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The Nautilus Hike Utah

The Nautilus Hike, Utah, is fabulous. Many of you are visiting Southwest. Very often on your trip, you stop by slot canyons in Page, unusual rock formations in Paria, or the most famous The Wave or Coyote Buttes South. We are sure that you were traveling many times on route US 89 between Kanab and Page. We are also confident that most of you missed the hidden gem of Paria Canyon – Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area – The Nautilus rock formation that needs a short hike and is located in Utah.

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Agnes Stabinska, the author and co-owner of The Van Escape blog, sits against a slightly orange wall reminiscent of the trough of the Nautilus Formation in Utah. He is wearing a warm hat and a warm fleece jacket.

Why it’s worth visiting Nautilus in Utah?

Usually, if you are traveling across the Southwest, you have the essential points in your schedule like Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon X, Horseshoe Bend, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim, and more.

We are pretty confident that you will be traveling on U.S. 89 between Kanab and Page in any direction on your road trip. It means you will visit the Paria River – Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. And this area is lovely, but usually not explored enough. It hides plenty of small but exciting gems! One of them is The Nautilus hike.

So, the Nautilus hike is usually on your way, and you just need to add max 2 hours to visit this delicate and beautiful rock formation. You can take amazing pictures there! And the hike is not very long. So make sure to add the Nautilius hike to your Utah itinerary or Arizona itinerary.

Also, if you are staying in Kanab (the nearest town to this rock formation), check out other Kanab attractions and hiking trails to have a perfect vacation.

My partner Chris and I made this hike during late fall. But the weather in November was still great for hiking. We share pictures that we took during this hike, which helps you find your own inspiration. Also we share our tips and insights from this hike.

What is The Nautilus Hike?

The Nautilus is a very fragile and delicate rock formation created by water and wind over the years of erosion in the sandstone. You will find this exciting formation on the edge of a small ravine close to the Paria River and not far from the famous The Wave, or Coyote Buttes South Hike.

You can even visit this place if you failed in the Wave lottery and enjoy a rippled surface texture reminding the conch shell. Because of this similarity, it is called The Nautilus.

the nautilus rock formation

Please be careful visiting this delicate rock formation. Try not to break or damage the rock. As we already mentioned, this is very close to The Wave and, fortunately, not that popular. However, if it gets more popular, it might be limited because the friability of this rock is similar to The Wave.

Photographic Opportunities during The Nautilus Hike Utah

The main reason to do the Nautilus Hike in Utah and visit this rock is the photographic opportunity. It looks great the whole day, but when you have a chance to visit in the early morning or late afternoon, you might have a chance to notice some red, orange, and yellow tones added to the gray sandstone that will make your pictures more alluring.

The best idea is to find a frame looking from the top and put someone inside The Nautilus. You can try to find proper shaping curves of the formation to create a unique composition.

Agnes Stabinska, the author, on the top of The Nautilus delicate rock formation carved by water.

The Nautilus Hike Utah – How to get there?


As we already mentioned, it’s not hard to find the hike traveling on the U.S. 89 road. Just find the Paria Ranger Station. Take the turn to the station direction and drive. From there, take the way to the White House trailhead. Drive this road about 1.5 miles and cross two washes (check the weather forecast to ensure the road is passable – it might not be in the flood season).

After the second wash, you will see a small parking lot just in front of you. It can accommodate two cars but is usually empty. Park your vehicle there.

From Kanab, you will turn on mile 44. From Page, it will be about 31 miles. In both cases, look for the sign for Paria Ranger Station and take that turn.

The Nautilus Hike

While you park your car, it’s time to hit the hike. The easiest way to get to The Nautilus is to follow the wash you just crossed before parking your vehicle. You have to go east/northeast. The rocks will have different colors, from yellow, to orange and red. But you are looking for a white formation that stands out.

It will be on the right side of the wash, and it’s really easy to miss it because of its small size. It will be about a mile walk from the parking lot.

The AllTrails application might be useful because it shows you the hike exactly, and if you follow it, you will reach your destination in about 20 minutes.

How to prepare for the Nautilus hike in Utah?

The hike is not very difficult from a technical perspective, so you don’t need to prepare in any particular way to get to The Nautilus. But the most important thing is to make sure there’s a good weather forecast (no rain and no flood risk) because you will be following the wash, and if it’s dry, it will be hard to get to this destination.

Agnes Stabinska, the author, sits on the orange rocks formations carved by water known as The Nautilus Hike.

The second important factor is to choose not a very hot day because on this hike you will not find any shade. You will be hiking in open terrain exposed to the sun, so prepare for that. The only shadow you will find in The Nautilus itself.

