It’s been estimated that, at the turn of the last century, some five billion prairie dogs
lived on the wide open spaces stretching from Canada to Mexico – one settlement on the high
plains of Texas reportedly boasted 400 million of these robust little rodents. Their
numbers have been dramatically lowered – but drivers shuttling through the seemingly empty
northern plains of Kansas will find a unique state park named for these social creatures.
Located on the north shore of Sebelius Reservoir near the small town of Norton, Prairie Dog
State Park is a definite must-see and must-stay kind of place. In addition to prairie dogs,
sightings of pheasants, Canada geese, wild turkeys, badgers, mule deer and white-tailed
deer are commonplace, particularly when walking the grounds. Several trails wind through
the park, including Branded Cedar Horse Trail, a 7 ½-mile trip through woods and grassland. The park also is a popular place for boaters and anglers, with fishing reported to be
excellent in Sebelius Reservoir. Anglers test their skills on saugeye, wiper, largemouth
bass, channel catfish and crappie. A boat ramp and concession marina make life more
pleasant, as do the picnic shelters and a small swimming beach.
Prairie Dog Campground
offers 40 designated sites with electric and water hookups, 12 more with just electric
hookups. If you’re wanting a more relaxed atmosphere, other campsites throughout the park
offer non-designated primitive sites. There are shower and restroom facilities located
throughout the park; two RV dump stations are provided, as well. There is a fee for
entering the park and for camping.
For more information, call (785) 877-2953, kdwp.state.ks.us.