Concerns over high numbers of visitors, illegal activities, and complaints from area residents have staff from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Public Lands Division considering a temporary closure of Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area. The 59-acre area – which sits on Deep Creek just seven miles southeast of Manhattan – was donated to KDWPT in 1967. For more than 50 years, the area has provided day-use visitors with public access to one of the most scenic areas in the northern Flint Hills region, complete with a natural low-water crossing and waterfall.
However, in recent years, the wildlife area has become a hot spot for activities not permitted on the premises, including alcohol consumption, off-road vehicle use, trespassing and other public disturbance-related issues. The recent uptick in visitation has also led to traffic congestion and overflow parking issues, which impact local traffic and first responders’ ability to quickly access the area in an emergency.
Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. During normal stream flow, the area creek makes for a scenic half-mile float by canoe or kayak. Birdwatching, hiking, and fishing are also popular activities allowed on the area.
Activities not permitted at Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area that have led to staff and public concerns include:
-The consumption of alcohol and cereal malt beverages
-Accessing the area between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
-Operating vehicles outside of maintained roads