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The Great Plains have been transformed since the arrival of European settlement, and today they are barely recognizable. In the past, vast herds of bison and other North American wildlife roamed the plains. Back during the Ice Age, they were home to a dizzying array of prehistoric megafauna wildlife. During the times of the dinosaurs, the Great Plains were a large shallow inland sea called the Western Interior Seaway.

Today people can learn about the Great Plains at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, Kansas. While in Kansas, visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve - the last patch of tall grass prairie in Kansas. Many people skip over the Great Plains to visit the Rockies or the Appalachians, but the Great Plains are also a rich ecosystem that few people bother to explore.


The Great Plains Nature Center - Preserving The Great Plains' Ecosystem

The Great Plains Nature Center is a joint cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Kansas Wildlife & Parks, the City of Wichita, and the Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center. The purpose of the center is to provide an opportunity for the public to learn and understand the ecosystems and wildlife of the Great Plains with a view to promoting good stewardship of the region.

The center is a great option for families to have an educational day out. Enjoy the Nature Center's recreational, interpretive, and environmental education opportunities for the public. Learn about the rich wildlife and habitats of the Great Plains, how they have changed and how to preserve what remains of them today.

Kansas is home to around 87 species of mammals, 457 species of birds, and 67 species of amphibians. The greatest wildlife hotspot in the United States is generally thought of as Yellowstone (it is home to most of the large native animals of North America).

Some of the opportunities the Great Plains Nature Center offers are wildlife programs, field trips, discovery boxes, adult workshops, junior naturalist classes, scout programs, and nature hikes.

Related: Saskatchewan Is Know For Its Flat Prairie Lands, But Also For These Unusual Attractions

The Chisholm Creek Park - A Great Plains Oasis

The Chisholm Creek Park is one of the largest parks in Wichita and is home to the major habitat types found on the Great Plains. It is managed by Wichita Park & Recreation as a Wichita Wild Habitat Area and is a wild habitat area.

  • Size: 282 Acres
  • Trail: 2.5 Miles of Paved Trails

Visitors can expect to see native and restored prairies, wetlands, ponds, and woodlands. Bicycles and dogs are forbidden in the park, while fishing is permitted at the Island Pond and Chisholm Lake.

Chisholm Creek Park is home to an estimated 125 species of wildflowers, 38 species of trees and shrubs, 20 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, and 21 species of reptiles and amphibians.

Animals visitors can hope to see include turkeys, white-tailed deer, kites, ducks (including mallards, teal, gadwall, and wigeon), mink, turtles, snakes, egrets, herons, and others.

Chisholm Creek Park is a great place for a family picnic, with a number of picnic amenities like charcoal grills, restrooms, picnic shelters, and others.

Related: There's A 'Little House On The Prairie' Museum In Kansas, And This Is What It's Like To Visit

Planning A Visit To The Great Plains Nature Center

The nature center building, as well as the trails in Chisholm Creek Park, are all free (so it is a good option for families trying to keep activities on a budget). The trails and Chisholm Creek Park are open from dawn to dusk daily.

  • Admission Fee: Free

Opening Hours:

  • Exhibit: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
  • Gift Shop: 10.00 to 4.00 pm
  • Closed: Sundays

The Great Plains Nature Center has many programs that visitors can enjoy. They offer nature-related programs quarters and are advertised on the center's website. Some or all of the programs are free and open to everyone to visit.

The biggest event offered by the center every year is the Walk With Wildlife on the second Saturday in June. The event offers a glimpse into the native wildlife of Kansas. The event typically draws around 1,500 visitors.

Next time traveling through Kansas, take the time to stop and see its many less-known attractions. It is worth a road trip and not just driving straight through it while going from coast to coast.