Fortunately, the hike is not too long, so a big bottle of water will be enough, even on a scorching summer day. But you can check our Day Hiking Packing List if you plan more hikes during your trip.

Where to stay while visiting the Nautilus Formation?

As we already mentioned, The Nautilus Hike in Utah is located close to the U.S. 89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT. So the best places to stay are in those two small towns.

They are an excellent base for exploring the Paria River and Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. They have great accommodations and restaurants with good food. Our favorite lodging in Kanab is Best Western. If you prefer RV Campground, our favorite in Kanab is Hitch-N-Post RV Park.

We also stayed at the Best Western in Page. They offer good quality at an affordable price. But there are many other lodging possibilities in Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona. Kanab is charming, so we highly recommend this town. You can check the prices below, which offer great discounts.

Chris Labanowski, co-founder of the Van Escape blog, is taking pictures of The Nautilus formation.

Other information while in the Nautilus hike area

You will usually not need 4WD to get to The Nautilus trailhead. Of course, the road is gravel, but usually passable even with a regular compact car. Of course, if it’s wet, you might need 4WD and high clearance, but in such a case, you don’t want to make this hike. It might be too risky.

You can also take your dog for the hike. It’s allowed even off-leash. The Nautilus is also free – you don’t need to pay any fee or get any permits.

You can combine this hike with Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos formations. It’s doable in a half day. Just check our tips. Moreover, if you are a fan of such rock formations, check out how to get to the amazing Cutler Cove near Kanab.

Other articles that cover nearby southern Utah area:


  1. I’m glad I found out about the Nautilus. We have been planning to go to Utah for a while now and I’ll make sure to add this beautiful rock formation to the list. Also good to know I could take my dog there too and it’s free to visit. 

  2. I’m completely in awe of this landscape. I’ve not heard of
    the Nautilus hike or the Paria Wilderness before, but both are firmly on my radar.It’s good to know that it’s not a long hike, and I’d be sure to keep an eye on the weather before visiting. A stunning location for adventure lovers!

  3. Great idea to
    add to a US road trip! Such a beautiful sight to have all to yourself without
    the crowds from The Wave.  And thanks for
    the photography tip of posing from the top and taking the picture from inside, I’m
    not very good at framing pictures so that’s definitely helpful. 

  4. The Landscape looks surreal.USA has such amazing Places and I am glad to know that hike is not much difficult.It looks stunning and good for a day’s adventure.Saving this post for my USA southwest trip.

  5. It is interesting to see your travel through Utah.  We were in the same area but got some very different experience.  I am living vicariously through your more adventurous trips.  We were very sorry we missed the Vermilion Cliffs and Paria Canyon when we were in the Page area.  We simply did not spent enough time there.   Nautilus certainly looks like it would have been worth a stop.  Good to know this hike is not too strenuous.  

  6. Amazing rock formations. Surprised to know that they are fragile. They should be protected from excessive exposure in that case. The possible photo opportunities are alluring. I would like to capture them in my lens.

  7. We are planning to visit USA two years from now after we explore more of Asia Pacific. It is lovely to learn about Nautilus from your experience and learning what to expect. It is also cool that is accessible for free to all!

  8. Nautilus looks like a great place to explore! The hike being fairly easy is a plus as well! I always enjoy viewing great and unique rock formations, and Nautilus looks like it is no exception! I would love spending a couple hours there taking some stunning landscape photos as well as some unique selfies. Thanks for sharing, I am glad I came across this as it is a destination I haven’t heard about before, but am definitely adding to my road trip bucket list. 

  9. These slot canyons in Page, which are unusual rock formations in Paria, looks very unique and hidden gem. If I go on the route US 89 between Kanab and Page then I would surely looks for these unique rocks. Even not missing the hidden gem of Paria Canyon – Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area – The Nautilus rock formation which is at a short distance from Utah is a great idea. You have given some wonderful ideas to admire the rock formations near Utah apart from the famous ones.

  10. I love hiking where it’s not too busy, so Paria Canyon looks perfect. I’m planning an Arizona road trip for this Fall with a night or 2 in Page, so I’ll be adding the Canyon to my list.

  11. Gosh those rock formations are GLORIOUS! Looks like Paria Canyon is often missed but I can see why you label it as a hidden gem. As you say, it looks super photogenic, glad we’re on digital and not back in the days of film – I’d have used up so many rolls of film!!!

  12. I am amazed by the landscape in Utah? How stunning are the rock formations! I have never heard of the Nautilus hike before but will make sure to note for the future. This place is amazing, thanks for sharing.

  13. This looks so cool. I am really surprised that more people have not discovered it. I just love how nature transforms our planet into such beautiful creations.

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