Pyramids of the High Plains
Rising majestically from the seemingly flat prairie, just 25 miles south of Oakley, Kansas on Highway 83, are the Monument Rocks or Pyramids as most local folks call them. A dirt road leads to these chalk formations which stand on private property. The public is welcome to drive up to these structures. The setting makes an excellent spot for photographers to get some wonderful prairie shots of these magnificent reminders of the past.
Over 200 million years ago, Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado were covered by part of a large inland sea that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. This inland sea separated the North American Continent into two distinct bodies of land. It is believed that the region was warm and that tropical vegetation grew far to the north and sea animals lived in the warm waters. There seemed to be no swift flowing tributaries and animals dying in this inland sea fell slowly to the bottom.
After the ocean had dried up and the bottom had risen above the level of the ocean floor, other deposits made in lakes and by the winds covered these animals. There they lay buried for millions of years. Over the years, however, the winds and rains have reversed this process and have laid bare the ocean bottom, washing the sediment away and exposing what we now know as the Monument Rocks.
These structures, some which have been designated by Congress as National Natural Monuments, attract many visitors every year. At a distance they maintain a stately elegance as they tower above the plains over 100 feet into the air. Silent and still, they bear a testimony to the ancient past of the inland sea that once covered them in water.
Directions to Monument Rocks & Castle Rock
Find a copy of the Directions to Monument Rocks and Castle Rock (PDF).
From the east, take exit 76 off I-70 at Oakley, turn west on U.S. 40, 2 miles, turn south on U.S. 83, go 20 miles, turn east on Jayhawk Road/County Road J, go 4 miles, turn south on County Road 14, go 3 miles, turn east on County Road H, go 1 mile, turn south and the Monument Rocks are on both sides of the road.
From the west, take exit 70 off I-70 at Oakley, turn south on U.S. 83, go 5 miles, turn east on U.S. 40, go 1 mile, turn south on U.S. 83, go 20 miles, turn east on Jayhawk Road/County Road J, go 4 miles, turn south on County Road 14, go 3 miles, turn east on County Road H, go 1 mile, turn south and the Monument Rocks are on both sides of the road.
From the south on U.S. 83, turn east on Dakota Road, go 2 miles, turn north on County Road 450, go 1 mile, turn east on Elk Road/County Road E, go 3 ½ miles, turn north on County Road 16, go 2 ½ miles and the Monument Rocks are on both sides of the road.
Some of the roads are dirt and may be muddy or dusty depending on the weather.
From the west, take exit 107 off I-70 at Quinter, turn south on Castle Rock Road, go 15 miles, turn east at County Road 466, and follow the signs.
From the east, take exit 115 at Collyer, turn south on Banner Road, go 12.5 miles and turn west on County Road 466 (also known as Castle Rock Road), and watch for the sign on the right.
The route from Quinter is better marked, but you will see the Castle Rock badlands in the distance coming from Collyer.
The roads are dirt and may be pretty muddy in wet weather.