Prairie Park Nature Center offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities for the visitor.
You may enjoy the park on your own or enroll for one of the recreation programs for youth, adults and families. These programs are seasonal so please check our seasonal brochure information to find out when classes or activities are scheduled.
To ensure safety for everyone using the park, alcohol use, guns and swimming at the lake are prohibited.
Camping in the park is NOT allowed.
Enjoy a stroll around the prairie paths or through the woods. Hard surface trails allow easy access to the lake from the education building for strollers and wheelchairs. The distance from the parking to the lake is approximately 300 yards. Hikers who bring their dogs must have them on a leash.
Map of the trails at Prairie Park Nature Center.
Prairie Park is a popular destination for birdwatchers. The education building has 2 bird feeding stations that attract large numbers of songbirds each season. In addition, the park hosts spring migrating warblers and other neotropical migrants, nesting yellow crowned night herons, barred owls, Cooper’s hawks, and American crows. Herons, geese, ducks and shorebirds can be seen around the lake.
Occasional sightings of painted buntings, osprey, trumpeter swans, and pelicans are lucky opportunities at Prairie Park Nature Center for the birdwatching enthusiasist.
The native prairie and woodlands offer a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and identify native wildflowers. Nature center staff are knowledgable about plant identification so feel free to ask. Identification guides are available in the building. Please do not collect or pick native plants in the park. Collecting plants or animals in the park is not allowed without special permission.
CANOEING AND KAYAKING
Canoeing and kayaking are available through the camp and public programs only at the nature center. All Prairie Park summer camp programs include canoeing and kayaking. Classes for kids are available during the summer months. A hat, water bottle and sunscreen will be necessary. Personal flotation devices are required to be worn by all participants and are provided.
Mary’s Lake is open to public fishing year round. The City of Lawrence participates in the Kansas Community Fishing Lakes programs and Mary’s Lake is stocked annually from April until August with a variety of fish by the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Fishing at the lake requires a valid state fishing license for ages 16 to 65. All state fishing laws apply to fishermen in the park. Fishermen are encouraged to be considerate of the environment and dispose of fishing line in the receptables provided at either end of the lake. Bait fish netting is not allowed in the park. Fishing licenses and bait are available at the nearby Walmart.
Limits are 2 channel cats. Bass must be over 16 inches in length.
Archery is a very popular program at the nature center. Classes are available for youth through adults. Private groups are welcome to schedule their own classes. Prairie Park is a member of the Archery in the Schools program.
Click here to see a full list of our archery classes.
Geocaching is a great family recreational activity. Prairie Park enjoys participating in geocaching and classes are available for families with an interest in learning about this popular recreational activity. Go to geocaching.com to find out more information about the park’s registered geocaches.
All of our geocaching classes are open to adults and youth accompanied by adults. GPS units are available or download an app on your smart phone.
ENJOYING THE PARK WITH YOUR DOG
Prairie Park is open to dogs and their owners, but dogs must be leashed and under control at all times. Dogs should not be allowed to chase wildlife. Dogs owners are asked to be courteous and clean up after their pets.