Field Trips


Even in May, Kansas weather can get hot. Please bring an adequate supply of water, as well as sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Lunch will not be included with any of the fieldtrips; please make sure to eat before leaving on the trip and/or to bring some snacks. You take part in these trips at your own risk; ASLE and University of Kansas assume no responsibility whatsoever. If you have any questions about these trips, contact Byron Caminero-Santangelo at Except where noted, please do not contact the leaders of individual field trips or the organizations hosting them.

1. Guided Walk and Hiking at Konza Prairie

Limit 90
12:30-7:30 p.m.

Konza Prairie Biological Station is located in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas, the largest remaining area of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. It is part of a 3,487 hectare preserve jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University (KSU). Operated by the KSU department of Biology, the KPBS is dedicated to a three-fold mission of ecological research, education, and prairie conservation. May is a particularly lovely time of year to visit Konza Prairie as the wildflowers will be in bloom.

At the KPBS, you will have the choice of either hiking on your own or taking a guided walk with docents. The guided walk will be along a 2.5 mile trail and takes you through the gallery forest, over Kings creek (a USGS benchmark stream), over several ancient limestone ledges, and eventually to the upland tallgrass prairie with spectacular views of the Flint Hills and Kansas River Valley. In addition, the guided walk will include a stop at the Hokanson Homestead which has a short loop enabling consideration of human impact on the tallgrass prairie.  The guided walk will take about 3 hours, during which the docents will give you in-depth information on the natural history of the prairie. Every docent will guide no more than 15 people. If you chose to hike on your own, you can tackle the Kings Creek trail (4.4 miles). All the trails have steep inclines.

You will have four hours at the prairie. Unfortunately, the bus ride from Lawrence to Konza takes 1 ½ hours.

2. Tour of the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden and Rockefeller Native Prairie; hiking in the KU Field Station

Limit 100
1:30-5:30 p.m.

Located within the prairie-forest ecotone of the central US, the 3,400 acre KU Field Station was established in 1947. Because of its ecotonal location, it provides a wide variety of ecosystems. Hiking trails allow access to oak-hickory forest, tallgrass prairie, shrubland, rangeland, streams, and ponds. The native prairie has over 200 species, including the federally protected Mead’s milkweed, which will likely be seen during the tour. The station also includes the Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden which has a display area holding about 70 species of medicinal plants (and highlights native prairie plants that are being explored for their uses in modern medicine and herbal products).

The trip will include a guided tour of the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program garden by ethnobotanical book author and Environmental Studies professor Kelly Kindscher and the tour of the native and restored prairies at the field station will be led by native plant book author and KU botanist Craig Freemen.  Other KU students and staff will assist and/or lead people for hikes on the field station trails.

3. Environmental (In)justice in Lawrence: Tour of Wakarusa Wetlands and Haskell Indian Nations University Cultural Center and Medicine Wheel

Limit 50 - TRIP FULL; to be put on a waiting list email Amy McIntyre at
1:30-5:00 p.m.

Haskell Indian Nations University is the only government-run Indian boarding school that evolved into a four-year inter-tribal university for Native students. In the nineteenth century, Haskell was part of a government policy to remove Indian children from their families, sometimes forcibly, and to place them in schools that would give them training in domestic and farming skills, remove all connections to the tribes and assimilate them into the dominant culture. During the twentieth century, Native leaders reversed the assimilation focus and changed the curriculum to emphasize Native culture.

Haskell’s story and living Native culture is documented and celebrated at the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum. One of the main features of the permanent gallery space is the replica of the Haskell Medicine Wheel. The actual Medicine Wheel is an earthwork south of the campus created in 1992 by elders, students, and faculty to honor all Native nations. This sacred place was where some of the early Haskell students ran to get away from the strict climate at the school, and it is still used by current Haskell students as a place of worship and prayer.

