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…

“Kodachrome…
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

Into the Mist, and On to the Mystic

Headed west from Wisconsin with my sights set on Utah, I am determined not to have to cross the Rockies again. Having traversed I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel and across Vail Pass twice now, I will do what I have to do to avoid it again. That means either a more northerly route through Wyoming, or dropping down all the way to Hwy 160 to cross Colorado through Pagosa Springs and Durango…not exactly the flat plains. I decide to stay north and risk the weather.

But winter is coming on fast this year. Even as I left North Dakota, locals were talking about having to turn on the furnace earlier this year than they can recall in many years. I seem to have gone from summer straight into winter, skipping autumn altogether. Continue reading

The Tracker is a Regular Bison Wrangler!

There is more to see in the Black Hills of Dakota than just Mount Rushmore. (And I still can’t say that without winding out the old Beatles lyric, “Somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota there lived a young boy named Rocky Racoon.”)

Mount Rushmore acts as the cornerstone to a well traveled loop that most commonly begins in Keystone, SD, drops down along the Iron Mountain Road, loops through Custer State Park, and back up along the Needles Parkway. This recommended loop is Continue reading

Red Rocks Revisited

Even though I set my intentions to see “all new things” on my southerly migration this year, there are a few favorite stops that I just can’t bypass, one of which is my favorite state park in the little Snow Canyon just outside of St. George, Utah.

I first visited Snow Canyon while staying at the Red Mountain Resort back in 2006 for Thanksgiving weekend as a “spa getaway.”   I took several of the guided hikes from the resort which sits at the gateway to the state park.  It was my first experience ever hiking slick rock, and my first time to ever hear “trust your shoes.”   I can still remember Continue reading

Fall in McCall

Mother Nature, along with Typhoon Songda, seems determined to deprive me of living the lines to my favorite poem, Helen Hunt Jackson’s “October’s Bright Blue Weather.” “Oh suns and skies and clouds of June and all ye flowers together, you cannot rival for one hour, October’s Bright Blue Weather.”   Though they may be able to deprive me of my October blue skies, they cannot rob me of my favorite season of the year, Fall. Continue reading

Heaven and Hell in Idaho

One of the sights in Idaho on my wish list is Hell’s Canyon, a 10-mile wide chasm carved by the Snake River, dividing Oregon, Washington and Idaho.   At 7,993 feet, it is North America’s deepest river gorge.   There are only three roads that reach the Snake River in the canyon – two from Oregon and one from Idaho.  But the road in Idaho at Pittsburgh Landing is not in the steep canyon section.   The only way to see the deepest sections are by boat or from a lookout.  I originally envisioned myself careening down the Snake River wearing a helmet and wielding an oar over Class III and IV rapids.   But I also envisioned myself here in August.  At this time of year, the white water rafts are in dry dock while the River Rats scurry south for the winter.  If I wanted to peer into Hell’s Canyon, I would have to resort to “Overlook.” Continue reading

The Coast is Not Clear, But I Am

In revisiting the small coastal towns along this route, I keep asking myself, “What exactly did I find to do in this town for a whole week last time?” I have to continually remind myself “You were working 8 hours a day, five days of that week.” Although I may have spent a week in that town, by the time I accounted for the work week plus drive time on the weekends, I really only had a day to explore. Since I have more time for exploring on this trip, I looked forward to prodding and probing deeper in each stop along the way while revisiting some of my favorite destinations. Only I am finding I may have allotted more time than I need. Continue reading

Stepping in the Same Ocean Twice

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ~ Heraclitus

I love this quote. I often contemplate its meaning while standing on the banks of a river watching the water rush by, wondering where that water has come from and where it’s headed. Here this one instant and forever changed the next.

Now that I am back along the same Highway 101 Continue reading

Oregon: FINALLY!

It’s been a long time coming, and I am arriving about a month later than I had originally thought, but I finally crossed the state line into Oregon! With the exception of one 2-week trip home to Texas and 17 blissful days in Baja, I have been in California since January…longer than any state since I began full timing 3.5 years ago. Continue reading

La Cuesta Encantada, the Enchanted Hill

Yet another reason for my road trip, I had booked space in San Simeon State Park far in advance to be guaranteed of a place to park for Memorial Day Weekend.  Had I cancelled that space due to the Winnie repairs, I would have lost both booking fees and cancellation penalties, consuming the majority of the refund.   Since the reservation was for the “primitive” campground (Washburn, dry camping on the grass with no hook-ups,) I figured I could get by with pitching my tent there. Continue reading