This was one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in Kansas. Deep in the Kansas Flint Hills – but not very far from Wichita – you can visit Chase State Fishing Lake and see the waterfalls.
Important Kansas disclaimer: Waterfalls in Kansas don’t flow if we haven’t had enough rain. Your trip might vary from ours. (The first time we visited the Cowley waterfall, for example, it was bone dry.) Prepare to enjoy the gorgeous Kansas landscape and look for other things to enjoy on your trip just in case. 🙂 There’s always something to appreciate even if the main attraction doesn’t turn out as expected.
Before you head out on your day trip, be sure to take a look at Kansas Road Trip Essentials and stock your car with whatever you may need.
Chase State Fishing Lake and Waterfalls
We actually began our trip by going to a National Park: the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. We saw bison and wildflowers, toured the historic buildings, and took a couple hundred pictures before stopping for dinner in Strong City and to wait out the storm. Then we followed the Kansas Flint Hills Scenic Byway south to Cottonwood Falls and turned west on Lake Rd. until we came to Chase State Fishing Lake.
At first, we couldn’t see any waterfalls, so we weren’t entirely sure we were in the right place.
But with the help of some local folks who stopped by to hike back to the waterfall, we found the dam that we needed to cross. It looks like this:
You can walk across the dam; the gate is there just to keep cars out.
It was easy to follow the path, and although it is a bit of a hike, there’s probably no way to get lost. (If there was, we probably would have found it.) We had no idea what to expect, so I made sure to take in the view of the pretty lake.
At some point when we got back into the woods, we veered left and started downward. We could hear waterfalls. It was so exciting! I mentioned we had waited out a storm that was passing through, so the waterfall had just gotten a ton of water dumped into it. Which was great, except that the dirt paths down to the falls were muddy and slick. Watch your step! This is a natural area and not child-proofed or even adult-proofed. Common sense needs to reign here.
But this is what we saw, and it was awesooome!
In all, there are four or five levels (I forgot to count) in the Chase County waterfalls. This is the second level and the steepest drop. If you walk back up the path, you’ll be standing on top of the top-most waterfall. Here we are standing at the top of it. (We took a shadow-selfie.)
And here’s what it looks like when you’re standing one level down from the peak.
How to Get There
From Wichita, you can go north to Highway 50 and take it straight to Lake Rd., or you can take the turnpike (which has tolls) to Exit 92 near Cassoday and go north on Highway 177, which is also the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. An alternate route is just to go straight east on Kellogg through El Dorado and turn north on Highway 177. Any way you go, it’s less than an hour and a half drive.
We took both routes – Highway 50 on the way to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and to get back home Highway 177 south all the way to Kellogg (Hwy. 54).
Make sure when you take the Scenic Byway that you tune in to the radio station that is mentioned on the road signs. There’s interesting info about the places you pass. (Which is a neat bonus on a road trip!)
When you take the Scenic Byway, you’re also treated to some nice additional opportunities to enjoy the Kansas landscape and history. Since you’re passing through Cottonwood Falls anyway, see the courthouse.
Then there’s a turnout just south of town called Schrumpf Hill Scenic Overlook. It didn’t seem like much of a hill to me, but then again I was distracted by all the daisies!! (Our trip was in late May on Memorial Day weekend. ) Even if there are no daisies when you get there, you can still read the signs describing the plants and wildlife you see in the area.
I know there must be more things to do than we discovered, but visiting a National Park, seeing Kansas waterfalls, having a daisy photo shoot, and getting dinner at a new restaurant was enough for us for one day. That said, we were back in town before dark, and that was even with me asking my husband to stop the car a dozen times so I could take pictures. 🙂
Here are more photos of the waterfalls that I took that day:
More Like It:
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
Quivera Wildlife Refuge
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Lake Scott State Park and Monument Rocks