The Konza Prairie
A couple weeks ago, Harland and I took a trip down to the Konza Prairie. Owned by the Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, it is 13 square miles of prairie that has never been turned by a plow because it is too rocky. This means that the native grasses and wildflowers have always been there. How it looks now, is how it looked hundreds of years ago. So, if you’re like me, you don’t have to stand on a hilltop wondering to yourself, “I wonder how this land looked 100 years ago?”, because it looked exactly the same.
All that’s required of your imagination is herds of bison and elk and Native American hunting parties on horseback on their annual hunting trips over the prairie. Actually, there is a herd of bison here, but we didn’t see them on this trip. This section of prairie is located within the largest remaining area of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. Tallgrass prairie once covered 140 million acres in North America, but today less than 4% of it remains, and most of that is located in Kansas.
This was my first visit to Konza, but I’ve visited another section of tallgrass prairie at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve about 60 miles south.
Pausing for breath upon reaching a hilltop and looking back down the trail, all you hear is the wind in the grass and prairie birds singing their timeless songs. Cellphones, computers, and blaring TVs are all things in distant memory.
A deer steps gingerly out onto the prairie from a wooded stream,
butterflies and bees tour the endless supply of wildflowers,
and a horned lizard scurries out from underfoot as you walk a trail.
Later, at the edge of the prairie, you sit on a hillside overlooking farm fields in the valley below waiting for the sun to set.
The prairie draws you in, you become part of it, and then you don’t want to leave.
Back home, you dream about your time there and think about when you can next visit the prairie, a place that feels strangely like home, even if you’ve never been there before.
———–>Monday: Catclaw sensitive briar, butterfly milkweed, and showy evening primrose are just a few of the wildflowers of the prairie. Come back to see those and more.
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What a wonderful place! I have often wondered what places looked like originally. Who wouldn’t want to set up a homestead in that kind of landscape. We’ll have to make Konza a stop when next we are in Kansas.
Horntoads, what a great childhood memory. Thanks!
I love the picture where the “jean clad” legs show! Such a cool shot!!!
Absolutely lovely. I wish I had known about this when we drove through Kansas in July 2009 *regret* Even looking at the picture I felt “at home.”
Must go visit Kansas again.
Such peace and beauty and you are so right, many times my first thought is to wonder what a place looked like when first seen by man. Can’t thank you enough for sharing with us!
What wonderful pictures! Like the others (and yourself) I always want to know what others years ago saw. How great that we have this opportunity through your photos. Thanks for sharing them.
Those first few photos are beautiful! It looks so peaceful and relaxing. I would love to sit a spell there without car noise around! Perfect place for a picnic.
This reminded me of the books by Patricia Maclachlan. Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall and All the Places to Love.
“Where else,” I will say, “does an old turtle crossing the path Make all the difference in the world?”
— Patricia MacLachlan (All the Places to Love)
Sarah Plain and Tall is one of my favorite books, as well as the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie about it with Glenn Close. Wonderful wonderful story.
Suzanne, what a beautiful place! Kansas is so pretty! You guys really get around…you are always visiting some wonderful place! I love the stone steps that lead all the way to the top of the hill..that is so incredible! I would love to visit a place like that and just take it all in!!
Our son is a KSU grad & I loved stopping to look at the Konza Prairie. It’s as mesmerizing as the ocean. Thanks for the memories.
where wood and meadow meet
to share the space
who bring the music
to the world.
Blossoms and leaves
to catch beginnings
of each morn.
An earth reborn
in dancing grass
soft burshes through the slough
as in the dawn
a meadow’s peace
Thank you Elaine for the lovely poem. It perfectly captures the feeling of being on the prairie.
Just beautiful! I love your photos and the flowers you make sure are in it….good job! Thanks for sharing! Have a good weekend?
If you ever get up Nebraska way again, stop at the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie near Red Cloud, also a never-been-plowed plot of prairie ground. It’s beautiful!
We visited that prairie last summer. It was so lovely. If I remember right it is in the early stages of restoration, but I’m sure it will be a wonderful pristine prairie and well worth another visit. (Here’s my post about the Willa Cather prairie: http://windowontheprairie.com/2010/07/14/willa-cather-memorial-prairie/ )
Is THAT what a prairie looks like….I thought it was a field. What the heck do I know? I live in Delaware? hahah
I have never seen a prairie before. It is beautiful and not unlike some of our landscape in TN. But there are no prairies here. Great photos.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!I just want to lay down in it. So pretty!
Great photos!! Love it!! Wish I could visit there!