Kolob Canyons is a less visited section of Zion National Park, and you may be wondering, is it worth visiting?
The answer is, yes! Kolob Canyons is definitely worth visiting!
Kolob Canyons is located in the Northwest corner of Zion National Park and is incredibly beautiful, with its towering red rock walls, green trees, historic cabins, trails, and scenic drive. It cannot be accessed from Zion Canyon, but only from a separate park entrance near Cedar City, Utah. It contains wilderness hiking and is a 1-hour drive from Zion Canyon.
We have visited Kolob Canyons twice throughout our many travels in Utah and have really come to appreciate its beauty and the fact that it is a little off the beaten path. Kolob Canyons offers stunning views without having to ride shuttles and deal with the crowds that you do in Zion Canyon!
In this article, we will talk about everything there is to do in Kolob Canyons, including camping, hiking, and the best viewpoints. Keep reading for more.
Due to road damage, Kolob Canyons Road is partially closed, drivers can drive as far as South Fork. Pedestrians and bicyclists can continue further at their own risk.
Where is Kolob Canyons?
Kolob Canyons is located in New Harmony, Utah, about 20 minutes south of Cedar City, and 30 minutes north of St. George. This location makes for an easy stop anytime you are traveling the I-15 freeway through Southern Utah.
- Discover How to Spend 1 Day in St. George, Utah.
- Check out all you need to know about visiting St. George.
Kolob Canyons has its own entrance and visitor center, and it does not connect to Zion Canyon, where the popular Angels Landing hike is located.
It costs $35 per vehicle to enter Zion National Park and that pass is good for 7 days. This will give you entry to all the entrances and parts of Zion National Park.
- Find out What is the Best Entry to Zion? Zion’s Three Entrances.
- Learn all about When You Can Enter Zion National Park?
What Should I Do While Visiting Kolob Canyons?
The Kolob Canyons section of Zion is smaller but packs a big punch, with a scenic drive, hiking trails, overlooks, and camping. The best part is, this part of Zion is visited much less than the ever-popular Zion Canyon, and the trails are equally beautiful!
Here are some of our favorite things to do while visiting Kolob Canyons:
My favorite way to explore Kolob Canyons is to hike it! We have visited Kolob Canyons twice and done two separate trails here. However, there are multiple trails that range from easy 1-mile trails to 14 miles. The trails traverse the Zion wilderness and to protect plant and animal life, it is necessary to keep groups to a maximum of 12 (unless you are hiking Timber Creek Overlook). If you have a larger group you cannot split up and visit the same area on the same day, but need to split up and visit separate areas.
There are three main trails:
- Timber Creek Overlook Trail: This trail begins at the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint Parking lot at the very end of Kolob Canyons Road. The trail is 1 mile long in total, with 100 feet in elevation gain. It is easy to do for all ages and offers incredible views of Kolob Canyons, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains. You can even find wildflowers along this trail during the spring and summer months. This is the trail we take when we bring grandparents or other family members who do not hike as often. Currently, you cannot drive to this trailhead, you must park at South Fork and walk 2 miles to the trailhead each way, until the road damage is fixed.
- Taylor Creek Trail: This trail begins at the Taylor Creek Trailhead along Kolob Canyons Road and traverses through the forests and across the creek 100 times (we counted! It’s 50 times each way!) It brings you past old historic cabins, the Kanarraville Fold, and eventually a double arch alcove that is really incredible to see up close. The trail is 5 miles out and back, with 450 feet of elevation gain, and is more of a moderate hike. Your feet will get wet on this trail, and it can be cold in the winter months, but feel great during warmer months! This trail has patches of forest that will make you forget your hiking through the desert, and like Timber Creek Overlook, there are wildflowers along this route in early Spring and Summer. This trailhead is before South Fork, so there is no issue with road closures for this trail.
- La Verkin Trail: If you are an avid hiker, and like to go longer distances, this is the trail for you! La Verkin trail is 14 miles long with 1,037 feet of elevation gain. Along the way, hikers can enjoy the primitive areas of the Zion wilderness, and enjoy the solitude of a trail without crowds or many other hikers. The trail begins at Lee’s Pass and offers views of Kolob Canyons, Timber Creek, and La Verkin Creek and eventually ends with the Kolob Arch. The Kolob Arch is one of the world’s largest natural arches, spanning 287 feet. Due to the road damage, to reach this trail, park at South Fork, and hike .5 miles to the Lee’s Pass trailhead.
- Let us help you decide: Is Zion Too Crowded? What Every Traveler Needs to Know.
Not a hiker? No problem! The scenic Kolob Canyons Road is a beautiful way to view the park! Drive five miles up into the Canyon to the Timber Creek Overlook. Here enjoy the views from the parking lot before turning back around to drive out of the canyon.
Even without hiking you can still enjoy the towering red rocks and beautiful green trees! And spend some time enjoying the views from your windows and enjoy driving through a part of Zion that is less busy and less crowded. And maybe if you are lucky (and it’s a clear day!), catch views of Mt. Trumbull, 100 miles away at the rim of the Grand Canyon.
A great way to enjoy Kolob Canyons is to camp. However, the only camping available in Kolob Canyons is backcountry camping that needs to be reserved in advance or reserved in person at the visitor center at least one day in advance.
