We explored the wonderful Kodachrome Basin State Park for 4 days…the longest stay on our trip thus far.  We hiked, Justin biked, we ooed, we ahhed.  

Day 1

Our arrival day was beautiful! Not only did we have amazingly beautiful red and white sandstone buttes and occasional hoodoos as a backdrop but the weather was full sun taking the chill out of a fall day (mid-50’s). This campground was virtually empty as well. Such a nice change from the busy tourism at the National Parks. Don’t get me wrong, National Parks are outstanding but they are also sought out by thousands making them crowded.

Our original plan was to fit in a hike the day of arrival but instead decided it would be best to let the girls play in the dirt/sand. The soil around here is like fine red sand, almost powder-like making for great kid fun! The girls had an absolute blast playing with their fairies in fairy gardens and towns they created. I tell you, not being able to recycle items on a regular basis is really benefitting these fairy gardens.

The girls digging and building fairy gardens in the clay soil upon our arrival at our campsite at Kodachrome Basin State Park

While the girls played, Justin and I used the time to play our guitars together, write postcards and talk about our plan for the coming days. By the time supper rolled around the girls were thoroughly covered in sand powder, but it was worth it! We liked this place so much, we decided to stay a couple extra nights. Justin biked to the visiter center and booked for a total of 4 nights.

Day 2

We woke up to cold rain drumming on Wobbles. As I said eariler, the ground is basically powder so when it rains, roads that are not “paved” with crushed rock are impassable during times of rain. Signs everywhere warn that not even 4 wheel drive vehicles can pass through until it dries out. Luckily, there are a couple great hikes that lead off of the camp roads which were designed to be drivable in rain. Even so, the outdoors were not so much beckoning us to come play. We decided to make pancakes to extend breakfast into the morning, a longer ordeal without my griddle I use at home but doable on occasion. It took a bit for me to get the process down to a science. The pan, heat and the state of our kitchen all had to be adjusted for seamless sourdough pancakes. I don’t even bother feeding my sourdough starter the night before anymore. I found it didn’t improve the pancakes enough to make it worth my hassle.

While I cooked, our oldest of 5 years read us half of the book “Go, Dogs, Go” while our youngest of 3 years played with her doll figurines. What a sweet treat! This was the first time our 5 year old was confident enough to read a book in front of Justin so I imagine it was extra heart warming for him.

Reading “Go Dogs Go” on a slow morning

After a hearty breakfast we threw out our sissy pants and braved the rain. By the time we got all four of us to use the bathroom and get bundled up (it takes us quite a while) the rain had actually stopped! We through caution to the wind and left behind all our rain pants but brought our rain jackets just in case we ran into a little sprinkle.

There was no internet service here therefore our weather forecast information was limited to the ranger’s all day weather report. No more than 15 steps on the 1.5 mile hike up Angel’s Palace Trail we began to feel raindrops. It was a light sprinkle but we figured it better to stay dry so we all popped on our rain coats. The girls looked like sweet blue sausages, but their top was dry.

The girls all bundled up for the rain

The trail went up up clay and sandstone rocks, through dry (at least for the first part of hike) stream beds and past various pinnacle (“sand pipe”) formations.

A sand pipe on the Angel’s Palace trail

Near the stream beds the rock was in thin very fragile layers like thick paper stacked thousands on top of one another dazzling us with colors of green, turquoise, red, orange, maroon and cocoa. Quite beautiful!

Layers of colorful rock

By the time we were at peak trail elevation the rain was coming down steady and hard! Little rivers and mini waterfalls appeared everywhere while the powdery sand beneath our feet became thick and oh so gooey. It was easy to see now why roads were impassable while wet! Luckily in most places there was rock not far below the mud, otherwise I think we would have probably kept sinking! We were all a wet muddy mess!

Muddy ground on the Angel’s Palace trail

When the rain was really coming down hard, we found little cave-like overhangs in the sandstone hills to pop the girls under until it let up a bit.

The girls keeping dry under an overhang on the Angel’s Palace trail

The girls were such great sports! Little to no complaining and we all had quite the good laugh. We looked and felt so silly covered in mud and soaked from rain. I think it helped our spirits that all of us stayed warm enough in our layers.

Family photo on the Angel’s Palace trail

It was also pretty special to see the landscape change before our eyes with the water as it is a fairly rare event. As the rain picked up and died down we saw streams and waterfalls appear and disappear before our eyes. The landscape is impermeable.

After the hike we all hopped in Dimes just in time to miss another hard rain. Luckily we had electricity at our site to run our dehumidifier to aid in drying our soaked layers. We all got into dry cozy clothes and snuggled in for a tasty lunch and some homemade hot cocoa back at Wobbles. The girls and I then spent the next couple hours designing, creating patterns for and sewing clothing for our 3 year old’s littlest doll who, according to the girls, was in much need of a pants outfit as well as a skirt. We had so much fun!

