Worth a Visit in Kansas: Monument Rocks

From Oakley, 20 miles south on US-83, 7.5 miles south and east on Jayhawk Rd., Kansas Rising abruptly above the

From Oakley, 20 miles south on US-83, 7.5 miles south and east on Jayhawk Rd., Kansas

Rising abruptly above the treeless plain of the Smoky Hill River, the 70-foot-high “monuments” look like lonely sentinels. Sculpted by wind and water erosion, many sport crenellated tops, like castle battlements.

Monument Rocks, Kansas
These towering, free-standing rock sculptures on an otherwise barren Kansas plain are sometimes called the Chalk Pyramids.

Soft cretaceous chalk from the sediment of an ancient sea were eroded into landmarks that early wagon trains and military parties used for navigation.
The rocks graduate in color from pale gray at the bottom to gold at their peaks. They are composed of soft cretaceous chalk from the sediment of an ancient sea, and their layered formations abound with fossils.

Numbering fewer than a dozen, the towers are found in an area about a quarter-mile long and 200 yards wide. These distinctive formations served as landmarks for early wagon trains and military parties as they trekked the arduous journey westward from Kansas to Colorado along the Smoky Hill Trail. The area has now been designated as a National Natural Monument and has been selected as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas.

This area also once contained fossils of shark’s teeth, vertebrae, and oyster shells. These unique and eclectic items can be viewed at the nearby Fick Fossil and History Museum.

Museum open Sept. – May Mon. – Sat.; June – Aug. daily

www.kansastravel.org/monumentrocks.htm
(785) 671-4839

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest