The heat had gotten to us and by the turnoff the sun sweltered and wavered, even dust from the dirt road rose as slowly as possible to meet our sweat and to there lethargically stay rather than risk exhaustion on the return trip. The cicadas were humming rhythmically in a row of overgrown cottonwood windbreaks, that horribly pretty alien summer afternoon song. And as we crested the hill, from nowhere, an entire solar system of forgotten and broken cold planets lay strewn across the prairie field, a strange sort of cosmic scrapyard.
In keeping with my roadside attraction fascination, it seemed a shame to leave Rock City out of the mix. Not only is it a bizarre and fascinating natural phenomenon, but if you happen to be riding through the glaring heat and sun of a Kansas summer, it’s a good spot to take a break, get some shade, and borrow their cold water spigot.
Rock City, a registered National Natural Landmark, is a cluster of huge sandstone concretions dotted dramatically in a relatively tiny area about 1600 by 400 feet on the prairie landscape. After the disappearance of the sea that once covered the plains, the rocks were formed in the wake of the erosion of the softer sandstone surrounding them. And although this phenomenon occurs in other parts of the world, it is generally held that the formations at Rock City are the largest cluster of giant concretions in the world at around 200. But it is that dramatic contrast against the flat of the middle plains that makes them all the more astounding. Rock City is approximately three miles south of Minneapolis KS. Access involves a dirt road, but the minimally developed aspect of the park adds to the element of natural awe.