Kolob Canyons may be the little known portion of Zion National Park, but that doesn’t mean that its not as spectacular as the main canyons of the Zion proper. These rugged, red, navajo sandstone canyons have a unique geological history. They are home to diverse animal and plant life, and provide peaceful and serene surroundings to those that visit.
Kolob Canyons is a beautiful place to tour throughout the year. In the winter, the red navajo sandstone glimmers with a fresh dusting of snow and in the spring the waterfalls cascade down the rugged cliffs, streaking them black from the run-off. Wild-flowers bloom in abundance during the summer, and with the coming of autumn, the yellow-gold leaves of the valley’s scrub oak offers an interesting contrast to the vast scenery.
Drive carefully as you travel along the Kolob Canyons Road because it ascends 1,100 feet in five miles. You’ll drive along the Hurricane Fault, a 120 mile fracture in the earth’s crust, to a pinion woodland above Taylor Creek, through multi-colored layers of stratified rock where the road cuts through the hillside, past a huge rock scar where a section of the cliff fell in July 1983. Expect some steep grades and curves and there are several stops that are on the opposite side of the road. At many of these pull-out areas the sound of running water may be heard. Most of the canyons have creeks at least part of the year and there are numerous small springs in the canyon walls.
As you travel along the Kolob Canyons road, you will see several Interpretive Roadside exhibits at various pullouts along the scenic drive. There are picnic tables at the Kolob Canyons Overlook which is located at the end of the Kolob Canyons road. There are no overnight camping facilities in the park. Back-country camping requires a permit which can be obtained at the Visitors Center.
The wildlife in Kolob Canyons is very diverse. During the winter months mule deer can be seen grazing along the hillsides. Ravens, golden eagles, red-tail hawks and the occasional bald eagle soar the skies over Kolob. Lizards, snakes, jackrabbits, grey squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions are a just a few of the animals that claim the park as home.
Kolob CanyonsThe first inhabitants of the Kolob area were the Anasazi or “the ancient ones”. Very little is know about the Anasazi or why they disappeared from the Southwest region about 1200 AD. The Paiutes were next to establish themselves in the area. The explorers Father Escalante and Father Dominguez first documented the Kolob Canyons as they tried to establish a trail from New Mexico to California. Mormon pioneers settled the Kolob area in 1852. They used the area for a variety of purposes, including cutting timber, raising livestock, and prospecting for minerals. According to Mormon scripture, the word “Kolob” means “the star nearest to the residence of God”.
Must See & Do
When hiking in Kolob Canyons always remember to bring sunscreen, plenty of water, maps, insect repellant and wear good footwear. Always follow “leave no trace” principles.
Backcountry Hiking and Camping
La Verkin Creek, Willis Creek and Hop Valley trails offer excellent backpacking opportunities and connection to backcountry trails into some of the Zion main canyons. Permits are required for backcountry camping and are issued at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center. Check for campfire regulations and restrictions. Always tell someone where you are going and your anticipated return.
Kolob is wildly popular for afternoon picnics especially at the Canyon Overlook with its incredible panoramic view of the finger canyons. Keep your camera ready because the light in the afternoons and near twilight can be the best time to photograph Kolob.
Kolob is one of the few national parks that can be experienced from the comfort of your own vehicle (but why would you want to limit yourself?). The short scenic drive is only 12 miles round trip. There are several pull-off points along the route and an interpretive guidebook is available at the Visitor Center.
During the summer months, park rangers offer several ranger led activities including guided hikes and nature walks. Check at the Visitor Center for a schedule. Most ranger activities are included in your entrance fee.
Keep your camera ready because the light in the afternoons and near twilight can be the best time to photograph Kolob. The best spot for a stunning selfie is at the Canyon Overlook.
During the summer months, park rangers offer several activities including guided hikes and nature walks hat give kids the “inside scoop” to the wonders of Kolob Canyons. Check at the Visitor Center for a schedule.