Doll pants and ruffly skirt completed we saw a break in the rain. We all biked over to the visitor’s center to check on the updated weather forecast and see what their book selection was like at the gift shop.

Biking to the visitor center

As Justin browsed hiking trail guides, the girls and I read all but 3 of their children’s books for sale. We found some really cute informational books the girls really loved. Did you know that pack rats build nests usually around 2′ tall and 4′ wide made out of basically anything they can find and use their pee to hold this massive structure (complete with tunnels) together?! Can’t say they aren’t thrifty little things.

Day 3

Our adventure for the day was the 1.7 mile Shakespeare Arch / Sentinel Trail hike and we were lucky enough to get beautiful sunny weather! This arch is said to be the only natural arch in the state park.

Shakespeare Arch

The trail led us up and over huge hardened mud mounds, one after another. It felt like a roller coaster with every peak getting a slightly different glimpse of the amazing scenery around us. The ground we were walking on looked like packed clay-mud surrounded by large pinnacles and various other large cocoa colored rock structures.

Sentinel Trail

It was pretty amazing that those hills were still standing. From the rain the day before they were spongy just as mud would be when it gets wet. Bizarre! The girls both enjoyed making mud balls as we explored on foot.

The girls having fun making mud balls

As we looked out on the scenery below, we observed much flatter land in which cows grazed and low Juniper Pine Trees and sagebrush grew. The rocks that we stubbled on along the trail looked solid enough until we touched them. Then they would break apart like pealing a hard boiled egg, yet thicker. Our 3 year old found a round rock about the size of my palm and deemed it her penguin egg. She chatted about her “sweet little penguin egg” for most of the hike caring for it in various ways. Little by little she peeled the egg until the penguin hatched! Ha, it was pretty cute and kept her quite busy. Penguin’s are hard work you know! We also found various scat and tracks along the trail possibly from a long eared hare, cow and a coyote. What a beautiful hike! The girls both earned their dimes walking on their own little tootsies.

The girls and I ended the day by taking advantage of having electricity and baking a raspberry pie and a carrot cake. 😉 Yum!! Why bake one goodie when there is room in the oven for two?!

Carrot cake and raspberry pie baked in our little convection oven

While we did this Justin went on a mountain biking train called the Panorama Trail.  I’m relaying from Justin, “The cool cave was really cool.”  Haha!  Oh dear.  He seemed to be in high spirits when he joined us for dinner having got a great workout in biking up and down the rolling clay packed hills leading to a rewarding 360* view at the top.  And, apparently there was a cave along the way. 🙂

Justin mountain biking the Panorama Trail

Day 4

For our last day at Kodachrome we went to the local slot canyon, Willis Creek. The road to the slot canyon is clay mud and this was the first day since we arrived that the road was dry enough to be drivable. None of us had ever been in a slot cannon and, oh my! It was outstanding!! We got to the hike around 11am and hiked 2.5 miles (our 3 year old’s longest hike on her own feet) back at our van around 4pm! It was a long and amazing day of hiking.

The slot canyon in it’s tightest spaces was no more than 4 feet wide and maybe 100 ft tall with a stream running through it’s floor. Sadly for Justin and our oldest, they did not wear waterproof shoes. We will be getting some waterproof shoes for her along the way as the ones we packed are NOT waterproof anymore!

Our 5 year old trying to cross the stream with her not-waterproof shoes

The rocks along the bottom of the stream bed were such lovely pastels of red, pink, white, yellow, green and brow.  A Mama can’t complain when her little girls fill their treasure belts with rocks if she does the same. 😛  The walls which lined the canyon were subtly ridged in organic wave-like formations.  It was so beautiful!

And of course, where there is water there is often mud.  We measured the deepest pit we saw at around 2 ft deep at which point our measuring stick broke and I almost went face first into it.

Whoops, that mud was deeper than she thought!

Our family monkey, Justin, climbed up to the top of one of the tall ridges where he sat under an arch in the rock.  It was frightening to watch and amazing to imagine what the view must have been like from up there!  

Justin climbing to the arch

On our way back to Dimes, we spotted a creepy crawler in the cold water.  Luckily we didn’t touch it and it doesn’t jump because I later found that it was a venomous desert centipede!!  Symptoms include blisters, nausea, dizziness and radiating pain for hours or days.  Good grief!  Dodged that bullet.  Great day, great location!

Desert Centipede

While at Kodachrome Justin and I were even able to enjoy an evening next to the fire.  The weather wasn’t too cold so it was nice to snuggle next to the fire. 🙂