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The Perry Lake Destination encompasses a sizeable extent of Kansas' northeastern corner in the Midwestern United States. Perry Lake can be found in Jefferson County, Kansas in the far eastern bounds of the destination under the operation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Notably, Perry Lake is the third-largest lake in the state. Perry Lake was given the nickname “Paradise on the Plains,” presumably due to its close proximity to Kansas City, Lawrence, and Kansas' state capital, Topeka, both of which make the location fairly popular among tourists. Given the lake’s size, tourists frequently visit Perry Lake and Perry Lake State Park to engage in outdoor activities such as hunting, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing, among other recreation. About 265 campsites are based throughout the state park. Akin to Perry Lake, several people also come to Topeka for a wide range of attractions and outdoor activities. According to those who have previously visited Topeka, it is recommended that visitors come any time between late May to late September if they plan on undertaking warm-weather activities. Temperatures generally range between 22 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year in Topeka and the surrounding areas.
Located in the Midwestern United States, the Perry Lake Destination constitutes a portion of the northeastern corner of the state of Kansas. The destination is characteristic of a few cities and small towns, including Topeka, Junction City, Manhattan, Holton, and St. Marys, all of which are established in Kansas. Perry Lake, the destination’s namesake, can be found in the easternmost region of the destination, comprising approximately 11,150 acres in total. The lake has over 160 miles of shoreline and is positioned at an elevation of 891.5 feet above sea level. Outside the borders of the Perry Lake Destination to the east lies Kansas City—a prominent city that straddles the Kansas-Missouri border and occupies an area of land nearly 40 miles west of Perry Lake.
The largest city in the Perry Lake Destination, Topeka, is found in the southeastern region of the destination along the Kansas River. The city serves as the capital of Kansas and the seat of Shawnee County. As of 2022, Topeka’s population has reached an estimated total of 126,409 residents, making it the fifth-largest city in Kansas by population. The number of residents is currently declining at a rate of -0.07% annually.
Topeka is the home of Washburn University, a campus that contains a tourist attraction known as the Mulvane Art Museum. A couple of other sites that tend to pique the interest of a number of tourists are the Topeka Zoological Park and the Kansas International Museum. Moreover, the city’s State House intentionally resembles the Capitol in Washington, D.C. For those who take interest in the outdoor recreation that can be pursued in Topeka, Shawnee State Fishing Lake, Perry State Park, and Clinton State Park are all in fairly close proximity to the city.
Considering that Perry Lake offers its own state park, as well as other public use areas, a relatively high quantity of visitors utilize the lake’s encompassing land for outdoor activities. About 25 miles of horse riding trails and 20 miles of hiking/biking trails wind through the state park’s upland forest. The lake itself also provides opportunities for fishing, with channel catfish being one of the primary species of fish that inhabit the lake. Aside from the channel catfish, the lake also contains white bass, largemouth, crappie, sauger, and walleye. Perry Lake has reportedly been rated as "one of America’s 100 best bass lakes." Hunting is often undertaken at Perry State Park, as many hunters go to the state park’s wildlife area, particularly for waterfowl.
Many settlements lie near or along the shores of Perry Lake, one of them being the town of Perry, the namesake of the lake and the state park. Perry was established just off of the Delaware River a few miles south of the Perry Dam, which impounds Perry Lake at its southern end. The Delaware River is the lake’s primary inflow from the north and outflow from the south.
Topographically, the Perry Lake Destination is dotted with several lakes and rivers such as Milford Lake, Tuttle Creek Lake, the Kansas River, the Delaware River, Perry Lake, and a portion of Clinton Lake. The 1,804-acre Milford Lake is bounded by Milford State Park, which includes many habitats that act as the home for a range of wildlife. Bald eagles, ospreys, white-tailed deer, quail, turkeys, bluebirds, red-tailed hawks, coyotes, and bobcats are a few species that may be found living in Milford State Park. Similar to Perry State Park, a number of outdoor enthusiasts frequent Milford State Park for recreation, namely hunters, campers, boaters, anglers, and general wildlife viewers, to name a few. Regarding the geographic structure in Perry Lake State Park, the wildlife area accounts for an estimated land area of 11,000 acres and composes about 1,000 acres of marshes. An abundant population of quail has been said to be living throughout the state park as well.
Summers in the surrounding region of Topeka have been described by previous visitors as “hot,” “muggy,” and “wet.” In contrast, the winter season has been reported to be “cold,” “snowy,” and “windy.” May through September is classified as the hot season, as temperatures reach around 80 degrees Fahrenheit on average. The hottest month of the year in Topeka is most commonly July with an average high of roughly 90 degrees. It is typical for temperatures to drop to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the cold season from November to February; however, the coldest month of the year is January with an average low of 22 degrees and a high of 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chance of any type of precipitation occurring in Topeka and the area around Lake Perry varies throughout the year. April to September has the greatest likelihood of precipitation as the city has about a 26% chance of any given day having rain. June is usually the month that has the highest number of wet days, with an average of 12.5 days that receive at least 0.04 inches of rain.
One particular town that was established along Perry Lake is Ozawkie, which has an extensive historical background with Native American tribes. The settlement was initially called “Osawkee,” supposedly in honor of the chief of the Sak (Sauk) tribe. Over the course of its history, what is now currently known as Ozawkie has been home to a handful of different Native American tribes until the Europeans arrived. Prior to the Treaty of 1854, the founder of the town, William F. Dyer, illegally settled on the land which, in turn, resulted in no consequences. Dyer then constructed a trading post, the first business in the area. The trading post was positioned alongside the military freight road that extended between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. Years later, in 1964, the Ozawakie settlement was reconstructed on higher land about a mile west of the original town. This act of relocating the settlement was supposedly intended for the Perry Dam Project.
In an effort to aid the flood control downstream in both the Kansas and Delaware rivers, the Perry Dam was constructed on the Delaware River. It was completed in 1966 and presently stretches to about 7,750 feet in length. The dam abates flooding for over 1,117 square miles of northeast Kansas, as it reaches a height of 95 feet. To further the development of Perry State park, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reached a long-term land usage lease with the Kansas Parks and Resources Department in 1968.
Much the same as Ozawkie, the city of Topeka can trace its history to Native American influence. The name "Topeka" comes from Indian origin with a couple of the speculated interpretations being “smoky hill” and “a good place to dig potatoes.” In 1854, the site was chosen by a group of antislavery colonists who came from Lawrence, Kansas.