Voters chose Maxwell Wildlife Area, Mushroom Rock State Park, and Pillsbury Crossing out of 24 nominations
INMAN — Three public areas managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) have been named to the list of "8 Wonders of Kansas Geography." The designation came through a public vote on 24 finalists and was sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, a group formed to "help preserve and sustain rural culture."

The three KDWP winners are among the state's most striking and unusual formations, including the following:

  • Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, McPherson County — midgrass prairie, the only place in Kansas where both buffalo and elk can be viewed in their natural habitat;
  • Mushroom Rock State Park, Ellsworth County — showcases rare, mushroom-shaped Dakota sandstone concretions deposited 100 million years ago and since carved by the relentless forces of erosion; and
  • Pillsbury Crossing, Riley County — a flat, stone creek bottom that forms a natural ford followed by a long, broad waterfall that has been a landmark for generations.

The other five winners included Alcove Spring, Blue Rapids; Coronado Heights, Lindsborg; Four-State Lookout, White Cloud; Gyp Hills Scenic Drive and Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, Barber and Comanche counties; and Konza Prairie, near Manhattan. The winners were announced after six weeks of public voting at the Kansas Sampler Foundations website, www.8wonders.org.

"We were proud when eight of our areas were among the final 24," said KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden, "and we're thrilled to have three of the eight winners. Kansas is a beautiful and geographically-diverse state, but many of the state's natural wonders remain unknown even to people who've lived here all their lives. I hope this contest encourages everyone to visit these stunning areas, as well as all the other winners."

More than 12,400 votes came from across the state, every state in the union, and from many foreign countries. Each voter had to select eight from the 24 finalists and could vote three times. Some key natural landmarks were not eligible for this contest because they were voted overall "8 Wonders of Kansas." Those places include Monument Rock and Castle Rock, Gove County; Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands basin, Stafford and Barton counties; and Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and the Flint Hills, Chase County.

The Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation contests are designed to educate the world about Kansas and encourage travel in the state. The geography contest is one in a series. Previously, the top 8 Wonders have been decided in architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, and customs. Information about each finalist can be found by clicking on the picture of any finalist at www.8wonders.org. The contest will now focus on history and people.