Grinnell, Kansas: Monument RocksChalky white pillars of rock rise straight up out of Kansas corn fields. As strange as Devil's Tower in Close Encounters, and much less crowded.
- Gove 16, Grinnell, KS
- I-70 exit 76. Drive west on US Hwy 40 for two miles, then turn left onto US Hwy 83. Drive 14 miles south, then turn left at the large sign for Monument Rocks. Drive three miles until the road ends, then turn right. Following the signs you'll drive south for three miles, jog left for one mile, drive south for five miles, jog left for one mile, then drive south a half-mile to the rocks.
- RA Rates:
- Worth a Detour
Visitor Tips and News About Monument Rocks
While staying in Oakley, in the northwestern part of Kansas, I saw a sign for "Monument Rocks," 20 miles south of the town on US 83. The land around our campground was flat farmland, so the sign piqued my curiosity. We jumped in our trusty truck and went in search of the Monument Rocks. I pictured some little rocks that someone had put there to amuse/entertain the tourists.
After reaching a sign indicating Monument Rocks down a side dirt road, we drove for about 4 miles and I got the surprise of my life. There, in the middle of corn fields, rose several very large rocks, as if pushed up out of the soil.
I found out the rocks are remnants of layer after layer of Cretaceous seabed; the wind-carved, water-eroded chalk pinnacles rise some 70 feet above the plain. This natural formation served as a landmark for pioneers and American Indians.
As we approached closer to the rocks (you can get right up to them, as there are no barriers of any kind) I was able to see pieces of sea life embedded in them. I found myself wondering if there were other "monument rocks" anywhere around. But I could see no other large rocks anywhere on the horizon.[Laura Madigan, 09/30/2007]
About 65-70 million years ago, there was a gigantic inland sea in the middle of the North American continent, in what is now the Great Plains. When it receded, it left the Great Plains and numerous amazing rock formations.
One of these lies halfway between Oakley and Scott City in northwest Kansas just off US 83. The Monument Rocks are gigantic towers of limestone standing in places over 60 feet high. One special item of note is "The Keyhole," a large hole in one of the rocks, which has strangely doubled in size in the last 10-15 years.
The Rocks (for short) were originally used as a landmark by the Butterfield Overland Dispatch trail, a Pony Express-type mail route. The land is privately owned, but anyone is welcome to visit The Rocks in the daytime. Since the owner is a farmer, he occassionally runs cows through the area, so be wary of presents left behind.
Nearby the Rocks is the Keystone Art Gallery, set up in an old deconsecrated church, which calls itself "the only off-the-grid art museum in the US" for its use of renewable energy. The Gallery is run by a local couple, Chuck Bonner and Barbara Shelton. Mr. Bonner is an artist who does many beautiful portraits of the Monument Rocks and local wildlife and history. They display artwork and have a sizable gift shop with prints of his portraits, books and local minerals and fossils.[Paul Nelson, 07/19/2003]
Dec. 2012: Photo added.