Kolob Arch flaunts one of the longest spanning freestanding arches in the world. The structure is an adult alcove natural arch perched high on an exposed cliff. It was created as a result of vertical joint expansion, wall collapse and erosion. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society, after measuring in 2006, came to the conclusion that Kolob Arch is the second longest natural arch in the world measuring 287.4 feet. This leaves Zion's arch about three feet shorter than Arches National Park's pride, Landscape Arch. If the long debate over which is the longer of the two arches is not over now, it could end in the near future since Landscape Arch is near the end of its lifecycle. Kolob Canyons, where the arch lies, is in the far northwestern and less visited section of Zion National Park, accessed off I-15 at exit 40 near Cedar City. The hike to the landmark can be done as a leisurely backpack or a long day hike. Kolob Arch can also be seen by hiking through Hop Valley, located off the Kolob Terrace Road.
The picture above shows a unique view of Kolob Arch that few ever see.
Kolob Arch at a Glance
Day Hiking - If doing this as a day hike instead of a backpack, this viewpoint is a great place to get out of the sun, take a lunch break, relax and regenerate for the hike back out. La Verkin Creek may entice you to take a quick refresher dip and cool off before the hike back begins.
Backpacking - Four campsites dot the first 3 miles of the hike from the trailhead and the remaining 14 are within the next 5 miles. Camping is allowed only in designated sites.
Lee Pass - A view of Kolob Arch can be accessed from several different points, such as from Kolob Reservoir area, but you need to obtain permission to cross private property. It can also be seen from the Hop Valley Trailhead in the Lower Kolob Plateau. The following description begins at the Lee Pass Trailhead in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park.
Trailhead - Drive 16 miles south of Cedar City on I-15 or 32 miles north of St. George on I-15 and take exit 40. This leads to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and a scenic drive with breathtaking views of the towering cliffs of the Kolob fingers. A short but impressive road from the visitor center is the parking lot for the Lee Pass Trailhead. The views of Tucupit Point, Paria Point and Beatty Point are delightful but less known than Zion's main landmarks, since this side of the park is less frequented than the main section of Zion. The first mile of the hike, from the Lee Pass Trailhead, descends a moderately steep ridge, shortly contouring in and out of Timber Creek for the next 2 miles, then it rounds Shuntavi Butte and bears to the east around the western tip of Gregory Butte. Slowly, the trail winds through Pinyon and Juniper trees and descends into the riparian La Verkin Creek drainage. At La Verkin Creek the path is relatively flat, but sand makes the progress tedious at times. Halfway through the meander, alongside La Verkin Creek, the trail crosses a flowing spring fed stream. After two miles of hiking, you will arrive at the junction of the Kolob Arch Trail, where you will head left, north, and leave the sandy travel behind. A half-mile past the junction, you will get your first glimpse of the impressive Kolob Arch, which is high up and on the left. The structure rests on the shear cliffband walls northeast of Gregory Butte Formation.
Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and www.zionnational-park author, Tanya Milligan.
Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend for canyoneering in Zion . Quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury. Experienced Zion hikers and canyoneers like the Sportiva Exum Ridge. This shoe is great for hiking, bouldering and canyoneering.
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Freestanding Arches in Zion
Zion National Park, Utah
History of the Thunderbird
This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean www.zionnational-park.com
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park