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High Plains

High plains region in KansasThe High Plains region in Kansas stretches across the western third of the state. It contains vast flatlands, broken up occasionally by streams and river valleys, such as the Arikaree Breaks in Cheyenne County or Cimarron River in Seward County. One large feature of the High Plains is the Ogallala Formation. Created during the late Miocene to early Pliocene age by eroding materials from the Rocky Mountains, the Ogallala Formation is made of sand, gravel, and clay, some of which merged to form porous sandstone. The Ogallala Formation holds Kansas’ largest source of underground water in the Ogallala aquifer.

The aquifer is important to the Kansas High Plains since the region receives less rainfall per year than other parts of the state. With an average 15 to 25 inches of rain per year, the High Plains region is considered a semiarid climate. Because of this climate, irrigation is required for farming. Cattle production is the largest industry.

The high plains region is home to three Kansas State Historic Sites, Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site, Fort Hays State Historic Site, and Pawnee Rock State Historic Site.

Geographic regions of Kansas

Entry: High Plains

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2011

Date Modified: May 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.