Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah


Photographers will know, simply by the name, that this is a place they’ll want to shoot.  Kodachrome Basin State Park received its name from the Kodak camera film — a name given by a National Geographic expedition to photograph the area.  Anticipate an amazing array of colors: blue in the sky, red in the dirt, green in the plants, and at least half of the rainbow in the park’s hills and boulders.  Plus, there’s an added bonus: 67 ancient, solidified geysers, which now look like chimneys, scattered around the landscape.

My Visit

When National Geographic came to this area to test out Kodak’s color film in 1949, they clearly picked the right place.  Kodachrome Basin State Park can provide days of opportunities to photographers, or anyone who just wants to hike up-close to a spectacular display of crazy geology.

The show starts with your entrance to the park.  These rock fins line up in a row, punctuated by a noticeable exclamation mark…

…that tall, chimney-looking spire, one of the park’s 67 solidified, ancient geysers.

A paved road takes you into the middle of the basin, and many of the park’s trails start from there.

You can easily spend 2-3 hours, or more, hiking the Panorama Trail

Click to view a larger version.

… which, as the name suggests, leads to a great panorama of the park from the southwest side.

For an up-close look at some spires and crazy rocks, give the Angels Palace Trail a try.  The path takes you up to a plateau, slightly above the floor of the basin, so the views here are great as well.

A short distance away from the center of the park, you’ll find the Shakespeare Arch/Sentinel Trail.  This loop offers a couple of hours of good hiking, and a close-up look at the Sentinel, from below and above.

Click for a larger version.

And, thanks to the Shakespeare/Sentinel Trail’s location on the park’s southeast side, you’ll get another great panoramic view of the basin.

I think the best way to enjoy Kodachrome Basin is to spend the night — and fortunately, that doesn’t mean pitching a tent.  The park has six cabins, which are just as nice as most hotel rooms.

Okay, they’re actually much nicer than your average hotel room, if you factor in the view.

Each cabin is equipped with a small kitchen…

… and a gas grill.  Grab some steaks from the grocery store in Tropic and throw them in your cooler, so that you can have a delicious dinner at the end of your hiking day.

I was fortunate enough to snag cabin #6, the cabin on the end.  That meant, instead of a neighbor, I had this great view of the mountains surrounding the basin.  I shot a 20-minute exposure of the stars spinning through the sky, looking east…

… and north.  By the way, that red-rock mountain is the plateau where you’ll find the Angels Palace Trail.

In addition to the links above, you can also check out my 2004 visit to Kodachrome Basin State Park, when I tackled part of the Eagle View Trail — a path that’s no longer advertised, but still available at the north end of the basin.

The Bottom Line

I’ve been to Kodachrome Basin a couple of times now, and I’d definitely go back again.  If you can, plan to spend one or two nights in the cabins, and devote at least one full day to all of the park’s trails.


Kodachrome Basin State Park is located south of Utah Highway 12 at Cannonville, Utah, on Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive up Cottonwood Canyon Road, then into Kodachrome Basin State Park:

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