Parks and Recreation Month in Montgomery County

Parks and Recreation Month in Montgomery County Main Photo

27 Jul 2022


The National Recreation and Park Association has declared the month of July as Park and Recreation Month across the country! Why parks and recreation? For one, they not only enhance the health of individuals but also create and foster engaging, vibrant, and adaptable communities,  like Montgomery County, Kansas.

When it comes to outdoor recreation and fun activities, Montgomery County offers a lot to keep its residents and visitors “on the move”. It has many popular attractions, including Safari Zoological Park, Riverside Park, and Ralph Mitchell Zoo, making it well worth a visit. 

The parks and zoos of Montgomery County, Kansas, offer quality open spaces, new facilities, and family-friendly programs that promote citizen involvement and a strong sense of community. They are like “community jewels”, centerpieces of small towns throughout the rural county, offering recreation typically not seen in much larger cities.

Parks and zoos in Montgomery County

Caney: The Safari Zoological Park in Caney, is a private zoo, boasting over 100 species of primates, large cats, bears, wolves, foxes, and tropical birds. Established in 1989 as a refuge for endangered species, this park has become one of Southeast Kansas’ favorite attractions. One unique feature is a one-hour tour of the park provided by a guide. 

Independence: The small town of Independence is home to Riverside Park and Zoo, a site exceeding 123 acres along the Verdigris River. The sprawling complex includes a wide range of sports facilities, animal exhibits, trails, and multiple playgrounds and picnic areas for kids and adults, including those with disabilities.

Visitors can also visit the Ralph Mitchell Zoo. Home to a wide variety of animals, it is best known for Monkey Island, the home of Miss Able, a rhesus monkey who was the first primate to return from outer space aboard a Jupiter Rocket in 1959.

Located just across from Monkey Island is Shulthis Stadium, where Mickey Mantle began his professional career and was also the site of the first night game in organized baseball played under lights in 1930. Veterans Freedom Square is a walkable exhibit filled with War Era Tablets, Patriot Pavers, Benches, and other markers designed to recognize and honor the military veterans. Families are also drawn to the “nickel carousel,” called such because it has cost a nickel to ride since it was given to the park in the 1950s. And for fifty cents, families can ride the mini train powered by a steam locomotive.

Another unique feature of the park is Wells Drive, known locally as “The One-Way.” It is a road of one-way traffic designed to work with the natural surroundings of differing terrain, in which people can drive through exhibits of bison, elk, llama, deer, and other hoofstock, all behind fencing. 

Coffeyville: A significant amount of variety exists throughout Coffeyville’s city parks. Pfister Park has a large aquatics area, playgrounds, rentable shelters, and an aviation museum. Walter Johnson Park offers playgrounds, disc and foot golf, a campground and holds a livestock show arena and barns, used for the annual Inter-State Fair and Rodeo, one of the area's largest events.  

The lakes of Montgomery County

Located just a few miles from Elk City, Kansas, Elk City Lake is one of the most popular lakes that people in Montgomery county enjoy. This lake is a perfect place for anyone who enjoys swimming, boating, tubing, and water skiing. The lake itself is a reservoir that has a total of over 50 miles of shoreline and 4,500 acres of water, making it the perfect summer destination for anyone who enjoys the water!

Offering visitors a wide range of amenities, the lake has convenient fishing piers for catching channel catfish, white bass, and crappie. For the kids, Elk City Lake and its park have a kids fishing pond, horseshoe pits, a basketball court, and playgrounds.

For those nature lovers, there are trails that wind around the lake itself. 

Big Hill Lake is a reservoir that sits on the Montgomery County and Labette County lines. The  lake and its surrounding park areas have a little something for everyone to enjoy!

Big Hill Lake’s park areas include campsites, with and without electricity, for anyone who enjoys camping under the stars during the warmer months. There are also several picnic areas to enjoy meals while at the lake or camping. These campsites also come complete with sanitary restroom facilities. For the kids, there is a playground and ballfield available to play on.

We at Montgomery County are proud of the area we live in and urge locals and tourists alike to check out our local lake life this summer. Both of our amazing lakes offer great rates for camping and additional discounts for senior citizens as well! Swimming, fishing, water sports, campsites, we have it all to offer for a very affordable price! Check out our website for more information on Montgomery County’s lake life and dive on in today! The Elk City Lake Park website and the Big Hill Lake website also offer specifics on these lakes and parks. 

Parks and Recreation is an Economic Driver

While the societal benefits of parks and recreation are many, Montgomery County Action Council recognizes the impact parks and recreation have on economic development. By creating a sense of community and a higher quality of life, parks, trails, and facilities support a healthy environment for the economy, the presence of parks and other outdoor amenities can significantly increase property values, attract and retain businesses, attract and retain a talented workforce, energize communities, boost tourism, create jobs, and increase tax revenues. The role they play in economic development and growth is important. 

Contact Montgomery Action Council to discover why our county is perfect for your business and family. Call 620 331-3830 or email us today!