Ann insisted we go to Toadstool Geologic Park on our Nebraska trip because it was such an incredible and unique place.  As we rounded the bend into Crawford, Ann reminded me that we had a 19-mile ride on a bumpy road to get to Toadstool.  I decided then and there that it would be best if we stopped at the local C-store to use the restroom before our adventure began.

Once inside, I thought I’d firm up what I knew about the directions to the park.  It was then that a friendly rancher overheard us and told us the usual route was closed because they are replacing a bridge and they need to hurry up because they are taking way too long so we would have to take an extensive detour.  As I asked questions, the rancher showed a little “Nebraska Nice” and offered to lead us on one of the detours.  As he talked, though, he realized he wasn’t quite going all the way to Toadstool so suggested we should go over the the Crawford Visitors’ Center by “that caboose just over there,” for more complete details.

We hopped in the car and made the 15-second drive over to the caboose and saw a lady watering the flowers along the sidewalk leading to the center.  She led us inside, gave us a map of the detour and said she wasn’t sure which of the two possible routes would be easiest but the one to the south would be more well traveled.  The map was a good one, and very clear, so the stop was definitely worth it.

If you are going to go to Toadstool, be ready for a long, difficult drive–especially with the detour that’s in place.  On that south route, you’ll go up hills and down dales, around corners and over washboard dirt and gravel roads.  All that being said, you should know that the drive is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever taken–around each of those bends is a view even prettier than the one before.  Simply breathtaking and well worth the trip!  One more lesson that sometimes detours are little gifts given to us by life.

After the long drive, you’ll finally arrive at the park entrance, your head spinning from all the beautiful sights you’ve seen.  The park has spaces for about six campers and has two modern (but not plumbed) outhouses.  The day we went, there was only one other group, so we really enjoyed the solitude.  At the entrance you need to put your daily use fee in an envelope and drop it in the metal tube–I think it was $3 –which turned out to be three of the best dollars I’ve ever spent in my life. Leave your car, and hop on the one-mile looping trail through the park.  The first quarter mile is universally accessible.  You’ll see some interesting formations at the end of that quarter mile–huge rocks propped up at impossible angles.  You’ll take photos of these phenomena, think they’re neat, but wonder why we raved so much about this place.

Some of the many unique rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. Steve (who is 6'4") is in the picture for scale. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Some of the many unique rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. Steve (who is 6’4″) is in the picture for scale. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Huge rocks standing at impossible angles at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Huge rocks standing at impossible angles at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

The real treat comes when you follow the trail through the rest of the park.  It is not an easy trail, but it is definitely worth taking.  You’ll walk along dry creek beds (unless it’s been raining), and climb up and over crazy rocks that give you the feeling that you are on the moon.  You’ll cross chasms, and skirt along small cliffs (nothing too dangerous, although you can imagine it is at the time).  You’ll do all this to see some of the most amazing, unique geology you’ve ever seen.

A "toadstool" at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A “toadstool” at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

You’ll see large rocks standing at impossible angles, or rocks hanging in the air, supported by only a thin column of dirt (these are the “Toadstools” because that’s what they look like).  This looks like stuff in Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons.  Near the end of the mile-long loop trail, your wife will tell you she’s going back to the car the way you came because she’s lost all confidence that you know where you’re going.  It’s about then that you’ll look up and, with a smile, tell your wife you can see your car.

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

When we left, we took the northerly detour route. This is a much easier drive, and while the views were beautiful, they weren’t quite what we saw on the southerly route.   When you get there, check in with the visitors’ center in Crawford as the main road may be open again.  Even if it is, though, you might consider taking the southern detour route for its sheer beauty.  Plan 2-3 hours for your visit which includes drive time to and from Crawford.

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Toadstool Geologic Park is a place you should plan to go if you are ever within 200 miles.  It is incredible, beautiful and unlike anything you’ve ever seen anywhere else.  It is worth the drive to get there and definitely worth leaving I-80 to find. It is also #2 on our list of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.  If you go there, you’ll know why.

  • A chic, swanky boutique hotel, located in a renovated Middle School, @hotelgrinnell offers guests comfortable accommodations as well as great food and drink options. With a full auditorium, and a ballroom in the former gym, this hotel is perfect for anything from a weekend getaway to a major event. We had the opportunity to stay in the hotel on a hosted visit, and wrote a blog post about our stay. See the link in our bio.
  • On the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, there is a point where you round a bend and see this view, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. ⁣
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
  • The Grinnell, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce offices are located in a former bank designed by famed architect, Louis Sullivan. The architect built a series of "Jewel Box" banks, called that because they resemble jewel boxes.⁣
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
  • In downtown Kearney, Nebraska, you'll find @mccuesnebraskataproom, home to all sorts of Nebraska libations. When you visit, you can choose from a large selection of beers, wines, and even liquors all made in Nebraska. It's a fun environment where regulars welcome visitors, and fun is had by all. We look forward to going back one day and know that a visit to McCue's will be a part of our visits to Kearney in the future. ⁣
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
  • While looking for a coffee shop in @visitkearney, we stumbled into a really cool store. @elevate.people is a locally owned business specializing in both leather goods and in helping people around the world build better lives for themselves. ⁣
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
  • After a day of tests and appointments at the Mayo Clinic, this was a perfect place to relax and unwind.⁣
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.

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