Monument Rocks/Chalk Pyramids
The site is located on private land in Gove County, Kansas. The Chalk Pyramids (their local name) used to feature a spire formation called the Sphinx, which went along with the Pyramid name. This formation, also called Old Chief Smoky, when viewed from the side resembled a human face.
This area is rich in history. The Butterfield Overland Despatch trail used Monument Rocks as a landmark to guide travelers through the region. Also, Ft. Monument was established nearby to protect the trail.
Monument Rocks stands approximately 50 feet tall and the national landmark area encompasses just a few acres. These rocks are the remnants of the western Interior Niobrara seaway which extended from the present day Gulf of Mexico north through Canada. From the exposed sides, visitors can see layers of a gray gypsum mineral deposit and Ostrea congesta shells. However, please do not dig them out. There are many shells lying on the ground.
This arch continues to grow wider each year. Someday the top part will collapse, leaving spires instead. The Keyhole Arch is a relatively new namean unknown photographer came up with this description.
The local lore says this arch was started by someone shooting at the rocks many years ago, when a bullet penetrated through a thin spot. People from this area have watched it expand through the years.
There are a few rules visitors should keep in mind when visiting the area. Please enjoy your visit, take as many pictures as you want, enjoy a picnic lunch, and breathe some fresh air.
Facilities and Roads
There are no public restroom facilities or restaurants in the immediate Monument Rocks area.
The county roads can also be extremely muddy when it is wet. Please use caution during wet weather as many people have become stuck going to the area. Tow truck operators usually refuse to go out there if the roads are muddy.
Now for the "Don'ts"Please do not abuse this scenic location. Readers with common sense already know what this means. Also, please do not start bonfires or grills for cooking. Most of the year the grass is dry and can catch fire easily. If the wind is blowing, this also increases the likelihood of starting a prairie fire.
Please keep yourself safe by not climbing on the rocks. It may be easy going up, but coming down is an entirely different matter. The chalk composition is extremely fragile and pieces do break off. Sometimes they are small, sometimes large.
A common myth says that Vi and Ernie Fick found all the shark’s teeth displayed in the Fick Fossil Museum at Monument Rocks. This story is not truethey hunted for fossils in many different locations. Hopefully the shark’s tooth story will die away someday, but at the present time it continues being told and encourages people to dig for fossils in this locality.
Last but not least, please confine your visit to the Monument Rocks area. Do not wander off into the surrounding pasture. The landowners will find any trespassers and escort them out.
8 Wonders of Kansas
Monument Rocks and Castle Rock were selected as part of the 8 Wonders of Kansas contest.
©2006 Keystone Gallery / Photos ©Barbara Shelton unless otherwise noted