Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

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Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park was established by the Kansas Legislature in 2018. The 332-acre park encompasses 220 acres of badlands – fragile, but ruggedly spectacular geologic formations adjacent to the 17,290-acre Smoky Valley Ranch. Both properties are owned by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy will continue to own both properties, and KDWPT is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to develop and manage visitor access and use of Little Jerusalem Badlands as a state park.

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park showcases a mile-long stretch of 100-foot-tall spires and cliffs of eroded Niobrara Chalk, a layer of rock deposited about 85 million years ago. Niobrara Chalk was formed by sediment that settled at the bottom of an inland ocean called the Western Interior Seaway which covered most of central North America roughly 140 to 70 million years ago. The sediment became compressed over time, and the seaway floor was lifted by the same tectonic shifting that formed the Rocky Mountains. 

The park is the largest expanse of exposed Niobrara Chalk formation in Kansas. Smaller Niobrara Chalk outcrops are commonly seen along U.S. 83 Highway between Oakley and Historic Lake Scott State Park. Monument Rocks is a well-known Niobrara Chalk landmark east of Little Jerusalem.

A Haven for Wildlife and Plants

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is a unique, vital habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants. Ferruginous hawks nest here and rock wrens and Says’ phoebes, common in arid parts of the western U.S., keep an eye out for insects. Sharp-eyed visitors will occasionally spot small mammals, bats, lizards, snakes, toads and a variety of insects. Great Plains wild buckwheat grows only in the chalk prairies of western Kansas and the single largest population of this endemic plant is found at Little Jerusalem.

Protect the Badlands

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is a fragile landscape. The Niobrara Chalk formations are soft and easily damaged by the weather and by climbing and walking on them. As a result, KDWPT and The Nature Conservancy are managing visitor access to avoid harming the delicate environment. Enjoy the landscape, but leave no trace behind of your time in the park.

  • Stay on the marked trails, walkways and overlooks. Only guided tours are allowed off-trail.
  • Trails are for pedestrian traffic only, except for wheelchairs. No bicycles, ATVs, UTVs or horses are allowed. 
  • Take nothing but pictures! Fossil hunting and collecting of anything (including rocks, flowers and plants), even if found lying on the ground, are not allowed.
  • Rock climbing, camping and fires are not allowed. Camping opportunities are available at Historic Lake Scott State Park, about 7 miles south. 
  • Guided tours into the interior must be scheduled in advance by calling the office at Historic Lake Scott State Park, 620-872-2061.
  • Dogs must be on a leash and take along supplies to clean up messes. 
Hours

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is a day-use park only, open from sunrise to sunset daily, all year round. 

Entrance Fees

For the October 12, 2019 grand opening, entrance will be free. After October 12, 2019, regular daily or annual state park vehicle fees will apply. Click HERE to view state park fees. Free guided tours into the interior will be available by reservation.

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Park News - Updated: 09/13/2019
OPENS OCTOBER 12, 2019
General Information
Phone:
County/Counties:
Office Hours:
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is a day-use park only, open from sunrise to sunset daily, all year round.

Entrance Fees

For the October 12, 2019 grand opening, entrance will be free. After October 12, 2019, regular daily or annual state park vehicle fees will apply. Click HERE to view state park fees. Free guided tours into the interior will be available by reservation.

Hours

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is a day-use park only, open from sunrise to sunset daily, all year round.  

Directions

From the North:

From Oakley, drive approximately 22 miles south on U.S. Highway 83 to Gold Road. Turn west onto Gold Road. Drive 3.5 miles to County Road 400. Turn north on County Road 400. Drive 1 mile to entrance for Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. 

From the South:

From Scott City, drive approximately 21 miles north on U.S. Highway 83 to Gold Road. Turn west onto Gold Road. Drive 3.5 miles to County Road 400. Turn north on County Road 400. Drive 1 mile to the entrance for Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park.


History

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park showcases a mile-long stretch of 100-foot-tall spires and cliffs of eroded Niobrara Chalk, a layer of rock deposited about 85 million years ago. Niobrara Chalk was formed by sediment that settled at the bottom of an inland ocean called the Western Interior Seaway which covered most of central North America roughly 140 to 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. The sediment became compressed over time, and the seaway floor was lifted by the same tectonic shifting that formed the Rocky Mountains.  

Exposed to the weather, the chalk sediment eroded into dramatic spires, cliffs and ravines over millions of years. Sand, gravel, and wind-blown silt (called loess) covering surrounding areas, and sand dunes in the Smoky Hill River valley, were deposited in the later Pleistocene (between approximately 2.6 million and 11,700 years ago) and Holocene epochs (between approximately 11,700 years ago and the present).

In 2016, The Nature Conservancy bought the tract of land that encompasses the chalk formations from private owners who stipulated that the property be protected yet opened for public viewing. The property adjoins the 17,290-acre Smoky Valley Ranch which is also owned by The Nature Conservancy.

Little Jerusalem Badlands Trails
Overlook Trail
  • Trail Season: All Year
  • Length of Trail: 0.5 mile(s)
  • Trail Activities: Walking
  • Click for more information

    Terrain: Crushed rock and gentle grades

    Trail Activities: Walking, photography; no motorized vehicles, except for motorized wheelchairs. Leads to a scenic overlook. Stay on the trail to protect you and the fragile environment.

    Location of Start: west end of parking area


Life on the Rocks Trail
  • Trail Season: All Year
  • Length of Trail: 2.4 mile(s)
  • Trail Activities: Walking
  • Click for more information

    Terrain: Crushed rock and gentle grades for the first 2/3 mile to the first overlook; natural surface with moderate slopes for the next ½ mile to the second overlook. 

    Trail Activities: Walking, photography; no motorized vehicles, except for motorized wheelchairs.  Leads to two scenic overlooks. Stay on the trail to protect you and the fragile environment. Take plenty of water and sun protection; wear durable shoes or boots.

    Location of Start: west end of parking area


Little Jerusalem Calendar

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Visit Oakley KS Website – Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

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