Kodachrome Basin is an intimate state park located just around the corner from Bryce Canyon, with numerous short trails to escape from the National Park crowds and fill a wonderful day.
THINGS TO DO: The park features 6 family-friendly trails that total about 12 miles in length. 3 of these trails allow mountain biking and horseback riding. The area also has excellent stargazing because of its dark sky.
CAMPING: 3 main campgrounds are within the park, including a group site and RV hookups. There’s also a bunkhouse available for groups to rent. I’ve camped at Kodachrome and highly recommend it. Go here to reserve a site.
HOURS: The entrance gate is only open from 6am to 10pm, daily.
FEES: Entrance Fee $8, Tent Camping $20/night, RV Camping $30/night, Bunkhouse $105/night
LOCATION: Kodachrome Basin is a 22-mile drive southeast of the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. The paved approach is 7 miles south of Cannonville, Utah at the north end of the Cottonwood Canyon dirt road.
See it on Google Maps
ELEVATION: The Visitor Center and campgrounds are located at about 5,800 feet above sea level. Trails are predominately level and rarely climb above 6,000ft.
WEATHER: Spring and Fall are the best times to visit. Summer is brutally hot and Winter can be snowy. Here’s the current conditions in Cannonville, Utah, which sees the same weather as Kodachrome Basin.
Kodachrome Basin State Park Map
Here’s a map that shows the layout of the park, with color-coded hiking trails and campgrounds. Right-click on the image to enlarge it.
We did 4 out of the park’s 6 trails on our overnight visit, and they were stunning! These included Grand Parade, Angel’s Palace, and Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel.
The interpretive Nature Trail was especially lovely too, but doesn’t quite cut it for the “3 Stunning Hikes” category.
So without further ado, here’s details on all the hikes in Kodachrome. Additional photos are down at the end of the page.
1) The Grand Parade Trail
DISTANCE: 1.5 miles
OPEN TO: Hikers, Horses, Bicycles
A scenic 2.4 km trail that stays on the floor of Kodachrome Basin. Users will be able to observe bird and plant life and explore two box canyons along the trail. Box canyons are open to foot travel only.
On the map this looked like one of the less exciting trails, but don’t be fooled! It was especially intimate and fun to explore the box canyons, and I don’t think we saw anyone else on the trail during this late afternoon in May.
Numerous sandpipes (see more about the geology below) like the Dinosaur Spire were fascinating, along with the other crazy-cool effects of erosion.
2) The Angel’s Palace Trail
DISTANCE: 1.5 miles
OPEN TO: Hikers Only
Rising 150 feet (46 m) above the basin floor, this 2.4 km trail affords magnificent views of Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon and the surrounding area. It is an excellent trail for photographers. Redrock hoodoos and unsurpassed views make this one of the most popular trails in the park.
We saved the Angel’s Place Trail for last, hiking it just before sunset. The lighting was superb and we enjoyed the elevated views, as the trail climbs high above the road.
There’s several short spur trails to the overlooks for exploration, but just be sure to stay on a clear footpath so you don’t trample the sensitive desert vegetation.
Rock faces are extremely brittle and can give way without warning. Please stay back at least 10 feet from all drop-offs. Climbing, scrambling, or bouldering on rock faces is prohibited.
views from the Angel’s Palace Trail
3) The Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel Trail
DISTANCE: 1.7 miles
OPEN TO: Hikers Only
PLEASE NOTE: Shakespeare Arch sadly crumbled and fell to its ultimate geological doom in April of 2019. The trail remains open. In my opinion, the absence of the arch improves the quality of this hike, as less people will now be drawn to it
A 2.7 km loop
that gives access to Shakespeare Arch, the only large natural arch within the park. This trail also gives the user magnificent views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which surrounds the park. The Slickrock Cutoff provides a more challenging alternate route as it winds its way over slickrock behind Sentinel Spire.
Despite the views from Angel’s Palace, this was easily my favorite trail. Located in the more remote southeast corner of the park, Shakespeare/Sentinel certainly felt more isolated than the other hikes.
It additionally had more diverse scenery, and returning via the Slickrock Cutoff provided a fun, spicier alternative to the approach.
Finally, we even got to see a rattlesnake in the slickrock!
