Kodachrome: “Where All the World’s a Sunny Day”

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?”

Can’t not sing the song as I enter the park., “Kodachrome…you give us those nice bright colors..”

Kodachrome’s Grand Parade

Note the little Tracker on the right side, giving some size perspective to the massive Chimney Rock, the largest of the spires at 170 ft.

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.”

Shakespeare Arch is a part of the Shakespeare Sentinel Loop Trail.

The loop passes by the largest natural arch in the park, then loops around the Sentinel, one of the taller spires.

The trail is rated easy to the arch, and moderate to strenuous for the remainder of the loop.

The trail is not so strenuous, but rather quite exposed. And I can’t stop thinking about the word friend Maureen used to describe the trails, “Crumbly.”

There is a more challenging route back called the “Slickrock Cutoff” which climbs up and over the loop trail. It’s rated as more strenuous, but I take it in hopes it is less “crumbly.”

Ahhh, it feels good to have slick-rock underfoot again, after walking the crumbly Sentinel path!

Looking back down on the Sentinel from the Slick-rock cutoff.

This hike affords glorious views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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. 😉

It’s like dozens of chimney tops across the sandscape.

Spires are everywhere, this one in the “Scenic Lookout” down from the campground.

This spire is in the center of the Basin Campground.

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.

The Winnie looks like it is hiding out in the alcove, but angled parking is required for the view!

Another thing to love about the Basin Campground!! aaaahhh, quiet nights!

Nice laundry just outside the campground, appropriately named the “Red Dirt Laundry.”

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.

A hike around the Panorama Trail on the parks west side is a “must do.”

The loop can either be done as a 3 mile, a 4.5 mile (with out and back spur to Panoramic Point added) or a 6 mile loop. This is the “Hat Shop” stop along the loop.

It’s easy to see how quickly and easily erosion can occur in some spots in this park. Just a few minutes of rubbing one’s fingers, and the sandscape changes.

This is “Ballerina Spire,” one of the more famous landmarks along the Panorama Trail. It looks more like a Can-Can dancer to me, as a lot more erosion needs to take place to reach ballerina-size. 😉

A view of the back side of Ballerina Spire makes me think you’d better see it sooner than later…

This one makes me think of a quacking penguin.

Views from Panorama Point are magnificent.

Sun lights up the giant monolith.

Looking down on the Ballerina Spire, as well as the tall spire deep in the Basin Campground.

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.”

Eleven miles one way down Cottonwood Canyon Rd is Grosvenor Arch, definitely worth the bumpy, washboard drive!

This is just a phenomenally beautiful spot that I enjoy all to myself.

The Nat GEO expedition also traveled to Grosvenor Arch and named it for the National Geographic Society founder, Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor.

As they described it, “…What we saw was an arch…152 feet high, 99 feet wide, and only four feet thick at the top of the span.”

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

10 thoughts on “Kodachrome: “Where All the World’s a Sunny Day”

  1. Pretty spectacular – as usual. The first picture brought actual tears to my eyes. So many memories flooded over me that reading your text to Gary was a chore for a while. He concurs – what an opening shot!

    Virtual hugs,


  2. I humbly admit to using the word crumbly….. and I am glad to hear you had no mishaps! As always, fun to read about your travels and enjoy your excellent photos.

  3. Such beautiful terrain to explore and finish it off with endless supply hot shower! Life for you is good and thanks for sharing! Another spot on my bucket list just got moved up.

  4. Looks like a pretty place. I drove by but never visited.
    Not only did we have to buy the film, we had to mail it away, pay to have it developed, and wait a week or more to see our pictures!

  5. For me, this post is more than beautiful photos and descriptive prose…it is an ode to the past, a poignant flicker of appreciation for what used to be. While I am now attached to the convenience of my modern phone/camera I well remember using Kodac film and all that accompanied it…dinosaur cameras, developing chemicals, a dedicated sink and tubs in my own little basement dark room. With every foray into that space, I witnessed a particular magic of watching images meld into life as liquid dripped from film hanging on strung wire. Mostly, I feel fortunate I was able to wile away the hours processing Kodachrome with tactile satisfaction…something my two little grands will never have the pleasure of experiencing. Oh! How bittersweet relinquishing rewards of past endeavors. Thank you for the remembrance…

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