We spent Thursday night, Oct 3, at Scott State Park, north of Scott City KS. Now most of western Kansas is p-r-e-t-t-y flat. . .but large exposed limestone & chalk cliffs create gullies, even canyons in the area. This park is located in one of those canyons. The lake is spring fed & nicely full, with multiple campgrounds all around it, including a specific equine camp area. Now we not only had trees but lots of green grass too. . .with a view of a large body of clean, fresh water. The $2/night charge for electric & water is waived in the winter, which started Oct 1, so it cost $10 for the night. Unfortunately, Kansas (like far too many other states) adds an additional fee just to drive into the park. (Hello, just include it in the camping fee & make us feel good about waiving the day-use fee since we certainly can’t camp without entering the park.)
We visited Battle Canyon just south of the Park, where the last Indian encounter occurred in Kansas in 1878. A group of Cheyenne escaped from their reservation in Oklahoma & were pursued by the US Calvary. They successfully defended this spot in the canyon during the daytime attack (women & children hiding in a nearby cave), & fled to Nebraska during the night. One group was recaptured & returned to OK, but the other group spent the winter in the NE Sand Hills.here until forced to return to NM in 1706 by the Spanish.
One of the reasons for taking this route thru Kansas was to visit big rock formations. I’m so glad I only take pictures of rocks instead of actually trying to collect & carry them around like some RVers I’ve read about. So Friday morning, we drove north of the Park on Highway 83, then turned right onto a decent gravel road, across the prairie to see Monument Rocks. Really bizarre to see these huge limestone & chalk formations sticking straight up out of the prairie. It was cloudy & threatening looking all morning as the edge of Winter Storm Atlas moved closer. As soon as we returned to the trailer, the wind really started howling but the clouds moved east & the sun came out. Thankfully the trailer just happened to be parked with the hitch facing into the winds so the rocking & rolling wasn’t too bad.
After a few hours of hoping the wind would die down (it didn’t), we reluctantly hitched up & headed east some more. . .for yet another big Kansas rock formation called Castle Rock Badlands, really out in the middle of nowhere. We turned north off Highway 4 at the tiny burg of Utica KS & drove north for 10 miles or so on dirt roads (pulling the trailer this time). We could actually see these cliffs far in the distance as we approached (since there wasn’t much of anything else around except occasional cows to obstruct the view).
As soon as we crossed the cattle guard to Castle Rock, the dirt road deteriorated quickly. Jeff loves off roading — me not so much. I’m especially nervous about rough, bumping roads when we’re pulling the trailer since I’m the one who has to put everything back in it’s place inside once we stop. Memories of smashing our new double-step trying to navigate the rock-filled dirt road at Monument Valley AZ danced in my head as we bumped along, climbing up near the top of the bluff. We got out & walked up to a high spot for a better view, but had to hang onto each other as the wind was dangerously strong up there. I even sat down to take photos since I couldn’t keep the camera steady from the wind gusts. Thankfully the road looped around to the entrance & wasn’t as treacherous as the first part. There is also a road (I use the term lightly) however leading down to the floor below the cliffs that had huge, deep cuts running diagonally across it. We not only didn’t drive down that road, but I’m not sure it was even safe to walk down. I saw lots of horse tracks (& piles of poop) in the area tho so that might be the best alternative to walking.
We continued our trek east. . .to Cedar Bluff State Park. Unfortunately, they had either let water out of the reservoir, or just hadn’t had any rain ‘cause it was really low (or dry) with lots of dead trees showing, few trees around the campgrounds, & just not appealing in any way (especially for the $22/night price they wanted). A quick search for RV parks on my phone (YES, I’ve had cell phone service even in the most desolate of areas on this trip) lead us to Ellis KS city park. Lots of huge trees along a little river that flows thru town with electric & water for $15/night was definitely appreciated.
We spent a few more hours Saturday morning traveling east thru Lyons & McPherson to FINALLY arrive at Chase County State Fishing Lake, just west of Cottonwood Falls KS. It’s on the west side of I-35 from Emporia on the east side. A kewl little town! We stayed at this lake once about 3 years ago & have always wanted to return, for a number of reasons, one being a strong cell signal. Like all Kansas State Fishing Lakes, it’s boondocking, but staying up to 14 days FREE parked next to a fishing lake with trees in the plains is hard to beat.
After five days of traveling, it’s time for some R&R. Supposedly the obnoxious wind will finally stop Monday. I think it’s blown off a few of my freckles in the past few days.
Yes Toto, we are DEFINITELY in Kansas again.