Lake Scott State Park
on this page by Jim Mason
|Lake Scott State Park lies along Lake Scott in picturesque Ladder Creek
Canyon. Listed in National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 50 state parks in the
U.S, this oasis-like setting is very popular with campers and anglers.
Here you can find the ruins of El Cuartelejo, the only known Indian pueblo in Kansas
and the northernmost one in North America. It was established in the 1600s by Taos
Indians and later occupied by Picuris Indians. Both groups were attracted to the area by
the many large springs, one of which (Big Springs) can be reached by hiking on a short
nature trail. This spring, which provides a flow of about 400 gallons per minute of 58
degree F water, has been stocked with rainbow trout. The area's unique wildlife
species-the Scott riffle beetle-is a tiny, seldom-seen insect that lives in the springs
feeding into the lake. Because this beetle is found nowhere else in the world, it has been
listed as a Kansas endangered species.
White-tailed deer are common in the area and mule deer are occasionally seen. Beaver
dams are seen along Ladder Creek. Perhaps the most visible species of wildlife are the
thirteen-lined ground squirrels, wild turkeys, black-billed magpies, and turkey vultures.
Early in the morning the vultures are commonly seen roosting on the bluffs or perched in
cottonwood trees or on fence posts. They wait for the warming air to create thermals
capable of maintaining their effortless soaring. The area is also attractive to other
interesting birds: Lazuli buntings, Say's phoebes, common poorwills, and black-headed
grosbeaks. During summer, nesting rock wrens scurry along the canyon walls. The area is
also one of the most predictable places in Kansas to find nesting yellow-breasted chats.
Reptile lovers should note that this site is known for its large variety and
Just north of Scott City, Lake Scott State Park and
Wildlife Area is recognized by National Geographic as one of the "top 50"
favorite natural sites in the country. This fascinating oasis is located in a canyon
etched out of the Ogallala formation by Ladder Creek. A 1,120 acre "isle of
green," it has been the garden spot of the plains for millennia. Wildlife and man
alike have refreshed themselves with the waters gushing from Big Springs and Barrel
Springs. Taos indians came here from northern New Mexico in the 1600's to escape the
Spanish, and built a pueblo known as El Cuartelejo ("old barracks"), dug
irrigation ditches, and planted crops. They shared this site with their Apache friends for
20 years. In 1888 Herbert Steele moved into the canyon and established a successful truck
garden enterprise using some of the remaining irrigation ditches. Herbert and his wife
Eliza often invited friends and neighbors to the canyon for outings, and in 1928 the land
was acquired by the Kansas Forestry Fish and Game Commission.
Outside of the park, along Beaver Creek, is the site of the last battle
of the Indian Wars in Kansas (September 27, 1878), where the U.S. Cavalry was beaten back
by a band of Northern Cheyenne escaping a reservation in Oklahoma. Led by Chief Dull Knife
and Little Wolf, they fled north to Nebraska, killing settlers in Decatur County on the
|Water, Showers, Swimming beach, Shelter house, Playground, Concessions, Canoe &
paddle boat rental, Boat ramp.|
campsites, 175 Primitive
campsites. 2 cabins (make a
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Big Springs Nature Trail
(0.25 mile loop);
Lake Scott Hike,
Bridle & Mountain Bike Trail (7 mile loop circling the lake)
Click the icon to find a birding list for Scott County.
Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches
Scott City (35 miles north of Garden City) travel 10 miles north on U.S. 83 to the
junction of K-95. The park entrance is on K-95, another 3 miles north.
For a Google Map of this site,
The entity responsible for management of Scott State Lake is
Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
Department of Wildlife, Parks &
Tourism (620) 872-2061
Click here to visit the KDWPT
web page for Lake Scott State Park. You may download the park brochure
or email the Park Manager from links
at the top of that page.
Download the wildflower list for Lake
Funded by the
Chickadee Checkoff Program
Click here for a brochure!
Kansas web site
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use
requires written permission. If you are a Kansas resident, please
assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs
by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism