Last week we visited Zion National Park. This week we visited a lesser known and visited park, Kolob Canyons. This park is just a few miles away from Zion, and just as beautiful.
We picked a perfect day to visit, it was sunny and 75 to 80 degrees. The drive is only 5 miles long, but there are plenty of pullouts, and quite a few hiking trails to choose from. We stopped several times for photos, and to just enjoy the tranquility, birds, and majestic scenery. Being Spring, quite a few flowers were blooming.
With very little traffic, we were able to drive really slow on this twisting road. The colors of the rock changed as the day went on, and also depended on from which direction we viewed the same location. It was spellbinding. Some places, we just sat on a rock and watched the ravens soar, listened to the song birds, and enjoyed the general silence and majesty of nature. The photo that looks like the ground was recently plowed is actually an upthrust that happened thousands of years ago. I don’t know why it’s baren, but you can see the angle of upthrust quite easily.
Kolob is a collection of canyons, not just one. Erosion and ancient runoff, plus numerous upthrusts and tectonics formed this geological wonder. Every prominence is formed differently. Some are shear, while others are jagged and jumbled. You can see where water has run down cliffs, and we saw numerous snow piles in shaded areas.
At the end of the road is a short trail. A short distance from the trailhead there is a big sign that says “Overlook 1/2 mile”. Well, don’t you believe that sign! it took us 2 hours to go and return! Between stopping to enjoy the view, take photos, visit with other hikers, and enjoying the afternoon in a beautiful place, time tends to stand still here. The trail is not challenging, but us older folks not used to 7,000’ altitude need to take a bit longer.
The change in altitude on this hike is maybe 500’. The trail wanders among the junipers, bushes, and flowers. We found ourselves stopping often, Jan needing to see and photograph every bloom, and me to look at the cliffs and capture Jan admiring the flowers.
The view from the top is worth the walk. The majesty of seeing the cliffs and small valleys fading away into distant valleys was spectacular. We agreed that seeing photos of these canyons is really nice, but no photo can substitute for being there, smelling the air, hearing the breeze go through the trees, listening to the birds, and taking in the 360 degree view of magnificence. The human eye sees both shadows and bright peaks, while a camera can only capture a small representation.
I hope these words and photos entice you to take a vacation and visit a natural wonder soon. Fewer people are taking vacations these days. Take two hours to hike a one mile trail. Sit on a rock with some water and a snack, and soak in the wonderful views around you. Listen to the silence and nature. It will fill your soul with peace, something in short supply these days. Places like Kolob Canyons don’t have cell service, and you just won’t miss it! Take a few photos, then put your camera or phone away, and soak in the views around you. Turn around and around, then sit down and feel the warmth and peace of a natural experience.