Kanopolis State Park
From its sandstone bluffs to the caves and crevices of Horsethief Canyon, Kanopolis State Park is a good place to experience the rugged beauty of Dakota sandstone country.
Rock layers in the Dakota Formation and the older, underlying Kiowa Formation were formed from sandy sediment deposited along the eastern edge of a rising and falling inland sea. Covering the western half of the state, the sea spread across much of North America about 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Red and orange sandstone are dominant in the Dakota and Kiowa formations, but you can also find clay, siltstone, limestone, shale, and other rocks.
Geologic features found in the park include
- crystals of selenite, a type of gypsum that weathers from the shale slopes
- cone-in-cone structures
- clay-ironstone and sandstone concretions
- fossils of bivalves, gastropods, mollusks, and other marine animals
Kanopolis was the first state park in Kansas. In 1948, a dam was completed across the Smoky Hill River to contain the water within surrounding ravines and canyons. The park has more than 30 miles of scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.