Panorama Loop – Kodachrome Basin SP

Bryce Canyon, UT

The weather here outside Bryce Canyon NP, at about 7500 feet of elevation, can get a little nasty, even in the middle of May.  We did a long hike on Sunday soon after our arrival as the weather services were all predicting rain for the next three days, making hiking trails impassible.  And while it never rained all day, we did have a few showers each of the next three days, and even some snow and hail.

But today (Thursday) the weather cleared a bit, so we headed out for a hike.  Since we have done a couple of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon NP and there are many tourists in the national park, we headed about 30 miles to the east for a hike in Kodachrome Basin State Park.  The area where the park is located was named by a team from the National Geographic Society who explored and photographed it in 1948 for a story that appeared in the September 1949 issue of National Geographic. They named the area Kodachrome Flat, after the then relatively new brand of Kodak film they used.  In 1962 the area was designated a state park but, fearing repercussions from the Kodak film company for using the name Kodachrome, the name was changed to Chimney Rock State Park.  It was renamed Kodachrome Basin a few years later with Kodak’s permission.

We had visited this beautiful little park three years ago but rain kept us off all but one of the trails.  For this visit we chose the longest hike in the park, the Panorama Trail.  The trail is a series of loops, allowing hikers to choose how far they wanted to go, with no radical change in elevation.  We did all the loops and ended up with a hike of a bit under 6.5 miles.

Panorama Trailhead

Kodachrome SP has nearly 70 monolith spires ranging from 6 to 170 feet high.  We passed by many of the spires along the Panorama Trail.

Less than a mile into the hike we came upon  a small alcove in the rocks called “Indian” Cave.  The spot was not labeled on the park map of the trail so we were surprised to see it.

The wall on the right side of the “cave” had some interesting cuts in the rock in the outline of a human hand.


Ballerina Spire

A slickrock alcove

The view from the alcove

One of the alternate side trail loops leads about a half mile to a neat cut in the rocks call Cool Cave.

Heading to Cool Cave

In the wash leading into Cool Cave

Scrambling into the “cave”

The large area at the end of the wash is not really a cave, but the bottom of what is probably a beautiful waterfall after a storm.  The opening in the rock where the water pours in towers over you.

Not a chance!

After circling around back to the main trail, we hiked for a while then took another side trail for a half mile up to Panorama Point for a nice few of the surrounding area.

Coming back down from Panorama Point we were treated to some great vistas as the sun poked through the clouds on to the surrounding rocks.

This little state park is a great place for a one day visit ($8 per vehicle) or a longer stay at one of the two campgrounds.  One of the campgrounds has some nice paved pull-through sites with full hook-ups, while the other is more for tents or small vehicles (no hook-ups).  But make a reservation way in advance if you want to be in the full-hook up area, as the sites are limited and this is a popular spot.

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38 Responses to Panorama Loop – Kodachrome Basin SP

  1. Laurel says:

    Love Kodachrome Basin SP! It’s been about 10 years since we were there — we stayed in the campground and it was great. The colors are so gorgeous, and your hiking photos are terrific. John, I really do think you could climb that wall.:-) Bryce looks REALLY cold and wet. Brrrrr. Glad we went to Snow Canyon instead (where there wasn’t any snow).

  2. Jeff says:

    So glad the weather cleared for you, but a waterfall in the canyon would have been nice 🙂 That is such a beautiful park to which we want to return someday, your pictures bring it to life! Thanks

  3. Upriverdavid says:

    Way Cool!!..I was also there around 10 yrs ago, but still working and too much to see in 2 weeks.
    Maybe another time now that I am tired…….retired…..

  4. explorvistas says:

    This one is going on the ‘must do’ list! 🙂

  5. Thanks for the tour of this beautiful park. We took a drive through Kodachrome State Park many years ago and stopped for lunch but weren’t able to get out and hike. Now I know what we missed!

  6. montanaclarks says:

    Gorgeous photos–the sun/clouds made the colors pop!

  7. heyduke50 says:

    The only downside of camping at the state park is you will have no connectivity… of course, that may be an upside for camping there for some as well!

  8. Such a beautiful place! We loved staying at the campground, but disliked the fact that there was NO cell signal.

  9. Ingrid says:

    Stunning land. I wanted to at least drive through the park but after my stop at the visitor center in Cannonville the skies opened. Thus, returned home 😦 Next time!

  10. Jodee Gravel says:

    Great shot of the snow at Ruby’s. Glad it didn’t keep you from this lovely hike in Kodachrome. You’d think they would have asked Kodak before assuming they couldn’t use the name……then they had to change all the signs and materials 😦 The hand (gouges?) are unique and a bit creepy. Obviously the canyon walls were much, much softer back then. The views are really pretty, especially looking out of the alcove and down from the Point.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks. Jodee:) The deep hand prints must have been done when the wall was soft. They are so deep and very perfect…strange! There doesn’t seem to be any answer to who made them or how.

  11. Debbie says:

    Such a great area. We hiked in mud when we visited Bryce. Hopefully our next visit will be sans snow.

    • placestheygo says:

      The mud in Bryce Canyon can be so bad. During our last visit, they closed Fairyland because of the deep mud. Kodachrome Basin SP is more sand so it dried faster.

  12. Sue says:

    What a beautiful area, except for the snow of course. We’re in beautiful and green Oregon right now but kinda miss that red rock – you’ve infected me with red rock disease Pam!

  13. girlonahike says:

    Perfect timing for this post – I’ll be here in a week for Memorial Day! Looking forward to checking out all the trails. If you are still in the area, also hike Willis Slot Canyon (I’m doing this next weekend too). – Alicia @

  14. Larry says:

    Really fascinating rock formations

  15. LuAnn says:

    Here is another one to add to the list! Lovely photos!

  16. We love that park. Such a nice place to get away from the national park crowds.

  17. Sherry says:

    I am surprised with the yucky weather that there are so many folks in the park so early. I keep wondering how these people have so much time off to fill up the parks in May. They can’t all be retired, are they? What a great hike. Just love the scenery including those wonderful hands. How did they do that? Love your views from panorama point. Wonder when you’d have to be there to see the waterfall?

    • placestheygo says:

      The RV Park is full every night, as are the hotels. Three years ago we were here at the same time and there were only handful of us in the RV park. The Visit Utah’s Big Five ads last year really brought out the crowds. There are so many foreigners here. At times we feel like we are visiting a different country. I couldn’t find any information on who or how the prints were made in the wall.

  18. We too enjoyed this hike with its ups and down and fascinating rock formations. It looked like the sign at Panorama Point is up again, did you fix it John? It was down on the ground a few days ago.
    It’s a beautiful park and can hold its own against its popular neighbor.

    • placestheygo says:

      The sign was on the ground for us, also. John was just holding it up for the photo:) It was nice to hike with quiet, no crowd, and beautiful formations and colors:)

  19. Gay says:

    Kodachrome is awesome. Your pictures bring back fond memories our hikes there.

  20. pmbweaver says:

    It looks like the sky was pretty nice when you started the hike….but then a see those mean clouds later.
    Panorama Point is gorgeous!

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