Kolob Canyons – Zion National Park

I visited Zion National Park very briefly (for a few hours) several years ago.  It is a relatively small Park, and I always thought it only consisted of one road, running west to east away from I-15.  As I approached from the north I was planning to take exit 27 to get to the Park entrance but saw a sign at exit 40 which stated I could get to Zion and be on a scenic road.  As you know, scenic roads are the starting point for these trips so I was all in.

When I got off the highway I was at the Visitor Center for Kolob Canyons, which are part of the Zion National Park system.  I took the 5-mile drive uphill and stopped at many overlooks which gave dramatic views of the mountains and canyons.  Most of what I saw is similar to other places I’ve posted pictures of before so I won’t post too many pictures, but no matter how many times you’ve seen them, these huge reddish-brown mountains are breathtaking.

This was the first view I had of the looming mountains as I started driving up the short scenic route.

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Once I got to the highest level I drove along the a ridge and stopped at many of the overlooks, each of which offered a slightly different view.  Here is the best series of photos, taken as I panned the camera left-to-right.

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And here are just a few closeups.

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When I was done taking photos at this location I hopped back on I-15 and headed 13 miles further south to the exit I originally planned to take.  I drove through the little towns of Hurricane and Virgin as I proceeded east towards the main Park entrance.

Before getting there I saw on the official Zion map that there was another scenic road, 23-miles in length, I could take before entering the Park.  I had noticed the skies darkening and the wind picking up and knew there was rain in the area.  When I got to the turnoff for the scenic road I was faced with this decision.

Looking east towards the Park:

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And turning 45 degrees to my left, now looking north (literally taken 7 seconds later at 4:46:53 local time):

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I opted for the latter.

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And if the hot, dry air didn’t convince me, this confirmed I was in the desert.

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I only made it about 1/3 of the way up towards the reservoir at the end of the road before turning around and heading for my Airbnb in Kanab (pronounced ka-NAB).  I wanted to arrive there before dark, and made it with about a half hour to spare.

After I turned around and was headed back towards the main road through Zion I saw this “under canvas” campground off in the distance.

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I did not take any photos today while driving through the main portion of the Park.  I will be going in later in the week, and will be taking lots of photos.  Parking is extremely limited and there are not many pullouts for stopping, so I will ride the bus through the Park, probably several times, in order to be seated on different sides for photo ops.  I did that when I was here before and it worked out pretty well.