Mushroom Rock State Park - Kansas
Mushroom Rock State Park in Kansas was one of those places I saw on a map several years ago and added to my bucket list. When I think about Kansas it's mostly farms (my great grandparents had a farm close to Fredonia, Kansas) and flat land but after discovering Monument Rocks and the beautiful Flint Hills I know there's a whole lot more to the state. My goal is to make it more a destination than a place I pass through to somewhere else.
Mushroom Rock is a small park nestled between fields and down several dirt roads. There's a short trail, a picnic table, bench, and one of those state park vault restrooms. You know the kind, the use at your own risk kind. And if you take your time wandering around you can see the whole place in about thirty minutes.
The formations in the area are sandstone and sedimentary rock dating back to the Cretaceous Period. They look like scaled eggs and huge toadstools. I was disappointed to see that a lot of the formations are covered in carvings; hearts and names and dates. Some of the dates are very old, dating back to the early 1900s, but there are a lot of newer ones too. It's a shame that people feel the urge to be this destructive. And how many of those people, initials ringed in hearts, are still together? Probably not many. Either way there's no justification for being an asshole and defacing things.
That's something that I've come across again and again in my travels. People disfigure buildings and rocks and natural places; I've seen graffiti in Yosemite and trash left behind at Crater Lake. People seem to have little to no respect for the world around them and it's sad to go to such beautiful places and see things like this. Don't be that person. And teach your kids not to be that person either.
Now that I've gotten being all preachy and bossy out of the way I can recommend a quick stop at Mushroom Rock State Park. It's an unexpected find among the fields of corn and wheat.
The sign at the park reads: This park and the surrounding area are rich in early Kansas History. The Fremont Trail passes to the north and was used by the Kaw-Santa Fe Freight Company which was also the route for the first overland stages to California until they were forced to the northern route by Indians. Mushroom Rock State Park is approximately five acres in size and was purchased and donated to the state of Kansas to be preserved as a scenic park area by the Ellsworth County Historical Society.