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Arkalon Park

Travelers on U.S. Highway 54, struck by the round horizon and massive skyscapes, would be surprised to find a series of ponds, streams, marshland and groves of cottonwood trees just north of the straight path they drive.

Yet such a place exists, nestled in an area of canyons and hills north of the highway.

It's Arkalon Park, home to a variety of wildlife, the favorite haunt of local fishermen, and a welcome shady spot for campers and picnickers.

Located 13 miles northeast of Liberal, Arkalon is a project that will always be in progress. The Arkalon Council continues to add to the campground facilities and improve on the overall quality of the area, which is owned by the City of Liberal and is part of the community's park system.

At present, there are three lakes and a marsh area. All of the fishing areas have been stocked, mainly with catfish. Visitors to the area are also likely to find an unusual variety of birds. Arkalon provides a permanent home to a gaggle of approximately 40 Canada geese, along with many stop over geese - wild ones that come and go, along with many other water birds that stop on their annual migrations.

Several nature trails wind through a wooded area, providing visitors with an opportunity to sight beaver, deer, kingfishers, turtles, snakes, squirrels and raccoon. Bird watchers frequently sight a spectrum of species, from bluebirds to falcons, and the foliage is equally diverse. Markers identify many of the unusual trees and shrubs, and benches offer hikers a spot to sit and take in the natural beauty of the scene.

The original idea for Arkalon Park came from local resident O.H. "Pete" Wriston, who had experience with wildlife and conservation. Dean Blagrave and Vernon Behrendt, both past council members, added plenty of their own ideas, doing much of the work, including engineering, themselves.

Along with the opportunity to catch those memorable fish, Arkalon provides a ace where a family can get away from town and take the kids out to a picnic or just feed the geese. There are electrical hookups in the campground area, a bath house, an RV dump station, and a shelter facility.

There are some special regulations for fishing and camping at the park. Camping fees are $10 per night with electricity, $5 per night without electricity, and all camping permits are available.

What: Nature preserve with hiking, fishing and camping.
Where: 13 miles northeast of Liberal.
Hours: Park: 7am - 10pm daily
shelter: 7am - 9:30pm; fishing: 7am - 9pm;
April 1 - Oct. 15.
Phone: (316) 626-0531
Admission: Fishing permits from $3-$8;
Shelter available for reserve rentals for $25 deposit.

General park rules prohibit hunting, fireworks and the discharge of firearms, speeds faster than 30 mph in the park or 5 mph in the campground. Vehicles are limited to graded roads, with right of way for cattle and wildlife. There is a leash require ment for pets. Camping is permitted in designated areas only, with fires restricted to grills. Camping is permitted for a maxiumum of 14 consecutive days. Alcohol is prohibited on park property. There is no swimming, cutting of trees, or littering. Penalty fines are $500-$1,000.

City fishing fees are $8 for an annual family permit, and $3 for a daily permit. Monies from permits go to restocking the ponds. All permits can be obtained at the park or in City Hall. Fishing also requires a state license and observance of Arkalon rules:

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