Red Hills—Places to Visit

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Red Hills--Intro | Red Hills--Rocks and Minerals
Red Hills--Places to Visit | Other regions

Download fact sheet on the rocks and minerals of the Red Hills.

Big Basin and Little Basin. Two of the best known sinkholes in the Red Hills are Big Basin and Little Basin, located in western Clark County within the Big Basin Prairie Preserve. Big Basin is about one mile across and 100 feet deep. Little Basin is about 280 yards in diameter and 35 feet from rim to floor. Both probably were formed by the solution of salt and gypsum beds several hundred feet below the surface. From the age of the rocks in the basin walls, geologists estimate that Big Basin formed fairly recently (in geologic time, that is), probably within the last few thousand years. A spring in the floor of Little Basin, St. Jacob's Well, is one of several springs found in the hills east of U.S. Highway 160. The entrance to the preserve is off U.S. Highway 160-283, about 15 miles northwest of Ashland or 15 miles south of Minneola.

map showing location of preserve

Big Basin Prairie Preserve.

Gyp Hills Trail. This road winds through some of the rugged territory in Barber County. A starting point, which leads south from U.S. Highway 160, is about 3 miles west of Medicine Lodge.

color photo of flat-topped hill with cedars and dried grass in foreground

Gyp Hills in Barber County.

Clark County State Lake. Situated in northeastern Clark County, the lake is in a deep canyon created by Bluff Creek. This is a good place to see a variety of rock formations, including the Ogallala Formation mortar beds, Day Creek Dolomite, and Permian redbeds.

color photo of lake with tree in foreground

Clark County State Lake.


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.

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.

Red Hills--Intro | Red Hills--Rocks and Minerals
Red Hills--Places to Visit | Other regions