Kolob Canyons

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.

The 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

Hiking

When hiking in Kolob Canyons always remember to bring sunscreen, plenty of water, maps, insect repellent and wear good footwear. Always follow “leave no trace” principles.

Group Size Limits: Large groups result in larger impacts. All groups traveling in the Zion Wilderness must follow the group size limit for that area. Group size limits are strictly enforced. Permits will be denied and violators will be cited if limits are exceeded. Groups are limited to a maximum of 12 people that share the same affiliation (e.g., school, church, club, scout group, family, friends, or a combination thereof) Groups that exceed these limits may not split up and visit the same drainage or wilderness trail on the same day, but may split up and visit different areas. Affiliated groups of 12 or more in the Kolob Canyons area are only permitted to hike on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail.

Timber Creek Trail
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Trailhead is located at the Kolob Canyons Picnic Area. Distance is about one mile round trip. Plan for about a half hour. Trail follows the ridge top to a small peak. Offers views of the Timber Creek, the Kolob Terrace and the Pine Valley Mountains.

Taylor Creek
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Trailhead is located approximately two miles from the Visitors Center along the Kolob Canyons Road. Distance is about five miles round-trip. Plan for about three to four hours. Moderate in difficulty. The trail follows the middle fork of Taylor Creek past two old homestead cabins to the Double Arch Alcove.

Kolob Arch
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Trailhead is located approximately three and half miles from the Visitors Center at Lee’s Pass. Distance is 14.4 miles round-trip. Plan on this being an all-day hike. The hike is considered to be strenuous and is not recommended during the months of July and August since the summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees. The hike starts at Lee’s Pass and follows the LaVerkin Creek into the Kolob wilderness to the world’s largest free-standing arch.

Wilderness Hiking and Camping

La Verkin Creek, Willis Creek and Hop Valley trails offer excellent backpacking opportunities and connection to wilderness trails into some of the Zion main canyons. Permits are required for wilderness 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.

*Campfires are never permitted in the Kolob Canyons, small gas powered stoves are allowed for cooking.

Picnics

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.

*Campfires are never permitted in the Kolob Canyons, small gas powered stoves are allowed for cooking.

Scenic Drive

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 10 miles round trip. There are several Interpretive Roadside exhibits at various pullouts along the scenic drive.

Ranger Activities

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.

Local Fave

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.

Kids Stuff

During the summer months, children ages four and up can complete an activity booklet to earn their Junior Ranger badge for Zion National Park. Becoming a Zion Junior Ranger is a fun way to explore and enjoy the Park and the natural world. Please allow for several hours to complete this booklet as activities include traveling throughout the canyon in search of cool things to discover.
The Zion National Park Forever Project provides additional funding for this program.

More information can be found at Junior Ranger Programs.

Web Ranger
Now you can be a Junior Ranger even if you are not able to visit Zion. Become a member of a growing number of young people who are interested in the world around them and involved with their nation’s heritage.