Thursday, October 27, 2011

Visiting Kodachrome Basin

View of Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome Basin was named after Kodachrome film by a National Geographic crew who visited in 1948.  It is known for its layers of color, and also for the geologic features of sedimentary pipes that dot the area.  On our visit, we hiked part of the Panorama trail.

The Hat Shop

This looping trail can be as long or as short as you want it to be:  generally there is a 3 mile loop and a 6 mile loop.  We chose to do one side of one loop and added the "Secret Passage" segment.  We treated this more as an out-and-back hike rather than completing the loop, and I think we probably stayed under 3 miles in distance.  It was pretty hot on the day we went, and we were hiking right in the middle of the day, so the shorter version of this hike worked well for us.

I thought this looked like a gnome.

Some of the formations are named, but there are plenty where you can use your imagination. We had fun hiking and spotting gnomes, frogs, and other creatures along the way.

A view from the Panorama trail.

A short way into the hike, we arrived at "Indian Cave."  The sedimentary rock  is so soft here, you can rub it off with your hands.  Many people have done this on the rock wall, and everyone had fun finding a handprint that was just their size.

Hands rubbed into the wall.

Indian Cave on the Panorama trail.

Ballerina Spire

This formation looks like a dancers leg, complete with toe point at the top, and is one of the popular features at this park.  One of the things I enjoyed here was the different colors of the rock layers:  white, pink, orange.

Wash along the trail.

From the trail you can see evidence of what water can do after a heavy rain.  It is obvious that flash floods can roar through areas of the park.

Silver buffalo berry bush

This silvery succulent plant was pretty.  Later, we read that the berry it produces can be used for jam or jelly.

Scenery at Kodachrome Basin State Park

We took the side trail called "Secret Passage" and soon found ourselves in a quiet little canyon with towering rock walls.

Secret Passage

It was cool in the shade, and it was a great place to scramble over rocks and explore.

Geology of Kodachrome Basin

Secret Passage was a nice short loop that we followed back to the Panorama trail, and then retraced our steps back to the parking area.  

Old Man's Face

Water had done an artistic job of shaping this rock face, and I could see many different things in these shapes.  I thought this particular part looked like an old man's face in the center, with some kind of creature's head to the right.

One of the sedimentary pipes.

The sedimentary pipes are fascinating, seeming to burst up out of the sand.  Several are "stand alone" objects,and made me wonder why all the other stone had eroded away and just left these spires.  The park brochure lists three different theories as to how these pipes form, but all of them end with the surrounding stone eroding away (it must have been softer) and leaving these pipes.  

Indian Paintbrush

Even in this desert landscape, flowers find a way to bloom.  I loved the colors of the foliage contrasting with the colors of the rock.

Blooming in the desert

The color combinations of the silvery blue-gray, yellow, and red caught my eye as I passed this grouping of plants.  After our hike, we returned to the parking area and had a picnic.  We were able to find a little shade in the picnic area.  This parking/picnic area was also the trailhead for the Grand Parade trail.  

View of our picnic area

Water and restrooms are available at the visitor's center, as is a small gift shop.  There is a campground in the park, and horseback rides are available on some of the trails, including the Panorama Trail.  Some of the other trails looked enticing, including Shakespeare Arch, but we were planning on visiting two other state parks that day, so after lunch, we hit the road!

If you go:  From Tropic, Utah, drive east on Scenic Byway 12 to Cannonville, then follow a paved road south for nine miles to Kodachrome Basin.  

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