About one hour away from Zion National Park, is a section of the park that is one of the best-kept secrets of southern Utah. Kolob Canyon is still part of Zion National Park and is not nearly as crowded as the main part of the park. For those visiting the area and looking for a little more peace and quiet, but still searching for striking beauty, put Kolob on your to-do list.
While you would go through Springdale, Utah to access the main Zion National Park, Kolob Canyon has it’s own private entrance that lies at Exit 40 on I-15, just south of Cedar City. The drive from the main entrance of Zion to the Kolob Canyon entrance is one of the most stunning drives in all of Utah. Towering mountains of stunning reds and whites tower over the road and are known as the Kolob Five Fingers.
Photo Credit: Quinn Pratt on flickr
For those who wish to experience the beauty of Kolob from the comfort of their vehicle, there are two scenic drive options available to you: Kolob Canyon Road and Kolob Terrace Road.
Kolob Canyon Road takes you past the Visitors Center before climbing 1,000 feet to the Kolob Canyon Viewpoint. This 5-mile stretch is one of the least busy areas of the park that is accessible by car. This picture we found perfectly demonstrates the simple beauty that you can see along your drive.
Kolob Terrace Road is fairly untraveled and even during the best time of the year is considered a backcountry road. If you want to tackle this adventure, it is best to make sure that your vehicle is capable before embarking. The road starts out in Virgin, a town outside the park boundaries, and climbs to 8,000 feet in elevation to Lava Point, which is in a narrow neck of the park. Here you can overlook awe-inspiring scenery like this.
If you keep going down the road you can also visit Kolob Reservoir, which is a popular spot for fishing!
For those who are ready to step out into the world and truly experience the Kolob backcountry, there are several hikes to choose from. While there are others, there are two that we think are a must!
Taylor Creek hike, or also known as the Double Arch, is a favorite of many who visit. The hike itself is fairly easy and has very little elevation change, but does require you to walk in and out of water a fair amount. Which in our opinion adds to the fun of the hike. This trail is 5-miles (roundtrip) and should take roughly 3-5 hours from start to finish. Here is a photo looking up into to Taylor Creek.
Photo Credit: brian washburn
Once you reach the end of the trail you’ll look up and see this amazing green alcove with vines growing out of the rocks. And above that is the second arch that’s being formed.
Photo Credit: Terry Tyson
This really paints a picture of how all of these arches were formed throughout Utah; Arches like the Kolob Arch. This is our second must see attraction in Kolob! Kolob Arch was thought for a long time to be the longest arch in the world, but recently it was discovered that it is only 287 feet, which is 3 feet shorter than Landscape arch.
While the arch itself is off limits, there are two hiking trails that lead to a perfect view point of this wonder. One trail is through Timber Creek, around Gregory Butte, and then into the La Verkin Creek drainage. This is the most popular route and the viewpoint is up the trail right before it turns into Hop Valley Trail. You can also start at the Hop Valley Trailhead, which is more direct. However, both routes are still the same distance, seven-miles one way. This is considered a strenuous hike, so take that into consideration before hitting the trail. For those that make it to the view point, Kolob Arch is sure to impress!
Canyoneering is another popular activity that you can participate in while visiting Kolob. Kolob Creek is one of the best, and most technical canyons in all of Zion. The scenery paired with rappels is unlike any other!
Photo Credit: CUSA
Kolob Canyon is one of those places you do NOT want to miss. Zion itself is amazing, but Kolob is just a little bit of a different take on Zion. There truly is so much to offer those who are willing to get outside and walk around. Sometimes it takes more that just wandering to see the really cool things, but if you aren’t afraid to do a rappel now and then you’ll be greeted with amazing things to see.