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Get OUTSIDE in CHASE COUNTY

The Flint Hills holds a wealth of exploratory opportunities. Chase County is an outdoors-lover's dream, from our waterfalls and hikes to our Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie. Songbirds and native grasses fill our rolling pastures. Spring prairie burns are a breathtaking experience you will never forget.

 

Enjoy Chase County’s natural beauty, and then tell your friends. Secrets this beautiful shouldn’t be kept.

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The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway

The Flint Hills might be the most famed landscape in Kansas, focusing on its sweeping grasses and rugged limestone bluffs. It’s undoubtedly the most revered landscape as the area represents North America's largest remaining tract of tall grass prairie. These endless vistas have remained unchanged for thousands of years, and a variety of people, plants, and wildlife call the Flint Hills home.

 

The northernmost point of this byway along KS highway 177 begins in Council Grove and meanders south through the “Heart of the Flint Hills” Chase County. You will find the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with its limestone mansion, miles of hiking trails, the Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse, an enormous three-story barn, and a state-of-the-art visitors center.

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Down the road, you will come to Cottonwood Falls, where you can visit the Chase County Courthouse, museums, and the historic Cottonwood Bridge. As your journey continues south, stop at the Scenic Overlook to get a 360-degree view of the prairie. Spend some time at Pioneer Bluffs before traveling to Matfield Green to find the Prairie Art Path. The awe-inspiring beauty of the Flint Hills embraces you as you travel this unique portion of the Scenic Byways of Kansas.

 

The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway organization is a 501(c)(3). Volunteers do the maintenance of the overlooks; if you would like to donate to help defer the costs, please contact the Chase County Chamber of Commerce at chasechamber@sbcglobal.net  or call 620-273-8469 https://www.facebook.com/FlintHillsByway

DRIVING TOURS...

Driving tours are an excellent way for all ages and abilities to experience the Flint Hills. Create your own on using our General Chase County Map or try out one of our "Showcase Driving Tours". Just click below for more information.

 
 

Camping & Fishing

SWOPE PARK...

Swope Park is located on the Southeast corner of Highway 177 and 210 Road (behind Dollar General). Managed by the City of Cottonwood Falls. There are five campsites available in the park. The sites are first to come, tent and RV campers are welcome– first serve, water & electric hookups costing $15 a night. Restrooms and showers are available as well as dump sites. Phone : 620.273.6666

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BATES GROVE PARK...

It is located north of the Historic Cottonwood River Bridge. Tent camping is free; utilities are limited to portable restrooms only.

CHASE STATE FISHING LAKE...

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The lake has a steep to shallow rocky shoreline and shallow mudflats on the upper end. Water clarity is usually very good. Eight fishing piers and many rock and brush fish attractors enhance angling opportunities at the lake. Fair to excellent populations of channel catfish, black bass, saugeye, crappie, white bass, and bluegill are found in the lake. Adjacent uplands primarily consist of native grass prairie. A diversity of wildflowers exists on the property and can provide outstanding viewing opportunities. Several small woody draws also exist on the property, primarily below the dam. Hunting is allowed but game populations are limited. The area does provide opportunities to hunt species such as quail, rabbit, white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrels, waterfowl, and prairie chicken. Camping is allowed (first come, first served) in designated areas along the north shore of the lake. 

1130 Lake Road, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66846 / 620.767.5900

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Golf & Disc Golf

THE CHASE DISC GOLF COURSE...

The Chase Disc Golf Course was designed to blend into the scenic vistas of Swope Park in Cottonwood Falls as it flows into the landscape, embracing the native limestone heritage of Chase County and the elusive challenges of Buck Creek. Swope Park is the recreational hub for Chase County residents of all ages. The Chase Disc Golf Course expands the range of activities for its residents and serves all ages of Chase County residents, both young and old, enhancing the quality of life for all.

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COTTONWOOD FALLS COUNTRY CLUB...

