OAKLEY — The anticipated opening of the Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park this year in western Kansas highlights the state's 2019 travel season.
Kelli Hilliard, public relations and travel development manager for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the state park is expected to open sometime this summer.
Located south of Oakley, Little Jerusalem encompasses a mile-long valley of 100-foot-tall spires and cliffs rising from the western Kansas prairie. The park includes the state’s largest Niobrara Chalk formations.
"A lot of people have heard about it," Hilliard said. "But unless you had a private tour, you couldn't get in and see it."
That all changes this summer.
The property where the park is located was purchased several years ago by the Nature Conservancy. Plans have been in the works for more than two years to turn it into a state park.
Admission will be $5 per car, like all other state parks. Back-country tours, allowing people access to the floor of the Little Jerusalem canyon, will cost $50.
Hilliard noted the park includes trails once traveled by Western legends like “Wild Bill” Hickok and “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Today, the park has wildlife and plants rarely found anywhere else in the world.
A key component in turning Little Jerusalem into a travel destination entails getting people to exit off Interstate 70 as they travel through western Kansas.
Should that happen, Hilliard said, towns and businesses in the area should see an economic benefit from the increased traffic.
And visitors will see things they never imagined in western Kansas.