UT – Grand Staircase Escalante – The Toadstools . . . no toads, but plenty of top hats

Photo Credit: Pinterest


What is a toadstool? In the world of biology, it’s a stool for toads.

But in the world of geology, it’s a formation which has a boulder perched on rock of a smaller diameter giving the appearance of a mushroom aka toadstool.

Wait, I thought these were called Hoodoos? Indeed they are. It’s a Toadstool Hoodoo!

To add to the confusion, sometimes these are called Balanced Rock Hoodoos.

The Grand Staircase is composed of five geologic periods covering 6,000 vertical feet, ascending from the top of the Grand Canyon (250 million years old) to Bryce Canyon (50 million years old). Each period is subdivided further. According to the American Southwest website regarding the Paria area of GSENM, “all the formations are composed of Entrada sandstone, specifically the red and white Gunsight Butte member, while the flat lands in front of the hoodoos are the top of the Carmel formation, and the highest layers of the cliffs behind are from the Dakota formation.”

I call this a hoodoo graveyard. 

Some formations are red, others are white.

I’m not sure the cause of the pitting but I’m guessing it’ll hasten erosion.

See the heart shape? Gotta love nature. 

Stringy sandstone, I wonder the cause? 

On this short 1.6 mile round-trip trail, there is plenty to see beyond toadstool-shaped hoodoos. 

Date(s) Hiked: March 31, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #41 out of 88


  • The Toadstools Trailhead is on Highway 89 so no special vehicle or skills needed to access the trail.
  • Stop by one of the BLM Visitor Centers to obtain the latest information on trail conditions, etc. They had handouts on specific areas including rudimentary maps. I haven’t found a good topo map yet. The National Geographic Canyons of the Escalante and Paria Canyon maps both exclude this small section.
  • Permits are required in many areas, some for day use, everywhere for backcountry overnight trips.
  • Many roads require 4×4 or high clearance 4×4. Know before you go.
  • Beware of flash floods in the washes and heavy rains making dirt roads hazardous. Watch the weather!
  • Walk gingerly. Avoid cyptobiotic soil crusts which are fragile with lengthy recovery time. Climbing on and around the sandstone features leave long-lasting impressions. Please practice LNT












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