Lonely Planet Writer

Conservation group buys one of Kansas’ natural wonders with plans to open to the public

Earlier this month the Nature Conservancy of Kansas purchased a 330-acre tract of land featuring a valley of dun-coloured rock formations – some as tall as 30m. Little Jerusalem Chalk Badlands, a rugged piece of land in western Kansas, was purchased from a family, who owned the land for five generations.

Little Jerusalem Chalk Badlands, Kansas.  Image by Travel Kansas

The Nature Conservancy plans to open the area to the public, but have not yet announced a timeline. Protection and conservation will be a driving force behind the opening of the rock formations – the largest in Kansas – to the public. The prairie around the rock formations will be used for local ranchers for grazing as part of a wider wildlife and land management programme.

Some of the taller rock formations.  Image by Travel Kansas

The area was part of a giant sea 85 million years ago, and a series of glacial periods and erosion caused the rocks to slowly rise out of the earth. The site was often featured in explorer accounts of the area in the 1800s. No one is sure how it received its name.  The formations are popular with paleontologists eager to find fossils in the chalk formations. The area is also prime wildlife-spotting territory, as it’s commonly home to birds of prey and other animals.