The 9-hole “Cottonwood Falls” course at the Cottonwood Falls Country Club facility in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, features all the hallmarks of Kansas golf. Cottonwood Falls golf course opened in 1930. Tom Bell manages the course as the Secretary/Treasurer.

Play this field of dreams (with sand greens)

 

The course only costs $5, not $40 (that is the annual membership!)Fairways are closely mown native grasses, and “greens” are sand and are raked after the hole is played. If you’ve never played sand greens, you are missing something.

1973 KS-177, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845

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Gravel Road Cycling

Bicycling in the Chase County Flint Hills can be a fantastic experience for avid cyclists. Expansive open vistas, hundreds of miles of gravel and low maintenance roads, and less than four people per square mile. Expect wildlife ranging from the simple Skink to the majestic American Bald Eagle.

 

However, the Flint Hills is not an “easy” ride. Some roads have huge rocks, which can be difficult for some riders and bicycles. Many rolling hills can offer challenges to any cyclist. In addition, the weather can be extreme and quickly severe during certain times of the year. We recommend that cyclists ride a Cyclo-cross or Mountain Bike. Proper protection, such as helmets, gloves, and extra tubes, is a must for anyone venturing into the Flint Hills. Also, take plenty of food and water as there are few places to restock those items.

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Prepare yourself; the sunsets are breathtaking. A safe way to experience the Flint Hills for the first time is group rides that leave from High Gear Bike Shop in nearby Emporia. They can provide valuable information, supplies and equipment, and ride times.

 

If you’re a hardcore cyclist looking for a real challenge, try the world-famous Unbound Gravel bike race. Formally known as the “DK,” it begins and ends in Emporia, Kansas, and is an all-gravel road race that covers 200 miles of the Flint Hills in a single day! It has become the premier gravel grinder race in the world, hosting racers from 47 states and six countries, totaling over 1200 racers for 2014. Truly an event to experience! Renamed in 2021 to Unbound Gravel Race. Enjoy your time in Chase County on your bike as you ride alongside Kansas's best in wide-open spaces and unspoiled nature.

 

Hiking

TALLGRASS PRAIRIE NATIONAL PRESERVE...

Nearly 11,000 acres of wide open space, beautiful vistas, seasonal wildflowers, wildlife, bison herd, and plenty of solitude. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the only unit in the National Park Service dedicated to preserving a rare remnant of tallgrass prairie ecosystem. It is also cooperatively managed through public-private partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve offers an unforgettable hiking experience in the preserve's backcountry. They now have 40 miles of open trails year-round, 24 hours a day. 

2480B KS Hwy 177, Strong City, KS 66869 / 620.273.8494 ext : 270
WebsiteFacebook
 

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THE PRAIRYART PATH...

The PrairyArt Path is an ongoing project by Bill McBride that preserves and protects the prairie while creating a place where people can experience and connect with nature.

 

Just 15 miles south of Cottonwood Falls at Matfield Green, visitors can walk four miles of the path through prairie with dramatic views, remnants of historic cattle pens, and sculptures. The Path is open to the public.

KS-177 Scenic, Matfield Green, KS 66862 / Website

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Horseback Riding

If equine adventures are your aim, ride miles of equestrian trails for a more relaxed way to enjoy the state's gorgeous landscape. Grab the gear and saddle up for a gorgeous Kansas ride!

Rex Buchman 620.794.5332 / Facebook ... message for details

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Wildlife Watching

You can connect with nature and watch the wildlife virtually anywhere in Chase County. We have the largest area of unspoiled natural Tallgrass Prairie in the world. Imagine finding a quiet spot and hearing nothing but songbirds.  The front porches of many of our lodging venues or under a tree at Chase State Fishing Lake are accessible places to sit back and watch the local wildlife. Visit the Bison Herd at the Tallgrass National Preserve or take a leisurely drive on the Flint Hills Scenic byway and see what you can catch with your camera. You practically can’t miss at least a few local critters. Remember to keep a safe distance and watch out for the occasional snake in the grass!

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Wildlife seen in Chase County...

