Kansas is a good state for rockhounding. Although the state does not even have an official rock, stone, gemstone, mineral, fossil, or dinosaur, Kansas does have many fossil-bearing rocks at the surface, mostly limestone, sandstone, and shale. Most limestone (in Kansas and elsewhere) was deposited in warm, shallow seas, such as the ones that covered Kansas intermittently during the Pennsylvanian, Permian, and Cretaceous periods. These warm, shallow seas were not only good for making limestone, but also for preserving the organisms that lived in these seas. The calcium carbonate ooze that collected on the sea floors made a perfect burial ground. Accordingly, Kansas’s limestone contains many fossils.
State Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, Fossils, & Dinosaurs
Kansas is the only state that has not designated any official rock, stone, gemstone, mineral, fossil, or dinosaur.
State-specific rockhounding books (including the books listed here as well as other books), regional rockhounding site guides, and other helpful rockhounding resources are identified - by category - in the Books & Gear section of Gator Girl Rocks with a link to the Gator Girl Rocks Amazon Store where you may easily browse selected resources and securely place an order. Your order will benefit Charity Rocks!
Oceans of Kansas
This is an excellent website focusing on Kansas paleontology approximately 85 million years ago.
- Rex Buchanan, Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils (2d ed. 2010).
- Michael J. Everhart, Oceans of Kansas: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (2005).
- Roger B. Williams, Ancient Life Found In Kansas Rocks: An Introduction to Common Kansas Fossils (1975).
- June Culp Zeitner, Midwest Gem, Fossil, & Mineral Trails: Prairie States (1998).
- June Culp Zeitner, Midwest Gem Trails: Field Guide for the Gem Hunter, the Mineral Collector, and the Tourist (3d. Rev. ed., 1964 – originally published in 1956).
- Allan W. Eckert, Earth Treasures Vol. 3 - Northwestern Quadrant (1986; reprint in 2000).
- James Martin Monaco & Jeannette Hathway Monaco, Fee Mining & Rockhounding Adventures in the West (2d ed. 2007).
- Kathy J. Rygle & Stephen F. Pedersen, Southwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide (4th ed. 2008).
Museums of Interest to Rockhounders
Johnston Geology Museum
Emporia State University – Emporia Kansas
The ESU Geology Museum contains geological specimens predominantly from Kansas. The museum’s displays include the world famous Hamilton Quarry Fossil Assemblage, the Tri-State Mining Display, petrified tree stumps, a giant ground sloth, and a western Kansas Cretaceous mosasaur.
KU Natural History Museum
University of Kansas – Lawrence, Kansas
The museum (sometimes referred to as the Dyche Museum of Natural History), located inside a 100-year old limestone building, exhibits local Cretaceous Period fossils and fossils casts including a forty-five foot Mosasaur as well as invertebrate fossils, including ammonites, trilobites, and giant squid.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Fort Hays State University
The museum's walk-through exhibit features life sized animated models of some of the dinosaur life from the Late Cretaceous.
Fick Fossil & History Museum
The small museum exhibits local mineral specimens and dinosaur fossils.
Ottawa County Historical Museum
The museum exhibits Silvisaurus condrayi, a Kansas dinosaur, as well as other local and other rocks, minerals, and fossils.
Post Rock Museum
The Kansas pioneers encountered an area without extensive forests and a lumber supply. But, Kansas has limestone that could be used to construct buildings. In fact, the limestone formation is just about right for building stones and posts. When limestone is first exposed it is soft and chalky, making it easier to drill and cut. Once the stone has been exposed to air, however, the edges become hard making it an exceptional building material for the plains pioneer. The Post Rock Museum includes an authentic stone quarry re-creation illustrating the methods used to cut posts for fencing as well as tools and items depicting the history of the post rock unique to this region.
Kansas Meteorite Museum & Nature Center
Located about a quarter of a mile from the original Haviland Meteorite Crater (also known as the Brenham Crater) between Haviland and Greensburg, the small museum exhibits the largest display of Brenham Kansas meteorites in the world. Educational material about meteorites from around the world is on display.
El Quartelejo Museum
Scott City, Kansas
The museum includes exhibits on Monument Rocks and the local area’s fossil history. The local Niobrara chalk is well known for its fossil deposits.
Galena Mining & Historical Museum
This small museum, located in an historic railroad depot, exhibits mineral specimens and mining relics focusing on lead mining.
The Big Well Museum
The Big Well Museum was destroyed in a 2007 Tornado. The town is rebuilding the museum which features the largest hand dug well in the world. The museum also exhibits the Space Wanderer, a 1,000-pound pallasite meteorite found in Kiowa County, Kansas.
Arts & Memories Museum
The Arts and Memories Museum includes fossils, rocks, gems, and minerals from the local area and beyond.
Places to Visit - Interesting Sites To See
Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark
Gove County – Western Kansas
Monument Rocks (also known as Chalk Pyramids) are a series of large chalk formations that were formed about eighty million years ago when the area was part of a vast inland sea. Some of the Niobrara Chalk formations reach heights of seventy feet.
Gove County – Western Kansas
Castle Rock (located about twelve miles south of Interstate 70 between Quinter and Collyer, Kansas) is a large limestone pillar in the Smoky Hills region. The formation is about seventy feet tall. The formation served as a landmark on the Overland Trail. The formation is fragile and may not last many more years. The tallest spire fell following a thunderstorm in 2001.
Mushroom Rock State Park
Smoky Hills Region Near Marquette, Kansas
Mushroom Rock State Park is well known for its mushroom rock formations. These formations were formed through a process of nonuniform erosion and weathering in which a hard mass of Dakota Sandstone resisted erosion while the underlying softer stone weathered away, forming a "mushroom" shape. There are two mushrooms and a giant shoe rock, as well as numerous other rock formations in the park.
South of Minneapolis, Kansas
Rock City is a public park that contains three clusters of approximately two hundred huge Dakota Sandstone ‘cannonball’ concretions. The concretions range in size from about ten to twenty feet in diameter. The site is a designated National Natural Landmark.
Rockhounding Sites for Children & Families
Fossils – Brachiopods
Brachiopods are one of the most common fossils in the Pennsylvanian rocks in eastern Kansas.
Fossils - Bryozoan
Bryozoan fossils from the Topeka Limestone, Shawnee County, Kansas.