The sacred Wakarusa Wetlands span approximately 600 acres just south of the Haskell campus. Steeped in Indian history, they represent the largest intact trace of the original Wakarusa Bottoms, an 18,000-acre biologically diverse prairie wetlands that existed for thousands of years before the majority of it was drained in the early twentieth century. The wetlands support 471 documented species of vascular plant, 254 species of bird, and 61 additional vertebrate species.  For twenty years, the Haskell Indian Nations University student group Wetland Preservation Organization (WPO) and a consortium of supporter groups have fought the threat posed by a proposed four lane highway called the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT). This past summer, the final legal challenge to the SLT was struck down; however, political resistance continues.

This trip will include a guided tour of the Haskell cultural center and museum, wetlands and medicine wheel by Professor Dan Wildcat, as well as some time to explore the wetlands on your own. Dr. Wildcat is co-director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center and a nationally recognized expert on indigenous environmental knowledge.

4. Movie Screenings on Campus

2:00-5:00 p.m.

Trips that need to be booked/paid for separately

5. Biking the River Levee, River Trail, or Lone Star Lake

1:00-6:00 p.m.
Rental Bikes $10
Limit 15 people on rental bikes, though you’re welcome to join a ride if you are bringing your own.

Lawrence is a terrific place to bike, with a large and active group of road riders, gravel and trail riders, commuters, and a lively racing and club community.  It provides mellow gravel rides along a river levee, a single track trail loop through a forest next to the river, and plenty of great rural routes beyond the city limits. We have reserved the only rentals in town from Sunflower Bike Shop, but we very strongly encourage those of you who are driving to the conference to bring your own bikes.  You should know that Lawrence and the surrounding area are somewhat hilly, not at all like the stereotypical flat plains of the western part of the state.

If you are interested in renting a bike for the afternoon of May 31, please contact Clare Echterling at  Participants in this field trip will be afforded the opportunity to extend their rental beyond the time of the field trip itself for an additional cost.  We plan to offer guided road, gravel, and/or trail rides, depending on interest. Rentals include locks, and helmets. Please indicate which kind of bike you would prefer (road, comfort, or mountain) and which size you will need. The following are the available options:

  • Specialized Allez - Standard Road Bike: 56cm, 58cm;
  • Trek 1.2 - Standard Road Bike: 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm;
  • Specialized Globe - Upright Comfort bike suitable for gravel: 17", 19";
  • Specialized Rockhopper FS - Front Suspension Mountain Bike: 15", 21";
  • Trek 6000 Disc - Front Suspension/Disc Brake Mountain Bike: 15.5", (2) 17.5", 19.5."

Sizing guide:
50cm, 52cm, 15.5" bikes fit people 5'4" to 5'7";
54cm, 56cm, 17.5" fit people up to 5'11";
58cm, 19", 21" fit people up to 6'3".

6. Canoeing and Kayaking on the Kansas River

Limit 42
1:00-6:00 p.m.

Led and organized by Up a Creek Boating
One-person kayaks (15): $30
Two-person kayaks (3): $45
Two/three-person canoes (7): $50

Up a Creek Boating will offer a kayaking, and canoeing trip along a 11-mile stretch of the Kansas River. They will provide all equipment and instruction. You will need to bring comfortable paddling clothes, shoes that can get wet, a towel, and water. Availability: 15 one-person kayaks, 3 two-person kayaks, and 7 two/three-person canoes.

Boaters will be dropped off at the River Front boat ramp where they will pay for rentals (cash or local check) and provide their signed waivers.  Waivers are available at If possible, participants should print and sign the waivers in advance of the float, although Up a Creek will have extra copies on-site.

Participants will travel with Up a Creek to the Rising Sun boat ramp in Perry, Kansas where they will get properly outfitted in the vessels and be provided a brief introduction to the Kansas River. After the 11 miles river trip, Up a Creek will collect boats and gear at the River Front boat ramp in Lawrence.

The river is projected to have a low flow rate, and there should be plenty of sand bars to explore.

If you’re interested in the guided trip or one-person kayak, two-person kayak, or two/three-person canoe rentals, contact Craig Pruett at Up a Creek directly ( Please also let Clare Echterling ( know once you have signed up with Up a Creek; we will be arranging for transport to and from the boat ramp in Lawrence. If you need to cancel your reservation, please contact Up a Creek directly at 785-840-4204 as soon as possible.