Toadstools & Sand Dunes
From Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend to Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks in Utah, US 89 is the major highway that connects all of these iconic gems. So it’s easy to overlook some of the lesser-known treasures along the way. This Wide Open Ride focuses on two. Driving north of Page, Arizona on US 89, the highway crosses into Utah and heads west, traveling between the Utah/Arizona border to the south and to the north, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This vast park is a geological wonderland of slot canyons, monoliths, natural bridges and arches. Trouble is, these marvels are hard to access as this monument is one of the largest and least developed in the lower 48. Small sections can be enjoyed by passenger car, such as the Wide Open Ride profile of Cottonwood Canyon to Kodachrome Basin. But along US 89 about 30 minutes from Page, a parking lot and short trail lead to The Toadstools: tall, mushroom-shaped sandstone formations called hoodoos. This easy hike is Grand Staircase-Escalante in miniature: colorful rocks, slot canyons, sand and hoodoos. Back on US 89, the scenic drive continues about an hour to Kanab, an appealing town with an Old West theme. This is Hollywood, Utah-style: numerous Westerns have been filmed in the area. Eight miles more and Hancock Road intersects US 89. A left turn and 15 minutes later, a bright hue appears. The road is approaching Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Made of Navajo sandstone, the dunes were created by wind passing through a notch in nearby mountains. This impressive sandbox is about six square miles and is thought to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. The dunes are popular for off-highway vehicles and surfing. And as the sand changes color with the light, the hills change shape with the wind. The dunes can move as much as 50 feet per year.
Route & Map
This route is an easy 94 miles from Page to Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
Length & Time
The drive takes less than two hours but add in another two to hike The Toadstools and sink toes into coral pink sand.
Best Time to Visit
Summers are very hot and winters can be cold and icy so fall and spring are best.
To the east, Page offers motels, gas and food. To the west, Kanab is more charming with all services.
The Bureau of Land Management has info on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and so does Visit Utah. Visit Utah also has a page about The Toadstools. And here are links for the official visitor websites of Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kanab and Page.