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Toadstool Geologic Park

June 8, 2010

As promised, I’m posting about Toadstool Geologic Park, within Oglala National Grassland. The official website for the place isn’t very good. This website has a better description.

I enjoyed hiking the 1-mile loop trail through Toadstool. (There’s also a 3-mile trail between Toadstool and Hudson-Meng bone bed that I’ like to hike someday.) There was plenty of interesting geology to look at. It’s easier to photograph at dawn and dusk, as the midday sun reflecting off the light-colored stone can be quite glaring.

Photos to follow. Some notes first.

Admission is $3 per vehicle ($5 per vehicle if you’re camping overnight). It’s a remote site and is not staffed, so you need to have exact change and pay via envelope.

There is no water on site. Bring your own. It’ll get plenty hot in the summer! Toilets are available.

Toadstool Road leading northwest from Crawford, which provides access to the site, is a bumpy gravel road that may be impassible in wet weather. Likewise, the trail can be muddy after rain with a uniquely slippery mud locally referred to as “gumbo.” Here’s a note from a US Forest Service page:

Roads in the Oglala Grassland vary from paved state highways to four-wheel drive only. Most of the roads are gravel and are passable except after a rain or a snowstorm. Trains run as frequently as every 7.5 minutes over the track you cross as you turn off of Toadstool Road. Be sure you look both ways before crossing the tracks!

Toadstool may be included on the Fossil Freeway website, but you’d better not remove any fossils from government land! You can get into very expensive trouble. Several local ranchers allow legal fossil collecting on their property for a fee. I know of arrangements through High Plains Homestead and Our Heritage Guest Ranch.

And now, for some photos.

Here’s what you see as you drive in. Check out the color patterns in the rock! Also note, the Oglala Grasslands permit cattle grazing. You are in cattle country.

Remember to drive slowly and yield to cattle in the road.

There are brown wooden pole markers that guide you through rough terrain on the loop trail from the parking lot. It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the next pole, but you can’t get too terribly lost.

This may not be a good hike for small children, or for rambunctious children who don’t listen well.

A very large example of the “toadstool” formation that gave the park its name: harder caprock with a smaller, worn-away base of softer material.

This swiftly-eroding landscape is ever-changing.

There are some really cool rock formations.

I was starting to see faces in some of the rocks. Kinda eerie.

Do you see the angry Asian Cabbage Patch doll face?

This made me think of Hindu temple carvings. More faces!

I thought it funny that there was another comparison between Nebraska and Africa.

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 9:22 pm

    You state things in such a way as to make a person want to go see these spots!

  2. Court Merrigan permalink
    June 17, 2010 8:52 am

    My favorite spot in North America.


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