The Toadstools were another case of a local letting me in on the secret. There is a sign and even a parking lot. But I missed it the first AND second time coming here so it’s not like they made it easy or anything. Ah Utah, don’t ever change.
The Toadstools are super close to Nautilus Rock on Hwy 89 between Kanab and Big Water. It’s on the left if going east, right if going west. The trick to seeing it is knowing that the parking lot and tiny, tiny brown fence are set back kind of far from the road. So you have to look off in the distance a bit. Don’t expect it to jump out at you.
If you miss it, though there are a ton of unofficial areas to turn around. Basically just patches of land near the road where the shrubs have been mowed down by others doing the same thing.
There’s parking for maybe 10 cars but I’ve never seen more than three. There’s a sign explaining the route and what toadstools are and that’s it for signage. There are no arrows or descriptive signs along the way.
Toadstools are basically just rock formations with hard rock on top of softer rock. The softer rock gives way over the years and forms pillars that the harder rock sits on top of.
The path appears to have been created naturally. It’s very skinny at times and sometimes just disappears. When I went the first time with my mom, we actually walked in a dry riverbed. The path was apparently next to it on the right and up a little but we got distracted. We hit a dead end after a while and had to back track. (I’m slightly embarrassed to say that it took me a long time to realize that the dead end was once the bottom of a waterfall. Like months later I realized.)
I actually recommend walking in the river bed for as far as you can go. The walls are super high in places and offer some shade. Because, man, was this path sunny. You’ll definitely need your water for this one. There is just no relief from the sun except in a few places along the river, which will soon disappear. Get some shade while you can, man.
So we found the path and we weren’t the first ones to mistake the river bed as the path as there were several mini paths going from the dry riverbed to the main path. Now on the official path, it started going upwards and got super skinny, when suddenly the landscape just opened up. To the right, there is a cluster of huge toadstools. Just hanging out.
I was having a lot of trouble writing this post because I don’t know how to describe what I felt. It was like something was wrong, off. Like this is not how nature is supposed to act. I read the sign at the beginning of the trail and it made sense. Then you see them.
Every project has scraps and leftovers. Every workshop has odd parts and tools and debris lying around. These toadstools looked like they were placed there rather than formed there.
I used to think ‘aliens did it’ was a cop out. But then I saw these things.
Besides the toadstools, the landscape was just amazing. They filmed John Carter out here and you can see why. Look at the pictures of the Mars Rover and this little slice of Utah seems more alien.
The first time I went with my mom, we got off the path, went to the right, and took a ton of photos of the toadstools and landscape. The next day someone asked me if I went around the bend to the left and saw all the other toadstools. Um, no. I didn’t know that was a thing!
The second time, I went with both my mom and dad and, after checking out the place to the right, we went left. It looked impassable from a distance but up close you can see others have cut a path through the rocks. We curved to the right so as not to fall off the suddenly there cliff and then the area opened up a little and there were more toadstools!
The toadstools seem like they should be behind a fence or something. Like there should be signs in front of each one telling you their names and age. And the fact that that isn’t the case makes the toadstools truly a unique experience. It’s like working behind the scenes at a museum before they open.
Side note: please be cool. These things take millions of years to make but only 10 seconds to destroy. So just be cool, people.