After driving Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 through much of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and wrapping up our adventures at Bryce Canyon National Park, we spent a day exploring a couple other nearby attractions: Kodachrome Basin State Park and Grosvenor Arch.
Located between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and surrounded by the majestic Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Kodachrome Basin State Park is a 2,240 acre Utah state park packed with tall sand spires and boldly colored cliffs.
The park sits located on the Colorado Plateau, an uplifted region that covers much of the four corners area of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Within the park, the exposed formations range from the middle Jurassic Period (180 million years ago) to the Cretaceous Period (95 million years ago).
Kodachrome Basin State Park is famous for its 67 towering stone spires and unique landscape that once resembled that of Yellowstone National Park. The stone spires, also called sand pipes and chimney rocks, are thought to be remnants of solidified sediment that filled the ancient geysers.
When we drove into the park, we got a map of the park, stopped at the small visitor center, and planned out our visit. Activities at Kodachrome Basin State Park include horseback riding, stargazing, photography, camping, wildlife viewing, and hiking. The park has several trails, including:
- The Shakespeare Arch Trail is an easy, 0.25 mile trail (one way) to the natural Shakespeare Arch. NOTE: Shakespeare Arch collapsed in April 2019.
- The Nature Loop Trail is an easy, 0.5 mile, hardsurface, ADA accessible trail that begins near the Basin Campground at the north end of the park. It has interpretive signs along the trail that provides an introduction to the plants, animals, and geology found within Kodachrome Basin.
- The Grand Parade Trail is a scenic 1.5 mile trail that stays on the floor of the Basin and provides access to two box canyons.
- Angel’s Palace Trail is a 1.5-mile trail that rises 150 feet above the basin floor and delivers magnificent views of Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon, and the surrounding area.
- Panorama Trail, on the western side of the park, offers views of several sedimentary pipes and interesting geological features like Cool Cave, Secret Passage, and The Hat Shop. It can be done as a 3.0 mile or a 6.0 mile loop.
Our visit started with a drive out to Chimney Rock.
We set out east on a gravel road to find the largest spire in the park, measuring 170 feet tall. A wide open grassy meadow surrounds Chimney Rock and a herd of cows were grazing nearby, which made snapping our photos even more fun! After a quick snack in the shade of Chimney Rock, we hopped back in the car to follow another gravel road south the the Shakespeare Arch Trail and a hike out to the only natural stone arch in the park. Finally, we drove through the park to check out the campground, horseback riding concessionaire, more rock formations, and walk the Nature Loop Trail.
In about half a day, we were able to see the best of Kodachrome Basin and couldn’t wait to drive out to Grosvenor Arch too!
How Kodachrome Got Its Name
The park was initially named Chimney Rock State Park. During a 1949 photography expedition, the National Geographic Society was inspired by the basin’s color and beauty and nicknamed the area Kodachrome Flat after Kodak’s color film. Later, in 1962, with permission from the Kodak Corporation, the park was officially renamed Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Know Before You Go
- Kodachrome Basin State Park is located about 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park in Cannonville, Utah 84718 in Kane County. To reach the park, travel west on Scenic Byway 12 to Cannonville, then head south for 9.0 miles on Cottonwood Canyon Road.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park sits at 5,800 feet elevation.
- The park is open year-round from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily with no holiday closures. Check for road conditions prior to heading out.
- Admission fees are $8.00 per vehicle and $4.00 per vehicle for Utah seniors, as well as $75.00 per annual pass and $35.00 per senior annual pass.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park has a campground with cabins and 47 tent and RV campsites. Amenities include restrooms, showers, a picnic pavilion, and a convenience store.
- Hike only on designated trails. Hiking off trail can damage fragile desert plant life and soils, and increase erosion and runoff. One footprint can destroy decades of growth.
- The park has warm, sunny summers and mild winters that make visiting a fantastic experience during any season.
- Pets must be kept on leash at all times. Please clean up after your pet.
- If you’re going to drive out to Kodachrome Basin, you should also plan to visit nearby Grosvenor Arch, a giant, natural stone, double arch. Grosvenor Arch is located about nine miles southeast on Cottonwood Canyon Road just a quarter mile off the road.