Kodachrome Basin State Park was one of my most recent adventures in the amazing state of Utah and wow – this place stole my heart! Located only 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park, this hidden gem is a must for anyone wanting to experience the best of the Beehive State.
In this article, I would love to share with you my experiences at Kodachrome Basin State Park and provide some key information and a bit of inspiration for your adventures. But first, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Elle Jones. I grew up in Alabama (of all places), even though I have zero accent now. I moved when I was 20 and lived in a few different places across the US after I graduated college. I think this sparked my travel bug. I ended up moving to Utah three years ago and am loving it here!
This state is gorgeous and offers many different outdoor activities and diverse places to visit. I started running more distance runs after I had my son, Hollis seven years ago. I was mostly a gym rat/pilates junkie pre him. Then he was born and I needed an outlet to get out my physical activity.
So I started popping Hollis in a stroller and running. I ran my first half, then kept going. I ran my first marathon shortly after moving to California when Hollis was two. I just locked in and found something that I really enjoyed.
Falling in Love with Trail Running
I was strictly a road runner until about two years ago when I hit a hard time in life post-divorce and was not in a good place. I was struggling with change and living in a new place. Road running was no longer giving me the happiness it once did. So I laced up my shoes and hit my first trail and it was game over! I immediately loved being on a trail and running.
I unlocked how incredible this could make me feel. Trail running saved me because not only did it act as a band-aid during a hard time in my life, but it also provided me with hours of running in beautiful scenery. This, in turn, helped me take in so much learning of what I am capable of as a human. Healing happens in beautiful places and I can also enjoy things like listening to audiobooks and podcasts to redirect my thoughts and energy.
The majority of my running is done in silence, but at the beginning I listened to a lot of audio to keep my mind engaged. The outdoors will feed your soul and mind if you allow it. It will change you for the better. Nature gives you contentment, confidence and calm. I am honestly so lucky that I had such incredible access to so many beautiful trails during recent years.
On a more physical level, I love how much I can see of the outdoors. I love taking new adventures and always feel amazing after a trail run. This world has so much beauty and peace to offer if we want to take advantage of it.
Awesome Day at Kodachrome Basin State Park
Before my recent trip to Kodachrome Basin State Park, I didn’t even know this place existed. It’s kind of a hidden gem. I hadn’t seen anyone run it before and my training partner and I were looking to get out of the snow in northern Utah in January for some warmer and dry training miles. So this state park was recommended to us by a friend that mountain bikes a lot.
We stayed in Escalante and ran there, but ended up going to Kodachrome Basin State Park just to see if it was worth the time. We were so surprised and loved it so much that we basically ran the entire park of trails that day. It was beautiful and almost felt like a running scavenger hunt with all the little secret stops and hidden gems that are scattered throughout the park.
We ended by going to Bryce Canyon National Park on the way home too. I think it was a four day trip if I remember correctly. But we definitely could have spent longer at each destination and not run out of things to do.
Why Kodachrome Basin State Park Should be on your Bucket List
I think one major reason why Kodachrome Basin should be on every travelers bucket list is that not many people know about it. The park feels semi-secluded because there is hardly anyone there. It also feels extremely vast with beautiful scenery on all sides of the park. Another reason is the variety – each trail has its own unique jewels to offer. Chimney Rock feels completely different geographically to Cool Cave or Shakespeare Arch.
Panorama Point has incredible views and the ascent and descent from there is so different from the first half of that trail. It was amazing to me that within this park, every single point felt like I was in a whole new world. The variation is extraordinary and was the most surprising aspect about the park. I always tell people to go there now. It’s such a hidden gem in Utah.
My Favorite Places: Secret Passage & Shakespeare Arch
Every part of Kodachrome was my favorite place for a different reason. I love the outdoors and conglomeration of different scenery – so I loved everything that I saw. I can narrow it down to two favorite places though.
Firstly, Secret Passage was great. Looking out over the park from that little nook felt so special, almost like a hideout with incredible views. We spent a lot of time in that area taking in how gorgeous it was. The area surrounding Secret Passage feels private but at the same time you can see far out.
