Morning Sun
  • Passport to possibilities

  • The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has started a new program it hopes will encourage more Kansans to use state parks and generate more revenue at the same time. Local parks officials are optimistic about the program as well.

    • email print
  • The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has started a new program it hopes will encourage more Kansans to use state parks and generate more revenue at the same time. Local parks officials are optimistic about the program as well.
    The department launched its new Parks Passport program on the first of the year and modeled it off of similar state programs such as Michigan’s Recreation Passport. Until the end of 2012, a one-year vehicle pass cost $25. Under the new program, Kansas residents can purchase a yearly pass for $15 that’s good at each of the state’s 25 parks except for Prairie Spirit Rail Trail State Park – which requires a separate pass – if they sign up when they renew their vehicle license plates. Each vehicle requires its own pass, and residents can still purchase passes through the KDWPT website at any time during the year for $25.
    “We’re trying to make them affordable so the average Kansan can come and enjoy the parks,” said Dave Goble, director of Crawford State Park at Farlington. “We think it’s a great opportunity. The passes cost less than they used to, and we hope make more money by selling more of them. We’d like to see as much participation at our parks as humanly possible.”
    According to information provided by the KDWPT, passes can be purchased before owners renew their tags and a refund will be given.
    Goble said he hopes the program will allow more southeast Kansas residents to explore everything the park has to offer. Chief among the parks amenities are its rental cabins, most of which were constructed by state prisoners and shipped to the park. And they’re not the dingy cabins most people associate with parks. The cabins are sturdily constructed of logs and feature, electric lighting, heating and air-conditioning, full kitchens with dining utensils and flatware, and bathrooms and patios overlooking the lake. The Evening Breeze cabins are ADA compliant, and in 2006 park workers built family size cabin that sleeps at least nine people comfortably and has its own dock.
    “Every one of them has something that’s special and unique about it,” Goble said.
    The North Wind cabin, for example, is right next to the marina’s courtesy dock, so renters can easily access their boats. The Morning Glory cabin has its own concrete shelter, and The Landing cabin is more secluded, with direct access to the water for swimming. The Shady Rest cabin has two levels, multiple bedrooms, a covered patio, a large living room and its own dock.
    The cabins also have flat-screen TVs and cable access, an addition the park pioneered. Goble said there initially was worry that having TV would keep people from enjoying the outdoors, but that surveys showed those concerns were unfounded.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We found that it doesn’t bother people at all,” Goble said, adding that renters who had large gatherings found that the TVs were good distractions for kids when the weather was bad. “Most everyone said they hardly watched TV at all, except maybe to unwind for a few minutes with the news before bed. With the kids, as soon as it stopped raining, they were right back outside.”
    The only provision the park requires of renters is that they bring their own linens and food and “maybe clean up a little bit” before they leave.
    “We have someone go through them and thoroughly clean them before the next group arrives, so renters have nothing to worry about,” Goble said.
    The cabins are available all year except for certain holidays, and Goble suggested
    making holiday reservations a year in advance. Weekend rentals cost between $85 and $110, depending on the cabin, and weekly rates vary from $445 to $665. Reservation fees are $12, and there is a $75 deposit.
    Goble also said the park offers a number of recreation activities from May to August, such as kayaking, nature presentations, and Tonka Toys and sand castle building on the beach, among others.
    Fredonia resident Marilyn Dean is one of the park’s biggest users and said she’s been using it with her family for decades. The cabins, she said, are a big draw.
    “I really enjoy the cleanliness of the park and the employees and camp hosts that work there,” she said. “They have these wonderful paved campsites that we really enjoy.”
    Dean said she loves taking her 6-year-old grandson fishing and hiking.
    “I also enjoy the Avenue of Flags on the holidays and getting with family and
    friends and relaxing at the lake,” Dean said.
    Dean recently spent the Christmas holiday in the Shady Rest cabin, which she said was a wonderful experience.
    “We had a dinner for 12 people,” she said. “My sisters from Phoenix was there and one from Arcadia. It was just a great, centralized location for us to enjoy our Christmas together.”
    For more information about the Parks Pass program, visit www.ksoutdoors.com or call the KDWPT Pratt operations office at (620)672-5911. To rent a cabin, visit www.reserveamerica.com

    Comments are currently unavailable on this article

      Events Calendar