Places to Visit—Coronado Heights

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color photo of prominent hill with building silhouetted against the sky
small drawing of Kansas map with Saline County highlighted in red

Saline County, Kansas

Towering more than 300 feet above the Smoky Hill River valley, Coronado Heights is on the southern end of a 4-mile chain of hills known as Smoky Hill Buttes, located just north of Lindsborg, Kansas, in Saline County (Lindsborg is actually in McPherson County). Capped by hard sandstones of the Dakota Formation that are more resistant to erosion than the softer underlying shales and sandstones, these hills are called erosional remnants--topographic features that remain standing above the landscape after the surrounding area has been reduced by erosion. (The Dakota Formation was deposited about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period.) Whether Coronado actually visited this site during his 1541 expedition to Kansas remains a topic of debate among historians. On top of Coronado Heights is a picnic area and castlelike building constructed of Dakota sandstone by the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in the 1930's. To reach Coronado Heights from Lindsborg, drive west on Kansas Highway 4 to the west edge of town and turn north on 13th Avenue (this is Burma Road in Saline County) and follow the pavement 3 miles to Winchester Road (Coronado Heights Road in Saline County), which is the county line. Turn west and drive 1 mile to the park entrance on the north side of the road, just west of the Smoky Hill Cemetery. Follow the winding road to the top. From Interstate 135, use exit 78 near Bridgeport and follow Business U.S. 81/K-4 about 1 mile southwest to Coronado Heights (Winchester) Road, then turn west on the gravel road and drive 3.75 miles to the park entrance (from The Geologic Record, vol. 8.2).

Other places to visit in the Kansas Smoky Hills.

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