Shakespeare Arch was another highlight. The trail isn’t long but it’s so diverse. You get some incredible greenery along the way up and then you hit some rockier portions that are beautiful. Then you get this spectacular slick rock at the top (which is a wonderful surprise) with 360 degree views.
Every direction you look has slightly different scenery. The descent takes you down these smooth switchbacks back through lush greenery and it feels invigorating to run down and look out at the breathtaking mountains and mesas in the distance. It felt so unique and special.
Shakespeare Arch Trail is special for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s arguably one of the prettiest places in the park, but I had to work hard and almost didn’t see it. This trail is short and we had already run all the other trails in the park that day and had a big running day the day before in Escalante. So my body was quite tired. Nevertheless, we rallied and decided to give it a shot.
We decided to hike this trail instead of running it because of fatigue. I remember immediately when we started, I began to run because it was just beautiful and I wanted to see more and take it in the way I love taking in trails – running! It gave me energy and never stopped delighting me.
Shakespeare Arch Trail is truly extraordinary and diverse. I was giddy from the first fifty feet and it never went away. This would be an amazing trail to hit at sunset or sunrise for anyone visiting the park. We hit the top and started to run down as the sun was getting ready to set. It was the perfect way to end the day there. This experience gave me such a mental high – taking in all that beauty and getting to move and gain energy.
More Things To Do at Kodachrome Basin State Park
We only ran while we were at Kodachrome Basin since we were there for one day. It was off season and during COVID, so a lot of the attractions were closed. I know they normally do horse riding and camping which I want to do next time. I love camping and will do it next time for sure.
Another thing I want to do is bring a hammock and read. I will have to bring my hammock next time and find a place in or near the park to soak in the surrounding landscapes and just read and write. I think Kodachrome Basin State Park would be such an inspiring place to do some writing.
Bryce Canyon National Park is nearby and should be on your itinerary if you have time. There are many beautiful trails here and they all offer something unique. We visited Bryce on this trip and did the Fairyland Loop Trail which offered a good combo of running the edge of the canyon and dropping down and running a portion of the bottom, and then back out again.
We did Kodachrome Basin while visiting Escalante which isn’t too far away. I would also highly recommend this place. We did some awesome trails in the canyons along the river as well as up on the plateaus. It was beautiful. We also hit the iconic Zebra slot canyons while we were there and that was so fun and beautiful to see. The walls here are so amazing!
Best Memories at Kodachrome Basin State Park
Running Shakespeare Arch Trail is up there for me in terms of the best memories. Another couple of fantastic moments came from Cool Cave and Panorama Point. For starters, I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the name “Cool Cave”. It sounded so unoriginal and just hit me as being hilarious. But legitimately, when you get there, it really is all you can keep saying!
I kept repeating: “this really is such a cool cave”! It’s tucked away and has a slot canyon feel as it curves inside and then there is this beautiful curved opening at the top which is awesome. I think we spent 40 minutes here looking around and taking photos. Cool Cave is so cool 😉 Panoramic Point is another beauty. The views from the top are epic and photos don’t do it justice. You can see for miles with different colors, mountains and mesas.
Need to Know Before you Go
I’m probably not the best for travel tips! I’m such a last minute traveler and will either book a hotel, campsite or just sleep in my car. I’m a little scrappy like that. I would suggest just knowing what you want to do beforehand and then making sure you know where you are staying, since there generally aren’t many options in these smaller lesser known areas of Utah.
Research and download maps before going because the service on phones can be patchy in places. Make sure you have enough food and water with you on hand and some extra in the car. Those are alway my go-to’s when I take adventures. I seem to have a plan of what I want to do and ensure that I download the maps from apps like AllTrails before I head out just in case.
The running joke is that I always have enough food in my pack for a family of 10! But that has come in handy for me (and others) on multiple occasions. This is more trail advice than travel advice, but I am a bit more last minute/scrappy in my travel approach compared to most humans. Kodachrome Basin State Park is honestly one of my favorite places I have ever been to. I am so thankful for the memories and experiences here.