Aerial view of Great Plains Nature Center.

Beauty in Plain Sight

The Great Plains Nature Center appeals to the senses.

You can’t put a price on education, but one of the best educational resources in Kansas happens to be free of charge.  The Great Plains Nature Center, located in Chisholm Creek Park on North Woodlawn, takes a multi-sensory approach to fostering an appreciation for the natural world. Both the center and the park help conserve a piece of the Great Plains, a swath of grassland that extends down the middle of North America and is home to unique plant and animal species.

Nearly two hundred thousand visitors pass through the center every year, and it is fully equipped to handle them. The Koch Habitat Hall is 3,500 square feet. Learning opportunities exist everywhere you look. The walls are like illustrated pages taken right out of biology textbooks. There are interactive learning stations, and large glass-case displays let you get up close to taxidermy specimens of bison and pronghorn.


Group tours are available by pre-arrangement and may include time in the classroom, where visitors may touch antlers, pelts, and complete specimens of native wildlife. There are live birds and reptiles, too, along with a 2,200-gallon aquarium containing local fish. Even more educational materials are available in the Owl’s Nest Gift Shop, which sells plenty of books for all ages. And with seating for two hundred, the Coleman Auditorium is equipped to deliver high-quality visuals and sound—an ideal venue for films, meetings, presentations, and seminars.

The park offers an immersive experience with over two hundred acres of prairie and woodland. People can wander paved trails that twist and turn for two miles through Great Plains habitat.

With special events offered every quarter, there is no shortage of learning opportunities for adults and children alike. Just a few of them include beekeeping workshops, bird-watching walks every second Saturday, archery classes, family fishing nights, and the annual Walk with Wildlife, which is always held on the second Saturday of June.

In 2014, the center received national recognition by winning a Partners in Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. This year marks its twentieth anniversary serving the public, so be sure to stop by anytime Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Chisholm Creek Park is open daily from dawn till dusk. Families and friends can take advantage of picnic tables and charcoal grills at the park’s west entrance. A visit to the center is a worthwhile way to spend a summer afternoon.