Kodachrome Basin State Park is located in southern Utah and best known for its 67 towering sand pipes, or chimney rocks, which rise from the earth and soar from six to 170 feet tall. Their variegated shades of red, pink, white, yellow, and gray sediment, coupled with a backdrop of brilliant blue skies, desert vegetation, and shifting daylight make Kodachrome Basin a photographer’s paradise. Located about twenty miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin can be reached by taking State Road 12 (SR-12) to Cannonville, then traveling nine miles south on the remote Cottonwood Canyon Road.
Geologists believe Kodachrome Basin once resembled areas of Yellowstone National Park, and that the sand pipes are remnants of ancient geysers and hot springs which filled with sediment and then solidified. Over time, the encompassing Entrada sandstone, formed during the Jurassic era, eroded away to leave behind the unique, multi-hued rock formations standing today.
Geography and climate
Relatively small, Kodachrome Basin covers 2,240 acres and is surrounded by Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on three sides. At an altitude of 5,800 feet, the high desert climate offers warm, sunny summers and cold but mild winters, making the park accessible to visitors year-round.
Kanab hosts a variety of restaurants for every taste, from Mexican and Southwestern to Italian and American. Shopping for gifts and souvenirs, as well as necessities like food and camping gear, is available. If exploring Kanab’s outdoor attractions isn’t physical enough, visitors can purchase day passes to the Adobe Fitness Center. Kanab is also home to the full-service Kane County Office of Tourism and the BLM’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Center. There is a small airport nearby.
Unique attractions and activities
The sand pipes are the main attraction at Kodachrome Basin; Chimney Rock, Shakespeare Arch, and Ballerina Geyser are some of the most notable formations. There are several hiking, biking, and equestrian trails leading to scenic vistas. Popular hikes include the Grand Parade, an easy, one-mile scenic trail, and the Panorama Trail, a moderate three-mile hike. From the Panorama Trail, hikers can also reach Big Bear Geyser and Cool Cave. Mountain bikers can begin at the Kodachrome Campground and ride four miles around the Panorama trail. Area attractions include: the Grosvenor Arch, a spectacular double arch located ten miles southeast; the Old Paria movie set; and Bryce Canyon National Park.
Flora and fauna (biology)
Kodachrome Basin’s semi-arid environment requires trees and plants to be hardy and drought-resistant. Trees, shrubbery, flowering plants, and grasses that thrive in these intense conditions include pinion pines, Utah juniper, big sage, rabbit brush, ephedra (Mormon tea), bee balm, Indian paintbrush, evening primrose, yellow flax, locoweed, needle and thread grass, and Indian rice grass.
Mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and gray fox are some of the wildlife that can survive in the Kodachrome Basin’s harsh environment. Small prey such as jack rabbits and rock squirrel can be found here, along with a variety of snakes, rattlesnakes, mice, and lizards. Native birds include ravens and golden eagles, plus rock wren, pinion and scrub jays, chukar partridge, and chipping sparrow.
Services and amenities
Kodachrome Basin’s campground offers tent and RV camping, full-service cabins, showers, restrooms, and a group pavilion. The on-site camp store stocks ice, food, and sundries. Leashed dogs are permitted on the park grounds. There is a visitor center near the park entrance.
Kodachrome Basin is open year-round. Entrance fees are $6 per day, or $75 for an annual Utah State Parks permit. Camp sites cost $16 per day.
The brilliant, contrasting colors inspired photographers on a 1948 National Geographic Society expedition to nickname the area Kodachrome Flat, after the newly developed film brand. When the park was officially established in 1962 it was first named Chimney Rock State Park, but later renamed Kodachrome Basin with the permission of the Kodak Corporation.