This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000-mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
Imagine driving across Kansas … vast prairies unfold to the horizon in every direction. Leaving the interstate behind, traffic becomes sporadic and you may not see another motorist for miles at a stretch. You turn off the highway onto a dirt road and slow your speed to compensate for the ruts and dips that mar the track. Scanning the scene, it’s impossible to fathom how the massive rock formations you’re hunting aren’t visible on the unbroken landscape.
Eight miles in – about as far from civilization as you’ve ever been – you’re beginning to wonder if it’s all a hoax. Perhaps sending unsuspecting travelers on a wild goose chase is someone’s idea of a practical joke. And then you come around the corner, drop down from a small rise, and see something in the distance. These magnificent formations … what’s left of the floor of an ancient sea.
Between 145 and 66 million years ago, the Earth went through a period of warming and the North American continent was split in two by a large inland sea. What would become Montana and the Dakotas, all they way down to Texas and Louisiana, were under water … connecting the Arctic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. Called the Western Interior Seaway, this body of water is responsible for forming the chalk spires, buttes, and arches that now stand seventy feet tall on the Kansas plains.
Looking closely at the rocks you can see the fossilized remains of the marine life that thrived in the warm, shallow sea. Giant clams, fish of every size and shape, sharks, swimming reptiles, and early birds with powerful legs for swimming and short wing-like appendages for steering rather than flying, lived and died in the Seaway.
Things continued to change, as they always do, and the rise of the Rocky Mountains drained the inland sea. Torrential rains and glacial runoff swept east and washed away the softer sediment, leaving chalk formations like Monument Rocks.
On October 31, 1968, as a tribute to it’s significance, Monument Rocks was designated as the first National Natural Landmark in the country by the US Department of the Interior. Though the site is on private property, the owners graciously allow the public – and their pets – to experience this unique place.
Leashed pets are welcome to explore the Monument Rocks site with you, as long as you pick up after them. There is some evidence that cattle pass through the area, so be sure pets do not disturb them.
In addition, to preserve the site for future generations, there is no climbing on the rocks, no fossil hunting, no littering, camping, BBQs, or bonfires. The site is open from sunrise to sunset, and ATVs, dirt bikes, other off-road vehicles, and aircraft are not allowed.
Pet Rules at Monument Rocks
- Pets are welcome to explore the site with you
- Pets must be leashed and pet waste must be cleaned up and taken with you, as there are no trash receptacles
- Pets are not allowed to harass the cattle
There are two areas where the formations are concentrated, approximately a quarter mile apart. A dirt road connects the two, and was easily passible with Ty’s stroller.
Of all the pet friendly attractions we’ve visited on this 48-state tour, Monument Rocks was the only one we had completely to ourselves!
When we were done admiring Monument Rocks and enjoying the stillness, we loaded the boys up in the car and made our way back down the dirt road. As we were traveling along, I spied something moving in the road and slowed down to discover a tarantula! It’s the first we’ve ever seen in the wild, and quite a thrill. We didn’t even know tarantulas lived in Kansas.
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!