Want Zion without the crowds? Go around the corner to Kolob Canyons!

IMG_0075The final stop on our recent adventure in Zion National Park was in its sparsely touristed northwest corner.  The little-known but beautiful Kolob Canyons area of the park requires a 45-minute drive from Springdale:  first, out of the park to the west, and then north on I-15.  The small visitor center sits just off of the freeway, but the scenic drive climbs quickly into wilderness.  The climb brought cooler temperatures and a strong canyon breeze, welcome relief from Utah’s summer heat.  It was still hot, but it wasn’t scorching.

The canyon is gorgeous — almost as spectacular as Zion Canyon, with deep oranges and reds — and the dead-end road winds up to the Timber Creek Overlook trailhead.  A short hike ends at a rock outcropping that drops off on three sides to the forested valley below.  On a clear day, the Grand Canyon is supposedly visible to the south, but we couldn’t spot it.

We did spot a Spotted Towhee in the trees before retracing our steps to the trailhead where we enjoyed the view and a picnic lunch.  We spent only about an hour or two in this corner of the park, but highly recommend it.  We’ll spend more time here on our next visit to Zion!

Another nearby stop, perhaps best suited to families with small children, is south of the park and just off of I-15 in St. George.  The privately run Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm gets solid reviews on TripAdvisor and apparently sparked at least one 3- or 4-year old little boy’s imagination at Zion, as we overheard him say “I wish we could find a dinosaur fossil!”

What’s your favorite untouristed chunk of an otherwise touristy destination?  Enjoy your next visit there, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!

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