Travels in the American Southwest

Kodachrome Basin, Grosvenor "Double" Arch, and More

Awoke after a great night's sleep at Ruby's Inn located at Bryce Canyon. Since this was to be the last day of my road trip, I decided to explore some areas which were off the beaten track.

Kodachrome Basin


Left Bryce Canyon National Park and headed east on route 12 passing the town of Tropic and admiring the vistas as I approached Cannonville. Once there, I turned south and headed for Kodachrome Basin. This place is truly a gem. One of Utah's State Parks, it was named by the National Geographic Society for its red hued rock formations which contrast beautifully with an ice-blue sky. The campground has restrooms and shower facilities but was sparsely populated when I visited.

A number of established trails run through the park, all easy walks of a short 1/4 mile to 3 miles. A number of rock formations have been named (the Fred Flintstone Spire, Mama Bear, Rock Eagle) and their locations are readily identifiable on maps and trail guides available at the honor-box fee station. I chuckle as I write "honor box". Although I paid the entrance fee and placed the receipt on my dashboard (as instructed by the sign), I couldn't help wondering how many folks just drove on through. As I pulled into the parking lot, I quickly discovered that it's the rare vehicle that doesn't pay. I was greeted by a ranger who welcomed me to the park asking me if I had any questions, offered additional maps of the area and "Oh, by the way, did you visit our self-service fee station on your way in?" The receipt had slid down into the defroster! I grabbed my knife, retrieved the receipt and received a "Enjoy your visit!" as the ranger spied another car entering the park. Kodachrome Basin State Park is certainly worth the trip!

Kodachrome Basin   Kodachrome Basin

Grosvenor Arch

Ten miles past Kodachrome Basin (on a very well-graded dirt road) you'll find Grosvenor Arch. A natural arch formed by erosion, this site is really a rare double arch. This area is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and as such is open to many different types of recreational activity which are prohibited in the National Parks. Some folks hike by the arch while others ride horses or dune buggies throughout the area. Because of the clear blue skies, the arch is a favorite photographic subject.

Grosvenor Double Arch

Cottonwood Canyon

Had I continued south on what became only a semi-graded dirt road, I would have driven through Cottonwood Canyon, said to contain spires of red and white rock...But I didn't. Four wheel drive and high clearance is needed.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Instead, I reversed course and backtracked past Kodachrome Basin, Tropic, and Bryce to route 89 heading south past route 9 (Zion's east entrance). A couple of miles past route 9, I took a right onto a paved road in search of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. At the end of the paved road, there it was; Gently sloping dunes of pink sand criss-crossed by countless dune buggy tracks. At this point, the road becomes graded dirt with warning signs stating "Impassable When Wet". I guess that once the fine dirt gets wet, a traveler could find himself in a true quagmire. Since it was bone dry, I proceeded onward stirring up tons of fine red dust as I zipped along. This proved detrimental to the car which turned from its original white to a rather appealing "Dusty Red"!

Finally met up with route 389 in Arizona, passing through the small town of Cane Beds. (Where do these people work? But with the views they have out their windows, I wouldn't leave either!) Headed north on 389 (which becomes 59 at the Utah border) marveling at the views. I eventually joined up with route 9 which led to I-15 and Las Vegas.

Some phone numbers:
801 538-1030 Utah Travel Council
801 826-5499 Escalante Travel Council

Many of the roads I traveled are designated Utah Scenic Byways. They are so designated because of their unique or outstanding scenery. Some are also isolated, being off the beaten track. Since you are traveling in the high desert, always carry one gallon of water per person, clothing for both hot and cold temperatures, some munchies and most importantly, leave your itinerary with someone who can notify authorities should you not return on schedule.

More Information
DesertUSA-Kodachrome Basin State Park
Utah Travel Council

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