Climbing Mount Sunflower: Kansas High Point

Route Description for 4,039-foot Mount Sunflower

Monument at Mt. Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas.
Wesley Hitt/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Peak: Mount Sunflower
Elevation: 4,039 feet (1,231 meters)
Prominence: 19 feet (6 meters)
Location: Western Kansas. South of Interstate 70. Located in Wallace County.
Range: High Plains
GPS Coordinates: 39.02194° N / 102.03722° W
Difficulty: Class 1. Drive up and walk a short distance.
Maps: USGS Quads: Mount Sunflower.
Camping and Lodging: None nearby.
Services: None nearby. Closest towns are Goodland to the northeast and Sharon Springs to the southeast.

About Mount Sunflower

Mount Sunflower, at 4,039 feet (1,231 meters) above sea level, is the highest point in Kansas and the 28th highest state high point in the United States. The state high point, a low humped hill rather than an actual mountain, is located in Wallace County a scant half-mile from the Colorado border. Mount Sunflower rises more than 3,300 feet above the lowest topographic point in Kansas, which is located in Montgomery County in far southeastern Kansas.

The Ogallala Formation

The hill of Mount Sunflower owes its lofty elevation to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains over 200 miles to the west. As the Rockies were uplifted, erosion washed material from the growing mountains onto the great sweep of plains where it was deposited as part of the Ogallala Formation. The geographic area that includes Mount Sunflower is the High Plains, a subregion of the Great Plains.

Mount Sunflower is Private Property

Mount Sunflower is on private property, the historic Harold Family Ranch. The family still lives here and allows respectful visitors to visit the rooftop of Kansas. On the summit is a commemorative shrine honoring Edward and Elizabeth Harold, who homesteaded here in 1905 as well as a metal sculpture of a large sunflower imposed on a frame of Kansas's outline and a register to write "I made it!" and your name. Mount Sunflower is one of the few flatland high points in the United States as well as one of a handful that are privately owned.

Access Mount Sunflower from I-70

Mount Sunflower fittingly lies in the middle of nowhere, making it a long drive from anywhere. The easiest way is from the north from Interstate 70. While it is possible to drive south on several country roads after exiting I-70 at Exit 1 just east of the Colorado border, it is best to continue driving east from the Colorado border to Exit 17 in Goodland, Kansas (Interstate exits are keyed to the mile markers from west to east). Mount Sunflower is 38 miles southeast from here.

From Interstate 70, take Exit 17 and drive south on Kansas Highway 27 for about 17 miles. Turn right or west on a dirt road (BB Road) marked "Mount Sunflower." Drive west for about 12 miles to a left or south turn again marked "Mount Sunflower." Drive south on dirt 6 Road for four miles to a right or west turn on X Road and follow for three miles. Next turn left or south on 3 Road and drive a mile to a right turn marked "1 Mile to Mt. Sunflower." Follow that road to the entrance to Mount Sunflower road and the base of Mount Sunflower's hill.

Park here and walk about a half-mile to the sunflower sculpture on the high point or drive to it. It's probably better to get out of your car to walk and stretch your legs after driving for hours.

Access Mount Sunflower from U.S. 40

Alternatively, you can approach Mount Sunflower from the south via U.S. Highway 40, a two-lane highway between Denver and I-70 at Oakley, Kansas. Locate a signed dirt road (Road 3) on the north side of U.S. 40 between Weskan and the Colorado border. Drive north on the road for about 11 miles and turn left on a dirt road marked for Mount Sunflower. Drive west for a mile to a signed turn right or north to the hill. Bump across a cattle guard and drive to the high point, or park and walk.