​Common Mammals:

  • White-tailed deer

  • Coyotes

  • Bobcats

  • Striped skunk

  • Raccoons

  • American badgers

  • Virginia opossum

  • Thirteen-lined ground squirrel

​Common Reptiles:

  • Great Plains skinks

  • Collared lizards

  • Prairie king snakes

  • Massasauga rattlesnakes (venomous)

  • Copperheads (venomous)

​Common Birds:

  • Greater prairie chicken

  • Upland sandpiper

  • Eastern meadowlark
    (the state bird of Kansas)

  • Dickcissel

  • Grasshopper sparrow

  • Common nighthawk

  • Red-tailed hawk

  • Northern harrier

  • American kestrel

 

Motorcycling

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Road trip…Experience the magic of the Flint Hills from the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, KS Hwy 177, a favorite of motorcyclists from across the nation. Explore the scenic vistas of the vanishing Tallgrass Prairie and the challenge of winding curves silhouetted with limestone fences. Visit Cottonwood Falls and its historic Chase County Courthouse, old mill dam, and Cottonwood river bridge.

Join 6,000 to 7,000 motorcycle enthusiasts for the Cassoday Bike Run, held on the First Sunday of each month, March through September. What began as a Sunday breakfast ride for a hand full of local riders has now become the largest bike rally in Kansas. Expect to see bikers and bikes of all shapes and sizes, along with various vendors, for this monthly event.

 

Prairie Burn Viewing

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Prairie fires are essential to maintaining the unique ecology of the flint hills. The tradition of prescribed burning started with Native Americans who used fire to generate new growth that attracted bison. Today, the springtime ritual, which sustains the rich grasslands for the region’s cattle herds, is celebrated in regional art.

 

Waterfalls & Stone Bridges

COTTONWOOD RIVER BRIDGE & WATERFALL...

The Cottonwood Falls and Bridge at the north side of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas is a nice place for a short break or picnic. The adjacent Bates Grove Park provides parking, tables and grills.

The first dam at this site was constructed of cottonwood logs in 1860. It provided water power for a saw and grist mill. In 1906 the dam was expanded and used to generate electricity. The present dam is constructed from cut limestone which was later covered with concrete.

The first major bridge at Cottonwood Falls was a 150 foot long iron truss bridge constructed in 1872. The present bridge was constructed in 1914 by the Missouri Valley Bridge Company of Leavenworth, Kansas for $13,700. It is one of only 3 remaining reinforced masonry, earth filled arch bridges that were designed by Daniel B. Luten. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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CLEMENTS STONE ARCH BRIDGE...

The historic Clements Stone Arch Bridge is the largest bridge of its type in the State of Kansas. The bridge was constructed, starting in 1886, entirely of native limestone and is a humped, or camel back, design making it nearly impossible to see a car coming from the other direction. The bridge is closed to car travel now but is still one of the ‘must sees’ when you visit Chase County.

For other Bridges in Chase County : http://bridgehunter.com/ks/chase/

CHASE STATE FISHING LAKE...

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The lake has a steep to shallow rocky shoreline and shallow mudflats on the upper end. Water clarity is usually very good. Eight fishing piers and many rock and brush fish attractors enhance angling opportunities at the lake. Fair to excellent populations of channel catfish, black bass, saugeye, crappie, white bass, and bluegill are found in the lake. Adjacent uplands primarily consist of native grass prairie. A diversity of wildflowers exists on the property and can provide outstanding viewing opportunities. Several small woody draws also exist on the property, primarily below the dam. Hunting is allowed but game populations are limited. The area does provide opportunities to hunt species such as quail, rabbit, white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrels, waterfowl, and prairie chicken. Camping is allowed (first come, first served) in designated areas along the north shore of the lake. 

1130 Lake Road, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66846 / 620.767.5900

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February 11, 1859, might be the anniversary of Chase County, KS’s entrance into the Kansas Territory of the United States, but our roots run deeper. Dive into our great history and learn about prairie life, both then and now.