To reach these sights you must backpack in and the same rules apply as the hikes. Groups can only have a maximum of 12 people per group.
This kind of camping is not a good fit for many people visiting Kolob Canyons, so our suggestion if you would like to camp, is to find a campground nearby in New Harmony, Kanarraville, or Cedar City.
- Discover the best places to camp at Zion National Park.
There is nothing like eating a meal in a beautiful place! I love bringing picnics along on hikes so that we can enjoy views and eat some good food too! Located at the Timber Creek Overlook Trail are some picnic tables available for you to use!
These work really well especially if you have family or friends joining you! Bring along some sandwiches and enjoy sweeping views of Kolob Canyons while you eat!
Of course, picnics also work along other trails as well, if you are planning a longer hike, it can be fun to break up the trail with a fun picnic! We recently sat at the double arch alcove along the Taylor Creek Trail doing just that!
Please be sure to pack out any and all garbage, fruit peels, etc. And leave Kolob Canyons just as beautiful as you found it! It is so important that while we enjoy our time in these parks, we are also working to protect them and preserve them for future visits!
- Don’t miss our Recommended Dining Spots In Zion & Springdale.
Earn Jr. Ranger Badges
If you have kids, you cannot forget to stop by Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and pick up Jr. Ranger books! As you go through the park, the kids can fill out these activity books and learn more about Zion National Park.
Once completed, head back to the visitor center and earn your Jr. Ranger Badges!
Our kids love to do this at every National Park that we visit! They have a collection of badges and it is so fun earning new ones. This is also a great motivator for kids who may not be wanting to spend the day at a National Park.
- Find out more information about Kolob Canyons.
What Should I Know Before Visiting Kolob Canyons?
Kolob Canyons is a less visited and less well-known part of Zion, and you may be wondering, what do I need to know before visiting Kolob Canyons? Here are some things we think you should know!
- Kolob Canyons has its own entrance near Kanarraville, Utah. You cannot reach Kolob Canyons any other way besides this entrance.
- Kolob Canyons has its own visitor center
- Kolob Canyons Road is a five-mile-long road with incredible views. And the three main hikes in Kolob Canyons, spur off of this road.
- There is currently road damage closing the road to drivers at South Fork. To access Timber Creek Overlook and La Verkin Trail, you have to park at South Fork and walk (or bike) the rest of the way to the trailhead.
- Kolob Canyons does not allow regular camping, only backcountry camping and it needs to be reserved.
- Kolob Canyons trails are in the Zion wilderness and to protect the plants and animals the maximum number you can have in your hiking group is 12 (except for Timber Creek Overlook- there is no max). If you have more than 12, you will need to split up and hike separate trails.
- Kolob Canyons is a beautiful part of Zion, and well worth visiting.
How Much Time Should I Plan to Spend in Kolob Canyons?
That really depends on what you are planning to do in Kolob Canyons. If you would only like to drive through and observe from overlooks and viewpoints, then an hour would be enough time.
If you want to try out the trails, I would suggest anywhere from 2 hours for the Timber Creek Overlook (more if the road is still closed) to 4-5 hours for Taylor Creek Trail and a full day (or two!) for La Verkin.
It is really dependent on your plans, however, I would plan at least one or two hours to explore the park if not more!
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Is it Possible to Visit Both Kolob Canyons and Zion Canyon on the Same Day?
Yes! Although, I wouldn’t suggest this, simply because I feel that the Zion Canyon area needs a full day on its own. However, it is doable, especially if you are only planning one or two hikes in Zion Canyon.
Zion Canyon and the Southern entrance to Zion National Park are located one hour away from the Kolob Canyons entrance and visitor center. You could start or end your day at Kolob Canyons and then travel to the Zion Canyon area.
- Make sure you check out How To Use The Zion Shuttle System before visiting Zion Canyon.
- Find out if you need a reservation to visit Zion?
If you were to do both in one day, I would suggest only doing the scenic drive and Timber Creek Overlook Trail. This would only take a couple of hours of time and would be easy to tack onto a busy day. If you wanted to hike to Kolob Arch or the double arch alcove on the Taylor Creek or La Verkin trails, I would dedicate a full day to Kolob Canyons.
Overall, both Kolob Canyons and Zion Canyon are well worth spending time in! Zion National Park is an incredible National Park, and well-visited for a reason! It is a stunning part of Utah that should not be overlooked!
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still, avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times! Bonus: it comes with an audio guide!
- Zion National Park Itinerary
- Zion National Park Trip Planner Page
- St. George Trip Planner Page
- Is St. George Worth Visiting?
- How to Spend 1 Day in St. George, Utah
- What is the Best Entry to Zion? Zion’s Three Entrances
- 14 Great Things To Do In Surprisingly Fun Cedar City, Utah
- How To Hike Angels Landing In Zion
- Kolob Canyons In Zion National Park
- The Best Dining Spots In Zion & Springdale
- Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know)
- Is Zion Too Crowded? What Every Traveler Needs to Know
- Where to Camp at Zion National Park
- How To Use The Zion Shuttle System
- Do I Need A Reservation To Visit Zion?
- When Can You Enter Zion National Park?
- Zion National Park Website