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Utah's Hidden Gem: Kodachrome Basin State Park

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Kodachrome Basin State Park is one of Utah's truly under-rated gems. Located in Cannonville, and surrounded on three sides by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - Kodachrome Basin State Park was utterly breathtaking and blew our minds with it's beauty! In 1948, the National Geographic Society explored and photographed the area and named it Kodachrome Flat after Kodak film which was known for it's bright vibrant colors. In 1962, the area became a state park - and wow what a park this is! The park is dominated by 67 monolithic spires and offers numerous trails that wind their way thru this stunning landscape. We spent half a day taking in this beautiful area and recommend that anyone passing thru Southern Utah should make time for this lesser known gem!

Looking over the colorful rock formations found in Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Overlooking Kodachrome Basin State Park from Angel's Palace Trail

TABLE ON CONTENTS


 

THE SPIRES

Part of the fun of visiting Kodachrome Basin State Park is just to drive along the main road through the park and view the many different spires. Many of the 67 sandstone pipes that dot this park can be seen along the main road - although if you have the time, pick a hiking trail and spend some time getting up close with these unique rock formations. It is actually believed that this area once resembled Yellowstone and that the spires we see today are from the ancient geysers and hot springs that used to fill the area. Scientists believe these geysers and hot springs filled in and solidified, while the sandstone around them eventually eroded away leaving the spires we now see today.





 



ANGEL'S PALACE TRAIL

With a quick few hours to visit this beautiful park - we choose to spend most of our time hiking the 1.5 mile Angel's Palace Trail. This is one of the more popular trails within the park and it's easy to see why - the views from the top were incredible! With a slight gain in elevation - about 150 feet in total, you will hike to the top of the butte and will be provided with outstanding views out over the colorful rock formations, pipes and spires of Kodachrome Basin State Park. Once atop the butte, the trail will lead you around the butte and includes a couple short spur trails that lead to outstanding views. The spur trail overlooks were our favorite part of the hike and added an element of excitement as the pencil-thin overlooks drop 100+ feet on each side - those that are scared of heights should probably avoid these areas and if you are hiking with children - hang onto them! Hiking with our 3 year old along these narrow ridges was a little scary but boy what a cool experience!


 

CHIMNEY ROCK

To see the largest spire in the park - head down the rough dirt road that is located just past the visitor center to view Chimney Rock. Standing at about 170 feet tall, this is the largest of the 67 sand pipes found throughout the park and is quite impressive. While there isn't much to do besides take a few pictures - it's worth a quick stop to check out this behemoth!

A giant single spire named Chimney Rock towers above the ground in Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah.
The behemoth - Chimney Rock - standing 170 feet tall!


 


GROSVENOR ARCH

For anyone that loves to visit natural arches, located close-by is an absolutely stunning arch that is worth a quick detour. After visiting Kodachrome Basin State Park - drive another 10 miles down the unpaved Cottonwood Canyon Road and you will come to the spectacular Grosvenor Arch. Located within the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the arch was named for Gilbert Grosvenor who was one of the Presidents of National Geographic Magazine. The arch itself is actually two different arches that tower 150 feet above the ground and are truly jaw-dropping! For an up-close view of the arch, walk the quick paved 0.25 mile trail. Grosvenor Arch is one arch you will not soon forget and is worth the extra drive time down the bumpy dirt road! Want to explore more of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument? Click Here to read more about what to do and see within this amazing park.

Looking at the large arch towering overhead against the blue skies at Grosvenor Arch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Well worth the extra drive! Stunning Grosvenor Arch!

 

Interested in planning your own trip to Kodachrome Basin State Park? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!


Spend a half day at Kodachrome Basin State Park: Visitor Center, drive along the main road viewing the various spires, hike Angel’s Palace Trail (1.5 miles), drive dirt road to see Chimney Rock then drive Cottonwood Canyon Rd in Grand Staircase-Escalanate National Monument to Grosvenor Arch (about 30 minute drive from Kodachrome Basin).

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