Double D and I love to travel. We hadn’t really been anywhere for a long time, since we both had job changes this past year, so I thought it would be nice to do a weekend trip. Just something to get away and spend some time together. We chose to visit Monument Rocks, which are between Oakley, and Scott City, Kansas. This past year, the land where the rocks are located was sold, and I wanted to see them while they are still open to the public, just in case the new owners stop letting people on the land.
On this trip, we knew we wanted to travel down one leg of the Western Vistas Historic Byway, which includes Monument Rocks, Lake Scott State Park, and Battle Canyon. The first night out we drove to Oakley but took this picture along I-70, around the Ellsworth exit, of the Smoky Hills Wind Farm. These wind turbines stretch for miles and there is a total of 155 turbines in operation. Quite an impressive sight:)
From there we started towards Lake Scott State Park, which has many natural springs and has a landscape of deep canyons, and craggy bluffs. This is a picture of one of the springs, called Big Spring. It was so clear you could see to the bottom.
The park has quite a lot of history surrounding it. It has the Steele Homestead, which the house was made out of sandstone from the surrounding bluffs in the late 1800s, and it still standing today. It serves as a museum, but was closed the day we went through. I did happen across a snake while we were exploring the area. It was alive, but didn’t move until we left the area. Not cool!
The park also has the El Cuartelejo Indian Pueblo. It is just the rock foundation today, but it was the northernmost pueblo in the United States, made by Taos Indians that were fleeing Spanish rule sometime in the 1600s. The pueblo site was found by Herbert Steele in the mid 1890s and achieved National Historical Landmark status in 1964.
At the south end of Lake Scott, there is another historical landmark called Battle Canyon, which is where the last encounter between the Northern Cheyenne and United States troops was fought in Kansas in 1878. Cheyenne women and children were hidden in a cave in the rocks while the fighting took place, which is still visible today, although not in this picture. This area was very arid, and had cacti and yucca plants growing everywhere.
After that, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in Scott City, and went back to Monument Rocks to see the sun set. It was spectacular, and we weren’t let down by our beautiful Kansas sunsets. The Rocks are listed as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, and were cretaceous chalk formations formed by deposits left by the western interior sea that covered the area in ancient days. They reach up to 50 feet in height, and have many fossils left by the sea, which you can see some of at the Keystone Gallery. They are also the first National Natural Landmark in Kansas designated by the Department of the Interior on October 31, 1968. Here are some pictures.
I had always known there were hills in eastern Kansas, but I really had only ever seen the flat parts of western Kansas. Now that I have been out there, I think people that say Kansas is flat haven’t been off the interstate to enjoy the beauty of this area:) Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of Kansas that are so flat you can see the next town 3o miles down the road, but other parts of Kansas are rather hilly, namely my favorite part, the Flint Hills. This area has a great mixture of both, driving down the road seeing nothing but flat land only to find deep canyons and craggy hills a few miles later. Please feel free to check out Double D’s blog with his sunset picture of Monument Rocks.
Thanks for looking!