Toadstool Hoodoo and The Rimrocks

Toadstool Hoodoo

Toadstool Hoodoo is an often visited hoodoo in the Grand Staircase Escalante NM. It lies in an area of south central Utah known as The Rimrocks. The base of Toadstool Hoodoo is Entrada sandstone and the caprock is Dakota sandstone. Its unique shape is due to erosion. Over time erosion wears away the softer Entrada sandstone while the harder Dakota sandstone remains relatively unscathed. Toadstool Hoodoo is best photographed late afternoon. The trailhead to Toadstool Hoodoo is near milepost 19.3 on Highway 89. The hike to the hoodoo is well worn and is about 0.7 flat miles one way. The hoodoo may be inaccessible following a rain as the soil in the area is clay based and very porous.

There are many other hoodoos in the immediate area of Toadstool Hoodoo. About 100 meters to the northeast there is a pair of hoodoos that photograph well with a telephoto lens late in the day. When shooting them wait until the background goes into shadow so that they stand out from it. Another group of hoodoos can be found about .15 miles west of Toadstool. These hoodoos are close to each other and hard to isolate in images.

The Lower Rimrocks

One mile west of Toadstool Hoodoo lies another group of hoodoos I call the Lower Rimrocks as they are below the rim. The Entrada Sandstone in this area is white rather than red with white stripes so the hoodoos are not as photogenic as those in the Toadstool area, except at sunrise and sunset. At sunrise and sunset the hoodoos take on a magnificent golden color and are well worth shooting. I first became aware of the Lower Rimrocks via Steffen Synnatschke's website Secrets of the West. The website is in German. It contains many good images and a map showing the route to the hoodoos.

To get to the Lower Rimrocks from the Toadstool parking area drive west on Highway 89 1.5 miles to the Paria Contact Station turnoff at milepost 20.8. Just opposite this turnoff there is a small parking area on the north side of 89. Park there and go through the cattle gate. There is no trail to the Lower Rimrocks but the hike is easy. Shortly after going through the cattle gate you should come to the very faint remains of an old road. Follow it 0.5 miles north northeast till you pass the butte to your right. Leave the old road and hike east in the wide canyon for 0.25 miles. At the head of the canyon and close to the butte to your right is a short slot canyon. You can access the Lower Rimrocks either by going up the slot, or by by taking the ramp to its immediate left. The route up the ramp is quite a bit easier.

There are several hoodoos in the area worth photographing. The best is what I call Skinny Hoodoo (and Stefan calls Long Necked Hoodoo). Best light on Skinny Hoodoo is at sunset around the winter solstice. The surrounding cliffs block the sun at sunrise and sunset most of the year. Even at the winter solstice it took 30 minutes for the sun to clear the cliffs to the east and light the hoodoo at sunrise. At sunset you'll get good light from November through January. A normal to wide-angle lens is needed to shoot Skinny Hoodoo close-up. Another photogenic hoodoo is Twisted Hoodoo. It can be seen by continuing up the Skinny Hoodoo drainage past the hoodoo for about twenty yards and looking to your right. A normal to medium telephoto lens is needed to capture it. A long lens is also useful when shooting the hoodoos on the rim from a distance.

It is possible to access the Upper Rimrocks from the Lower Rimrocks. Proceed up the ramp in the first drainage to the east of Skinny Hood as shown by the red line on the map below. This route takes you to what I call the Middle Rimrocks. You can also reach the Middle Rimrocks via the Skinny Hoodoo drainage, but be careful, it is difficult and the Entrada Sandstone is very soft and covered in powder.

I do not yet have a route from the Middle Rimrocks to the Upper Rimrocks but believe it is doable.

The Upper Rimrocks

From Toadstool Hoodoo you can view hoodoos on the cliffs above. These hoodoos are just a few of the many hoodoos in the Upper Rimrocks area. The best part of the Upper Rimrocks area is called the "Hoodoo Forest". The Hoodoo Forest contains over one hundred hoodoos in all sizes and shapes. It gets good light at both sunrise and sunset during much of the year, with the period around the winter solstice producing the best light.

Hoodoo Forest can be accessed via Cottonwood Canyon Road. From the intersection of Highway 89 and Cottonwood Canyon Road continue 3.0 miles to a small turnoff on the left side of the road. Park along the turnoff towards the far end where there is a small one car pullout on the left. You will find a good usage trail 20 yards or so to the left of the one car pullout. Make the effort to find the trail as it makes the hike across the field a bit easier. The trail is shown on the map below. Follow the trail about .6 miles south across the field to the rim. Once you reach the rim you should see several steep usage trails down to the Hoodoo Forest below. The way down is quite steep and exposed so do not proceed unless you find a trail. The hike down to the Hoodoo Forest, while not technical, is moderately difficult as it is steep with many small stones, and there is some exposure. I suggest you do it with a friend. Do not attempt this hike or any of the other hikes in the rimrocks area after a rain, the clay based soil becomes very slippery. A hiking stick may help on the way down. Do not stay until sunset unless you are sure you can find a trail back up to the rim.

Wide-angle and ultra-wide angle lenses will help isolate and emphasize the closest hoodoos and will produce the best images in this area.

Map of the area

Here is an Google overview map showing the routes to Toadstool Hoodoo and the Rimrocks:

Google Map of The Rimrocks

To view the map in Google Maps please click anywhere on the map above.

USGS 24K Topo Maps

Two topo maps cover all of the Rimrocks. The Toadstool Hoodoo area is covered by the Bridger Point Map, and the Upper and Lower Rimrocks by the West Clark Bench map. These maps together with a merged map can be downloaded in a variety of formats by clicking or right clicking on an element in the table to the right: The individual topo maps in the table are high resolution and can be quite large (typically 5-10 megabytes). The zip files and merged maps are much larger.

Rimrocks Index Map

The Rimrocks Index Map

Curved Hoodoo at the Upper Paria Rimrocks

Curved Hoodoo

Skinny Hoodoo at the Lower Paria Rimrocks

Skinny Hoodoo

Toadstool Hoodoo in Grand Staircase Escalante NM

Toadstool Hoodoo

Hoodoos east of Toadstool Hoodoo in Grand Staircase Escalante NM, Utah

Hoodoo Pair east of Toadstool Hoodoo

Slanted Hoodoo in the Middle Paria Rimrocks

Slanted Hoodoo