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Monument Rocks & Castle Rock, Gove County

Address: [map this location]
Phone:
Website: www.naturalkansas.org/castle.htm


courtesy of Barbara Shelton

courtesy of Janet Bean

courtesy of Keith Stokes
Rural Culture Element represented: Geography

Monument Rocks and Castle Rock are an 8 Wonder of Kansas as a duo entry because of the scientifically significant fossils these ancient chalk beds have produced and because they have been highly eroded into unusual spires and shapes, making them spectacular landmarks on the plains of western Kansas!

On the western edge of Gove County is Monument Rocks, a series of large, heavily sculpted chalk monoliths that are sometimes referred to as the Chalk Pyramids. The site has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. In eastern Gove County is Castle Rock, a chalk spire that stands by itself in the valley of Hackberry Creek, though mmediately south of Castle Rock is an extensive outcrop of chalk, capped by the younger Ogallala Formation.

The chalk was deposited during the Cretaceous Period of geologic history, about 80 million years ago, when the central interior of the U.S. was covered by a seaway. The several hundred feet deep water contained single-celled animals that drifted to the sea floor for eons, creating a mucky ooze. This material was perfect for trapping and preserving the remains of animals that lived in that ocean, such as fish, turtles, sharks, swimming reptiles called mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, swimming birds, gliding reptiles called pterosaurs, as well as invertebrate animals such as giant clams. Today the chalk beds routinely give up these fossils. Probably the best-known fossil from these beds is the famous "fish-within-a-fish" on display at the Sternberg Museum in Hays.

Both places are on private property but the landowners are amenable to visitors and no special permission is required. Please be respectful!

Keystone Gallery (see below) is near Monument Rocks and is a good place to see and visit about fossils.

Location: Castle Rock: Take I-70 Quinter exit 107 (Castle ROck Road), go 15 miles south to the intersection of GO 80 and GO K, then 4 miles east to Castle Rock sign, and north across a cattle guard (dry weather road only).

Monument Rocks: 20 miles south of Oakley on U.S. 83, then 4 miles east on Jayhawk Road, 3 miles south, and 1 mile east (dry weather road only). Or, 18 miles north of Scott City, east 2 miles on Dakota Road, 1 mile north, 3 1/2  miles east, and 2 1/2 miles north.

Contact: For Castle Rock: Quinter Chamber of Commerce, 785.754.3538; broeck@ruraltel.net.

For Monument Rocks: Keystone Gallery, 620.872.2762; keystone@plpnt.com.

A good place for information about Monument Rocks is Keystone Gallery, located on U.S. 83, 26 miles south of Oakley or 18 miles north of Scott City.

Hours and admission charge: N/A

Web sites: Castle Rock: naturalkansas.org/castle.htm
Monument Rocks:
keystonegallery.com/area/monument_rocks.html; naturalkansas.org/monument.htm