Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (USA), or the Story of Us Being Almost Trampled by Bisons, Eaten by Bulls, and Biten by Snakes
Русская версия The US national parks provide the unique possibility to visit different climatic regions, varying with flora, fauna, and landscapes – all for free. There are eleven climatic regions on the major US territory, with steppes and deserts being the most famous. Yet, these geographical regions are widespread in other continents too, while the prairies can only be found in the US. To see this unique climatic region, we went to Cansas Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.
A rare tourist comes to Kansas, and a few locals we met on our way were really surprised to know that we were coming to their state for sightseeing. Yet, we visited another great place in Kansas – the Underground Museum of Salt. Also, do you happen to know that the capital of Kansas State is not Kansas City, but Topeka? Meanwhile, Kansas City is the second largest city in the state of Missouri. This is one of the symbols of Kansas City – the main library parking lot:
But let’s return to Kansas State. We wanted to visit it because of The Wizard of Oz we had been reading in childhood. Indeed, the landscapes of Kansas prairies corresponded to how we were imagining the landscape, from which tornado was carrying Dorry away.
When we finally came to Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, we found the information centre, although there was nobody inside. We waited a bit and set off to explore the park independently with the help of the free map left for the visitors we found at the reception.
The park is a true prairie example with limited vegetation (there is indeed mainly tall grass here, with almost no trees and bushes) and little precipitation (the prairies are shielded from rain by the mountains).
Thousands of bisons used to populate the prairies, but by the end of the 19th century the colonizers exterminated them almost completely, even though growing bison fed the local population of many Indian tribes. The Tallgrass Prairie preserve is trying to revive the population, and today the park keeps 16 bisons the visitors may also see.
Keep in mind: although you may reach the park by car, inside you will have to walk. The rangers drive the park by car, but the visitors are not allowed to disturb the animals in such a way.
We strongly recommend to take your phones and drinking water with you and to wear hiking shoes and long trousers.
Very soon after you enter the park, you will see the bison’s silhouettes.
Coming closer, you will realize that you watch the bison at your own risk. At the moment of our visit the bison were reportedly aggressive, and nobody guaranteed that the walk would be safe.
Just to remind: you cannot use the car, which is why you will have to walk next to the bison.
In case they attack you, there is no way to escape: you are in the prairies. You cannot even climb the tree since you will find almost no trees here.
Assume that you actually found a tree and climbed it, and the furious bison is waiting for you on the ground. It makes sense to call to the information center of the park, so that the rangers could come and save you, but they do not reply on phones (which we had a chance to check, since we got lost) and there is no connection in many places (since you are in the prairies).
Having passed the bison by, yet, we faced another obstacle: the bulls were walking towards us.
The whole flock of bulls was heading straight to us. We are as unaquainted with the temper of bulls as with the temper of bison , and even though Nastya tried to appeal to Victor who had often spent his summers in the countryside, he replied that we is not sure about American bulls 🙂 To avoid the clash, we had to make a circle around them through the tall grass, the park is named after. We were truly surprised when, after exiting the park and returning to the information center we read that we the visitors must keep away from the tall grass, since rattlesnakes live there. Where else shall we walk if there are bisons and bulls on the roads?
We still do not know if we were the city cowards or we indeed got into the perilious adventure 🙂 Yet, the preserve is truly unusual and we recommend to visit it!
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