Zion National Park is a natural wonder and a popular park for hiking! However, that popularity comes with a price - Zion National Park is super crowded. If you want to enjoy the landscape and wildlife of the Zion wilderness but also want to avoid the crowds, head to the Kolob Canyon area of the park! The canyon is smaller, but the trails are great and the lines are short (or non-existent, really!). Below, we'll tell you everything you need to know to plan a great visit to Kolob Canyons.
About Kolob Canyon
The Kolob Canyons are in the northwest part of the larger Zion National Park. It's a good hour away from Zion Canyon and in an entirely different park area than the popular Narrows and Angels Landing. While the canyon walls are smaller, the Kolob Canyon district is designated as Wilderness, so their natural and primitive environments have been left unaltered. Here, you'll see large peaks of pink Navajo sandstone interspersed with beautiful waterfalls and cold canyon streams. Some incredible natural landmarks in Kolob Canyon are the Kolob Arch, Kolob Finger Canyons, and Double Arch Alcove.
Best Time To Visit Kolob Canyon
Although Kolob Canyon is part of the larger Zion National Park, it's a much quieter area. The crowds are never as dense here as in the main canyon. This means that when it comes to determining the best time to hike in Kolob Canyons, your weather preferences are the deciding factor rather than crowds.
Spring - This is the wet season, between spring rains and snow melt. Trails may be muddy, and you'll probably get wet if hiking the Taylor Creek Trail.
Summer - Summer is the busiest season. While the trails never get crowded, it might be harder to find parking spots. It's also very hot and dry!
Fall - Fall is perhaps the best month to hike Kolob Canyons between the changing colors and the cooling temperatures. For these reasons, there will likely still be a crowd.
Winter - You might have the trails all to yourself in the winter, which can be nice! Keep an eye on the forecast, though, because the weather can turn cold and icy.
Things To Do In Kolob Canyon
Best Hiking Trails In Kolob Canyon
There are four hiking trails in Kolob Canyon, all of which are great options for hikers looking to avoid the crowds and packed trails of the main Zion National Park trails. Three of them you'll find on maps - but there's an additional one tucked away! The Kolob Canyons area has over 20 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous.
Timber Creek Overlook Trail
The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a quick little out-and-back, and it's an easy 1-mile trail in total, with an elevation gain of only 76 feet. At the turnaround point, there's an incredible view of the valley - you can see the entirety of Kolob Canyons, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains.
The Timber Creek Overlook Trail consists of partially raised wooden pathways, which keeps the trail from becoming a muddy mess in the spring. The rest of the trail is packed dirt, with a few uneven spots to manage. To get to the trailhead, park at the fourth parking lot.
Taylor Creek Trail
Taylor Creek Trail is the most popular trail in Kolob Canyon. It's long enough to make it worth the entrance fee and has some significant landmarks. It's ranked as a moderate difficulty trail but very accessible. The out-and-back trail is 2.5 miles each way, with a 450 feet elevation gain.
Over the course of those 5 miles, you'll crisscross over the middle fork of Taylor Creek. There are rocks placed purposefully as foot placements across the shallow tributary, but if you're hiking during the spring, you'll probably get your shoes wet. The Taylor Creek Trail also includes two old log cabins and a large concave rock formation known as the Double Arch Alcove. To get to the trailhead, park at the first parking lot.
South Fork of Taylor Creek Trail
This is the unofficial, unmapped trail in Kolob Canyons. It runs alongside the south fork of Taylor Creek. It may be referred to as the "hidden trail," but it has its own parking lot, and any park ranger you meet will tell you about it, so... maybe not so hidden after all? The South Fork trail is another out-and-back, totaling 4 miles altogether and gaining 500 feet in elevation.
To get to this trail, park at the second parking lot, then cross the main road. You'll see a rough path, but it clears as you follow it. The first half of the trail climbs steeply on narrow, packed dirt. As the trail continues into the box canyon, the canyon walls gradually close together until they meet. Climbing these canyon walls is pretty fun and popular - it's called the Namaste Wall.
North Fork Taylor Creek
If you are looking to get away from the crowd, then this nice 7.5 miles (round trip) hike may be a great trail for you. This is the least hiked trail along Taylor Creek, and the path is an unmaintained route. The solitude and rugged terrain are almost guaranteed on this hike, but it is also a beautiful hike that guarantees to be more adventurous.
