Cimarron National Grassland
Cimarron National Grassland is a National Grassland located in Morton County, Kansas
Morton County, Kansas
Morton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the county population was 3,233...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, with a very small part extending eastward into Stevens County
Stevens County, Kansas
Stevens County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the county population was 5,724. Its county seat is Hugoton...

. Cimarron National Grassland is located near Comanche National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland is a National Grassland located in southeastern Colorado, United States. It is the sister grassland of Cimarron National Grassland and contains both prairie grasslands and canyons. It is separated into two sections, each operated by a local ranger district, one of which...

 which is across the border in Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

. The grassland is administered by the Forest Service together with the Pike
Pike National Forest
The Pike National Forest is located in the Front Range of Colorado, USA, west of Colorado Springs and including Pikes Peak. The forest encompasses 1,106,604 acres within Clear Creek, Teller, Park, Jefferson, Douglas and El Paso counties. The major rivers draining the forest are the South Platte...

 and San Isabel
San Isabel National Forest
San Isabel National Forest is located in central Colorado. The forest contains 19 of the state's 54 fourteeners, peaks over high, including Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado....

 National Forests and the Comanche National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland is a National Grassland located in southeastern Colorado, United States. It is the sister grassland of Cimarron National Grassland and contains both prairie grasslands and canyons. It is separated into two sections, each operated by a local ranger district, one of which...

, from common headquarters located in Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

. There are local ranger
National Park Ranger
National Park Service Rangers are among the uniformed employees charged with protecting and preserving areas set aside in the National Park System by the United States Congress and/or the President of the United States...

 district offices in Elkhart, Kansas
Elkhart, Kansas
Elkhart is a city in and the county seat of Morton County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 2,205.-Geography:Elkhart is located at...

. The grassland is the largest area of public land in the state of Kansas.


The Cimarron National Grassland consists of 108,175 acres of Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 bisected by the Cimarron River. The elevations on the Grassland range from 3,100 (945 m) to 3,700 feet (1,128 m). The terrain is mostly flat, sloping downward west to east, although bluffs rise about one hundred feet (30 m) above the valley of the Cimarron. Vegetation is mostly shortgrass prairie grassland, dominated by sand sagebrush in salty soils. Groves of Cottonwood and other trees are found near the river.

Climate. The climate of the National Grassland is semi-arid, receiving about 18 inches (45 cm) of precipitation annually, mostly in summer. High winds are common and further desiccate the soil. Summer temperatures are hot, with an average high of 93 (34 C) degrees and an average low of 64 (18C) in July. Winters are cold with an average high of 45 (7 C) and an average low of 18 (-8 C)in January. The all-time high temperature is 110 (43 C) and the all-time low is minus 22 (-30 C).

Landmarks. The Cimarron River flows through the grassland. From late summer through winter it is usually dry above ground, yet lush vegetation still grows on the banks. Middle Spring flows year round and beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

 dams create pools of water nearby.
Point of Rocks
Point of Rocks (Kansas)
Point of Rocks, in Morton County, Kansas, was one of three landmarks by the same name on the Santa Fe Trail. This one was on the Cimarron cutoff. It is now part of Cimarron National Grassland....

, a large rock outcropping overlooking the Cimarron River valley, was an important landmark for travelers heading west on the Cimarron Cutoff, and for modern day ranchers, because many springs exist in the area. Point of Rocks has an elevation of 3,540 ft (1,079 m).


The present-day Cimarron National Grassland was the territory of the Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 and other Indian tribes allied to them. In 1822, William Becknell
William Becknell
William Becknell was a freight operator who established the Santa Fe Trail.Becknell was born in Amherst County, Virginia. He left Franklin, Missouri in September 1821 on his first trip to the western US with a load of freight to deliver to Santa Fe, New Mexico...

 was the first to traverse the Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1822 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880...

 by wagon, pioneering the alternate route called the Cimarron cut-off which passed through the National Grassland. Middle Spring was one of the three reliable sources of good water along more than 150 miles of the Cimarron Cutoff trail. In or near the Grassland Mountain Man
Mountain man
Mountain men were trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1880s where they were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains...

