Visit to Paria and the Toadstools

Page, AZ

On Sunday we invited Dave and Sue to join us for a visit to two interesting locations along Rte. 89 west of Page.  For the first stop we drove about 34 miles to a dirt road on the north side of the highway for a visit to the ghost town of Paria (think “Maria”).  A well-maintained dirt road leads about five miles to the area where the town was once located.

Heading north to Paria

As we crested the first hill we were stunned by the beautiful rock formations on our right.

Heading down to Paria

This area was first settled by Mormon pioneers in 1865.  Pahreah, as the settlement was first named, grew through the 1870s with a general store, a church, a number of sandstone houses, and many log houses supporting a population of 47 families.  The town hit hard times when the Paria River flooded every year from 1883 to 1888, washing away fields and even some buildings.  People started to move away and by 1892 there were only eight families left.  But for some reason the town was granted a post office that year under the name Paria. Not much changed until a small gold mining operation was established here in 1911.  Within a year, that too was wiped out by flooding.  The post office closed in 1914 and a lone bachelor prospector held out until 1929.

The area where the “town” was located now just has a pit toilet and some picnic tables maintained by the National Park Service (the area is inside Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument).

Lunch with a view

Just north of the picnic area is the remains of the town cemetery.  Graves are marked with plain stones with no inscriptions and there is a plaque honoring early settlers.

The road continues north for another two miles where it terminates on the south bank of the Paria River.

We drove back out to Rte. 89 and went 11 miles east to a parking area on the north side of the road for a visit to the Toadstools.  It’s just a short hike of less than a mile up to the area with the toadstool formations.

The trail follows a small wash

The area of toadstools soon came into view

A toadstool is a spire-like feature with a boulder perched atop a pedestal rock, like a mushroom or “toadstool.”  It forms when softer rock erodes away, leaving a column sheltered from wind and water.

Can you see Sue in the center of the photo?

A great view on the return hike

While our expectations were not real high as we set out this morning, we were stunned by the natural beauty of both areas.  It seems that Utah is full of hidden surprises!

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35 Responses to Visit to Paria and the Toadstools

  1. Jeff says:

    OMG – you find the greatest places that deserve to be seen. Another awesome post and photos on a great destination – Thanks for the post!

  2. Suzanne says:

    Oh, fond memories of my time there last fall. It looks warm there. I would have thought it was cooler at this time of year…

    • placestheygo says:

      Suzanne, we’ve had very nice weather (til the wind yesterday). We actually seem to be moving north with the low70’s. We had a couple days in the high 70’s and one day in the low 80’s.

  3. Laurel says:

    Such beautiful layers of colors in the rocks. No wonder people kept trying to settle there, despite being washed away countless times (I’m sure the isolation was a big draw for the Mormon settlers, too!). I’m surprised to see you guys hiking in short sleeves and shorts — makes me wonder if it’s going to be too darned hot for us there in mid-May!

    • placestheygo says:

      Laurel, we were here three years ago in mid May and it was warm but not too hot. We had a very warm day for our boat trip to hike to Rainbow Bridge. This year the temps for our week here have gone from mid 60’s to 80’s…typical spring:)

  4. Mary says:

    We were kinda bummed out that there wasn’t more at Paria, as far as ruins or something. But it is a wonderful area. We almost bought property in Kanab because we love the area so much. Have you tried for a permit for Vermillion cliffs? It’s different then the wave and was easier to get a permit. We were the only people there when we went.

    • placestheygo says:

      I think we were so overwhelmed by the beauty we found traveling that five miles to the Paria area, that we didn’t give too much thought to what wasn’t there:) You don’t need special permits for the other areas of the Vermillion Cliffs. You just have to pay $6 a person and $6 for each dog in the parking lot to hike Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. It looks like they will have to wait til another trip. We ran out of days.

  5. We’ve never made it to the toadstools yet…it’s on the list!

  6. Gay says:

    A stop in Page will definitely be added as we travel north next year! I so agree…Utah rocks!
    The colors are amazing in those rocks!

  7. Sue says:

    Great post guys, I think I’ll just copy the whole thing and past it onto my blog. Your pictures were fantastic and really showed the whole story. I agree the beauty on the way to and in Paria was an incredible surprise and I didn’t even notice what wasn’t there!

  8. libertatemamo says:

    Super cool! We’ve never been here, but always wanted to go.

  9. pmbweaver says:

    Gorgeous header. I just love the color in the rocks. Can you image being a Mormon pioneer and rounding the bend to see that stunning view. Outstanding.

    That was some lunch view!!! Stunned is a prefect word. That place is amazing.

    In that one photo, do I see three toadstools? Maybe it is just my old eye sight. lol

  10. Jim and Barb says:

    What a beautiful and unique place! Love the history and all the contrasting colors in the rocks.

  11. girlonahike says:

    Been there! Such a fun. little trail. Let me know when you guys come to the SLC area – let’s meet up for a hike! -Alicia @

  12. Debbie L says:

    Did Sue feel like an ant? Amongst Giants! Just amazing natural creations. What an adventure!

  13. What a great place with interesting formations. You seem to find the best places.

  14. Sherry says:

    Stunned is the perfect word. I would have been too. No wonder people wanted to live there. The geology is incredible. You guys find the most fantastic places. What a lunch view. I want to step right into your pictures and be there.

  15. Jodee Gravel says:

    Don’t you just love the amazing colors?! That one toadstool looks like a giant ET – they are all so cool. Fabulous pic of Dave and Sue on the rock. What a fun day!!!

  16. Hmm, you just gave us an additional things to do and see. I know I will be stunned when we get there, breathtaking indeed!

  17. geogypsy2u says:

    I Really like the Toadstools, such a geologic wonder. I think Bill told me the actual Paria townsite was to the right of the area where you reach the river. Haven’t walked there yet as it’s always been to wet and muddy. One of these days.

  18. Nancy says:

    Arizona just gives us such breathtaking places of rich colors and textures!
    Thank you for sharing!

  19. LuAnn says:

    I love being taken back to a place I haven’t been to in many years. Great photos!

  20. Pingback: Banded Hills, Toadstools and Canyons – Kane County, UT | The Lowe's RV adventures

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