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If You Need To Get Out Of Kansas City, You Can Practice Social Distancing At These State Parks

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Missouri State Parks
A man and child enjoy the waves lapping at the side of the lake at Lewis and Clark State Park.

State parks in both Kansas and Missouri are open though not all facilities and amenities will be available for use.

Both Kansas and Missouri are poised to lift their statewide stay-at-home orders on Monday, May 4. Restrictions have been in place for nearly two months, which means many metro residents are probably getting stir-crazy.

An easy way to practice social distancing while enjoying the spring weather is to get out to one of Kansas' and Missouri’s state parks, which are still open during the COVID-19 crisis. From fishing, to hiking, to horseback riding, these parks may be able to help cooped-up Kansas Citians relax and enjoy some fresh air.

Kansas State Parks says on its website that state parks, fishing lakes and wildlife areas are currently open to the public.

"Help us keep these areas open by practicing social distancing and avoiding gathering in groups. KDWPT offices remain closed to the public through May 3," the website says.

Missouri State Parks says it "is closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 and its effects in Missouri. While safety, stewardship and service are all very important to Missouri State Parks, safety is the top priority."

Most parks in Missouri are currently open to the public, though a few are set to reopen May 11. And campgrounds and playgrounds are still off-limits.

Here is a list of four state parks in Kansas and Missouri within an easy drive of Kansas City.

Pomona State Park (Vassar, Kansas)
75 miles away (1 hour, 20 minutes by car)
Best for: fishing, camping, hiking

While it’s probably still a little cold for the swim beach, Pomona features grassland and woodland areas too, where people can enjoy picnicking and exploring wildlife. The park office, though, is currently closed due to the pandemic.

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Kansas Department Of Parks, Wildlife and Tourism
The shore of Kansas' Pomona Lake, where boaters and and fishers typically come enjoy its waters.

Hillsdale State Park (Paola, Kansas)
56 miles away (1 hour by car)
Best for: bird watching, horseback riding, fishing

The closest park to the metro on the Kansas side, Hillsdale makes for an easy afternoon getaway. With a chance to see bald eagles among many other types of wildlife, Hillsdale is a good choice for families who can’t travel far.

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Kansas Department of Parks, Wildlife and Tourism
Pairs paddle along Hillsdale Lake outfitted in bright orange life vests.

Lewis and Clark State Park (Rushville, Missouri)
45 miles away (50 minutes by car)
Best for: picnicking, fishing, hiking

This park is a bird watcher’s paradise, with geese, great blue herons, eagles, swans and snowy egrets flocking to the lake on site. The old north spur of the Oregon Trail passed through the present park site, making it a historically interesting place to visit. Campgrounds are not currently open at Lewis and Clark State Park.

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Missouri State Parks
A bald eagle lands on the shore next to other birds at Lewis and Clark State Park.

Knob Noster State Park (Knob Noster, Missouri)
70 miles away (1 hour, 10 minutes by car)
Best for: mountain biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding

With Clearfork Creek flowing between two pieces of prairie, Knob Noster State Park in Johnson County, Missouri, provides a potentially tranquil getaway that many of people have probably been dreaming of during the shutdown. Hiking and biking trails are open, but all playgrounds, campgrounds, organized group camps, special use areas and the visitor center are currently closed for COVID-19 precautions at Knob Noster State Park.

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Missouri State Parks
Picnic tables at Knob Noster State Park are ready for for families to eat lunch while enjoying the wildlife and keeping a safe distance between them and others.

Olivia Love is a journalism student at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
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