Geography of Ellsworth County, Kansas

Ellsworth County, located in central Kansas, is a region characterized by its diverse geography, rich history, and vibrant communities. Spanning an area of approximately 717 square miles, the county offers a mix of rolling prairies, scenic rivers, and historic landmarks. This article will delve into the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features that shape Ellsworth County. Check allunitconverters to learn more about the state of Kansas.

Physical Features:

  • Rolling Prairies: Much of Ellsworth County is covered by rolling prairies, typical of the Great Plains region of the United States. These vast expanses of grassland are interspersed with patches of shrubs, trees, and agricultural fields. The flat to gently rolling terrain makes the county ideal for farming and ranching activities, which have been central to the local economy for generations.
  • Smoky Hill River: The Smoky Hill River is one of the major waterways in Ellsworth County, flowing from west to east through the northern part of the county. Originating in eastern Colorado, the river travels approximately 575 miles before joining the Republican River in Junction City, Kansas. The Smoky Hill River and its tributaries provide habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife and offer opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing.
  • Kanopolis Lake: Kanopolis Lake is a man-made reservoir located in southwestern Ellsworth County, near the town of Kanopolis. The lake covers approximately 3,500 acres and offers opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. Fish species found in Kanopolis Lake include bass, crappie, catfish, and walleye, making it a popular destination for anglers of all ages. The lake is surrounded by scenic woodlands, rocky bluffs, and sandy beaches, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife and offering recreational opportunities year-round.


Ellsworth County experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by hot summers, cold winters, and moderate precipitation throughout the year.

  • Summer: Summers in Ellsworth County are typically hot and humid, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 90°F (32°C). Heatwaves are common during the summer months, with temperatures occasionally reaching triple digits. Thunderstorms are frequent, bringing heavy rain, lightning, and gusty winds to the region. Despite the heat, summer is a busy time for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing.
  • Fall: Fall in Ellsworth County is characterized by mild temperatures, cooler evenings, and colorful foliage. Daytime temperatures gradually cool, with highs ranging from the 60s to the 70s°F (15-25°C). Fall is a popular time for outdoor recreation such as hiking, birdwatching, and hunting, as well as festivals and events celebrating the harvest season.
  • Winter: Winters in Ellsworth County are cold and snowy, with daytime temperatures typically ranging from the 20s to the 30s°F (-6 to -1°C). Snowfall is common, particularly in December and January, with the county receiving an average of 20-30 inches of snow annually. Cold fronts from the north can bring frigid temperatures and blustery winds, creating hazardous conditions. Winter activities such as sledding, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing are popular in the county’s parks and recreational areas.
  • Spring: Spring in Ellsworth County is a transitional season marked by warming temperatures, melting snow, and blooming flowers. Daytime temperatures gradually rise, with highs ranging from the 50s to the 60s°F (10-20°C). Spring is a time of renewal and growth, with farmers preparing fields, wildlife emerging from hibernation, and migratory birds returning to the region. Outdoor activities such as gardening, birdwatching, and nature walks are popular as the county comes alive with new life.

Rivers and Lakes:

  • Smoky Hill River: As mentioned earlier, the Smoky Hill River is a prominent waterway in Ellsworth County, flowing from west to east through the northern part of the county. The river provides habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife and offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. Several access points along the river allow for recreational activities such as picnicking, hiking, and camping.
  • Kanopolis Lake: Kanopolis Lake is the largest body of water in Ellsworth County, covering approximately 3,500 acres. The lake offers a wide range of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. Several campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails are available around the lake, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. The lake is also home to the Kanopolis State Park, which offers cabins, yurts, and RV sites for overnight stays.

Human Impact:

  • Agriculture: Agriculture is the primary industry in Ellsworth County, with the majority of the land devoted to farming and ranching activities. The county’s fertile soil, moderate climate, and ample water supply make it ideal for growing a variety of crops, including wheat, corn, soybeans, and sorghum. Livestock farming, including cattle, hogs, and poultry, is also prevalent in the county. Agriculture provides jobs, income, and revenue for the county, supporting businesses, families, and communities.
  • Tourism: Tourism is a growing industry in Ellsworth County, driven by its natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and historic landmarks. Visitors come from across the region and beyond to explore the county’s scenic landscapes, including its rivers, lakes, and woodlands. Outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and camping are popular in the county’s parks, recreation areas, and wildlife refuges. Additionally, the county is home to several historic sites, museums, and cultural events that showcase its rich history and heritage.
  • Conservation: Conservation efforts are underway in Ellsworth County to protect and preserve its natural resources for future generations. Organizations such as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, the Nature Conservancy, and local conservation groups work to conserve open space, protect wildlife habitat, and promote sustainable land use practices. Efforts are also underway to address environmental issues such as soil erosion, water pollution, and habitat fragmentation, with initiatives to restore wetlands, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife corridors.


In conclusion, Ellsworth County, Kansas, offers a diverse mix of natural landscapes, outdoor recreational opportunities, and vibrant communities. From its rolling prairies and scenic rivers to its lakes and woodlands, the county boasts a rich tapestry of geography, climate, and culture. While facing challenges such as urbanization, environmental conservation, and economic development, Ellsworth County remains a resilient and vibrant community with a deep connection to its land and heritage. Through collaboration, innovation, and sustainable practices, the county continues to balance economic growth with the protection of its natural resources, ensuring a prosperous future for generations to come.

Geography of Ellsworth County, Kansas
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