Articles/Mushroom rocks: Unique rock formations

Mushroom rocks: Unique rock formations

"الموائد الصخرية" تراث طبيعي يميز مناطق المملكة

08 MAY 2021

Source: Nesreen Omran

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is rich in distinctive geological landmarks that attract visitors all year round. One of these famous features found throughout the country are the unique mushroom-shaped rock formations that have attracted global attention. Also called a rock pedestal, these are naturally occurring features typically formed by wind erosion.

Sandstone layers

Mushroom rocks are geomorphological formations widely spread in sedimentary areas. They are full of sandstone layers that can be broken down by climatic factors, especially in northern Saudi Arabia. In some cases, harder rock layers are arranged horizontally over softer ones, resulting in such erosion.  

Formation

Geologist Abdullah Al-Shammari explained that mushroom rocks are a wonderful natural phenomenon usually formed as a result of the erosion of sedimentary layers over millions of years. The remaining part of these layers is exposed again to wind, resulting in the lower parts of the layer breaking down more quickly.

100 mushroom rocks

Explorer Saleh Al-Ghofaili said there are over 100 mushroom rocks in the Kingdom and he has managed to visit around 90 of these. He singled out Umm Raqba rock located in the north of Harrat Aweerid as the most beautiful one he has witnessed.  

Notable mushroom rocks in the Kingdom include:

Umm Raqba rock, north Harrat Aweerid
Sharth rock, east of Al-Ula



Hills of Al-Lama rock, north of Al-Fara'a
Hills of Al-Gal rock, east of Al-Ula
Kabd Mountains rock, southeast of Tayma
Al Sad hills rock, southwest of Al-Shamli
Wasit Mountains rock, east of Tathleeth

Khabt Al-Tamatheel rock, north of Al-Ula
Umm Raqaiba rock, east of Abu Raka 
Sanamah Mountains rock, southwest of Wadi Al-Dawasir

Other rock formations

There are other prominent rock formations in the Kingdom that are beautiful in their own right, including:

  • The Elephant Rock in Al-Ula, a giant formation with a height of approximately 50 meters. As the name suggests, it resembles a giant elephant consisting of a huge body and a trunk hanging down to the ground.
  • Desert obelisks are a rocky phenomenon similar to that of the mushroom rocks, except that they occur within thin rocks – the upper parts of the rock have eroded while its lower parts remain untouched, ensuring it looks like an obelisk.
  • Rock towers are formed by masses consisting of layers with varying hardness. The winds are able to carve out their soft rock layers, ensuring the formation appears as belts between the solid layers and giving it a tower shape.
  • The Arch of Al-Dabbous, approximately 60 kilometers north of Al-Ula, is an arc-shaped rock formation.
  • Al-Mahajah Mountain, west of Hail, features exquisite terrain and is one of the most famous places where pilgrims from the Levant used to rest – hence its name.

Photos by: Saleh Al-Ghofaili