks with Kids

Little Jerusalem Badlands

Driving distance from Wichita: 4.5hrs NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: No
Camping: No
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

Kansas’ newest state park deserves its own post. The baby of the family always does, right? For real, you won’t even believe you’re in Kansas with these cool rock formations.

Meade

Driving distance from Wichita: 3 hrs. W
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

Mushroom Rock

Driving distance from Wichita: 1.5 hrs N
Hiking: Yes
Lake: No
Camping: No
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

Grab a photo with the kids in front of this iconic rock formation and have every ask where you went!

Best Kansas State Parks with Kids

Prairie Dog

Driving distance from Wichita: 4 hrs NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Sand Hills

Driving distance from Wichita: 1 hr. NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: No
Camping: Yes
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: Yes

Historic Lake Scott

Driving distance from Wichita: 4 hrs + W
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

This park is in National Geographic’s 50 must-see state parks and it’s known for its role in Early American history, with archeological sites and landmarks.

Webster

Driving distance from Wichita: 3.5 hrs NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Wilson

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs NW
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

State Parks North of Wichita (Topeka/Lawrence/Kansas City)

Clinton

Driving distance from Wichita: 2.5 hrs NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: For fishing, yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Includes a cross country ski trail!

Glen Elder

Driving distance from Wichita: 2.5 hrs N
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes, Waconda Lake is one of the state’s largest.
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

In the winter, you may catch sight of bald and golden eagles here.

Flint Hills Trail

Driving distance from Wichita: 2hrs.+ NE at Osawatomie
Hiking: Yes – the longest trail in Kansas (117 miles)
Lake: No
Camping: No
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

Hillsdale

Driving distance from Wichita: 2.5 NE (south of KC Metro Area)
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes, one of the state’s newest reservoirs
Camping: Yes
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

Kaw River

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

This is the only free park in the state!

Lovewell

Driving distance from Wichita: 3 hrs N (nearly at the Nebraska border)
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

The state park states that it’s for people who love water.

Milford

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs. N
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Perry

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hs + NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: No

Pomona

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs. NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Prairie Spirit Trail

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs. NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: No
Camping: Yes
Cabins: No
RVS Hookups: No

This park is actually a trail that’s packed limestone or asphalted depending on the section. There are 8 “pocket-parks” along the way.

Tuttle Creek

Driving distance from Wichita: 2 hrs. + NE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Includes the Fancy Creek Shooting Range, Luke Nihart archery range, and a disc golf course.

State Parks East of Wichita (El Dorado/Elk City)

Crawford

Driving distance from Wichita: 2.5 hrs E (on the edge of the Ozarks)
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

Cross Timbers

Driving distance from Wichita: 1.5 hrs E
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

El Dorado

Driving distance from Wichita: 45 min. E
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes – with 98 miles of shoreline!
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

So close and so much fun for a day (or two) at the lake. kids lake beach

Elk City

Driving distance from Wichita: 2hrs SE
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: One
RVS Hookups: Yes

Five miles outside Independence, this park has hickory and oak woods, with more challenging hiking trails and also a lake. We listed this park in our Top 5 Spots Take Kids Hiking in Kansas post.

Fall River

Driving distance from Wichita: 1 hr.+ E
Hiking: Yes
Lake: Yes
Camping: Yes
Cabins: Yes
RVS Hookups: Yes

This park is known for being a great spot to go canoeing.

State Park Fees and Reservations

Find out all the current details at www.ksoutdoors.com/State-Parks/Park-Fees.

When you go to a state park to hike for the day, you’ll need to get a vehicle permit from the park office (or self-pay station), or online. If you’re planning to make state park fun a regular thing, you can get an annual park vehicle permit, a State Parks Passport. You can get this at the DMV when registering your vehicle online or by mail.

For overnight camping, the fees vary on the kind of camp site and number of days you’ll stay. Note that on holiday weekends there are a minimum number of nights required for camping. For Memorial Day, a four-night stay is required for camping reservations, with a minimum of three nights required for the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.

If the park has RV camping, there are fees depending on the number of utilities you use.

Some parks have cabins for weekly or monthly rental. I recommend this if you have littles or you’re just dipping your toes into camping.

Make online reservations here, and be aware that they can fill up for months in advance, so make plans early.

In 2019, we needed to book a cabin at Kanopolis about four months in advance to find an open weekend in September. The cabin was simple and clean, with a grill and dog kennel. With a bedroom, foldout couch and fold-down murphy bed, we had enough room for two adults and four kiddos. Our youngest was a one-year old so it was very convenient to have our own bathroom and napping place, regardless of the weather.

State Park Events

From 5K races, to Easter Egg hunts, off trail hikes and fishing tournaments, you can have a lot of family fun at various events hosted by the parks department.