For the Hiker: Utah’s Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

from Off the Beaten Path | 318
Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah© 2009 Utah Office of Tourism/Steve GreenwoodSagebrush, the endless sky, and towering rock formations on the far horizon paint an unforgettable picture for travelers.

Exit 40 off I-15, Springdale, Utah

Spectacular geological formations and a wide variety of environments make Kolob Canyons a place of exceptional beauty and interest. Within this less-used section of Zion National Park are the park’s highest peak, 8,726-foot Horse Ranch Mountain, and the world’s longest freestanding natural span, the Kolob Arch.

A five-mile paved auto route into the five Finger Canyons of the Kolob is marked by 14 numbered stops keyed to an accompanying pamphlet available at the visitors center. The road winds between canyon walls of reddish Navajo sandstone sculpted by 13 million years of geological upheaval and erosion into the numerous buttes, arches, and ridges we see today.

Part of the road follows Hurricane Fault, a 200-mile-long fracture in the Earth’s crust, which elevated the land to the east nearly a mile. The change in altitude from valley to clifftop creates temperature differences averaging between 10° and 15°F. As a result, three distinct ecological zones can be observed in the canyons, from the valley’s semiarid juniper woodland to the lush forests of aspen, fir, and pine crowning Timber Top Mountain.

A strenuous hiking trail, requiring eight hours for a round-trip, leads from the canyon road to Kolob Arch. Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit.

Open year-round.

www.nps.gov/zion

(435) 772-3256

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