Fall River State Park is a state park of Kansas in the United States. Located on Fossil Lake, it provides camping facilities and boating access to the Fall River, an impoundment on the Osage River. The campground has 110 sites with electrical hookups and water; there are modern restrooms and showers as well as a dump station for chemical toilets. There is also a group tenting area that can accommodate up to 100 people. Boats may be launched from either a ramp located at the north end of the lake or from a boat dock located south of the campground.
Canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats, and pedal boats are available to rent. Fishing is another popular activity at Fall River State Park. Crappies, bluegill, catfish, perch, and bass may be caught during regular fishing hours (7am-dusk) each day. During winter months, ice fishing is permitted but not required. The lake freezes over completely every year, so swimming is not allowed. However, when the ice does thaw, it reveals a skating rink where local children have been known to skate all night long.
A nine-hole disc golf course is maintained by the Wichita Disc Golf Club. Fossil Lake was created in 1962 when the Fall River Dam was constructed across the Osage River. The dam is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It helps protect navigation on the river and provides flood control. The lake extends beyond the boundaries of Fall River State Park. Waterfowl hunting is permitted along 12 miles (19km) of shoreline. Fishers may find crappie, bluegill, catfish, perch, and bass. In addition, visitors may launch their own boats into the reservoir and enjoy 18 miles (29km) of paved roads and trails around the perimeter. These amenities make it possible to fish from the comfort of one’s campsite. Campers may use the restroom and shower facilities near the lake without disturbing other campers or having to haul out tons of gear.
Other amenities include:
- Group Tenting Area – large enough for 50 people including 30 electric hookups.
- Modern Restrooms & Shower Facilities – located centrally within the campground.
- Dump Station for Chemical Toilets – accessible from both inside and outside the campground.
- Boat Dock – launches boats into the fall river, which is an artificial pond connected to Fossil Lake.
- North Entrance Road – gravel entrance road leading to the group tenting area.
- Gravel Access Rd. to South Entrance Road – wide shoulder of gravel road providing access to parking area and Fossil Lake.
- Parking Lot #2 – this lot is primarily intended for RVs/Trailers, although some space is provided for tents. This lot is closer to the lake than Lot 3.
- Tent Site – small grassy area with two trees and some fencing. Two tent sites share a common boundary.
- Backpacking Shelter – rustic shelter built entirely of logs, accommodating four people in two bunk beds. Each site has its own picnic table and fire ring.
- Picnic Table – large concrete pad with several picnic tables and fire rings.
- Play Area – open field with volleyball net and horseshoe pit. Bike Trail – 0.8 miles (1.3km) of moderately difficult single track mountain bike trail.
Bikes are recommended for riders 13 years and older. All bikers must wear helmet. Pedal boats are rented between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. If you plan to ride more than once, we recommend bringing your own. There are six miles (9.7km) of easy to moderate multi-use trails, most of which allow horses to run alongside. Horses are not permitted on the beach areas. Fossil Lake is a destination for anglers looking to catch a variety of game fish. Crappies, bluegills, catfish, perch, and bass are regularly caught. Ice fishermen look for crappies, bluegills, and catfish during the winter season.
Fossil Creek runs through the middle of the peninsula. The creek is dammed at certain points, creating lakes. One such dam is located east of Highway 261. The resulting lake is called Ewing Lake. Fossil Lake is surrounded by heavily forested land, making it a natural environment for hunters. Many different birds nest in these forests as well, thus attracting bird watchers from all over the world.
Fall River State Park receives many visitors during the autumn season as pumpkin enthusiasts. Pumpkin patches can be found throughout the park. The pumpkins are grown in fields that border Route K-95. Beavers, coyotes, deer, and turkeys live in this park. They thrive in the wetland habitats Fossil Lake is too dangerous for swimming, therefore swimmers need to utilize the services of the Fall River Marine. The marine is located at the northeast corner of the lake just west of Highway 261. It contains a bar, snack foods, bait, sporting goods, RV and trailer storage, cabin rentals, camper cabins, playground equipment, and a boat launch.
The lake is too dangerous for swimming, therefore swimmers should utilize the services of the marine. Skaters may use the area below the dam that creates Ewing Lake. The dam is owned and managed by the City of Lawrence, KS. The city maintains the lake for recreation and enjoyment by the public. Fossil Lake is used for motorized and non-motorized boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing, and paragliding. Motorboating is limited to speeds under 45mph (72km/h). Sailboating, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboating are enjoyed by those who want to travel slowly and take in the serene beauty of the lake. Fossil Lake is home to a number of species of plants and animals that are uncommon in Kansas. Prairie grasses grow in clumps here that survive the winters in sheltered places. Trees like the black locust, hackberry, and ash bear fruit in early May. Over 150 bird species have been sighted in this park. Bald eagles nest in the western part of the park.
Other activities include:
- wildlife watching
- ATV riding
- cross-country skiing
Ewing Lake features multiple beaches and offers opportunities for:
- watersports including sailing
Animals observed include:
- wading birds
- hite tail deer
- wild turkey
- red fox
- gray fox
- nutria rat
- cottontail rabbit
- Largemouth bass
- northern pike
- mud minnow