Kodachrome Basin State Park

Day 11 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

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Kodachrome Basin State Park Entrance

This was to be our last full day in Ruby’s Campground, before heading north toward Yellowstone and beyond. Peggy took the day off from SOTF activities and we discussed where to explore. We considered Zion National Park, but that was nearly a two-hour drive and crowds were reported to be very high. We opted for the more local Kodachrome State Park. It was less than an hour away and recommended by the camp Staff

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Scenery typical of the drive from Bryce City to the Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome “is cut from” the same forces that produced Bryce Canyon, but on a different, smaller scale. About 30 miles east of Bryce City on Highway 12, the drive takes you farther and farther into what often appears to be wilderness. Still, during the entire trip, flat-topped mesas and other stone formation rise from the high plains. Occasional signs confirmed we were going in the right direction.

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View Near Chimney Rock

This is a state park, so we had to pay the modest $8.00 per vehicle entry fee. The park is an open, sprawling mixture of open range–with cattle–and roads and and hiking trails, each leading to one or more of the parks geologic features.

It was near mid-day when we arrived. This had two influences on what we did and saw. First, the area is dry and hot, the sparse grazing is a near-desert environment–and hot. Also, the high, mid-day sun was probably the least favorable for photography. Consequently, we did not hike but one or two short trails. But much of the park can be seen and appreciated from your vehicle.

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Chimney Rock for which the park was first named

Our first stop was at Chimney Rock, the tallest of approximately 67 natural sandstone monoliths scattered through the park. It is believed that at the same time geologic and environmental forces were in the process of creating Bryce Canyon, similar forces were at work here. Chimney Rock may have begun its existence as a stream of liquid sand pushing up through cracks in softer rock. Extreme pressures and heat caused the liquid sandstone to became frozen in time. Weathering and erosion, or millions of years, removed the surrounding softer material, leaving this shaft standing on the desert floor.

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The name “Kodachrome” Explained

The park’s name, Kodachrome Basin, first appeared in a 1949 issue of the National Geographic magazine. Their photographers were impressed with the colors, and how they changed through the day, and suggested the name. Originally, officially called Chimney Rock State Park, Kodak later gave permission to use their trademarked name for the park.

Later, I hiked the trail to Shakespeare’s Arch. The one-third mile trail is an easy hike–until you reach the arch, then it becomes challenging.

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Shakespeare’s Arch, named for a local man who first discovered the geologic arch

One feature that caught my eye are the canyon–or basin–walls around the park. The sheer, chiseled vertical walls often take on the appearance of tall, ancient stone buildings.

Also, the trip through the park includes open range where cattle rangegraze. Fences and a cattle guard confine cattle to the range land (see photos in the gallery).

Although not as large or a spectacular as Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome State Park offers spectacular views, and the opportunity to hike and explore uncrowded trails. For a one-day visit, I recommend coming early for the best light. The ideal plan is to camp in the park and be up at sunrise, and/or stay late for sunset to get the full effect of the park’s namesake. It is a site I look forward to returning to.

Previous: Bryce Canyon-2

Next:   We begin our trip north to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.




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