Utah

Hiking in Utah’s Kodachrome Basin

While Utah is well-known for its Mighty Five National Parks, the state is also home to 45 State Parks. We visited Kodachrome Basin State Park while on our first Socially Distant Local Road Trip of the pandemic.   Bryce Canyon National Park was our primary destination, but I wanted an alternate afternoon locale to escape the anticipated midday Saturday crowds in Bryce.  Kodachrome Basin is located only 30 minutes from Bryce Canyon, making it a logical choice. Its unusual rock formations and towering multi-colored cliffs make it a great reason to visit.

The park was named Kodachrome Basin by the National Geographic Society – after receiving permission from Kodak Film Corp – due to its vibrant colors.  But the Park’s best known features are its monolithic spires called sedimentary pipes.  Nearly 70 of these unusual formations can be found throughout the Park. 

A view across Kodachrome Basin from the top of Angel's Palace

Because we only had a few hours to spend here, I stopped at the small visitors center to consult with the Ranger for hiking advice. Kodachrome Basin offers 5 different hiking trails of different lengths and intensity.  The longest is the 6-mile Panorama Trail.  The easiest is the Nature Trail – a flat half mile.  We opted for something in between –  the Angel’s Palace Trail.  This hike is 1.5 miles long and ultimately circles along the top of a broad rocky sandstone ledge, 150 feet above the basin floor. Here you’ll find commanding 360 degree views out across the entirety of Kodachrome Basin.

The Angel Palace Trail Hike in Kodachrome Basin

After leaving the small visitors center, we drove northward a few miles to the trail’s parking lot.  Along the way, we passed through red rock spires and spotted our first Pipe – a tall white cylinder that stands out strikingly from the red rock surrounding it.  There are several spots to pull over and photograph these unusual formations.

A white sedimentary pipe near the entrance to Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah
I won’t state the obvious…… It is a really cool rock formation though

Before long, we arrived at the joint parking lot for the Nature Trail and the Angel’s Palace Trail.  While the Nature Trail starts at the parking lot, we had to search a little harder to find the Angel’s Palace trailhead. Ultimately, we found the marker located across the street.

The Angel’s Palace trail quickly took us into a small ravine, and then up along the sandstone, to the broad rocky ledge.  On top, the trail follows a circular path with varied viewpoints of the Park’s north and eastward plateau walls, and down into the basin below. There are several narrow outcroppings that offer an opportunity for height-phobics like myself to test our mettle – especially on windy days like we experienced.  But, the views out across and down to the basin floor below, were worth the anxiety.  

Here are my photos from this hike:

The beginning of the Angel's Palace Trail
At the start of the trail – we will ultimately be on top of the sandstone to the right
Sandstone rock formations on the Angel's Palace trail in Kodachrome Basin
Now on top. Looking towards the northward cliffs
A scene from the Angel's Palace Trail
The Thorough Tripper standing on a narrow rocky outcropping along the Angel's Palace Trail in Kodachrome Basin
Narrow outcropping of rock with a long drop on either side. It’s really windy up here. My knees are weak. It’s even scarier where Mrs. Thorough Tripper is standing to take the picture. I warily walked out there too 🙂
Red and white rock features in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Looking down off the the sandstone ledge into the basin floor below along the Angel's Palace trail
Looking down onto the basin floor below
Stunning multi-colored rock formations and cliffs in Kodachrome Basin State Park
Stunning scenery on top
The multi-colored east plateau walls in Kodachrome Basin with a lone sedimentary pipe
Looking eastward from on top of Angel’s Palace. Notice the pipe on the right.

A Brief Jaunt On The Nature Trail For a Pipe Photo

From on top of the Angel’s Palace, I could easily spot a pipe rising from the basin floor across the way along the Nature Trail. After finishing the Angel’s Palace hike, we walked into the Nature Trail area far enough to check it out.  

A sedimentary pipe along the Nature Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park
An close-up look of a sedimentary pipe in Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome Basin Visitor Tips

Getting There – Kodachrome Basin is located 23 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park, and 9 miles south of the well-marked turnoff at the small town of Cannonville.  

Entrance Fee – There is an $10 day use fee to enter the Park.  

Temperature –  The Park sits at a much lower elevation than Bryce Canyon.  It was 10 degrees hotter there and we definitely noticed.  Be sure to bring plenty of water on a warm day.

Cell Phones – Be aware that there is no cell service in the Park.

Food – Cannonville has very few services.  Tropic Utah is located equidistant between Bryce and Kodachrome Basin and offers several dining choices, gas, and supplies.  

Crowds – As hoped, there were none.  We only saw a few other people while hiking, and found only 7 cars in the parking lot.  Compared to the packed Sunset Point parking lot we left behind in Bryce, this was a ghost town.

Focus on Bryce Canyon – Kodachrome Basin is a neat place, but pales in comparison to Bryce Canyon. This small Park was perfect for avoiding Saturday peak crowds in a popular national park during a pandemic. But if you only have a short time in Bryce Canyon, stay there! I have another post on this blog with all the thorough details about our weekend exploring Bryce Canyon National Park.

Other Utah Parks – Click here to learn about other State Parks in Utah. I’ve written about hiking at Dead Horse Point State Park – one of Utah’s most iconic viewpoints. Snow Canyon State Park should not be missed if you are visiting the St. George area. And you can click here to read my thorough guide to Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. Red Canyon is located only 13 miles from Bryce, and is another great spot that shouldn’t be missed when in this part of Utah.

18 Comments

  • Sasha

    Had not heard of this and it looks worthy of a visit! I see the some of the shared geology with Bryce. Wish I knew more about it as something spectacular took place in these parts! Thanks for sharing…

    • thethoroughtripper

      So much beauty in that part of Utah! Capitol Reef is up next for us as we explore great spots locally during the pandemic.

    • Maria

      Fascinating read, never heard of this place. Utah has incredible shaped formations and the red rocks – what great photo opportunities. I will be adding to my travel list!

      • thethoroughtripper

        One of the reasons we chose the Angel’s Palace trail, is that it’s described as the best in the park for photographers!

    • S Weber

      I’m currently planning my Utah state parks road trip & ran across Kodachrome. I haven’t found any advice on how much time to plan for exploring this spot. What is your recommendation – Approximately 2 hours? A half day? A full day? I am on limited time for this roadtrip but certainly don’t want to miss it. Thanks!! And thanks also for your super helpful blog posts & photos!!

      • thethoroughtripper

        Thanks for reading 😊 It’s a small park so 2 hours should be about right if it’s part of a larger itinerary of other sites in the area. That’s how much time we spent and I feel that we got a good taste.

  • Ross

    Wow! Those rocks! You’re a braver man than me getting that close for the view to the basin floor 😆
    We love a bit of hiking 🥾 and Utah is on the bucket list 🤔
    Thanks for the info 👍

  • Wendy White

    These red rocks remind me of Western Australia. It’s great that it was so empty and you could enjoy the scenery. Your photos are amazing, what a stunning place to hike.

  • Kevin | Cocktails and Carry-Ons

    There’s something especially calming about this part of the states and I always love to see photos of these outdoor adventures! My sister is in Phoenix and each time we visit we get to the outdoors as soon as possible! I hope to make my way into the Kodachrome Basin at some point!!

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