Elk City State Park

~Here’s How You Do It

“We’re not in Kansas anymore”…oh wait, we are in Kansas and it is flat as in flat out magical. The Emerald City had nothing on Elk City State Park, a stone’s throw (5 miles) from Independence, Kansas. With boating, hiking, mountain biking, and camping this area has the unique ability to offer a feeling of Zen while only being about 10 minutes from the town of Independence. Stop in and grab your firewood and marshmallows and be at your camp in the blink of an eye.

 For adventurers leaving out of Kansas City, you have only a 2 ½ hour drive and you are at your campsite but yours truly and a cousin who also happens to be part Sage and part fellow coffee addict, road tripped in from Oklahoma City, about 3 hours.

 The drive, leaving out of Tulsa, Oklahoma quickly became the golden, rolling plains one thinks of in association with Dorothy and Toto. This kind of beauty encourages a discard of life’s noise and a refocus on slowing down. The only regret was not truly kicking it down a notch and stopping off to see the Little House On The Prairie museum. The much younger cousin had no real idea who author, Laura Ingalls Wilder was but the more mature adventurer laments bypassing the homestead this heroine wrote so lovingly of. Next time!

 Visiting Elk City State Park in November proved to be perfect on multiple levels. There were no crowds, the campsites were downright plentiful and the weather was peachy. Tents went up, dusk hike was undertaken, and the arrival of a sunset over the lake with fall leaves as the star attraction was outrageous.

Trailhead at the campsite
Trailhead at the campsite

After about 1,100 photos, we got serious and took some more. Instagram almost crashed and the cousin gave up the commitment to unplug and let the Facebook world know exactly what they could look forward to if they ever unplugged, soul searched, and were privy to a place that offered the magic of Mother Nature and WIFI.

The color show
The color show

 After sunset and a multitude of “likes”, it was bonding time around the campfire. “Kumbaya” was considered and vetoed but the age old enticement of holding a stick in the fire and collecting all manner of things to burn still fascinated and cell phones were cast aside in favor of getting in touch with the inner pyromaniac. Stories were told, chocolate was consumed, and the call of the wild included the young whippersnapper cousin somehow sleeping inverted in his borrowed triangular Big Agnes tent much to the delight of his next door neighbor who is usually the one to find all manner of inverted ways of being while in the woods.

 Morning sunrise brought coffee and a drive to the dam to see scenery that included a color of green unique to the Midwest and probably what inspired the “Emerald” in the Emerald City. Campers, please know that the most intense color show happens as the sun peeks out and lights the trees from the tops down. The reds, oranges, and yellows take on whole new meaning when viewed for the one hour that the light dances across the area and this hour is worth dragging out of the tent for.

On the road again
On the road again

 After breakfast, a leisurely hike around part of the lake was embarked upon and the lithe young cousin conquered trees while getting reacquainted with his inner Mowgli. The sun was warm, the air was clean, and a gentle breeze had this hiker considering writing a poem, but in the end, her inner Henry David Thoreau lost out to lazily watching the ripples in the lake and the over consumption of trail mix.

Mowgli time
Mowgli time

 This weekend was about as relaxing as they come and the campsite ran about $15 and required no advance reservation. During the busy summer months, plan on reserving months ahead through Reserve America.

 Fellow adventurers, do not miss this hidden jewel! And for those of you in reasonable proximity, consider making this a regular getaway. Elk City is a keeper.

 

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