 Jedediah Smith
Jedediah Smith
Jedediah Strong Smith was a hunter, trapper, fur trader, trailblazer, author, cartographer, cattleman, and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the American West Coast and the Southwest during the 19th century...

 was killed by Comanches in 1831.

In 1879 the Beaty brothers established Point of Rocks Ranch, the first in the area. Wheat farmers soon moved in and prospered in wet years, but the drought of the 1930s caused the Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

. Morton County was the most devastated county in the nation. The Federal government bought land from bankrupt farmers, restored the original prairie, and in 1960 the Cimarron National Grassland was created. The grassland is dedicated to “water conservation, wildlife management, recreation, cattle grazing, and mineral production.” Cattle are grazed and oil and gas wells are found on the Grassland.


Access to most of the recreation opportunities in the Cimarron National Grassland are reached seven miles north of Elkhart via highway 27.

Camping, Hiking, and Horseback Riding. The grassland includes twenty-three miles of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The ruts left by wagon trains are still visible. A mowed strip of land, called a companion trail, 19 miles long, runs alongside the Santa Fe Trail. The Turkey Trail is 10.5 miles long and runs through the wooded area along the Cimarron River. The Cimarron Recreation area offers tent and trailer camping, picnicking, a group site, and access to the Turkey Trail.

Fishing and Hunting. Several fishing ponds, including four at the Cimarron Recreation Area, are stocked with Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

 in the winter and Channel Catfish
Channel catfish
Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8...

 in the summer. Other sport fish include crappie
Crappie is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The type species is P. annularis, the white crappie...

, sunfish
Lepomis is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The most recognizable species of the sixteen in this genus is the Bluegill....

, and largemouth bass
Largemouth bass
The largemouth bass is a species of black bass in the sunfish family native to North America . It is also known as widemouth bass, bigmouth, black bass, bucketmouth, Potter's fish, Florida bass, Florida largemouth, green bass, green trout, linesides, Oswego bass, southern largemouth...

. . Animals hunted include whitetail deer, pronghorn
The pronghorn is a species of artiodactyl mammal endemic to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, or simply antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and...

, prairie chicken
Prairie Chicken
Prairie Chicken refers to several birds in the genus Tympanuchus:*Greater Prairie Chicken **Attwater's Prairie Chicken **Heath Hen **Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus...

, quail
Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds generally considered in the order Galliformes. Old World quail are found in the family Phasianidae, while New World quail are found in the family Odontophoridae...

 and pheasant
Common Pheasant
The Common Pheasant , is a bird in the pheasant family . It is native to Georgia and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird. In parts of its range, namely in places where none of its relatives occur such as in Europe , it is simply known as the "pheasant"...


Auto tour. An auto tour of approximately 30 miles on mostly dirt roads leads to most of the points of interest on the Grassland, including a prairie dog
Prairie dog
Prairie dogs are burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five different species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico...

 town, Point of Rocks, and the Santa Fe Trail.

Special Interests. The Cimarron Grassland has a population of rare lesser prairie chickens and has two viewing areas. The males perform their courting rituals from mid-March until early June. Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 were reintroduced into the Grassland in 1981 and a herd of 50 is maintained. Hunting by special permit is sometimes allowed to thin the herd.

See also

  • Big Basin Prairie Preserve
    Big Basin Prairie Preserve
    The Big Basin Prairie Preserve is a nature preserve owned and managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The preserve is in the Red Hills near Ashland in Clark County, Kansas. The main features are St. Jacob's Well, a water-filled sinkhole which lies in the Little Basin, and the Big...

  • Konza Prairie
    Konza Prairie
    The Konza Prairie Biological Station is a 3,487-hectare preserve of native tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas. It is located south of Manhattan, Kansas and its southern boundary parallels Interstate 70...

  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
    Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
    Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, north of Strong City. The preserve protects a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem...

  • Flint Hills
    Flint Hills
    The Flint Hills, historically known as Bluestem Pastures or Blue Stem Hills, are a band of hills in eastern Kansas stretching into north-central Oklahoma, extending from Marshall County, Kansas and Washington County, Kansas in the north to Cowley County, Kansas and Osage County, Oklahoma in the south...

External links

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