The largest Niobrara Chalk formation in Kansas hides like a giant treasure in a valley between Scott City and Oakley. This mile-long stretch of 100-foot-tall spires and cliffs at The Nature Conservancy's Smoky Valley Ranch will soon open to the public, with trails that beg for you to use the panorama setting on your camera. Meanwhile, explore two grass and dirt trails on the west side of the historically rich property (it's seen the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and more than 100 families of African-American settlers.) A 5-mile loop trail passes a buffalo jump used by Native Americans (bison were reintroduced to the area in 2000)
These chalk badlands in western Kansas are projected to open within the next few years for public access. Ancient Niobrara Chalk formations left from when an inland sea covered Kansas territory take you back in time with breathtaking views. The soft limestone pyramids are also home to wildlife - from bats and ferruginous hawks to snakes, toads and lizards – and plants found nowhere else in the world. The Nature Conservancy is consulting with Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to design access that protects the fragile rocks and unique ecology at this a one-of-a-kind attraction. Check back in the next year for more updates and the grand opening announcement, but please don’t visit without confirmation that the area is open.