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 are available and must be reserved in advance. Click on the events calendar icon to view the most current tour schedule days and times.
  • 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

A daily vehicle permit or annual state park vehicle permit will apply. Click HERE to view state park fees. Free guided tours into the interior will be available by reservation. Click on the events calendar icon to view the most current tour schedule days and times.

Phone:
County/Counties:
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. There is no office at LJBSP.
Entrance Fees

A daily vehicle permit or annual state park vehicle permit is necessary to enter the park. Click HERE to view state park fees. Guided tour are available into the interior of the rock formations. Please check the events calendar for the tour schedule.

Hours

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

Tour Schedule

Click the calendar icon on the main page to view the off trail tour schedule. Off trail guided tours for the public are only available on set days and times. If you would like to request a special day and certain time for your group, special events permits are available for a fee. Please contact the Historic Lake Scott State Park for special event permits.  

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.


Entrance Fees

A daily vehicle permit or annual state park vehicle permit is necessary to enter the park. Click HERE to view state park fees. Guided tour are available into the interior of the rock formations. Please check the events calendar for the tour schedule.

Hours

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

Tour Schedule

Click the calendar icon on the main page to view the off trail tour schedule. Off trail guided tours for the public are only available on set days and times. If you would like to request a special day and certain time for your group, special events permits are available for a fee. Please contact the Historic Lake Scott State Park for special event permits.  

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

    Other Info: This trail is an out and back trail. Distance is 0.5 mile if the full length is hiked both directions.


Life on the Rocks Trail
  • Trail Season: All Year
  • Length of Trail: 2.5 mile(s)
  • Trail Activities: Walking
  • Click for more information

    Terrain: Crushed rock and gentle grades for the first 1/2 mile to the first overlook; natural surface with moderate slopes for the next 3/4 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

    Other Details: This trail is an out and back trail. Total distance will be 2.5 miles if the full length is hiked in both directions.


Little Jerusalem Calendar

You Might Also Enjoy

The Nature Conservancy Website - Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

The Nature Conservancy YouTube Video – Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

Garden City Telegram YouTube Video - 300 Acres of Fossil Formations Revealed

Visit Oakley KS Website – Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

Preparing for Your Visit

During this time of COVID, we ask that you be respectful of distancing yourself from others during the hike.    We are working on creating an online sign up. We are trying to restrict the group sizes to 15 people and no more than 20.

Until we have the online sign up form ready to go, please be respectful of group size at this time!

Be prepared for rough hiking, uneven terrain, and scrambling thru grass and brush. Wear boots, bring water, a snack and a hiking stick!Please do not underestimate the terrain. Its summer and its is HOT down in the canyons. The rock formations do a great job of blocking the wind,so BE PREPARED for temperatures to be 10-15 degrees warmeron the hike in the rocks!

Hiking poles are highly recommended!

No set path is followed! So be ready for an adventure! It is an intermediate level hike/terrain. We hike at a moderate pace with stop and go to learn, talk, ask questions, and take photos. Wear boots, bring water, a snack and a hiking stick!