Arkansas River Lowlands and …

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Wellington-McPherson Lowlands—Places to Visit

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Intro | Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Rocks and Minerals
Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Places to Visit | Other regions

Download fact sheet on the rocks and minerals of the Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands.

Sand Hills State Park. A good place to see sand dunes in the Arkansas River Lowlands is Sand Hills State Park, a few miles northeast of Hutchinson in Reno County. The water table underneath these grass-covered dunes is so close to the surface that you can almost hit water by digging with your hands. To get to the park, follow Kansas Highway 61 north out of Hutchinson for approximately two miles.

Cheyenne Bottoms. Cheyenne Bottoms is a natural basin lying just northeast of Great Bend in the Arkansas River Lowlands. It covers 64 square miles, nearly half of which is a wildlife management area maintained by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Of this, about 12,000 acres are reliable wetlands. The Nature Conservancy manages an additional 7,000 acres, which are also accessible to the public. Cheyenne Bottoms is the primary staging area in the 48 states for North American shorebirds whose migration path is east of the Rockies. Some 320 species of birds frequent Cheyenne Bottoms, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, least tern, and piping plover. For more information, contact Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Dept. of Wildlife and Parks, Great Bend, KS 67503 (316-793-3066), or The Nature Conservancy (785-233-4400).

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge in northeastern Stafford County lies in the transition zone between the relatively lush vegetation of the eastern prairie and the more arid grasslands of the western prairie. Big and Little Salt marshes, located within the refuge, provide food, cover, and a resting place for thousands of waterfowl migrating between breeding and wintering areas. The salty surface waters and salt flats at Quivira are caused by natural saltwater in the underlying bedrock, which is discharged in the vicinity. The average salinity of Little Salt Marsh is approximately 2,500 parts per million (ppm); that of Big Salt Marsh ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 ppm. (The salinity of seawater is 19,000 ppm, and the upper limit for drinking water is about 250 ppm).

color photo of salt flats bordering grasslands

Salt flats at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Stafford County.

color photo of bank along Gypsum Creek

Gypsum Creek, Sedgwick County.

 

Gypsum Creek. To see examples of gypsum in the Wichita area, go to Gypsum Creek's intersection with South Woodlawn Street, just north of the Kansas turnpike (I-35) overpass. Walk eastward up the creek bed for about 200 yards. As you walk along the gypsum ledge overhanging the creek, note the sulfuric smell. Washing from the shale bottom of Gypsum Creek, along the creek bottom and sand bars, are good selenite crystals and some satin spar. Specimens may be collected at this location.

Walking Tour of Wichita. One way to see a variety of rocks, some from Kansas, some from far away, is to visit the sites described in Wichita's Building Blocks: A Guide to Building Stone and Geological Features, an educational book published by the Kansas Geological Survey. Most of the sites are clustered around downtown Wichita. For a copy of the book, contact Publications Sales at the Kansas Geological Survey.

Sources

Buchanan, Rex C., and McCauley, James R., 1987, Roadside Kansas--A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks: Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 365 p.

Evans, Catherine S., 1988, From Sea to Prairie--A Primer of Kansas Geology: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 6, 60 p.

Jackson, Julia A., editor, 1997, Glossary of Geology (Fourth Edition): Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute, 769 p.

Sawin, Robert S., and Buchanan, Rex C., eds., 1996, Field Guide--Kansas Water Issues: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 96-23, 65 p.

Sawin, Robert S., and Buchanan, Rex C., eds., 1997, Field Guide--Urban Expansion and Natural Resources--Land Use, Water, and the Environment: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 97-37, 53 p.

Skelton, Lawrence, 1997, Wichita's Building Blocks--A Guide to Building Stones and Geological Features: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 11, 28 p.

Tolsted, Laura L., and Swineford, Ada, revised by Buchanan, Rex C., 1986, Kansas Rocks and Minerals: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 2, 60 p.

Wilson, Frank W., 1978, Kansas Landscapes--A Geologic Diary: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 5, 50 p.

Text by Liz Brosius, Kansas Geological Survey. Unless noted otherwise, illustrations by Jennifer Sims, Kansas Geological Survey; photographs by John Charlton, Kansas Geological Survey.

Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Intro | Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Rocks and Minerals
Arkansas River & Wellington-McPherson Lowlands--Places to Visit | Other regions