Kodachrome Basin State Park encompasses 4,000 acres in Southern Utah, just nine miles south of Cannonville. This park is part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. With its unusual formations of red sandstone, many visitors consider this a smaller version of Bryce Canyon National Park which is located nearby. The park was named in 1948 by the National Geographic Society after the popular color brand of film. The massive sandstone formations seem to change from red to grey and white as the light of the day changes.
The 67 monolithic stone chimneys located in Kodacrhome Basin State Park are estimated to be around 180 million years old. Geologists have surmised that the entire area used to be an ancient lake and the spires were formed from petrified ancient geysers. As the water receded the center of each geyser solidified due all the minerals in the water. The sand surrounding each geyser slowly eroded away over time, leaving these magnificent spires.
The park is open all year round. It sits at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet so in the summertime it will not feel as hot as some other attractions in Southern Utah. The park offers many short yet beautiful trails that are easy for novices, seniors and young children to navigate, but there are some more difficult trails for experienced hikers, too.
Likely the most popular trail in Kodachrome leads to a plateau called Angel’s Palace. If you are only at Kodachrome Basin State Park for one day, this is the trail you don’t want to miss. It’s advised you visit around sunset for stunning views of the surrounding canyon and watch the sandstone formations change color as the sunlight fades. From this plateau you will see most of the spires in the park spread out before you.
The most challenging trail in the park is Eagle’s View Trail. This is a steep and grueling trek with a 40% incline in some parts. Other stretches of the trail are very narrow and treacherous. However the amazing views make it worth it! You will find Eagle’s View Trail at the end of the park road. If you have a lot of time to explore check out Panorama Trail, which is the longest in the park. There are several spurs that break off from the main trail which can make for an interesting hike. If you take your time to explore, you can spend several hours looking at all the rock formations on this one trail alone.
Kodachrome Basin State Park makes a great home base for exploring many of the other natural attractions in this area. Within a short drive you will be able to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, Cottonwood Canyon Road, Skutumpah Road, Bull Valley Gorge, the Grosvenor Arch, Round Valley Draw, Willis Creek, and the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
Many visitors to Kodacrhome come back again and again because – unlike Bryce Canyon – the park is a well kept secret. Being smaller than the other parks it’s often overlooked, and as a result it’s peaceful and relaxing with few crowds. If you go during the off season it may feel as if you have the entire park to yourself. What Kodachrome Basin State Park lacks in size it more than makes up for in its quiet and solitude.
The park offers camping sites, each with a fire pit and grill, but they do not offer electric hookups. The campsites are set in a beautiful scenic basin with tall cliff walls on one end. Each site is incredibly large and private, and it’s so quiet you will likely not even be able to hear the people camping closest to you. Group camping sites are also available for up to 35 people.
The park also offers six cabins for rent. These also offer breathtaking views right from your front porch. The cabins do not have TV or phones, but offer all the kitchen appliances you’ll need to make yourself comfortable. They are fitted with heating and air conditioning units and can be rented year-round. There is also an outdoor grill and fire pit.
The staff keeps the shared facilities very clean, which include free hot showers and modern bathrooms. Visitors will also find a small store to buy ice and groceries.
For more information on this hidden jewel, visit Kodacrhome Basin State Park’s official website: http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/kodachrome.