Sand Hills State Park

Sandhill vista
View from the top of a dune.
- All photos by Jim Mason

More sand than many deserts! Located on the north edge of the Hutchinson Dune Tract, Sand Hills State Park is a rolling sand prairie displaying hues of red, yellow, gray, lavender, and green. Dunes formed by wind-deposited sands from the Arkansas River at the end of the Ice Age have been stabilized by the roots of the sand prairie grasses.

Dominant grass species include big sandreed, which quickly colonizes loose sands and allows the establishment of sand bluestem, sand dropseed, little bluestem, and switchgrass.  The sloughs and marshes are filled with sedges, rushes, and prairie cordgrass.   Between the grasses grow thickets of woody shrubs, most abundant of which is the Sandhill Plum.  Poison Ivy is also abundant here!  Those who are not immune to it had best stay on the mowed trails.  You can also find a wide variety of wildflowers. Springtime may reveal yellow star grass, puccoon, Buckley's penstemon, purple poppy mallow and goatsbeard.  In September look for blue lobelia, swamp milkweed, and ladies-tresses orchid.

To get a feel for the park, take one of the hiking trails through the dunes. There are three entry points (see map below).  Trail user fees may be paid at the self-pay stations. 

The Pond Trail, which begins at parking lot 2, takes you to this unexpected water feature deep in the park's interior.  Watch for many different types of ducks during migration including divers such as common mergansers.  Green herons and Canada geese may be seen during summer.

Sandhills pond

In April and May listen for the music of the western chorus frogs.   The Woodland trail is a good place to find bluebirds and blue grosbeaks. Deer, coyotes, owls, and hawks are common residents of the park. Nesting birds include orchard orioles, yellow-billed cuckoos, Bell's vireos, and mourning doves.  From late spring to early fall watch for several kinds of lizards.  You probably will see badger holes and the little mounds of the plains pocket gopher. Be alert for quail and pheasant.

Bench along Cottonwood Interpretive Trail

For some in-depth information on the local flora and fauna, take the Cottonwood Interpretive Trail, which begins at parking lot 1 (see map below).   Brochures are available at the kiosk at the parking lot. 
The trail stays mostly in the woods, making it a cool choice for a hot day!

Trail user fees, Pit toilets.

Camping iconCamping not allowed.

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Trail icon Interpretive: Cottonwood Trail (0.5 mile loop, starts at parking lot 1)
Hiking: Prairie Trail (1.9 miles loop) & Dune Trail (1.0 mile loop)
Horseback riding & multi-use: Pond trail (1.5 miles), Bluestem Spur Trail (1.2 miles), Tallgrass Trail (2.2 miles loop), Woodland Trail (2.2 miles loop) & Rolling Hills Trail (3.8 miles loop)

Click here to get county birding lists for Kansas. Click the icon to find a birding list for Reno County.

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Sandhills State Park map

Directions: To reach the south parking lot of the park, take K-61 northeast of Hutchinson to 56th Street. Go east 0.3 miles (#3). Two parking lots are on 69th Street (#'s 1 & 2).  Horse access gates are marked with the letter "H".

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: The entity responsible for management of this site is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.  Contact them at (316) 683-8069 if you have specific questions about use or management of this site.
Click here to visit the KDWPT website for Sand Hills State Park.

1,123 acres

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