Kodachrome Basin State Park and a Slot Canyon

April 4-8

The next stop on our journey was Kodachrome Basin State Park which is very close to Bryce and was recommended by another Airstreamer.  We arrived and settled in and at first were underwhelmed by the park, but loved that it was quiet and not crowded.  The afternoon got quite hot and surprisingly we had to turn on the AC which seemed crazy after having been skiing and running the heat for a month.  As the afternoon cooled off, we had a great BBQ dinner outside under the Juniper trees and we took an evening walk through part of the park. 

We soon started to discover why this is such a beautiful place.  The rock formations here look like they are sculpted out of red clay (whereas in Bryce the hoodoos look like sand drippings).  They also have 70 monolithic spires called pipes/chimneys that stick up. The park got it’s name from the contrast of colors and Kodak Film gave them permission to name the park after their film.  The sun was setting behind some of the rocks formations just as we got back to our camp spot to finish off another beautiful day.

Because the days are warm and we don’t like to leave Buddy in the Airstream when it is hot, we got up early to do the signature hike of this park.  The morning was very cool as we started the Panorama Trail but we were soon shedding layers.  This hike led us through some of the signature rock formations such as the Hat Shop, The Ballerina and few others that we named along the way.  We then got to a section called the Secret Passage which led us too a beautiful cove area with slick rock formations and narrow walkways through the rocks.  I also fell in love with what I dubbed sand art.

The last stop and turn around point, was a location called Cool Cave.  The end of the trail led us through a dry riverbed into an enormous cave that had an opening where if it was raining I think it would have been a waterfall (you can get the sense of the scale with Ross standing in the cave). 

I think both Bryce and Kodachrome Basin would be interesting locations to see when it is raining or soon after a rainfall.  I think one could actually watch the erosion taking place or at least get to visualize it even better. 

At one of the locations which was called Indian Cave, you could see handprints scraped out of the rock.  We were intrigued by them and went up to touch them and were surprised how easily the sandstone wiped away.  Sadly I’m sure most of these handprints were from people like us which isn’t going to help the preservation of these sights.  We were also amazed that the path was mostly red sand.  Ross felt very much at home like he was in Australia. I’m always surprised when I find sand in locations that are inland.

In the afternoon we took a drive to the town of Escalante so that we could find out more about the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and also get some cell phone reception and resupply our refrigerator.  The drive to Escalante was beautiful, and if we hadn’t just been in Zion and Bryce, we would have been even more blown away.  We were able to stop by the visitor center to get some maps for future hikes.  Amazingly, even with all the tourists driving the same route as we are doing, there is very little access to healthy food.  Fortunately, we did a stock up back in St. George, but I keep thinking how do the locals get any fresh fruit or veggies?  We stopped at the one grocery store in town but the selection was extremely limited.  It made me realize how fortunate we are to normally have access to healthy food and how many others probably live off of canned or frozen vegetables.  The nearest supermarket I was told was 85 miles away.

We were woken up at 4:30 am to some huge gusts of wind.  This area is definitely prone to some wind.  Unfortunately, because it is so dry here that when the wind kicks up so the does the dust and sand.  It ended up being a much cooler day so we took Buddy on a hike with us up the Angel’s Palace trail. Buddy blended in the rocks. It was a slightly elevated trail above the valley and gave us a great perspective of the area.  The wind made it a little bit cool, but we were glad we were out there. 

The afternoon we spent dealing with some trip planning for the next few weeks as well as laundry.  Normally I would not mention the laundry, but this campground had the cutest building for the laundry, designed to replicate an old western style store with brand new machines.  I also loved the name because we had red dirt on everything! When you are on the road for a long trip, laundry is an important feature, and when you find a good clean laundry it is a highlight. 

I also worked prepping a few canvases for upcoming paintings.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been moved by the scenery here to paint it.  There are striking views but compositionally I don’t find them worth putting down on canvas.

In the evening Buddy and I took a long walk on the Grand Parade Trail and watched the sun glow on the mountains.  It was a peaceful way to end the day.

We woke up on the last day at Kodachrome to a still day.  Buddy and I did a morning walk and the silence was blissful.  This campground is amazingly quiet and feels empty even though it is full.  The trails are almost empty of people and everyone seems to keep to themselves.  Ross and I felt like we had this state park to ourselves.

On the 7th of April, Ross and I decided to explore a bit of the Grand Staircase Escalante area in particular the Willis Creek Slot Canyon trail.  We headed down a dirt road that we were told we would need high clearance and 4 wheel drive.  It was a rough road, but even the Subaru could have done it.  About 10 miles down the dirt road just when we were thinking we were in the wrong spot, voila there were quite a few cars parked at a pull out.  We started the trail and were impressed with the rock formations that the tiny creek meandering through a canyon was following. 

The beginning of the Willis Slot Canyon

We turned a corner and low and behold was a gorgeous slot canyon with high walls, and undulating curves.  You could feel how the water in the past flowed through these walls carving the amazing patterns. 

The trail continued on and opened up to a wider canyon, and just when we thought that was all to see, we ran into a few other people coming the other way who informed us there were 5 more of these canyons to go through.   Each one had a slightly different feel.  Some had sheets of of ice that had formed mini bridges, others had small holes in the walls almost like little spiritual niches, and the striations on the rocks were like fantastic modern art. 

We were fortunate to start our hike early enough to have these canyons to ourselves.  As we turned around to head back there were quite a few larger groups which took away some of the magic.  But if you are in this area we definitely recommend doing this trail. The views heading back to camp were beautiful as well.

The afternoon was spent back at camp where I started an abstract painting of the slot canyons.  I will finesse it a bit more when I have some time.

After a lovely  BBQ dinner we took our nightly walk onto a few trails to enjoy the sun setting again on these rocks for the last night.  Tomorrow, we move on towards Capital Reef National Park.

2 Comments on “Kodachrome Basin State Park and a Slot Canyon

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