Utah's Kodachrome Basin State Park overshadowed by famous neighbors

By Bob Downing

Akron Beacon Journal

Published: Saturday, July 21 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Animals include mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, gray foxes, black-tailed jack and cottontail rabbits, rock squirrels and chipmunks, along with birds, snakes and lizards.

Kodachrome Basin is not big or fancy. It offers 27 tent and recreation vehicle sites with restrooms, showers and a sewage disposal station. The campground is open April through September.

A park concessionaire, the Trail Head Station, rents cabins in the heart of the park, sells supplies and offers guided horseback and stagecoach rides in season. The cabins include full baths, showers and air conditioning. Call 435-679-8536 or 435-679-8787 for information.

The park charges $6 admission for day use. The overnight camping fee is $15.

One nearby attraction is Grosvenor Arch, a double arch 10 miles south of Kodachrome Basin off Cottonwood Canyon Road. It is one of the largest arches in Utah and is found in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Contact Kodachrome Basin State Park at 435-679-8562. Camping reservations: 800-322-3770. Cabin rentals: 435-679-8536.

State Route 12 is a major road through southern Utah, a land that is a geological playground. It is a National Scenic Byway, one of 120 in the United States. It is also an All-American Road, one of only 31 so designated by the Federal Highway Administration.

The federal designation stretches 124 miles between U.S. 89 in the west and Torrey in the east at Capitol Reef National Park.

Its most striking feature may be the Hogback, a narrow ridge with steep drops on both sides of the road between Escalante and Boulder.

There are turnoffs for motorists to admire the sandstone Escalante Canyons carved by the Escalante River and its tributaries. Nearby are Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls.

You can hike to Upper Calf Creek Falls. It is a slickrock round-trip hike of four miles. The trail is marked by stone cairns. It is a hot, scrubby, exposed landscape.

It leads to the 88-foot-high cascade in a shaded, green alcove at the head of the canyon. The Escalante River and its tributaries were the last streams in the United States to be discovered, named and mapped.

Lower Calf Creek Falls, where the stream drops 126 feet into a green pool in a cliff-bound canyon, attracts more visitors. It is at the end of a 3.1-mile one-way hike.

At its western end, the highway bisects the popular Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest, a one-time hideout of outlaw Butch Cassidy. There are 14 trails that stretch 34 miles in that 41,400-acre tract.

It skirts must-see Bryce Canyon National Park, a beautiful place with thousands of hoodoos, the eye-popping red-orange spires or pillars of rock that are the park's most defining feature. The 35,835-acre park offers a spectacular badlands landscape that is bewitching.

You can admire the park's distinctive rock formations from an 18-mile scenic drive on Rim Road off state Route 12 — with dozens of overlooks. You can also hike into the hoodoos.

The powerful blend of rock and color shifts with the light. What you see in the morning is different from what you will see in late afternoon or at twilight. There are warm yellows, browns, oranges, pinks, reds, greens, whites and purples that spill from the bizarrely shaped spires, monoliths, fins, mazes, fluted walls, sculptured pinnacles and deep ravines.

The park offers a visitors center, lodge with three suites, one studio, 70 motel rooms and 40 cabins (open April through October), two campgrounds, restaurant and general store. Admission is $20 per car.

For information, call 435-834-5322 or see www.nps.gov/brca. The lodge is managed by Xanterra. Call 303-297-2757 or 888-297-2757 for reservations and information. See www.xanterra.com and www.brycecanyonlodge.com.

From Bryce, SR 12 then runs along the northern edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

You can get off SR 12 onto dirt roads that are designated scenic backways; these will take you to less traveled scenic areas. That includes Hole-in-the-Rock Scenic Backway and Burr Trail Scenic Backway.

Grand Staircase-Escalante has visitors centers in Cannonville, Escalante and Boulder.

Willis Creek Narrows is another attraction. The stream narrows to 4 feet with cliffs more than 200 feet high. It is a colorful world of rock, water and shadows. It is one of many slot canyons in the national monument.

For information, contact the Cannonville Visitor Center, 435-679-8981, www.ut.blm.gov/monument.

There are numerous outfitters in Escalante and Boulder (the two towns are 29 miles apart) that provide guided trips, shuttles and one-day excursions to slot canyons and other nearby attractions.

The prime seasons to visit are mid-March through May and again in September and October.

For information about Route 12 and its attractions, there are two contacts:

Garfield County Travel Council, 800-444-6689; www.brycecanyoncountry.com.

Wayne County Travel Council, 800-858-7951; www.capitolreef.org.

You can also contact the Utah Travel Council, 800-200-1160, www.utah.com, and Utah State Parks and Recreation at 801-538-7220, www.stateparks.utah.gov.

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