The Toadstools may be a roadside attraction, but a short walk to the wild hoodoos through otherworldly desert landscape seems to transport you to another planet. These unique formations sit not far from major attractions in southern Utah, including Lake Powell, Vermilion Cliffs, and Escalante. If you find yourself venturing through this beautiful part of the Southwest, the Toadstools are definitely worth a quick stop!
What is a Hoodoo?
Hoodoos, or toadstools, are chunks of rock that have eroded to create a column. These spires are topped by a cap usually composed of a more durable rock that is more resistant to erosion. This combination creates a toadstool/mushroom formation, some of which took millions of years to form.
Many hoodoos are very fragile as the section forming the column can be skinny and crumble under little pressure. The tops are often not secured to the spire. You may have heard of the destruction of the hoodoos in Goblin Valley where people toppled the top off a toadstool. To preserve these structures, please don’t climb or lean on them. That way, others can enjoy them for years to come too!
Getting to the Toadstools Trailhead
The Toadstools trailhead is easily accessible because it lies directly off a highway. The parking area sits on the north side of Highway 89 between the small town of Big Water and Kanab. While it is very visible from the highway and there is a sign at the turnoff, there is no turn lane if coming from the far side of the road and you come up on it pretty fast while driving down the highway. So, you may want to have it pulled up on Google Maps to be prepared to turn as you approach the lot.
The lot can get very busy and there are no marked parking spots, so please park considerately. There are no restrooms or other amenities at the trailhead.
The Toadstools lie in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the area is managed by BLM. There are no fees or passes required to hike to the Toadstools.
Hiking to the Toadstools
Hike Type: Easy out-and-back trail. Great for kids and all hiking levels
Distance: About 1.6 miles round trip
Duration: 1-2 hours
Restrictions: Do not climb or lean on the hoodoos, pets are permitted but must be leashed, trail is open from sunrise to sunset, drones are not permitted, this area is for day use only (no camping)
The Hike to the Hoodoos
From the parking area, walk through the fence to start the trail. The trail ascends only slightly through badlands. The orange, red, and ivory layering in the surrounding mounds was pretty, but the most stunning part of this hike is at the end when you reach the field of hoodoos.
Packed dirt and footprints made the trail easy to follow, though we imagine that these may disappear when it rains. If that’s the case, just continue north up the wash. After just over half a mile, you’ll see the famous orange hoodoo towering above the trail. The trail climbs up to this picturesque toadstool and you’ll get a better view of the badlands you just hiked through.
The trail kind of disappears here and you are free to wander the flat, otherworldly valley dotted with hoodoos. Very little vegetation grows up there and the dry orange and ivory landscape definitely makes it appear otherworldly. There are quite a few smaller toadstools in the wide open, while some of the larger ones sit closer to the white cliffs. This is a popular attraction, and while you will likely not have the area to yourself, there is quite a bit of space here for hikers to spread out, take photos, and enjoy the views.
After exploring the alcoves and admiring the hoodoos in the area, we made our way back to the first toadstool we came across and went back down the trail the same way we came.
What to Bring to Hike to the Toadstools
Water: This may be a short hike, but the desert heat and sun can be parching! There are no places to fill or filter water, so bring your own.
Sun Protection: There is little shade along the trail, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and/or sunscreen
Comfortable Walking Shoes: The trail is fairly flat and packed down, but if it rains, it can get very muddy and slick in spots.
Camera: This is an incredibly popular spot among photographers. When searching for this spot online, you’ll see many incredible golden hour photos, night shots, varying seasons, and everything in between.
Layers: Light layers if you visit during the winter or plan to go early in the morning or for sunset.