Utah officials have confirmed the Cobra Rock formation broke and tumbled to the ground. Although nobody witnessed the incident, authorities believe the formation was damaged during “a series of storms.”
Cobra Rock was one of many rock pedestals, or hoodoos, which are found in the Fisher Towers Recreation Site. The formation was nicknamed “The Cobra,” as it resembled a snake with a flared hood.
Although hoodoos are somewhat common throughout Utah, their appearance is quite unusual.
Hoodoos are composed of numerous layers of sedimentary rock, which are distinct in their composition and color. As discussed by the Utah Geological Survey, each layer is unique. However, the common component is sandstone.
As the lower and middle layers are composed of softer rock, they erode faster than the uppermost layers. It is estimated that the hoodoos in the Fisher Towers region took millions of years to form. The Cobra Rock formation was a majestic example of a classic hoodoo.
Hoodoos are distinguished from other formations, as they often have a cap rock — which appears to balance on a lower spire. Unfortunately, the rocks can be as fragile as they appear.
In October, 2013, two men purposefully toppled a 70 million-year-old hoodoo at Goblin Valley State Park. The story gained national attention, as the men filmed their destructive behavior.
As reported by National Geographic, the men argued that the rock appeared to be unstable. They said they toppled the rock to prevent a future accident.
Although hoodoos may be easy to topple, they are often protected by state and federal laws. In most states, destruction of a natural formation is considered a criminal offense.
Megan Crandall, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management, said the Cobra Rock formation did not appear to be “in immediate danger of toppling.” Crandall said the rock was not “teetering or tottering” prior to the series of storms.
As reported by ABC News, the formation was often the subject of April Fools’ Day jokes. Although residents often joked about the rock breaking, they were stunned when it actually happened.
Cobra Rock was popular among rock climbers, as it was easily accessible. Thankfully nobody was hurt when the rock broke away and fell.
While the cap rock toppled to the ground, the Cobra Rock formation’s spire remains intact. Although the rock has lost its iconic appearance, it will certainly maintain its value as a natural wonder.