WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The newest state park in Kansas is slated to open next month.
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in Logan County is a rare geological gem that features chalky spires and buttes projecting as high as 100 feet (30 meters) in the air.
The park is set to open Oct. 12 and the grand opening ceremony will be followed by free, guided tours that run every hour, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Last month, Kansas dropped a $50 visitor's fee to make the park more "public friendly." The fee was intended to serve as a warning to anyone that might damage the park's fragile rock formations.
The tours will now be free, but visitors must schedule them in advance. Guests will be required to buy a $5 state park vehicle permit or have a yearly Kansas state parks vehicle pass.
Little Jerusalem is home to the state's biggest Niobrara chalk formation. It comprises fossils, giant chalk formations that rise, fall and swirl into towers and caves. It's a delicate environment that dates back 85 million years, when much of Kansas was covered by a massive sea.
The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization, owns the 332-acre (135-hectare) area of land and Kansas manages the park. There have been two permanent trails installed that'll be available to the public year-round. No reservation is needed to hike those trails, a news release from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said.
Though the state dropped its tour fee, park officials are still underscoring the need to protect the rocks and habitat.
"The Nature Conservancy's chief purposes for Little Jerusalem are, first, to protect the pristine natural features and, second, to provide opportunities for people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area," Rob Manes, director of the Nature Conservancy, said in the release.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com