Kansas is the proud home to over 25 state parks. Spanning across the state, these parks provide Kansans with an escape from normal life and the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes that dot our state. Over the 4th of July weekend, we decided to visit one of these parks for a couple of days of kayaking, hiking and sleeping under the Kansas sky.
Taking the Scenic Route to Kanopolis
If you know me, you know I will jump at any chance to take the long way to get somewhere. The trip to Kanopolis State Park was no different. Sure, taking I-70 across the state would be the quick and easy option, but doing so means missing out on some great views and a leisurely drive. Because of that, I decided to avoid highways during the road trip and add an extra hour to my journey.
By opting to take the back roads to Kanopolis, travelers can experience a different side of Kansas. Particularly because the route is rich with different historic markers and interest points. Many of these revolve around things like the Santa Fe Trail. Which was a 19th century trail that connected Franklin, MO to Santa Fe, NM. Historic sites are marked by a family of road signs, and I found myself stopping at several different spots to learn more.
Kayaking, Hiking and More at Kanopolis State Park
Kanopolis State Park is the first state park in Kansas. Completed in 1948, it is located in the Smoky Hills region of the state. The park offers a number of amenities including a vast expansion of hiking trails and a man-made lake which allows for boating, swimming and fishing. We decided to camp at a primitive campsite which did offer a small shelter. If you choose to camp at Site 52, you will also benefit from a fire pit constructed by one of my good friends, Brian, in years past.
After getting camp setup, we decided to head out onto the lake for a paddle at dusk. Kanopolis Lake is a man-made lake created to help with flood control. There are multiple boat ramps, which allows those looking to enjoy the water easy access. Our initial plan was to explore the lake as well as Smoky Hill River. But unfortunately the latter did not happen. Still, the lake is surrounded by awesome views, which prove what a beautiful state Kansas truly is.
At night, we sat round the fire. Reflecting on memories and chowing down on some delicious brats. Come morning, I whipped up what has now become a legendary breakfast hash. And we set out on another day of exploration and adventure. Despite heavy winds sweeping the lake.
Often times, when hiking or kayaking, I find myself pushing myself for that extra mile which can result in losing track of why I started these hobbies to begin with. The enjoyment of the great outdoors. This past weekend, we made a concerted effort to do just that. With friends traveling from as far away as New Mexico to camp, this trip was about relaxing and appreciating the presence of people we care about. And I couldn’t think of a better place to do so than Kanopolis State Park. Once you make the trip, and see the grander of this Kansas treasure, you are likely to agree with that opinion.