Traveling south along the scenic Hwy 12, my next stop is Kodachrome Basin State Park. It’s another one of those places that I feel every blogging RVer has visited but me. I don’t typically go out of my way to visit state parks, but with a name like “Kodachrome,” how could I resist those “nice bright colors?”
Were it not standing in the shadow of Bryce Canyon National Park only 30 miles away, this little park would likely be one of the greatest naturally occurring phenomenon in our nation, as these geological formations are believed to exist nowhere else on earth. But instead, it’s just another stop of many geological wonders along this beautiful highway that is “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Kodachrome Basin State Park is called a basin due to rainwater and snow melt that flow down the slopes into washes and streams, ending up in the Paria River, which ultimately flows into the Colorado River. But the park is better known for its bizarre formations more so than the basin. There are a lot of descriptions the imagination could attach to the 67 monolithic spires standing erect in the park, but we will just keep it scientific since this is a PG-rated blog. 😉
Technically known as “sedimentary pipes” or “sand pipes,” these formations were believed to be formed when a layer of water-saturated sediment was forced up to the surface. Theories differ as to where the slurry came from, and what forced it to the surface. One theory points to volcanic activity complete with Yellowstone-style geysers, while another contributes the pipes to underground springs. Pressure from sedimentary layers above forced the wet slurry upwards to the surface forming a pipe of sorts for the water to escape. These pathways hardened like cement, while the softer layers around the pipes eroded, leaving behind these giant pipes ranging in height from 6 ft to 170 ft.
In 1948, a National Geographic Society expedition passed through the park. Due to the variety of contrasting colors in the formations, they nicknamed the area then known as Chimney Rock to “Kodachrome Flat” after Kodak’s color film invented in 1935. After obtaining approval from Kodak, the name stuck.
I really enjoyed my time at Kodachrome Basin State Park more than anticipated, extending my stay one night longer than planned. There are many miles of scenic trails in the park, all accessible right from the campground or day use areas. The small 34-site campground offers a variety of sites from intimate alcoves to long, level pull-thrus. But by far, the most redeeming aspect of this state park is, of all things, its showers! Kodachrome Basin State Park receives its water from an abundant natural spring, and they have built spa-like showers as a way to enjoy it! Big overhead “rain shower” showerheads, strong water pressure, and ample hot water make the park showers a full time RVers dream come true. And since Kodachrome’s water source is spring-fed, long showers are “guilt-free.”
According to Time Magazine, Kodak’s earliest 35-mm Kodachrome film went for $3.50 a roll, or the equivalent of about $54 in today’s dollars. Now, the word Kodachrome is not even in my spell checker dictionary. Who could have ever dreamed back in 1973 when Paul Simon sang “Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away” that it wouldn’t be “mama” who would take the Kodachrome away, but rather what began as a cellular telephone…
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take photographs
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away”
~ Paul Simon