(Last Updated On: )
Wilson State Park entrance sign

Wilson State Park entrance sign. Photo: Sesamehoneytart, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Deep within the heart of the Smoky Hills, beautiful Wilson State Park lies surrounded by scenic cliffs, wildflowers, prairie, streams, river, and the rugged shoreline of Wilson Lake. This serene area is located in Russell County about 140 miles north of Wichita.

Guests enjoy visiting this popular Kansas state park to camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, birdwatch, fish, swim, paddle, and more. The 9,000 acre reservoir provides plenty of space for visitors to participate in a variety of lake activities.


Discover for yourself why so many guests visit this area each summer. Is it mainly to take advantage of the large refreshing lake and the chance to swim, boat, and fish? Actually, Wilson State Park attracts visitors year round, not only with lake activities but also with its trail system, cabins, campground, and scenic picnic areas.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Wilson State Park:

Boating at Wilson State Park

Bring your own canoe, kayak, or other boat and spend a relaxing day out on clear Wilson Lake. Boat rentals and ramps provide guests with easy access to the lake and a chance to enjoy the area more.

Kayaks, paddle boards and canoes are available to rent inside the park’s Knotheads Bait & Tackle Shop. The Lake Wilson Marina also offers boat rentals plus boat slip rentals, storage rental, and boat repair. The Marina also carries snacks, drinks, camping and fishing supplies.

Hiking at Wilson State Park

Wilson State Park’s trails wind through wildflowers, mixed grass prairie, streams, wetlands, and along the rocky shoreline of Wilson Lake. Enjoy amazing views of the surrounding area as you explore these peaceful trails.

Here are a couple of the trails at Wilson State Park:

  • Cedar Trail – Easy 1 mile flat accessible loop along a paved walkway.
  • Dakota Trail – Moderate 2 mile trail that follows the lake’s shoreline as it winds through wildflowers and up and down the surrounding grassy hills.

Biking at Wilson State Park

Remember to bring your bicycles when you visit Wilson State Park. The park’s woodlands, hills, and open areas provide excellent riding opportunities for guests of all ages.

Switchback Bike Trail, a year round 24.5 mile trail, and the seasonal Wilson Lake Mountain Bike Trail provide guests with fun and challenging biking opportunities.

Fishing at Wilson State Park

Scenic Wilson Lake is an ideal spot to cast a fishing line. Here you may catch bass, perch, walleye, and channel catfish from shore or boat. Just don’t forget to pick up a Kansas Fishing License ahead of time.

Knotheads Bait & Tackle Shop, on the east side of Shoreline Drive, carries fishing tackle, live bait, and other fishing supplies. A fish cleaning station is also available inside the park.

Birding at Wilson State Park

A walk through Wilson State Park’s surrounding woodlands, wetlands, and wildflower prairie will reward careful observers with an abundance of native and migratory birds.

Be sure to grab your binoculars before heading out on the trails, you may get a chance to see osprey, ducks, Ring-Billed Gulls, American Robins, Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Western Kingbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, Rock Wrens, Chimney Swifts, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Mountain Bluebirds, and Bald Eagles.

Nature and Wildlife at Wilson State Park

Wilson State Park, deep in the heart of the Smoky Hills, is possibly one of the most beautiful areas in Kansas. It’s hard not to fall in love with the area once you witness its scenic cliffs, wildflower and mixed grass prairie, streams, marshland, and rugged rocky shoreline along Wilson Lake.

Birds, Mule deer, prairie chickens, white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, gophers, beavers, coyotes, lizards, garter snakes, and more may be observed within the various habitats inside the park and its surrounding areas.

Nearby Rocktown Natural Area, located west of the dam inside Lucas Park, is another great spot to view wildlife, especially birds, wildflowers, and red Dakota sandstone formations.


Pets are allowed at Wilson State Park but must be supervised and kept on a hand held leash that is no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not permitted inside park buildings, this includes cabins.


Interested in spending a few days or longer in the area? Look no further than Wilson State Park. Their overnight accommodations include modern campsites, primitive campsites, and 8 rustic cabins.

The spacious campground areas feature cabins, full hookup campsites, water/electric sites, electric only campsites, and primitive tent-only campsites. All sites, including cabins, have a picnic table, grill, and a fire ring. Restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities are located near campsites.

Each of the cabins has one bedroom with a full size bed, a pull out futon, bathroom with shower, fully equipped kitchen, and a dining area. Cabins are heated and air conditioned but do not include linens and towels.

Park Location

Wilson State Park
3 State Park Road
Sylvan Grove, KS 67481
Phone: 785.658.2465

Park Website