See This Life-size Rock Shell On The Nautilus Hike In Utah

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I don’t remember what I was looking up at the time, some hike near Page, but then I stumbled on The Nautilus hike. What I do remember is the day that I found it I wanted to go immediately. We didn’t but I wanted to.

The first time we went was within a couple of weeks from when I first read about it. I saw that the best time to go was when it was cloudy or first thing in the morning.

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Well, we’re not morning people so that never happened and it was cloudy like, two days all summer so that didn’t happen either. What did end up happening was going in the middle of the day with full sun and it was like, 90 degrees, at least.

But wait, what even is The Nautilus rock? Its a big rock formation right in the rock and cliffs that looks like the inside of a seashell, but giant! It’s near the Paria River between Kanab and Big Water, Utah.

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I was expecting it to be hard to find but it’s actually on Google Maps which eased those worries but then I worried it would be hard to find, but that was an unnecessary worry, too!

We were the only car there, which wasn’t too surprising since this isn’t that well known, and it was so peaceful. We headed down into the wash and I kept my eyes peeled for the Nautilus.

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From the wash it just kind of looks like more rock, but once you get to the bottom of it, it’s pretty easy to spot. I would avoid walking up through it if you can and walk to the top around the side. If you do walk in it, please just do so very carefully because it is fragile sandstone.

Also, PLEASE don’t scratch into the rock! People already have and I just don’t want it to get worse and people that carve into rock are the worst. I debated even posting this at all, but it’s already on AllTrails and Google so I decided I would, but please, please be respectful of it.

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Back to the hike, though! We didn’t spend too much. time there because it was so hot, but it was really cool to see this.

Fast forward to the end of the summer, we got a partly cloudy day not too long before we were leaving for the season and decided to just go on our way to Kanab (probably, I’m not sure) and hope it stayed cloudy.

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It was all going fine, we parked and hit the trail trying to move quickly, just in case, and AS SOON AS wee got to the actual Nautilus the sun came out. And I mean right when we got to it, so we still didn’t get the pictures either of us wanted, but what I left with still turned out better than I thought they would.

A little frustrated the weather wasn’t doing what we wanted (the sun was all the way out with very little chance of cloud cover again soon) we decided to call it and head out.

Hopefully next summer we’ll be able to finally catch it on a cloudy day or, maybe but most likely not, get up early to see it. I’m glad we went to see it even if it wasn’t ideal conditions, though!

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The Nautilus from above
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Where is the Nautilus in Utah?

If you’re coming from Page, drive about 30 miles towards Kanab on Highway 89 and turn left at the Paria Contact Station.

If you’re coming from Kanab, drive about 43 miles towards Page on Highway 89 and turn right at the Paria Contact Station.

From here, drive about 1.3 miles down the dirt road. You’ll see a wash with a fence across it on your left, go through the wash to the small parking area and park there. There is room for two cars. Go back down into the wash and through the fence (there is an opening on the right side of it) and walk a little further.

Any car should be able to do this short drive on the dirt road from the Contact Station to the parking area. If it’s rainy, I would probably be more careful but it’s more washboardy than sandy.

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Best time to do the Nautilus hike

Spring, fall, or winter will be best because theres no shade on this short hike. We went mid-summer and it was SO hot. As for time of day, first thing or around sunset or on a cloudy day will be best if you’re there to photograph it.

When it’s sunny the shadows are pretty bad. We actually went twice and it was sunny both times (remember, were the worst at getting up early).

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The bottom of The Nautilus

What to bring on the Nautilus hike

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and humid and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must, especially with the strong desert sun.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

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The top of The Nautilus

How long is the Nautilus hike

About a mile round-trip. It’s pretty much flat through a wash but you’ll have to go up onto the rock a bit to see the top of it. It’s easy though.

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How long do you need for the Nautilus hike?

Less than an hour, maybe an hour total including the short drive, but not long unless you plan to explore around here a little more.

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Is the Nautilus worth it?

Yes! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s really unique and an easy hike so it’s worth the stop. Is it the coolest thing ever? No but it’s definitely worth visiting whether you’re just driving through or spending a few days in the area.

Have you been to The Nautilus in Utah? What did you think of it? Do you want to go?

4 thoughts on “See This Life-size Rock Shell On The Nautilus Hike In Utah

  1. This is gorgeous Megan! It looks sort of like a peach coloured wave to me. I can see why you liked the idea of going straight there when you first heard of it!

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