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Kodachrome Basin State Park for A Quick Visit

A visit to Utah’s Kodachrome Basin State Park, even for a day, is definitely worth doing, especially with some particularly lovely hiking trails. It’s also a great place to visit if you’re into photography, mountain biking or even just camping. Geologists will love the park.

We hadn’t planned to visit Kodachrome Basin State Park but then a few photographs in coffee table type books caught my eye at the B&B we stayed at near Bryce Canyon. I knew we had to go, if even for a few hours.

The 12 miles of trails are mostly easy and almost deserted as most people seem to have eyes only for Bryce Canyon National Park.

With just five trails, you could in theory knock all of them off in one visit to the park. We did the 6 mile Panorama Trail that took us through washes, into canyons and past some very interesting geologic formations including Big Bear Spire, Ballerina Spire and into the aptly named Cool Cave.

Other hikes include the easy 1.5 mile Grand Parade Trail, the easy but popular 1.5 mile Angel’s Palace Trail, the 0.5 mile accessible Nature Trail and the 1.7 mile Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel Trail. Unfortunately the Shakespeare Arch collapsed in April 2019.

How the park got its name

Kodachrome Basin State Park was named for the colour film by visiting members of the 1948 National Geographic Society. It wasn’t a park yet but the name stuck.

The 2,241 acre park is filled with beautifully coloured, multi-hued sandstone formations and unique structures known as sand pipes, not found anywhere else in the world. 

Red rock scenery in every direction in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Red rock scenery in every direction in Kodachrome Basin State Park

Count the spires 

There are 76 of these monolithic stone spires – representing 180 million years of geologic time. It is believed that they were underground springs or geysers (like you might see in Yellowstone) which filled with calcite rich sediment and cemented over time.

The softer sandstone around the pipes eroded, leaving behind what you see today – sand pipes, chimneys and petrified geysers.

Beautiful landscape on the drive to Kodachrome Basin State Park
Beautiful landscape on the drive to Kodachrome Basin State Park

Here’s a look at the scenery on The Panorama Trail – the one hike we did in Kodachrome Basin State Park.

The start and finishing point of our hike
The start and finishing point of our hike
Spectacular rock formations in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Spectacular rock formations 
A fat spire
A fat spire
Slickrock sandstone
Slickrock sandstone
Incredible texture of rocks
Incredible texture of rocks
Directions to Cool Cave
Directions to Cool Cave
Inside the Cool Cave in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Inside the Cool Cave
Close-up of cryptobiotic soil - the stuff you should NEVER walk on
Close-up of cryptobiotic soil – the stuff you should NEVER walk on
"Markings in the sandstone"
Markings in the sandstone – looks like fingers but ???
Big views and stormy skies in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Big views and stormy skies
Gorgeous landscape in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Gorgeous landscape in Kodachrome State Park
The view from Panorama Point
The view from Panorama Point
"Photos of a flash flood that occurred in the park"
Photos of a flash flood that occurred in the park

Kodachrome Basin State Park – useful information for a visit

It’s $10 per vehicle for a day use pass.

The park is open from 6 AM until 10 PM daily.

Overnight camping is an option -with and without hook-ups. Without a hookup it’s $25.night.

The park is located nine miles south of the town of Cannonville off of Highway 12.

Things to do near Kodachrome Basin

Visit Bryce Canyon National Park, a 30 minute drive away. If you have a full day in the park I highly recommend hiking the Fairyland Loop Trail.

Drive the Burr Trail, one of the most scenic byways in Utah. It eventually takes you all the way to Capitol Reef National Park but you don’t have to drive that far to enjoy the views. 

Try some canyoneering in Grand Staircase National Monument. The day we spend hiking through slot canyons remains one of the most exciting adventures I’ve ever done – and one of them most rewarding.

Visit the impressive Grosvenor Arch, a unique double arch, situated 150 feet above the surrounding landscape. It is only 10 miles southeast of the park.

Further reading on things to do in Utah

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A visit to Kodachrome State Park in Utah

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. You hike in the most beautiful places, Leigh – the photos are stunning! I thought the handprints were fossil markings – it sure would be interesting to know what they actually are.

  2. You always manage to make me want to grab the hiking boots and follow in your footsteps (at least on these types of hikes 😉 ) Still don’t think I could have followed you into the canyon! Beautiful shots.

  3. Slickrock sandstone looks beautiful. Those markings in the sandstone, I really thought they were fingerprints until I read it was not. Wonder how it got there. The view from Panorama Point is beautiful, and other photos too.

  4. Beautiful photos of another awesome hike, Leigh! I have never heard of Kodachrome Basin before and it’s interesting how close it is to Bryce. Those spires and rock art are all fascinating but I would love to see those finger markings in the sandstone and find out what they are. Unfortunately, the Zion/Bryce trip isn’t happening this weekend but I can now add this to the list when we get there.

  5. I belive those hand markings are modern era tourists just playing around. The rock is incredibly soft and I think it is a case of monkey see monkey do.

  6. I belive those hand markings are modern era tourists just playing around. The rock is incredibly soft and I think it is a case of monkey see monkey do.

  7. I would have guessed the centre of Australia, or perhaps Jordan. Beautiful, especially that almost surreal shade of red. Must have been a magical place to hike!

  8. I love Utah! When we were there this summer, I just found so many national parks and state parks that I had so much fun exploring. Looks like you are enjoying them too!

  9. Nifty shots. Looks a little bit like the Painted Desert in Northern Arizona.

    In Utah, I’ve been to Bryce, Capitol Reef (which I highly recommend visiting), Lake Powell, Natural Bridges National Monument, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Goblin Valley State Park and Coral Pink Sands State Park. It’s probably the most scenic state in the entire Western U.S.

    1. @Dick I went o Capital Reef with my kids school one year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We got a bit of this via a back entrance on the Burr Road on this trip. I haven’t heard of Coral Pink Sans Park but will check it out next time I’m in Utah – which is hopefully in the next year or two.

    1. @Jan Isn’t that Ballerina Spire something? I was actually excited to see all the cool rock formations. My husband says the markings are modern day humans though I’d like to believe otherwise.

  10. I imagined they were toes and feet. Basin State Park is really stunning; it gave you some pretty amazing shots, Leigh.
    I’d never heard of a park named after a company, wonder how that happened.

  11. We stumbled across this park a few years ago. Can’t believe we hadn’t heard of it before that! It was incredible, and incredibly empty even though it was Memorial Day weekend when we were there. Great photos and write up–makes me want to return to the park!

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