Kodachrome Basin State Park
Visitors come to Kodachrome Basin State Park (435/679-8562, www.stateparks.utah.gov, $6 day use, $16 camping), located in a basin southeast of Bryce, to see not only colorful cliffs but also strange-looking rock pillars that occur nowhere else in the world.
Sixty-seven rock pillars (here called “sand pipes”) in and near the park range in height from 6 to nearly 170 feet. One theory of their origin is that earthquakes caused sediments deep underground to be churned up by water under high pressure. The particles of calcite, quartz, feldspar, and clay in the sand pipes came from underlying rock formations, and the pipes appeared when the surrounding rock eroded away.
Most of the other rocks visible in the park are Entrada sandstone: The lower orange layer is the Gunsight Butte Member and the white layer with orange bands is the Cannonville Member.
Signs name some of the rock features. “Big Stoney,” the phallus-shaped sand pipe overlooking the campground, is so explicit that it doesn’t need a sign! The article “Motoring into Escalante Land” by Jack Breed, in the September 1949 issue of National Geographic, brought attention to the scenery and earned the area the name “Kodachrome Flat,” for the then-experimental Kodak film used by the expedition.
The state park is a worthwhile stop, both as a day trip to see the geology and as a pleasant spot to camp. The park also offers several good half-day hiking trails and a host of shorter hikes.
Supplies and accommodations are available in the park at the Kodachrome General Store, which also operates Red Stone Cabins (435/679-8536, www.redstonecabins.com, $90), six well-maintained log structures in a lovely setting.
The state park's campground (435/679-8562, reservations at 800/322-3770 or www.reserveamerica.com) sits in a natural amphitheater at an elevation of 5,800 feet. It's open all year and has restrooms, showers, and a dump station. During the winter, restrooms and showers may close, but pit toilets are available. The campground usually has vacancies except on summer holidays.
Getting to Kodachrome Basin State Park
To reach Kodachrome Basin State Park, drive to Cannonville and follow signs for nine miles along paved Cottonwood Canyon Road. Adventurous drivers can also approach the park from U.S. 89 to the south via Cottonwood Canyon Road (35 miles) or Skutumpah Road through Bull Valley Gorge and Johnson Canyon (48 miles). These routes may be impassable in wet weather but are generally okay in dry weather for cars with good clearance.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition