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Cool Cave Hike in Kodachrome Basin State Park

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

I may have mentioned before that one of the things I am often thinking about while out hiking, as strange as this may seem, is food. Usually, I'm readying my palette for whatever we are going to eat (lunch or dinner) when we finish the hike. In some ways, it keeps me motivated to keep going at a steady pace, because I know as soon as we finish, we are probably going to go eat and that makes me happy.

Well, in addition to thinking about food while hiking, I also often have a song running through my head the entire time. It's typically a song with a decent RPM that matches my aggressive pace. So, I suppose, much like the prospect of food upon completion, a catchy earworm also keeps me going. Food on the brain and a song in my heart... there it is: the secret to hiking!

I'll be honest, as soon as I saw the sign for Kodachrome Basin State Park in southern Utah – after we'd left Zion and were embarking on our Bryce Canyon National Park excursion – I was intrigued.

Who doesn't start singing a rousing, knee-slapping, hand-clapping rendition of the 1973 Paul Simon hit?

"Momma, don't take my Kodachrome"

"Momma, don't take my Kodachrome"

"Momma, don't take my Kodachrome away..."

We took a vote and decided that making a stop in Kodachrome was a fine idea, even though it wasn't really a part of our itinerary.

After stopping in the visitor center to get some advice on hiking trails and must-see sights in Kodachrome (and maybe a few souvenirs), we drove out to the trailhead for Panorama Trail, which would also include a short digression into Cool Cave. Yes, it's really called that.

And speaking of songs from yesteryear, every trail sign I saw for Cool Cave brought the chorus of The Capitols' "Cool Jerk" into my head. So, between "Kodachrome" and "Cool Jerk," my internal playlist was pretty set for this 5.79-mile hike in the desert amongst the towering sandstone chimneys and monolithic spires.

The trailhead parking lot had a handful of cars, but wasn't overly busy. At the back of the Jeep, we donned our hiking gear and a couple of layers, as there was a chill in the air, despite having full sun and blue skies. We walked across the forest road and headed down the trail.

It didn't take long for the incredible sandstone formations to come into view on the horizon.

This formation on the left is called "Fred Flintstone."

People have "carved" their hand prints into the semi-pliable sandstone.

This formation is called "The Ballerina." I had a harder time seeing that likeness than "Fred Flintstone."

Sections of the trail were made up of a fine, soft sand.

On the final stretch to Cool Cave, we also spotted a bluebird.

When we arrived at Cool Cave, I instantly knew where it got its name. The air temperature inside the cave was probably 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. But what a unique experience it was inside this cave.

We basically walked through a brief slot canyon to get back into the cave.

And in certain parts, when you looked up, you could see the sky.

We more or less turned this hike into a loop route, so that we could see different sights on the trek back.

We only saw maybe 6 other hikers on the trail, and all of them were on our return route. In no time, we were back at the Jeep in the parking lot.

I mentioned this was a hike in the desert. When we finished, I announced that this was the hottest cold hike I've done. It was too chilly to not wear a couple of layers, but it got too hot to keep the layers on.

After we loaded up, we headed out on a bumpy dirt road for what seemed like 45 minutes to get to Grosvenor Arch, which was a feature that a fellow traveler recommended to us while we were in the Kodachrome visitor center. Mind you, my husband and I had hiked to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park last fall, so when we heard about an arch nearby, we were looking forward to seeing it.

When we arrived at Grosvenor Arch, it was a little underwhelming. In fact, I hardly even got out of the Jeep. It was a little bit chilly out after our hot/cold hike in my sweaty clothes, so I swapped out for a dry shirt. Plus, after all the driving that day, I was tired and hungry and didn't feel like expending more energy for something that, in my opinion, wasn't all that impressive. Here's Grosvenor Arch.

Overall, it was a great day of exploring this unique desert landscape and getting to go inside a cave was definitely a highlight. Tomorrow will be hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Panorama Trail/Cool Cave

Total Distance

5.79 mi

Total Time


Total Ascent

610 ft

Max Elevation

5,919 ft


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Mary Jo Schrader
Mary Jo Schrader
10 juil. 2023

Very beautiful and interesting photos.… usual. Those vibrant colors! And bonus~~~flowers!!!


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