Welcome! This guide takes you through 10 stops along the Kolob Canyon scenic drive. Numbered arrowheads on posts mark each stop.
In this spectacular section of Zion National Park you'll see sheer, narrow canyons and forested plateaus where striking orange-red cliffs contrast sharply against the blue sky and green valleys. Here you can explore over 30,000 acres of canyon wilderness that is still home to mountain lions, mule deer and golden eagles. You can reach the world's largest freestanding arch by hiking 7 miles (11 km) into the heart of the Kolob Canyons. This road guide offers you insight into Zion's history, geologic past, and the park's varied plant and animal life.
Drive carefully. The road ascends 1100 feet (335m) in 5 miles (8km) with moderately steep grades and many curves. Several stops are on the opposite side of the road; use caution when crossing to a pullout. Watch for rocks on the road, especially after heavy rains or during snowmelt. Expect deer to cross the road during morning and evening hours. Have a safe and enjoyable visit in Zion National Park!
The National Park Service protects and manages unique cultural, historic and natural areas that are preserved for public use. Please help take care of these national treasures so they will remain unchanged for future generations.
Little is known of the earliest Native Americans who lived in the Kolob Canyons. The Anasazi, or "Ancient Ones" left traces of their presence in pictographs, pottery sherds, and stone structures. They hunted and farmed in the area until around 1200 A.D. When padres Dominguez and Escalante passed through the broad valley just west of the visitor center on October 12, 1776, the Paiutes were already longtime residents. Like the Anasazi, they grew crops of squash, corn and beans, hunted deer and rabbits, and gathered grass seeds and pinyon nuts.
Jedediah Smith, a trapper and trader, passed by the Kolob in 1826 accompanied by 16 men to explore the country and to find a way to California. The route he followed was eventually called the Old Spanish Trail. Eighteen years later Captain John C. Fremont described this region in his travels. In 1851 Mormon pioneers settled the Cedar City region. They utilized the Kolob Canyons area for many purposes: cutting timber, raising sheep, horses, and cattle, prospecting for needed minerals, and diverting water for irrigating the valleys below. Farms and ranches provided the needs for growing families and communities. Lee Pass was named after John D. Lee, one of the original settlers who founded the town of Harmony, just west of the Kolob Canyons in the fall of 1852. The Mormons named these canyons Kolob, which means in their scripture, the star nearest to the residence of God.
The people of southern Utah were astonished by the magnificent landscape of the area. The potential for tourism was great, and a need to protect and set aside the most scenic areas was evident. By the mid-1960's a road was built into the Kolob Canyons wilderness. The drive made it possible for the motorist to gain a closer view of this rugged country. Now tens of thousands of visitors from many countries travel to southern Utah and are surprised by the spectacular scenery of the Kolob Canyons.
Because of its diversity of habitats many different animals live in the Kolob Canyons. Remember, you are visiting their homes; try to observe and watch animals without interfering with their activities. Feeding wildlife is prohibited. Animals can injure you and are adapted to a natural diet, not human food. Mule deer are best seen October through March in the mornings and evenings when they browse on the brushy hillsides. The speckled, gray rock squirrel is commonly sighted in summer scampering across the road or perching on boulders. Look for jackrabbits sitting in the shade of sagebrush near the visitor center.
Ravens are familar citizens of the sky, whose flying antics and distinct call are easily seen and heard. You'll probably observe the noisy, bright blue scrub jay who inhabits the pinyon-juniper forest. Golden Eagles (their 6´ to 7´ wingspan is a good field mark) can sometimes be spotted soaring against the backdrop of the red canyon walls. The whiptail and fence lizards frequently sun themselves on rocks along the trails. Rattlesnakes are one of a dozen species of snakes found in the park, but you're much more likely to see a striped whipsnake moving along the road or trail. In fall, tarantulas wander across park roads searching for mates.
Coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, gray foxes, skunks and ringtail cats also inhabit the canyons, searching for food primarily at night. All of the wildlife in our national parks are protected from hunting or disturbance. Because of this protection, parks provide excellent opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitats.
|Take the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. The trail leaves from the picnic area at the drive's end. Scenic views of the Kolob backcountry and distant mountains.|
|1 - 2 hours
|Hike to the Larson cabin on the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek. Park at the Taylor Creek Trailhead, 2 miles (3.2 km) up the road.|
|2 - 4 hours
|Walk to the Double Arch Alcove on the Middle Fork Trail.|
|It's a strenuous hike to see the world's largest free-standing arch, the Kolob Arch. The hike starts at Lee Pass and follows the La Verkin Creek Trail in to the Kolob Wilderness.|
This brochure was published by the Zion Natural History Association. © 1993.
See our map and guide reference section for trail maps and other useful information available from Maps.com.
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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom