Saturday 27 March 2021

Kodachrome Basin Running Route

Click here for route map

Length 2.9 km (1.8 mi), terrain: flat and easy (gain 83 meters), but with occasional bad footing, watch your step!

Utah is really blessed with natural wonders. One of my favorite spots, Kodachrome Basin State Park, is magical enough to be a national park, if it were located anywhere else. But in Utah, with its five national parks and a multitude of national monuments, Kodachrome keeps a low profile, hiding in the canyons just east of Bryce.

One of the many rock chimneys

The basin is full of rock chimneys, and lined by spectacular cliffs, with red rock foundations and white peaks rising above. Ancient, weathered junipers dot the dusty basin floor. Abundant slickrock (smooth, pillow-shaped, solid-rock hills) make for inviting climbs. It's the perfect hangout for just about anyone of any age or condition.

Juniper before the slickrock

There are a variety of trails in Kodachrome. This route follows a flat trail called the Grand Parade Trail.

This is a short and easy trail, a great way to get out and explore a bit more of the park, right near the Basin Campground. There are several other trails right there that you can combine with this to create an even longer route:

  • The short but beautiful Nature Trail
  • Angel's Palace Trail, which heads up to a plateau with views above the basin floor
  • Panorama Trail, with two different loop distances available

Audobon quote
Great quote from John James Audobon on Nature Trail

You can start the Grand Parade from two spots: one is just 150 meters south of the Basin Campground, or you can also start at the parking lot for the Panorama Trailhead, along the park road.

The Panorama Trail heads west of the trailhead, the Grand Parade to the east. The trail is fairly simple to follow, the trail hikers and runners have worn deep ruts along a lot of the way. There are occasional dry washes that cross the trail, and you have to find the trail again after crossing.

View near the trailhead

This route loops it counterclockwise, but it doesn't really matter which way you go. There are two box canyons along the Grand Parade: box canyon is a canyon that dead-ends into an the surrounding cliffs. Make sure to turn into and explore them along the way!

So off we go, turning right at the first junction, and crossing first one wash, then another. The trial turns left and follows along the bottom of the cliffs, rounding a promentory and then heading east again towards our first box canyon.

The palisades

When you reach the mouth of the canyon, notice the old wooden palisade fence that was built by pioneers to use the canyon as a natural corral. You just head westwards, straight into the narrow canyon until the trail ends, and then run back out. The canyon end is at the one-kilometer mark.

After the palisades, take the fork in the trail to the right and continue following it through more open country, past a few rock chimneys.

second box canyon
Heading into the box canyon

Then, after hugging some more cliffs, we come to the entrance to the other box canyon, to the right. This one is really amazing, with gigantic cliffs rising along the back of the canyon, surrounding the huge amphitheater, with their white-rock-crowned cliffs. It looks a bit like a wall of skyscrapers.

In the amazing amphitheater of the canyon

After circling it, passing the 2-kilometer mark, head back out and continue with the loop. Soon we come to the junction where the feeder trail comes in from the campground, to the right. Just keep left and head southwards back towards the trailhead, running parallel to the park road, which is 100 meters to the west.

At a wash

We cross more washes, pass lots more junipers, have amazing rock formations lining the horizon in every direction. That's one nice run!

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