The first visitors to the area called the sandstone slabs resting upon their clay pillars, toadstools. The name stuck. Each year, thousands of people are drawn to western Nebraska to see the unique landscape known as Toadstool Geologic Park.
Toadstool Geologic Park is the result of a river that flowed in the area over 30 million years ago. Weathering from wind and water created its current appearance. Volcanic ash from the West Coast was deposited here. Reddish layers in the rock were deposited during wet seasons, greenish layers during dry seasons.
The toadstools are created by the forces of wind and water, eroding the soft clay faster than the hard sandstone rock that caps it.
Horizontal bands in the rock layers can be clearly seen at Toadstool Geologic Park.
Toadstool Geologic Park is a key link in understanding the earth as it was 38 to 24 million years ago. The park is important in the study of Geology because it is considered the standard for animal fossils from the Eocene and Oligocene epochs. All similar-aged White River Group deposits in North America are compared to Toadstool.
As the rock cliff is undercut by erosion, overhanging rocks break off. No one can predict when the next break will occur, so view the cliffs from a safe distance.
In addition to viewing the unique landscape, toadstool offers a chance to view ancient trackways of rhinoceros, entelodonts – giant wild pigs – prehistoric ducks, miniature horses, humpless camels, gigantic tortoises, and other mammals.
Birds continue to thrive at Toadstool Geologic Park.
Large mammals still enjoy the landscape at Toadstool Geologic Park.
Dragonflies can also be seen at Toadstool Geologic Park during the summer.
The flora and the fauna coexist at Toadstool Geologic Park.
When the wind picks up, as it always does in western Nebraska, plants will continue its life cycle to prepare for a new season and new visitors to enjoy the beauty of Toadstool Geologic Park.
As you leave Toadstool Geologic Park, be mindful of the cattle and other animals that may be in your path.
Toadstool Geologic Park may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere – and it is – but it is absolutely worth the trip to step back into a fantastic time in our history.