The Nautilus

The next day, Saturday, we were leaving Kanab for Bluff, a four hour drive. We planned to stop in Monument Valley along the way, but I wanted to do a quick hike in the morning to stretch out our legs before the bulk of the drive. I found a short mile-long hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM on our way to Page, AZ.

(For the purposes of this blog, I still refer to the monument’s original boundaries.)

Heading down the wash

The Nautilus is unassuming. Had we not been aware of its existence and actively seeking it, we could have walked right by it. Roughly half a mile down a wash, the sandstone has been whipped by wind and water into an captivating swirling formation reminiscent of the cephalopod for which it’s named. It’s fragile and has sustained damage from careless hikers in the past, but it’s spectacular in its simplicity.

The Nautilus lies on the right

We caught it at a perfect time. The light diffused through the corkscrew-like opening at the top accented the pale white sandstone in hues of yellow and orange, even a soft pink. It seemed to be glowing.

We climbed up to the top to get a look from that perspective, and it was quite different. It was easy to see the fragility of the formation and the way in which erosion has sculpted it.

It was a quick trip, but a nice diversion. The weather was perfect, and I kind of wished we were sticking around Kanab. But alas, we had plans and a bed for the night in another city. We set off for our next stop, Monument Valley.

Admiring the view down the wash
Colorful cliffs bordering US 89

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