Kodachrome Basin State Park: a small natural Utah masterpiece

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Many are ready to swear that a tour of Utah without a pit stop in the small and unknown Kodachrome Basin State Park is a missed opportunity. And we - who love to find small natural paradises hidden in the folds of the maps of the United States, especially in the West Coast - could not miss the opportunity to talk about it in detail, because we always hope that even just one of the readers of ForTravelAdviceLovers, thanks to our reports, can visit an unforgettable place that otherwise would not have even suspected the existence. We did this with another nearby park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and we won't stop!

But let's go and answer a few questions. Where is the Kodachrome Basin State Park? How to insert it in a tour of the West Coast, perhaps as an intermediate stop between the various classic national parks? What to expect from a few hours' stay on the short trails of this little Utah gem?

Where is Kodachrome Basin State Park located?

Il Kodachrome Basin State Park - which has been named since 1948 courtesy of Kodak Film Corp - is located in Utah south-central, 11 km from the small town of Cannonville, and not more than half an hour from the entrance of the much better known and beaten national park of Bryce Canyon. The address is: 2905 S. Kodachrome State Park Rd.

Since it is very likely that the visit of the Kodachrome is thought of in combination with that of the Bryce (usually as an intermediate stop before Capitol Reef) here's how to reach this small state park coming from the north.

  • Leaving Bryce along UT-63 heading north, all you have to do is turn right and take the beautiful UT-12 Scenic Byway, continuing east. The road will offer the same panorama you have enjoyed so far - green woods framed by rocks between white and bright red - it will take you to meet the town of Tropic (which we talked about in the article where to sleep in Bryce) and then, after 8 km, the equally tiny Cannonville. Continuing on UT-12, you would arrive at Capitol Reef via Boulder and the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument; instead you have to take Main Street that cuts Cannonville in half, and continue: as soon as you have passed the last houses in the town, you will find yourself on Kodachrome Road. Cross the bridge and continue for another 6,5 km. On the left you will find the Kodachrome State Park Road, which will take you straight to the Visitor Center, where you will pay the small entrance fee ($ 8, not worth the parks card).
La Road 400: only the brave!

For those who come from the south, there is a road that, on closer inspection, could be really convenient to reach the Kodachrome coming from Page… but under certain conditions. Let's see which ones.

  • Usually, to reach the Bryce (and therefore the Kodachrome continuing south-east) from Page the comfortable and asphalted US 89 is used: in about 2.35 h you will arrive at the park. But there is another way, the infamous road 400, a unpaved scenic road which - taken about 16 km after Big Water on US 89 - crosses the whole area around the Paria River and comes out right at the entrance of the Kodachrome Basin State Park. Travel times from Page to Bryce via Road 400 (in the century Cottonwood Canyon Road) are more or less the same, but the number of km is halved! This makes you understand that you will have to arm yourself with a lot of patience and above all an adequate 4 × 4 vehicle, avoiding the undertaking of traveling this route when the ground is wet.

What to expect from the Kodachrome?

The proximity to Bryce Canyon gives us the key to understanding what to expect from visiting this park colorful: towering pinnacles, monolithic spiers, soaring "chimneys", sandstone buildings that imperiously dominate vast rock dunes of a thousand colors (from red to yellow to white) and a great variety of boulders with surreal shapes that stand out clearly in the blue sky, changing color according to the phases of the day… a type of landscape that can be reminiscent of the equally hidden Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona. So bring your cameras... even the name of the park tells you!

In addition to this, the small size and the relatively dislocated position of the Kodachrome mean that the presence of tourists is very low compared to the other large parks of Utah: it goes without saying that, in a context silent and lonely, the excursions along the short and agile paths are decidedly more fascinating.

How to visit it? The trails available

The best way to visit the Kodachrome is to choose a couple of agile trails and follow them in total tranquility, letting yourself be struck by the imaginative nature of the places and its magnificent colors: to visit it can also be enough only 2 hours. Some of the roads that you have to travel to reach the start of the trails are dirt roads, but they are still passable, unless the ground conditions are prohibitive due to rain or snow: inquire at the Visitor Center before venturing recklessly.

Nature trail

This short trail (0,8 km) is located just before a camping area, and is equipped with information panels: you can read an introduction to the flora, fauna and geology of the park. We could define it a path a bit ... didactic!

Angel’s Palace Trail

The most popular trail in the park is around 2.5km long - reaching an elevation of just 45m, it looks like a fairly easy hike. The path offers the possibility to see the hoodoos reddish typical of the area, as well as presenting beautiful observation points of the basin.

Eagle View Trail

At the ring closure of the asphalted road, just past the camping area in the north, you will find the start of this beautiful path which, in just half a kilometer, reaches an elevation (152 meters) such as to offer a nice panorama over the whole area of ​​the park… from the point of view of an eagle!

Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel Trail

Shakespeare Arch, the only natural arch in the park, is located on the Sentinel Trail: you will reach the starting point of the trail by car, about 2.5 km east of the Visitor Center. The trail is 2.7 km long and, in addition to taking you under the majestic red rock arch, it will offer you some splendid landscapes of the immense Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, adjacent to the Kodachrome.

Grand Parade Trail

Covering much of the park's eastern side, the Grand Parade Trail it winds along the base of the natural basin: you can therefore walk along the 2.4 km of the path with your nose up, looking here and there in search of the most vertiginous pinnacles. Along the path you will also see the access of two box canyons.

Panorama Trail

The western side of the park is instead crossed by the Panorama Trail, a slightly more demanding hike but full of unmissable geological features along the way (the absurd Secret Passage, Hat Shop, Ballerina Spire, see gallery). You can decide to walk this circular path for about 5 or 10 km depending on the time you have available. The start of the trail is located shortly after the Visitor Center. In addition to the classic trekking, a horseback riding tour organized by Red Canyon Trail Rides is also available on this trail.

Spire ballerina
Has shop

For those who love natural arches ...

Grosvenor Arch Utah

If you do not have time to reach Arches and are curious to see some natural arches, in addition to the aforementioned Shakespeare Arch, you can list the visit of the Grosvenor Arch, a stupendous double arch of white rock a little outside the park, belonging to the north-western region of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Il Grosvenor Arch it can be reached by going east along a stretch (about 16 km) of the aforementioned Cottonwood Canyon Road, the dirt road that, starting from the junction with the Kodachrome State Park Road, then leads to Page. From the Grosvenor Arch Parking Lot (fairly signposted and equipped with toilets) it is necessary to take a short walk, which will take you right under the splendid natural arch.

Where to sleep?

What a location for Cannonville!

In fact, given its nature as a small secret and little known park, one could consider the Kodachrome Basin State Park as a unique, wonderful camping area under the stars: many of the visitors decide to stay overnight in one of the two campgrounds located in the park, to enjoy the spectacle of the starry sky above the pinnacles and rock palaces. Alternatively, you can decide to find accommodation in Tropic, Cannonville or Henrieville, or in one of the locations indicated in the article "where to sleep at Bryce".

All accommodation available near the Kodachrome

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