TOPEKA – On Black Friday, Nov. 23, skip the hassle-filled combat shopping, and ditch the lethargic day of watching sports on television. Kansas state parks have something better – like a leisurely hike on well-maintained trails through some of Kansas’ prettiest scenery; or, taking a slow guided bike ride near the shores of a gorgeous lake and through tall timber. On that day you can do it all for free, since Kansas state park entry fees will be waived. You will also have a chance to win a free night’s stay in a state park cabin. It’s all part of the nationwide OptOutside program.
Outdoor industry retail giant REI began the program four years ago when they closed all of their 150-plus stores the day after Thanksgiving to encourage their employees, and the rest of America, to get outside and get some exercise at a time when many families are gathered together.
While all Kansas state parks will have much to offer that day, a handful of special OptOutside events will make it hard to pick just one. Whatever park you choose, be sure to take a photo and share it with us. OptOutside participants who take a selfie while in the park and tag it with #OptOutside and #MyKsStatePark that day will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a free state park cabin stay.
Kanopolis State Park is hosting “Bike Friday” – an easy, 7-mile guided ride from 10 a.m. until noon. Participants need to furnish their own bike. Helmets are recommended. Riders are asked to meet at the Beachhouse Shelter-office, in the Langley Point Area in the south shore portion of the park.
Prairie Dog State Park staff will take a group out for a “Turkey Trot” hike on one of the park’s nature trails. Hikers are to gather at the park office by 9 a.m. The hike is about 2 miles and should easily be done by noon.
Tuttle Creek State Park staff invite you to their “Tuttle Turkey Trek,” a guided, slow bike roll of about 7 miles through the park. The ride is scheduled to occur between 10 a.m. and noon, beginning at the park’s office in the River Pond area.
Kansas state parks provide public access to a combined 500 miles of maintained trails, many of which are also open to biking and horseback riding, and are recognized as some of the best in the nation. And on Black Friday, you can enjoy them all for free.
Not much into hiking or biking? OptOutside your way and enjoy the many fall and winter trout fishing (trout permit required) opportunities, disc golf, playgrounds, picnic facilities and more. Or take a leisurely drive through the park to spot Kansas wildlife, ranging from tiny songbirds to deer to bald eagles.