Big Basin Prairie Preserve

Clark County, 15 miles south of
Minneola, Kansas 67865
(620) 227-8609

Big Basin Prairie Preserve Map

Gypsum or Red Hills      Keiger Creek

Big Basin Prairie Preserve - Clark County, Kansas
Big Basin Prairie Preserve
Big Basin Prairie Preserve - Clark County, Kansas (Prints of this image)

The 1,818 acre Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area, 15 miles south of Minneola, Kansas is owned and managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The Big Basin which is named is a mile wide sinkhole of "sink" which is more than 100's feet deep. Although it has the appearance of a a valley, it is entirely surrounded by higher ground. Big Basin and other nearby sinks were formed thousands of years ago by the dissolving and collapse of massive gypsum and salt formations which were several hundred feet below the surface. Depressions are still forming today.

The much smaller Little Basin is just east of the rim of Big Basin and surrounds St. Jacob's Well, a natural sinkhole with a permanent, spring fed pool of water which has never been known to go dry. It has attracted visitors for many centuries, beginning with prehistoric people and continuing until European settlement. Several hundred Native American Cheyenne camped in the area in the fall of 1878 as they traveled from Oklahoma to areas in Nebraska and Montana. St. Jacob's Well was also used by drovers driving cattle from Texas to the railroads in Kansas the late 1800s. 

Although Big Basin Prairie Preserve is located on the eastern edge of the High Plains, it is more characteristic of the Gypsum or Red Hills which are a little farther east in south central Kansas.

The preserve is the home to a buffalo (American bison) herd, but I didn't luck out and see them during my visit, but the prairie was beautiful as the sun set in the west and a "super" moon rose in the east. It was truly a gorgeous spot and I'm sorry it has taken so many years for me to visit.

Southeaster edge of the Big Basin

St. Jacob's Well
St. Jacob's Well - Tradition is that it is bottomless, but it is roughly funnel shaped and 58 feet deep.

St. Jacob's Well trail
The trail to St. Jacob's Well in Little Basin

Big Basin stone Living Waters Monument
The site of the well was marked by by Plains Indians with a stone marker, which is called the Living Waters Monument.
It was originally built of loose stones, but the obelisk is now cemented together.

This area looks a lot like the Red Hills where rock formations of white gypsum and dolomite alternate
with brick red shales, siltstones and sandstones.

Big Basin Prairie Preserve

Plains wild flowers

Super moon and wildflowers at Big Basin
"Super Moon" of 2012 rising over the Big Basin

Big Basin Prairie Preserve Map - Clark County, Kansas
Big Basin Prairie Preserve Map

Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks Big Basin Brochure

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