A Hidden Wonder in Kodachrome Basin State Park

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Twenty miles and three thousand feet beyond the crowds and lines of Bryce Canyon, lies Kodachrome State Park. Hidden by three walls with several hoodoos standing as sentinels, this little park is little known and little visited. I stayed at this gem one lonely weekend in late October.

Dwarfed by its more popular cousin Bryce to the north, this place seemed occupied by two kinds of people: those who stumbled on it accidentally and those who stumbled on it years ago and kept coming back. I will be coming back. Named for its photographic beauty by the National Geographic Society, bring a nice camera with tons of memory.

The campground is small so make reservations during peak visiting seasons. The campground puts the national parks to shame. The spots are spacious and nestled in the junipers and cottonwoods giving privacy. Hot showers are a welcome treat after sloshing through a few slot canyons.

Bryce Canyon can be done in a day, making this a great base camp for the surrounding areas.

Several trails crisscross the park and many more are within a few miles drive.

Angel’s Palace Trail

Angel’s Palace and Grand Parade Trail: These trails are an easy introduction to the park. They’re short hikes that take you into the small alcoves of rock and up on top for photographic vistas. Hike them as a warm up during the sunrise for the best time shot.

Hat Shop, Kodachrome State Park (the small rocks perched on the cliff deposited by flash floods are what gives this its name)

Panorama Trail: If you’re a hiker, mountain biker, or on horseback hit this trail. This six-mile loop passes spires, the Hat Shop (several rocks placed by flash foods line the rock walls), and Cool Cave (a short slot). Many slots don’t allow mountain bikes so it makes for an extra special trip (you’d better be able to bike through some sand). Despite all the travelers allowed on this trail, we saw no other hikers on a Saturday morning.


Shakespeare Arch: Please forgive my photo of this arch. The light is best at sunset but I had to visit it at sunrise. This is a short .4 mile hike to the arch with an optional longer route back. It’s a quick trip but fun and worth the few mile drive on dirt roads. It’s a short route for coming back in the dark after a sunset shot.

Surrounding this park are several great trails and beautiful scenic spots, Willis Canyon, Grovesnor Arch, and Bull Valley Gorge.

Warning: This is flash flood country. Floods can form in a second, making the most benign trail deadly. A few weeks before my trip, a flood took out the main road on the way to the park. The roads to many of the surrounding trails are dirt and in a rainstorm unpassable. Check at the visitors’ center in the park and in Cannonville for a list when the roads were last maintained. On good days, they can be done in a car.

Second Warning: This is Beuford and she apparently owns the road between Cannonville and Kodachrome. We had stop for her to cross no less than three times. She can be quite a surprise in the dark, Drive slowly.

For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!

Lost Gorge Mystery Series

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