Stunning Red Rocks at Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah
Most folks know all about Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park. But virtually right next door, little-known Kodachrome Basin State Park offers red-rock formations that not even its more-popular neighbor can match.
Kodachrome Basin is known for its colorful sandstone spires called "sand pipes". Nearly 70 of them stand in the park, some soaring up to 170 feet tall, and geologists say you won't find them anywhere else.
Scientists still aren't sure how these striking formations were created. Some believe that ancient springs or geysers filled up with sediment that solidified, then was exposed as the softer sandstone around them eroded.
Whatever the case, I know one thing for sure -- they're a spectacular sight! The towering monoliths standing against the incredibly blue Utah sky are made-to-order for shutterbugs. During the day, they seem to change color according to the angle of the sun.
The leaders of a National Geographic expedition named the park in 1948, when Kodak's Kodachrome color film was still relatively new. It features both paved roads and well-marked hiking/ biking trails that lead you past prominent landmarks.
After you're finished taking in the sights here, follow Cottonwood Canyon Road about 10 miles farther southeast from the park into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
There you'll see Grosvenor Arch, one of the most impressive natural arch formations in the United States. The dirt road is better suited for four-wheel-drive vehicles, but this double arch makes it worth navigating the dusty byway.
Before You Visit
Kodachrome Basin State Park is located in southwestern Utah, between Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. From U.S. Highway 89, take State Highway 12 east to Cannonville, then turn right at the Grand Staircase Inn downtown and head south about 9 miles to the park.
The park is open year-round and includes 24 campsites with rest room and shower facilities (no running water in winter). For more information about the park, call 1-435-679-8562.