Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, Utah – Garden of toadstools

We are at 8:45 am on the dot in BLM field Office in Kanab as demanded. We fill in an application form, and at 9 am the raffle for the wilderness permits takes part. Paria Wilderness is a narrow horseshoe-shaped area that protects Paria River and Marble Canyon, which is the beginning of Grand Canyon. Paria Wilderness is located on the border of Utah and Arizona, encloses Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in its middle and borders the southern edge of Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Like last mentioned Paria and Vermillion is managed by BLM. These nature reserves became known just in the past ten years, but are already so popular that access is strictly limited. Maximum 20 hikers per day get access to each North and South Coyote Buttes. Half of the permits are raffled in an internet lottery four month in advance; the chances for the attractive North Buttes are less than ten percent in summer. The remaining ten places are raffled among all present applicants at 9 am each day for the following day, Fridays for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Paria Contact Station at the reserve handles this in summer, the office in Kanab in winter. We are just six applicants for three days, so there is no lottery. We have to pay 7 $ per person, receive the permits and pretty precise directions how to get to the North Coyote Buttes. The application procedures can vary, so it’s a good idea to check well in advance.

In the afternoon we drive to the Toadstools that are situated in Grand Staircase – Escalante area. There are different kinds of hoodoos. But always a softer stone pillar is covered and protected by a harder cover layer. With a bit of luck the lid remains on the shrinking pillar what brought them the appropriate name Toadstools. Sometimes the lid drops and is smashed to pieces, then the hoodoo is exposed to rain and will die soon. The first group of hoodoos is red, the second one is white. The walk is only three miles return trip, but plan two hours to have sufficient time for exploring and photos.

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