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The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

This one-of-a-kind national park celebrates the American prairie


cows on the prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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About 5,000 head of cattle graze on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Grazing helps the grasses grow. Bison have been recently introduced.
 

father and son on the prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects 11,000 acres of natural grassland. Like this father and son, you have to get out into the prairie to really appreciate it.

grasses on the prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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Some 500 species of plants grow on the prairie. Numerous types of grasses provide an undulating vista of greens and golds.

hiking through the prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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Miles of hiking trails get you up close and personal to the prairie, where you can see songbirds, wildflowers and butterflies.

sunset prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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The day's light is always changing the hues of the prairie. At sunset, it glows golden.

tree on prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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Lone trees dotting the prairie indicate natural springs.

view on the prairie

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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In early summer the tallgrasses are knee-high. By October, they can be eight feet high.

Wavyleg Thistle

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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The wavyleaf thistle’s spiky bloom is just one of the wildflowers of the prairie.

Cottonwood River, Kan.

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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The Cottonwood River runs through the town of Cottonwood, five miles from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

Cottonwood Courthouse

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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Cottonwood Falls’ courthouse is the oldest continuously operated courthouse in Kansas.

Friday Night Session

Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Dembling

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Residents and tourists gather in front of the Emma Chase Café in Cottonwood Falls each Friday night for a jam session.

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The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects the small percentage of what's left of America's fabled great prairie. To learn about about the park, and how to visit, read Road Trip: Discover a New Kind of National Park.

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