The trail begins at the heavily traveled Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Trail, turns off at the confluence with the North Fork, and ends at the canyon's end between Horse Ranch Mountain and the orange-red cliffs of Tucupita Point. On this hike, you will see a freestanding natural arch high up on the distinctive color of cliffs. Part of the trail can be overgrown and go through narrow canyon walls. But once you reach a boulder field, you will get a gorgeous view.
La Verkin Creek Trail
If you've come to Kolob Canyons to spend a full 8 hours or more on a challenging trail, the La Verkin Creek Trail is where you need to go! This out-and-back trail comes to 14 miles roundtrip and gains 1050 feet in elevation.
The La Verkin Creek Trail starts by following Timber Creek until it nears La Verkin Creek. Then you'll follow La Verkin Creek until it connects to a spur trail up to Kolob Arch. (Did you know Kolob Arch is the second largest free standing arch in the country?) If you'd like to do some trailblazing, you can continue past Kolob Arch into Bear Trap Canyon, Willis Canyon, and Hop Valley. To get to the La Verkin Creek Trailhead, park in the third parking lot.
Kolob Canyon Scenic Drive
If you don't have the time or ability to head out on the trails, opt for the five-mile scenic drive on Kolob Canyons Road! Starting at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, you'll enjoy many amazing views during the Kolob Fingers Road Scenic Byway. There are many scenic pullouts along the way, so you can pause and really soak in the beauty. The trailheads and overlooks are all accessed from various parking lots along this scenic drive, and the road ends at the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, which doubles as a trailhead for Timber Creek Overlook Trail.
There are no campgrounds in the Kolob Canyons. If you'd like to camp in this area, you'll have to do it backcountry camping style! Backcountry camping in national parks requires a permit, which you can acquire at the Visitors Center. There are 17 campsites along the La Verkin Creek trail, and more designated sites can be found further back around Willis Creek and the Bear Trap Canyon Falls.
National parks are the perfect places to get up close and personal with a region's wildlife. Kolob Canyons is particularly great for this because it's much less trafficked than other areas of Zion National Park, and so other hikers aren't around to scare off the critters! You'll see mule deer, rock squirrels, jackrabbits, red-tail hawks, and golden eagles - just to name a few!
Kolob Canyons is a great picnic area. A day spent hiking one of the shorter trails and then enjoying a picnic will be a day well spent! There are a few picnic spots along the Kolob Finger Canyons Scenic Drive, but the largest picnic area is located at the trailhead of the Timber Creek Trail.
There are no food amenities in the Kolob Canyons area, so you'll need to bring your food and drink into the park. Water can be purchased at the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center, but it's best to bring your own. Picnic areas are scattered all over Kolob, so take your pick! It's most enjoyable to pick a spot next to a creek, and there are many creeks to choose from - Taylor Creek, Timber Creek, La Verkin Creek, and Willis Creek! Be sure to leave no trace behind you.
Kolob Canyon Map
How To Get To Kolob Canyon
The Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park is best accessed from Interstate Highway 15, taking Exit 40. It's about 40 miles north of Zion Canyon and 17 miles south of Cedar City.
Considering that a visit to Kolob Canyon only fills a day (or even less, depending on what you want to do there), the entrance fee of $35 can seem pretty steep. Keep in mind that Kolob Canyon is part of Zion National Park and that the $35 entrance fee is the same throughout the park. The park's fee pays for a 7-day pass. Single-day passes aren't available, but you can always add in a visit to the main Zion Park, or consider buying an annual America The Beautiful National Parks Pass and enjoy the parks all year long!
No Dogs Allowed
Many hikers and backcountry campers like to bring their dogs along, but dogs are prohibited in Kolob Canyon.
Visiting During Winter
If you're visiting during the winter, call before you head out. The road to Kolob Canyon is sometimes closed due to excessive snow.
Start Your Day Early
Parking usually isn't a hassle, but if you're planning on visiting during the summer, it's best to claim a parking spot early in the day.
Bring Plenty of Snacks And Water
There aren't any food amenities within Kolob Canyon, so definitely bring your own lunch, snacks, and water!
Spotty Cell Service
Cell phone reception will be spotty, but don't count on having cell service, so plan accordingly. If you need to get cell service, go to the visitor center.