Rock formations are endlessly fascinating. Western Kansas is home to some of the strangest and most unique rock formations in America. The ancient Monument Rocks serve as a natural landmark in the Kansas prairie land. In fact, the Rocks were the first landmark in Kansas to be designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. They tell the story of the land, as the rocks are full of fossils and sediments from millennia ago. Learn about the history of the so-called 'Chalk Pyramids' and find out how to visit them.
- Address: Lewis, KS 67748, United States
- Elevation: 50-80 ft (24m)
- Admission: Free
- Hours: Closed at sunset
How Were The Monument Rocks Created?
The Chalk Pyramids are estimated to have formed 80 million years ago. In the beginning, they were something like underwater caves underneath the Western Interior Seaway, which was a large body of water that separated the North American continent in two. Beginning in the Gulf of Mexico and ending in the Canadian Arctic, the Interior Seaway provided a migration path for ancient oceanic creatures, many of which are buried in the soil and rocks of modern-day Kansas.
The 80 million-year-old Monument Rocks have their history on full display. Visitors need only look from an arm's length to see the millions of fossilized seashells, skeletons, and bones that make up the Pyramids. In a primordial display of natural law, these pseudo-megaliths are made out of the carcasses of ancient beings and today provide spatial orientation to the grazing and hunting animals that populate the bone-dry landscape.
How To Get To The Monument Rocks?
The Monument Rocks are located around 25 miles south of the small Kansas town of Oakley. From the I-70 highway, exit onto US Highway 80 South and drive for around 20 miles. Visitors will find ample signage on the highway. Following the sign for 'Monument Rocks,' turn east onto a gravel road for another four miles. At the T-junction, go south again for two miles until the Rocks are in view -- they are impossible to miss.
Best Time To Visit The Chalk Pyramids
Visit any time of the year. Kansas can get chilly in the winter, but it's mild compared to other parts of the country. The summers are hot but not intolerable by any stretch. In general, it's a good idea to visit the Chalk Pyramids at sunrise or sunset. The sunlight ignites the carbonate and sets the entire structure aglow.
Some visitors have reported visiting on the equinox, when the sun shines through the arches and pillars, yielding a spectacular show. Much like the Pyramids of Egypt, visiting these Rocks on the equinox may very well have special effects. As many of the photos show, the 'eye of the needle' is one of the more famous archways that resembles a portal. Find the right position to observe the sun directly enter the eye and recount astral memories of birth and death.
Rules For Visitors
Despite being open to the public and free to observe, the Monument Rocks are located on private property. This means that visitors ought to be mindful of their status as guests when standing before the Rocks.
As guests, there are some rules that must be followed. First, visitors may not be on the premises after dark. This is a simple safety issue, and most people can agree that it would be unsettling to have strangers on their property in the dark of night. That said, astrophotographers and researchers may request permission to camp out by the Rocks. This would be entirely at the discretion of the owners. Remember that trespassers can be shot!
Second, visitors may not deface the rocks in any way. This includes graffiti, carving, chipping, digging, or removing anything. It may be tempting to take a fossil home if it's just sitting there, loosely embedded in the structure, but if everyone took a piece home, the Monument Rocks would lose their integrity.
Third, visitors may not fly drones in the area. This is a privacy issue as a family is living and a business is being run on the surrounding land. No one wants to have a drone recording their backyard and windows.