TOPEKA –The wait is finally over. The Nature Conservancy and Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks & Tourism (KDWPT) announce the much-anticipated Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park will open on Saturday, October 12. Located in southern Logan County, Little Jerusalem is easily accessed from Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 83. A grand opening celebration with speeches and a ribbon cutting will take place at 10:00 a.m. The two permanent trails will open after the ceremony and close at sundown, approximately 7:00 p.m. Free snacks and water will be available.
Grand opening activities include free, guided tours departing from the parking lot on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. Space for the guided tours is limited and advance registration at nature.org/littlejerusalem is required. All visitors may hike the two permanent trails at Little Jerusalem at their own pace. The Overlook Trail extends one-quarter mile along a crushed rock surface to a scenic viewpoint. The Life on the Rocks Trail winds 1.5 miles along the rim of the formations from which visitors can enjoy a variety of views and two scenic overlooks. Visitors are not allowed off-trail unless accompanied by park staff on a guided tour.
The 332-acre area encompasses 220 acres of dramatic chalk rock formations and is owned by The Nature Conservancy, a global non-profit conservation organization. Beyond the impressive scenic views, the area serves as nesting habitat for ferruginous hawks and is home to rare plants. Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park was established by the Kansas Legislature in 2018 after The Nature Conservancy partnered with KDWPT to have the area designated as a state park. Together, the organizations developed two trails, parking and additional infrastructure at the park. A long-term agreement allows KDWPT to manage outdoor recreational activities in a manner that protects the fragile rocks while The Nature Conservancy continues to own the land and manage the natural resources.
“The Nature Conservancy’s chief purposes for Little Jerusalem are, first, to protect the pristine natural features and, second, to provide opportunities for people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area,” said Conservancy director Rob Manes. “Striking that balance took time and we are confident that the partnership between The Nature Conservancy and KDWPT provides the public with the best possible experience. We can’t wait to share Little Jerusalem with everyone next month.”
“From the start, we’ve envisioned this property as a special kind of state park, where natural resource conservation is the highest priority,” agrees Linda Lanterman, KDWPT state parks director. “That means that public interaction with the landscape will necessarily be limited to only activities that have the least impact. We’ve struck a great balance with the trails that allow visitors to experience a diversity of views.”
After the grand opening, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park will be open to visitors from sunrise to sunset daily, all year round. Visitors will be required to purchase a daily vehicle permit, currently $5, at the park or have an annual Kansas state parks vehicle pass. Guided tours provided by KDWPT staff will be available by appointment.