If I tell you that I’m going to explore the state of Kansas, do I already see your surprised face? but why Kansas you will say ?! There is nothing to do apart from visiting Wichita! Kansas is not famous for its fantastic landscapes and yet nested in the middle of the state of Kansas there are some hidden natural wonders: Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark. When you are in Oakley it is hard to believe that such monuments are around. Everything here is completely flat and you only see fields as far as the eye can see. However, the countless pumpjack in uncultivated fields shows that the soil here is rich in history.
After driving about 25 miles south from Oakley on Highway 83, you must be careful not to miss the small sign on the left which indicates the entrance to Monument Rocks. From there, there is no longer a paved road but a dirt road for 7 miles before arriving at the pyramids. We were there at the end of January and we were worried about the state of the dirt road indeed it is advisable to avoid going to Monuments Rocks if it has rained or snowed because the risk of being bogged down is important. Moreover, Monument Rocks National Natural landmark is private property, open to the public for free, but there is no service as it could be in a National Park. It is important to check the weather forecast before visiting. Fortunately, that day when we visited, it was snowing all the way, but the road to Monument Rocks was dry. You have to wait for a turn to see the rock formations appear on the flat ground, and you may think several times that you have taken the wrong route but continue to follow the route indicated by Google Maps until the moment you see the first ‘badlands’ appear.
What is exactly the Chalk Pyramids? They are a series of large mineral formations rich in fossils. The formations were the first landmark chosen by the United States Department of the Interior as a national natural landmark in 1968. The chalk formations reach a height of up to 21 m and include formations such as mounds and arches. Carbonate deposits were deposited during the Cretaceous Period in what was then the Western Inland Seaway, which divided the North American continent into two landmasses. It is estimated that they were formed 80 million years ago.
We arrived quite late at Monument Rocks, which was finally a great idea because the grazing light of the sunset brings a very special atmosphere to the place. We have heard that sunrises are also pretty impressive there. Luckily, we were the only visitors and we had the joy of discovering the place very slowly. In some parts of the site, it almost looks like in the Badlands National Park, with some similar landscapes and rock formations. The site being a private property it is important to respect the information indicated on the signs at the entrance to Monument Rocks. Of course, do not climb on the pyramids or leave the waste of your picnic in situ, it seems obvious, but it easy to imagine that people went wild for the perfect « Instagram picture ». There are no public lights on the road to come to the pyramids it is necessary, especially in winter, to respect closing hours and leave Monument Rocks before dark.
Where to stay in Oakley:
While we like to travel off the beaten track, we must admit that we have had several regrettable experiences with bedbugs in places with little traffic and we are always quite anxious when it comes to the quality of the hotel we booked. Fortunately, in Oakley, we were pleasantly surprised by Sleep Inn & Suites which is absolutely new, very clean, with a pool, gym, and near the small city center as well as Monument Rocks. A word of advice: ask for a room at the back of the hotel, the road in front is quite busy and noisy.