Free entrance at all Kansas state parks; events, introduction to new reservation system, drawing for free stay at park cabin
TOPEKA — On Saturday, March 31, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will hold an “Open House” at all state parks from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with free park entrance. To highlight the event, visitors will have the opportunity to enter a statewide drawing to win a free one-night stay at a state park or public lands cabin of their choice. (The free one-night stay must be used in 2012 and is subject to availability. No purchase is required to enter the drawing. Limit one entry per person. The free night may be used for a single night or to extend a paid cabin reservation for another night.)
This is a great chance to see facilities, cabins, and recreation opportunities at Kansas state parks, and staff will be demonstrating the new Outdoor Recreation Management System (ORMS), which will streamline park reservations throughout the state. ORMS goes online April 17.
Also during the Open House, park users can take advantage of low off-season permit prices. March 31 is the last day annual camping permits and annual vehicle permits are priced at off-season discounts. On April 1, the prices increase to their regular prime-season levels. Annual park permits may be purchased and cabin or campsite reservations made at this time, as well. For pricing information and to purchase permits online, go to the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com. For online permit purchases, click the License/Permits icon. For cabin reservations, click the Cabins icon.
To make the Open House even more special, the Kansas Lottery has donated 26 prizes to be given away through drawings at the parks. Each park will have a drawing for the following prizes:
- one winner will receive a Bass Pro Shop 2 room tent;
- four winners will receive a Bass Pro Shop aluminum table and a lantern;
- one winner will receive a Bass Pro Shop aluminum table an igloo cooler and TravelKS camp stool;
- eight winners will receive two Bass Pro Shop sleeping bags and a Coghlan's four-function whistle, thermometer, magnifier, and compass;
- five winners will receive two canvas hard arm chairs with cup holder with carry bag and an Igloo cooler; and
- two winners will receive two canvas hard arm chairs with cup holder with carry bag and a Red Head boot/bag combo camouflage duffle bag.
In addition to ORMS demonstrations and prize drawings, the following state parks have specific events on tap for this day:
- Clinton — Camp Creek Cabin will be open for tours from 11a.m. to 3 p.m., interpretive display at park office, and recruitment for “trade for services workers" for various park seasonal positions.
- Crawford — free hot dogs served at noon, 5K Run to benefit local Parent Teachers Organization (registration 7:15 a.m. with race starting at 8 a.m. at beach shelter house, phone 620-724-0854 or 620-362-3671 for more information), boating safety inspection and aquatic nuisance species cleaning station from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Boaters encouraged to bring their vessels, have safety equipment checked, and wash out winter storage grime.
- Cross Timbers — Whispering Oaks Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guided bird walks all day at Whispering Oaks Cabin, horse trail rides, archery range, disk golf, and nature room open.
- Eisenhower — Cabins and yurts open at West Point Area 11a.m. to 1:30 p.m., free bratwursts (while they last) provided by the Friends of Eisenhower State Park from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 5K run for the Warmth Fund sponsored by the Community Covenant Church at 9 a.m., horse trail rides, archery range, disk golf, and nature room open.
- Elk City — scavenger hunt and park updates at park office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., lunch provided at Comfort Cove Shelter from noon to 2 p.m., boating information and inspections at park office, kids fishing at the Youth Pond from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Fall River — Entrance Station and Willow Bend Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., refreshments at cabin.
- Hillsdale — Information tour of Hillsdale Shooting Range 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at east side of dam outlet area. In the event of inclement weather, park office open from 10 am. to 6 p.m. Boat inspection lane at park office parking lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., “Ask a Ranger” table at the office with free coffee and cookies 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Perry — Stonefield Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guided mountain bike trail rides 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., car show 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., guided horse trail rides 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Pomona — Tonkawa and Santa Fe cabins and the Southwind Shelter House open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m., park scavenger hunt all day, food vendors, personal watercraft simulator 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Southwind Shelter, family disc golf, natural resource officer available for question and answer.
- Cheney — Heron Cabin open, coffee and cookies at the park office.
- El Dorado — Bluestem and Walnut River gatehouses open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Cabin No. 7 in Bluestem and Cabin No. 8 in Walnut River Area open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., prescribed burning nature talks at by Randy Just at office from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., courtesy boat inspections at office 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Kanopolis — Wyatt Earp Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guided trail hike from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Horsethief Canyon, tour of Mushroom Rock from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Milford — Appaloosa Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Manhattan Running Company 10K and 18K dual race. Cookies, coffee, and donuts at office throughout the day.
- Tuttle Creek — Cherokee Cabin open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., archery at Nihart Range from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Fancy Creek Shooting Range open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with no range fees, garden tractor pull at 11 a.m., Rockin’ Rabbit 5K and 10K Race from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., cookies and coffee sponsored by Friends of Tuttle Creek State Park throughout the day.
- Wilson — Elm Ridge Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kansas bike clubs and public trail rides.
- Cedar Bluff — free hot dog feed and refreshments sponsored by Cedar Bluff friends group Die Hards from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., all cabins available for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., park and new development tours throughout the day on request.
- Glen Elder — coffee and doughnuts 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tahoe Cabin open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., park photo contest at 10 a.m. (entries from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
- Lovewell — Marina restaurant open for meals, Sunrise Primitive Cabin and Lookout Modern Cabin open for tours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., fishing informative talk from 11a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Meade — lunch and refreshments sponsored by Friends of Meade State Park, volunteer park cleanup from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Easter egg hunt from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Prairie Dog — refreshments sponsored by Friends of Prairie Dog State Park, Eagle View Cabin and Cedar Crest Cabin open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hillman School tour at 4 p.m.
- Scott — punch and cookies sponsored by Lake Scott Friends Group, Taos Cabin open by appointment.
- Webster — “Cookies by Jana,” Blue-wing Bungalow open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Webster State Park/Stockton Recreation Fun Walk/Run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Old Marina Campground.
Park users should be aware that the reservation system will be on hold from April 1 through April 16. During this time, KDWPT will be installing the new Outdoor Reservation Management System (ORMS). In order to transition to the new reservations site, KDWPT staff won’t be able to take campsite or cabin reservations from April 1 through April 16. During that time, staff will move existing reservations to the new site, so those who made reservations prior to April 1 won’t have to “re-reserve” a campsite or cabin reservation. Beginning April 17, visitors to the KDWPT website who want to reserve a cabin or campsite will be linked to ORMS on Reserve America, www.reserveamerica.com, a national online reservation system.
In addition to allowing customers to make reservations from the comfort of home, photos of each campsite and whether it’s available will be hosted online. In most cases, ORMS will save park users money through reduced service fees and more efficient management. The system also will allow staff to mark sites with problems — such as broken hydrants or electrical issues — until these issues can be fixed. ORMS data will show which sites are used the most, making management planning more efficient. ORMS will also allow park staff to look within the system to see what sites are full and who is on that site, making emergency notifications much faster.
For those without computers or who still prefer using a phone, park staff will be able to use ORMS to help callers with reservations.