There are two Kolob sections in Zion National Park; Kolob Canyons located 18-miles south of Cedar City and Kolob Terrace accessed from the town of Virgin, 12-miles from the south entrance of the main section of the park. Both Kolob sections can proudly boast of their magnificent mountains of red sandstone, however the two are as different from each other as they are from Zion Canyon or Zion’s east side. Kolob Canyons is a remote 30,000 acre block of the park which is located northwest of Zion Canyon. Its set at a higher elevation than the main park, in fact, it boasts of having the parks highest peak - Horse Ranch Mountain at 8726 feet and some of Zion’s youngest strata.
Directions - To get to it from Cedar City, travel south on I-15 and take exit 40. From Zion’s main section, exit the park from Zion’s south entrance. Drive on SR-9 through the small towns of Springdale, Rockville and Virgin. Turn right at the stop light in La Verkin and travel through Toquerville to I-15. Take I-15 north and exit at the signed exit for Kolob Canyons. It will take about 90-minutes (40-miles) to travel from Zion’s south entrance to Kolob Canyons. Kolob Canyons is open year-round however the road can close due to snow.The 7-day Zion pass is good for all sections of Zion.
Kolob Canyons Visitor Center: 435.586.9548 Open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Kolob Hiking: A hiking guide to hiking in the Kolob sections of Zion National Park.
Finger Canyons - There are five narrow valleys called "finger canyons" and as a result the area is often called Kolob Fingers by the locals rather than Kolob Canyons, the official name. The end of the scenic drive is an ideal place to stop and have a picnic, since there is no place to eat at the park, but there are picnic tables. The nearest services are in Cedar City which although small when compared to most cities it is one of the largest cities in the area. It is a charming college town where I went to college long ago when it was Southern Utah State College. Today it is Southern Utah University. There are a variety of environments in Kolob Canyons including some incredible technical slot canyons such as Kolob Creek (sometimes called Kolob Canyon which does confuse people) and Ice Box Canyon, but this section of Zion is best known for having one of the world’s longest arches - Kolob Arch.
World's Longest Arches - Once Kolob Arch was considered to be the longest natural arch in the world, but the newest method of measurement now has it listed as the second longest. Kolob Arch however will be standing long after, the world’s longest arch, the fragile Landscape Arch in Arches National Park falls. Landscape Arch was measured in 2004 by laser measurement and found to be 290 feet long. Kolob Arch was measure later, in 2006 and found to be 287 feet long. China has a couple of long arches which might actually be longer, but have yet to be measured by the newest methods.
Wildlife - The wildlife in Kolob Canyons seems to be an exaggerated version of what you see in Zion Canyon. Rattlesnakes are surprisingly common along the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek, but as far as I know, no human has ever been bit along the trail. When I hiked it with my kids we saw several rattlers, but unless you are looking you will probably never notice them. In all my years of hiking in Zion Canyon I have only seen one rattlesnake at that was on the Riverside Walk Trail. It was a fat, sleepy one, curled up under a bench. Tourists were all around it taking photos. A ranger came and bagged it and took it to a new location before I got to the end of the path and returned to the same location.
Timber Creek - Start this easy one-mile, round-trip hike, at the Kolob Canyons picnic area. It is a 100 foot ascent, following a ridge to a small peak. From the point you can see Timber Creek, Kolob Terrace and the Pine Valley mountains beyond Saint George. Plan on 30-minutes for the round-trip.
Middle Fork of Taylor Creek - The popular Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Trail is a 5.4-mile round-trip hike, past two homestead cabins and ending at a beautiful double arch water-streaked alcove with hanging gardens. There are a couple of historic cabins along the way and a host of wildlife. This is an easy to moderate hike without much elevation change, but there is some shallow stream crossing. It should take about 3-hours to complete the trail.
North Fork of Taylor Creek - The North Fork of Taylor Creek is an un-maintained trail that begins at the heavily traveled Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Trailhead. It leaves the popular trail at the Larsen Cabin and goes to Pico Rosado, (Pink Spire, in Portuguese) a freestanding arch seen high on a cliff and then terminates between Horse Ranch Mountain and Tucupit Point.
South Fork of Taylor Creek - The 2-mile round-trip to the South Fork of Taylor Creek, is an un-maintained trail that begins about 3-miles past the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, on an unmarked path. The path leads into the canyon between Paria Point and Beatty Point.
La Verkin Creek Trail – Kolob Arch – Begin at Lee’s Pass, following the La Verkin Creek Trail then take the spur to Kolob Arch. This can be done as a long day hike or as an overnight backpack.
Campgrounds – Other than backpacking, there is no camping in the Kolob Canyons. Kanarraville has a nice campground that is nearby however.
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