Tallgrass Prairie

Saturday afternoon, my husband, Harland and I, went to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. We go there at least once each year to see the prairie with its wide expanses of native grass reaching to the horizon dotted with native wildflowers.

Tallgrass prairie once covered more than 140 millions acres of North America, but the majority has been plowed under or developed, and today, only 4% of the original prairie remains, most of it in the Kansas Flint Hills.

The Tallgrass Prairie, encompassing almost 11,000 acres, is a rugged wild landscape full of  grasses swaying in the breeze with myriads of insects, songbirds flitting about, and beautiful wildflowers.

Fleabane

Scurfy Pea

Butterfly Milkweed

Prairie Larkspur

Blue Wild Indigo

And now, there’s a new reason to visit the tallgrass prairie – a bison herd.

Thirteen bison were introduced here in October 2009, and on Mother’s Day, a bison calf was born. Once roaming the country in the millions, the bison was nearly exterminated from the plains in the late 1800s, but is now making a comeback.

There are hiking trails crossing the prairie, or you can take a bus tour across the prairie.  We arrived in the late afternoon, so the bus tour was not available. So we hiked in. Our goal this time was to see the bison herd. About a mile in, we saw a group of brown dots on a distant hill about a mile away. We caught our breath, and started hiking towards them. As we got closer, we saw that the bison were resting on the trail itself. Not wanting to spook them, we left the trail and went around behind them on a hill. From there we watched them for a while and took pics. We couldn’t see the baby at first because it was laying down in the tall grass, but it finally got to its feet and nursed from its mom. It had light brown fur as opposed to the dark brown fur of the adults, and was so cute.

The herd slowly got to its feet and began working its way across the prairie,

grazing along the way, and soon they were out of sight.

This prairie has not seen bison since the mid 1800s, and we felt privileged to witness their return.

As the sun set, prairie grasses took on a warm glow.

Harland took a lot of pics.

And the pale evening primrose opened its blooms.

Pale Evening Primrose

Pale Evening Primrose

No one else was there that evening, just us, the prairie with its grasses and flowers, and the bison herd. We stayed through sunset, and then walked the 2 miles back to the truck. We were both sore and tired, but wouldn’t have liked to spend our evening any other way.

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