Friday, May 29, 2015

The Toadstools - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

"Don't know how you do,
the Hoodoo (Voodoo)
that you do.."
- Salt N Pepa

(Lyrics tweaked to feature this awesome formation in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Yes, my age might show a bit with my particular choice of artist to relate this.. Haha!)

  • 1.5 miles (round trip)
  • Out and back
  • Exposed trail
  • Elevation: 100 feet (nothing significant to worry about)
  • Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT

The Toadstools of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is an easy hike to do. Less than a mile one way and with little elevation gained, this is an excellent add-on to your long list of things to-do in the area without having to scratch off anything.

The trail head is located along Highway 89 between mile markers 19 and 20 (but closer to Mile 19) or about 1 mile East of the Paria Contact Station. Be on the lookout for any parked cars, if there are any 'cause it does not get packed, or for a small man-made podium-like metal structure that houses the trail register. If you're headed in the direction of Page, AZ it will be on your left and if headed towards Kanab, UT it will be on your right. There is an ample spaced parking area as you turn off from the road. No need for some dirt road 4WD driving.

The trail begins by the trail register, behind a fence and heads northward. The trail is easy to follow but should you find yourself losing the trail just follow the wash or riverbed looking path. It didn't have water when we visited but it the mud was soft showing previous water run-off. The trail runs along beside it, crisscrossing it a few times.

There are trail markers along the way pointing which direction you need to go. Just keep an eye out for them.

After a rain fall, watch out for muddy trails!

The trail continues around a small hill before climbing up a bit with the ground changing from red soil to white. Not long after you'll see a glimpse of the towering red toadstool. You'll note the changes of ground hues, from red to white to red again.. then white again all the way to the towering plateau.

Looking around, the landscape makes you think if you're still on Earth! Are we Mars? Is this a Moon hike? (shoutout to the moon hikers of #hikerchat!).

The trail continues on past the tall red toadstool with more toadstool hoodoos, red and white, to explore around.

We visited during a wet weather witnessed small soil crusts fall from a toadstool and heard echoes of huge chunks falling off somewhere in the area. We couldn't find where it was. It was an eerie experience, as we were the only ones exploring around (there were just 4 of us).

To head back to the parking lot is to just follow the same trail heading in to the Toadstools. And like any hike or trip, the going back part seems to always be so much shorter.

On the way back, we did stumble on path that looks to be the making of a trail that heads towards the eastern direction. Probably created by another water run off from the recent rain falls. Plants were growing in the middle of the it, but the path was clear. We only followed it a little bit realizing it was heading too much to the east of where are car is supposed to be before we decided to abandon and turn around then head back the way we came. We still had more Utah explorations to attempt.

Back at the trail head, don't forget to sign the trail register! If you haven't yet at the start of the trail.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Horseshoe Bend - Page, AZ


  • 1.5 miles (round trip)
  • Out and back
  • Exposed and Sandy Trail
  • Closest city: Page, AZ
  • Coordinates: 36.8794° N, 111.5139° W
  • Weather link: Horseshoe Bend Forecast

You've seen the photos.. on the web, a random postcard, a book.. or just somewhere but can't remember where.. but you've seen it. Admired it. Longed to visit the place and see it with your own eyes. But where is it?

The Horseshoe Bend is located close to the city of Page, AZ. It is about a couple of miles south of the city along Highway 89. On this trip, we were coming from the town of Kanab in Southwest Utah. It was approximately a 75 mile drive on Highway 89S, an hour's worth of travel. A sign will come up on the right, in case the massive amount of cars parked on the shoulder don't give it away.

Enter the road past the sign to get to the ample spaced parking lot meant for the Horseshoe Bend overlook visitors. If you're visiting on a Holiday weekend, prepare for a crowd.

This hike is short and easy with a huge pay off, hence its popularity. You'll see every type of people visiting, from well prepared hikers to flip flop and wedge shoes wearing folks. Don't be discouraged by the crowd, to stand at the edge of the cliff and see the view is well worth the short moment of sacrifice of a solitude hike.

The trail starts at the end of the parking lot by a sign warning hikers to be careful and a reminder that there are no rails at the edge of the cliff! Begin with a gradual walk up a small hill.

The trail offers no shade. So best be prepared with your sunscreen and hat. And if the weather is a bit wonky, drag along that poncho or rain jacket. It may be just a short hike, but who knows how long you will want to stay out there... by the edge... just mindlessly staring at nature's beautiful handiwork.

We visited on a day with scattered rain showers on the forecast, a burst of rain poured hard but short and still completely drenched a few visitors who didn't make a run from the rain.

At the top of the hill, there are a few benches scattered around and a small gazebo on the right, should you need a quick shelter from the sun or a pelting short burst of desert rain. From here, the trail starts to descend offering you views of the visitors milling around by the cliffs edge, selfie-sticks and all.

The best spot for the view? Anywhere. Find an open space and set yourself for a photo op then move to a different spot and repeat. Every spot you choose will yield to a good photo! The Colorado River that flows and carved this 270 degree horseshoe shape made that beautiful and amazing scene to photograph possible. Now for having a solo photo without any unsuspecting photobombers? Well.. just time your shots accordingly and be polite to other visitors!

Karina and Oshie watching the Colorado River