MONUMENT ROCKS IN KANSAS
The U.S. is full of weird, random sights right off the highways (like the World’s Largest Armchair in Anniston, Alabama) and no cross country road trip is complete without stopping for at least one of these sights.
On my long cross country drive from Georgia to Oregon a couple springs ago, I decided to visit Monument Rocks in Kansas.
I was driving alone, with my car packed with all my earthly possessions, so I didn’t want to make a lot of stops along the way. I mainly wanted to haul ass across the country. But I saw a photo of Monument Rocks somewhere on the internet and decided this would be my one random stop.
I arrived in Oakley, Kansas after a 12 hour boring yet sunny drive that began in Illinois. The receptionists at the Sleep Inn told me sunset was a perfect time to visit Monument Rocks.
Around 530 I headed back out. These rocks are technically on private property that still welcomes visitors on a goodwill basis. You drive down a dirt road that if wet would be a total muddy nightmare, so definitely don’t go if it’s rained recently. I lucked out with dry weather, so the dirt road was passable, though very bumpy. My little car was filthy afterward.
It feels weird to drive on someone’s private property.
Cows meandered on the road. The babies came up and sniffed around the car. The moms peed on it.
You drive down this bumpy dirt road for a good while, with no other cars around, and then suddenly these massive limestone rocks appear out of nowhere. From a distance, they reminded me of a chalky stonehenge.
A couple other cars parked nearby. I got out, camera in hand, and wandered around.
These chalky, limestone rock formations have a few different names such as “Eye of the Needle” and “Charlie the dog”. Visitors are asked not to touch or climb the rocks in order to preserve them.
I met a girl in her late twenties wandering around too. She asked if I’d take her photo, which I did, and then we spent an hour talking and taking photos. One of my favorite things about traveling alone: the random people you meet. Even in what feels like the middle of flat nowhere.
I also learned that night: in tiny rural American towns, places often close early. Even restaurants. I wound up eating gas station food for dinner in my hotel room (yogurt, granola, banana, a bag of potato chips) and called it a night.
Monument Rocks are not something I expected to find in Kansas. They aren’t as grand as the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, say, but they are definitely worth a detour and arguably one of the coolest things in Kansas.
Going South from Oakley on HWY 83, turn left (east) onto Jayhawk Rd. There will be a sign at this intersection for Monument Rocks. Travel down Jayhawk Rd about 4 miles then turn right onto Gove County Rd 14 which turns into 16. You’ll see the rocks appear on the flat horizon.