Cedar Bluff State Park is located in Ellis County, Kansas. It is easily accessible, as Interstate 70 runs directly through the county. This park was built in 1949, intended as a means of flood control, recreational opportunities and irrigation opportunities. It was not finished until 1951, when the park’s reservoir was filled with fish. Outdoor facilities were added in 1962. After the park was completed that year, it was well-maintained by the Department of Wildlife and Parks. Today it continues to be one of the most well-kept parks in the state, drawing in over 250,000 visitors annually.
This lake has not seen extreme rises in levels of water from floods over the years. The water’s levels have remained fairly stable with the use of irrigation. Since floods are not an issue, boating on the lake is a perfect place for jet-skis, small boats and larger fishing boats. Several types of fish can be caught in the lake, including bass, sunfish, catfish, walleye and bluegill, among others. There is a high concentration of carp in the lake also, so fishing may involve a lot of catch-and-release fishing, as carp are not suitable to eat. A handicap-accessible fishing dock is also offered to visitors in wheelchairs. Swimming is also a water activity that is enjoyed during the warmer months of the year. The optimal time-frame for swimming is between May and September. Although the reservoir appears to be calm from the surface, it is important to keep in mind that there are several areas where undercurrents are present. They are not detectable from the water’s surface, but can cause a person to drown. For this reason, it is crucial to swim only in areas that are designated specifically for that purpose. The beaches are sanded and the water has been tested for safety.
Cedar Bluff State Park has two locations; the 350-acre north side of the park has the most optimal facilities for camping and activities. It is very modern and well-kept, including two boat ramp facilities, 96 utility-style campsites, two covered shelters, a group utility campground, two dump stations and two large shower houses with modern plumbing. There are several campsites without electrical or water hookups, suitable for tent camping. Sites that have water and electric sources are also plentiful. This state park also has five camping cabins that may be used with advance reservation. Since this is one of the state’s most popular parks, it is important to reserve cabins several months in advance to ensure their availability.
There are several other activities to enjoy in the park. In recent years as the popularity of BMX bikes emerged, a BMX track was built in the park and is open to visitors. A sand volleyball court, horseshoe stations and a shore-side basketball court are also available. The south side of the park is less developed, but is optimal for campers who do not need as many conveniences or activities. Water sport fanatics and fishermen usually stay on the south side, while recreational campers stay on the north side. There are two boat ramps, dump stations, shower houses and vault toilets. Primitive and modern campsites are not as plentiful as the north side, but there are over 35 of them.
Kansas is a notoriously windy state, so there are several regulations about campfires that must be followed to avoid starting a wildfire. It is important to be familiar with the rules before camping there. Park rangers frequent the area and are not forgiving about violations, especially when related to fires. Another important thing to consider when camping in Cedar Bluff State Park is the wildlife and ticks. Wildlife include small animals, such as raccoons, badgers, opossums and coyotes. While they do not usually approach humans, they will not hesitate to ravage unattended food containers that are not airtight or in a cooler. Ticks are heavy between May and September. Purchase a can of tick spray with DEET and be sure pets have a good tick collar. For further information about the park and its amenities, contact the park office directly. Their contact information follows.
32001 147 Highway
Ellis, KS 67637
Cedar Bluff State Park Office: (785) 726-3212
Regional Office: (785) 628-8614