Monument Rocks (Western Kansas)

The Monument Rocks of western Kansas (Grove County) stand proud on the prairie at sunset.

On the way to Colorado I stopped to view and photograph the Monument Rocks near Oakley, Kansas. The towers and spires, up to 70 feet tall, consist of Niobrara Chalk and were formed by deposition when the entire area was an inland sea about 80 million years ago. Although I’ve been to more dramatic rocky areas, such as Arches National Park, I was fascinated by these chalky towers as they seemed so out of place on the prairie.

After checking in at the relatively new Sleep Inn & Suites at the Oakley exit along I-70, I was only about 30 minutes from the site, which is privately owned but open to the public thanks to the very gracious landowner.

A sign from the landowner welcomes me. Visitors are expected to tread lightly.

I departed the motel after supper with about two hours of daylight left. I didn’t want to make the standard images of the towers in the middle of the day as I had seen all over the internet. I was looking for some nice sunset and sunrise images to add a little drama to the ancient structures.

The trek to the site was well-marked with signs and the last six miles was all gravel road, part of the ranch on which the rocks reside. It was one of the smoothest gravel roads I’ve ever traveled and it included several cattle guards.

When I arrived at the site, I found a nice parking lot and rock complexes on both sides of the road. I was the only person there except for a woman with two children and they left a few minutes after I arrived. Yes…..I had the rocks all to myself!

The featured image shows the complex on the east side of the road at sunset. If you look closely, you can see the sedimentary layers of the chalk that formed the rocks.

Below you can see what the rocks looked like before the sunset.

A look at the natural color of the rocks before the sunset light began to bathe them in red.

A longer shot of the rocks on the east side of the road well before sunset.

A closer look at the east side complex.

After photographing the eastern complex near sunset, I walked across the road to the far side of the western complex. There I could photograph through the “Eye of the Needle” as some people call it.

Through the “Eye of the Needle” at sunset.

The final image of the evening (see below) was shot through the “Eye of the Needle” from the east back into the sunset.

A final look at sunset through the “Eye of the Needle.”

At sunset, I treated myself to a cold one from my cooler as I had been traipsing back and forth across the road between the two sites for a couple hours in the heat. As I sat in the dark on the rear bumper of my 4Runner the coyotes started in all around me. They were going on so much that I made a video, just for the sound. You can check it out on my public Facebook page which you can link to at the bottom of any of my blogs — just scroll down all the way to find the link.

The next morning I was up well before dawn to make the 40 minute drive to the rocks for some sunrise action. My focus this time would be on the west side complex, shooting from the east. Upon arrival, the sun hadn’t breached so I made the image below of the beautiful chalk formations. I had the place to myself for the rest of the morning. Sweet!

The west side complex as shot from the east well before sunrise.

A closer look at the west side complex from another angle.

It wasn’t long before the sun came up and turned the same rocks fiery red. Wow! Notice the “Eye of the Needle” at the far left of the image (below).

A few minutes later, the sun bathed the rocks with morning light.

Once the sun broke the horizon for a few minutes, the light show was over so I packed my gear and headed back to the motel in Oakley. I wasn’t sure what to expect but my two visits to the Monument Rocks of Kansas were well worthwhile. I recommend you stop and check them out for yourself, but they are best viewed and/or photographed at the fringes of the day.

If you would like to learn more about how the Monument Rocks were formed, just Google “Monument Rocks – Kansas” and you will find several great sites that explain their geology.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

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America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.





5 comments on “Monument Rocks (Western Kansas)”

  1. Stunning images; Certainly not the tourist photos! I wish I’d seen this…but perhaps, one day….!

  2. Wonderful pictures in the sunlight. I love this kind of rock formations very much!

  3. […] read a fantastic blog by Danny Brown about Monument Rocks. His photography and description of it made me want to visit at the end of our vacation. I’ll […]

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