Chalk, Sandstone, Limestone & fossils in the Smoky Hills of Kansas Castle Rock Badlands
Castle Rock Badlands in western Kansas

The Smoky Hills of western Kansas contain outcroppings of several types of stone from the Cretaceous Period. The region is mostly relatively flat, making the scattered locations where Niobrara Chalk and Dakota Sandstone are exposed more dramatic. Most of the interesting features lie within a few miles of the Smoky Hill River.

Another deposit from the Cretaceous, Greenhorn Limestone, has provided the building material used to create many of the region's most interesting buildings, including the Cathedral of the Plains and the Garden of Eden. The limestone is also used to make the post rocks that help give the region much of its character.

The Dakota Sandstone is the oldest. It was form from sediment from rivers emptying into the seas that covered western Kansas. The younger Greenhorn Limestone, and youngest (70-80 million years) Niobrara Chalk were formed by sediment in deeper portions of the sea. Both have given up many interesting fossils, but the Chalk made of the shells of uncounted trillions of single cell golden brown algae provide some of the worlds most spectacular fossils.

Learn more about the geology of Kansas at the United States Geological Survey and from Kansas Geological Survey.

Castle Rock Badlands is about 12 miles south of I-70 between Quinter and Collyer, Kansas. The chalk formation is fragile and may not last many more years. The tallest spire fell following a thunderstorm in 2001. The badlands area just south of Castle Rock is even more interesting. Castle Rock
The Chalk Pyramids or Monument Rocks are names for the same group of rock outcroppings, between Oakley and Scott City in western Kansas. The 70 feet tall sedimentary formations of Niobrara Chalk were created 80 million years ago when this area was part of a vast inland sea. Chalk Pyramids - Monument Rocks
Like the better known and larger Chalk Pyramids (or Monument Rocks) the Little Pyramids north of Scott City, Kansas are sedimentary formations of Niobrara Chalk. Little Pyramids
The Cedar Bluffs are the most striking feature of Cedar Bluffs State Park south of Ogallah, Kansas. The 100 feet tall limestone cliffs on the south side of Cedar Bluffs Reservoir are stunning, particularly near sun rise or sunset. Cedar Bluffs State Park
Rock City near Minneapolis, Kansas is a tiny park which contains about 200 huge Dakota sandstone concretions. The spheres are up to 27 feet in diameter and you are encouraged to climb on them and do pretty much whatever you want. They claim that there is no place else in the world with so many huge concretions.  Rock City - Minneapolis, Kansas
Mushroom Rock State Park near Marquette, Kansas has Dakota sandstone concretions much like Rock City, but here most are not nearly as exposed. The resulting combination of rocks sometimes have a mushroom shape. The unusual shapes caught the imaginations of the Native Americans and pioneers, some of whom have left graffiti in the softer sandstone. Mushroom Rock State Park
Located in a 1916 limestone church, the Keystone Gallery between Scott City and Oakley, Kansas is a combination of art gallery, fossil museum and souvenir shop. The Bonner family has been fossil hunting since 1928 and are available to lead fossil hunting & camping tours in a 1949 Chevy Suburban. Keystone
The Fick Museum in Oakley, Kansas shares a building with the community library. The museum is free (donations) and has a number of interesting large fossils from the area, many old tools, mineral specimens and folk art.  Fick Museum - Oakley, Kansas
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Research Center in Lawrence, Kansas offers 4 floors (1 up and 2 down) of natural history exhibits in a hundred year old limestone building.  University of Kansas Natural History Museum

The Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas displays a small portion of the University's 3,750,000 specimens and recreates the Kansas of 70,000,000 years ago with life size displays.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
The Johnston Geology Museum at Emporia Sate University in Emporia, Kansas is free, and open whenever the school is in session. About 50 cases of geology specimens, fossil displays, and Native American artifacts that are well laid out and have interesting and informative descriptions.
Johnston Geology Museum
The Kansas Meteorite Museum is located within the region where the Brenham Meteorite is found, midway between Haviland and Greensburg, Kansas. The museum and gift shop occupy just one modest room, but when the owner, Don Stimpson started showing me exhibits and demonstrations, 90 minutes were gone before I knew it.

The Kansas Meteorite Museum is 2 miles south of US-54, between Haviland and Greensburg, Kansas.

Kansas Meteorite Museum
The free El Quartelejo Museum in Scott City, Kansas has exhibits about the Monument Rocks and the area's fossil history. Children can "dig" for fossils in a sandbox El Quartelejo Museum - Scott City, Kansas

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