4) The Panorama Trail
DISTANCE: 3 to 6 miles
DIFFICULTY: Easy / Moderate
OPEN TO: Hikers, Horses, and Bicycles
So the Sentinel Trail wraps it up for photos of the 3 stunning hikes, but the Panorama Trail looks like no slouch either! For full disclosure, the author has not done the Panorama Trail, so for all I know it may be the best of them all! I’d wager that it is, and here’s why:
- It’s namesake “panorama” refers to wide views of the semi-distant Paunsaugunt Plateau (aka the rim of Bryce Canyon), possibly providing the best views in Kodachrome.
- It features a little bit everything, with named locations like Cool Cave (not a cave, but a shady canyon), Secret Passage, Hat Shop, Ballerina Spire, and more.
- It’s the longest trail in the park. More length logically means more to see, and less traffic due to intimidation and time constraints.
Winding its way across the western side of the park, this trail allows the user to view several sedimentary pipes and explore some interesting geological features. It can be done as either a 3-mile (4.85 km) or a 6-mile (9.7 km) loop.
5) The Nature Trail
DISTANCE: 0.5 miles
DIFFICULTY: Easy, ADA accessible
OPEN TO: Hikers and ADA accessible (no horses, no bicycles)
Usually I don’t trouble myself with interpretive walks, but this is one of the best little nature trails I’ve seen in any park.
We saved this one until last, late in the evening since it was adjacent to our site at Basin Campground. If you’re spending the night in the park I highly recommend taking the time for this one, as it really accentuates the special charm that’s present here in Kodachrome State Park.
The best way to experience Kodachrome is to take your time and a spend a night here. Enjoy the area’s superlative night sky and soak up the ambience.
As for my personal review, I loved spending a night in my tent at Basin Campground, and would do so again.
There are 3 campgrounds within the park – Basin Campground, Bryce View Campground, and Arch Campground. Tents are $20 per night, and RV’s are $30.
RV hookups are available, as well as the dusual camping amenities like fire rings, tables, toilets (flush and/or pit), and showers. A new, full service laundromat is now in the park, and bunkhouses are available for groups too ($105/night).
More information about the regulations and amenities can be found here.
You can also go here to make advance reservations.
Cabins and Lodging
A number of lodges featuring cozy cabins have popped up in the vicinity of Kodachrome. I believe the newest of these, nearest to the park, is the Bryce Canyon Villas.
More classic accommodations in Cannonville can be found at the Grand Staircase Inn. More options can be found in Tropic, and at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Since most of us aren’t fortunate enough to be traveling with our own horses, guided trail rides are available here at Kodachrome.
One-hour rides are $40 per person, and two-hour rides are $60 per person. Children mus be at least 6 years old, and there’s a 235 pound weight limit.
Go here to see all the details and make reservations.
In 1948, National Geographic writer Jack Breed set out on a jeep expedition into the generally unknown territory that could be viewed from Bryce Canyon’s Inspiration Point.
Breed’s crew traveled into the modern Kodachrome Basin on the very first day. Here’s what he later had to say about it:
It was a beautiful and fantastic country. A mile to the left near the base of the cliff I could see red pinnacles thrust up from the valley floor. The few natives who had been here called this area “Thorny Pasture,” But we renamed it “Kodachrome Flat” because of the astonishing variety of contrasting colors in the formations.
The Park was established in 1962 as Chimney Rock State Park. The word “Kodachrome” was of course a trademark of the Kodak corporation, so it took some time to get permission to later rename the park.
In addition to the colorful, eroded rocks within the Entrada Formation and Carmel Formations, the monolithic sedimentary pipes are the main attraction of the park.
Geologists have three primary theories regarding how these hoodoos or chimneys (like Chimney Rock) were created. The main theme these ideas have in common is that unique conditions existed to create them as hard rock, and eventually the softer layers around them eroded away.
Park literature seems to favor a theory involving earthquakes, as an interpretive sign reads as follows:
Earthquakes forced water and sediments from far underground upward through faults in the overlying sandstone. These sediments scoured out a path and eventually re-cemented into harder rock than the surrounding layers. Water, wind, and time stripped away the softer layers and revealed these extraordinary pipe sculptures.
More photos from the hiking trails:
Here’s some additional photos from The Grand Parade, Angel’s Palace, and Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel. All of these were shot on May 12, 2017.
Shakespeare Arch – Sentinel Trail:
…and a final one from Angel’s Palace!