Kolob Canyon – a perfect road trip stop in Utah (off I-15)

Kolob Canyon with snow
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Kolob Canyons Area at a Glance

Kolob Canyons AreaIn the northwestern corner of Zion National Park, you’ll find majestic 2,000 foot cliff walls, scenic viewpoints, hiking trails and the beauty of the lesser known area of Zion.
Kolob Visitor Center coordinates37.4609, -113.2271
DirectionsExit 40 off I-15, just 17 minutes south of Cedar City, UT
Entrance Fee$35 for a 7-day pass or an America the Beautiful Pass (prices subject to change)
Things to do5-mile scenic drive, 20 miles of hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, visitor center
Rating4.0 Mooses
Kolob Canyons Road in the Winter
Kolob Canyons Road in the Winter

Our experience at Kolob Canyon

I’m always on the lookout for interesting (and easy) places to stop on our road trips.  Having been to Kolob Canyon once before, I knew it was going back on the list for our journey from Las Vegas to Salt Lake.  Located right off the I-15 at exit 40 (almost halfway to Salt Lake), it’s the perfect place to stop and stretch out your legs. 

Kolob Canyon overlook in the winter
Kolob Canyon viewpoint

The first trip to Kolob took place in the winter and we were looking forward to a slightly warmer summer trip through the canyon.  We stopped at the Visitor Center to show our America the Beautiful pass before heading up the scenic drive.

Kolob Canyon overlook

Pro-tip:  You’ll need to stop at the Visitor Center and show your America the Beautiful Pass along with your ID before entering the canyon.  Otherwise, you can purchase a 7-day pass from them (there is no 1-day option).

Driving along the I-15 and seeing the fairly boring hills from the road, you would never know there are breathtakingly beautiful canyons hidden just a few miles from the main road.  It’s worth the quick drive up and out on the 5-mile scenic drive if you don’t have enough time to fully explore the park.

We decided to head all the way to the end of the road to the Timber Creek Overlook trail and start exploring the canyon from there.

The forecast was over 90 degrees the day we visited, so we knew a short hike was the maximum we should attempt.  We settled on the out and back-Timber Creek Overlook hike. 

Timber Creek Overlook Trail 1/2 mile sign

Timber Creek Overlook Hiking Stats

Trail DescriptionOut and back
Trail LocationThe end of Kolob Canyons Road, Utah
Parking Lot37.43506, -113.20187
Round Trip Mileage1.0 miles
Average Time30 – 45 minutes
DifficultyEasy
Elevation Gain~76 feet
Trailhead Elevation~6,181 feet
Trail end Elevation~6,257 feet
Best time to visitLate spring to early fall

The path gains less than 100 feet of elevation and can be hiked in around 30 minutes.  During the winter the trail becomes quite muddy, but on this hot summer day, the path was dry as a bone. 

Timber Creek Overlook Trail in Winter

We were joined on the path by many couples, families and solo hikers enjoying the views of the canyon and the valley below. 

Valley of Kolob as seen from Timber Creek Overlook
View of the Valley as seen from Timber Creek Overlook Trail

After reaching the end of the trail and taking a few pictures, we decided it was time to get back on the road and head down the canyon. 

End of the Timber Creek Overlook Trail
The end of the Timber Creek Overlook Trail

We made a quick stop at a few of the viewpoints down Kolob Canyons Road before leaving the park and continuing toward our final destination in Salt Lake.

Should you visit Kolob Canyon or skip it?

Rating:  4.0 Mooses

  • What we liked
    • It’s conveniently located just off the freeway and easy to visit.
    • The short (5-mile) but extremely scenic drive through the park.
    • Abundant parking lots and pull-outs to soak in the views of the canyons.
    • The short and easy Timber Creek Overlook hike that is equally enjoyable in the summer heat or cooler winter temperatures.
  • What we didn’t like
    • For the same reason we love Kolob, we don’t like how easy it is to visit.  The short scenic drive and easy access make it a popular spot to stop on a road trip from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (albeit far less popular than the larger Zion park). 
    • The views from the Timber Creek trail look extremely similar to those from the parking lot.  You can skip it if you’re short on time and not miss out on anything (unless your Fitbit needs to get to 10,000 steps).

Verdict:  If you’ve been to Zion, you’ll know that Kolob doesn’t hold a candle to it.  However, if you’re in the area, it’s worth a detour to take the scenic drive.  It will take your breath away.

Kolob Canyon Walls in the Winter
Snow on the canyon walls

Know before you go:

  • We’ve been to the park twice now and if you go when it’s busy, you usually don’t have to wait long for a spot to open up.  The average time we spent in the park was around an hour.  Unless you’re planning on a larger hike, an hour is plenty of time to have a look.
  • The entrance fee of $35 is pretty steep if you’re only visiting Kolob.  Consider adding in Zion Park or buy the annual America the Beautiful Pass and visit more national parks during the year to make it worth your while.
  • During the winter, the road to Kolob may be closed due to excessive snow.  You can call ahead or email the park for the most current up-to-date information on closures
South Fork Taylor Creek Canyon Walls
Red Canyon Walls in the South Fork of Taylor Creek

Frequently Asked Questions about Kolob Canyon

What is the Kolob Canyon entrance fee?

Kolob Canyon is part of Zion National Park and a 7-day pass costs $35.  Alternatively, you may use the America the Beautiful pass for $80 annually or purchase an annual Zion pass for $70.  

There are a number of free National Park days throughout the year and discounts may be available for seniors, military or volunteers.

Kolob Canyon Information Sign
Information Sign

Where is Kolob Canyon located?

Kolob Canyon is located off Interstate 15 in Utah at exit 40.  It is approximately 17 miles south of Cedar City or 33 miles north of St. George.

Kolob Canyon Park Map with points of interest

What is the elevation of the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center?

The elevation of the visitor center is 5,065.6 feet above sea level. 

Kolob Canyon Visitor Center

What are the hours of the Kolob Visitor Center?

The Kolob Visitor Center is open from 8AM – 5PM daily.  Any changes to normal operations can be found here.

What are the best hikes in Kolob Canyon?

Timber Creek Overlook Trail

  • Hiking stats: 1.0 miles RT, ~76 feet elevation gain
  • Access:  Easy to access from the parking lot at the end of Kolob Canyons Road
  • Est. Time:  30 – 45 minutes round trip
  • Why go: Beautiful views, quick/easy trail
View of Kolob Canyon
View from the Timber Overlook Creek Trail

Taylor Creek (Middle Fork)

  • Hiking stats: 5.0 miles RT, ~450 feet in elevation gain
  • Access:  Taylor Creek trailhead on Kolob Canyons Road
  • Est. Time:  4 hours round trip
  • Why go: Traverse through a narrow canyon to arrive at the famed Double Arch Alcove
Double Arch Alcove in Kolob Canyon
Double Arch Alcove in Kolob Canyon. Photo by: John Fowler from Placitas, NM, CC by 2.0, edited for color correction.

Taylor Creek (South Fork)

  • Hiking stats:  2.0 miles RT, ~100 feet in elevation gain
  • Access: Kolob Canyons Road
  • Est. Time:  1.5 hours round trip
  • Why go: Beautiful views of large canyon walls
South Fork Taylor Creek Trail in winter
View from South Fork of Taylor Creek

Kolob Arch (via Verkin Creek Trail)

  • Hiking stats:  14.0 miles RT, ~1,037 feet in elev gain
  • Access:  Lee Pass Trailhead on Kolob Canyons Road
  • Est. Time:  8 hours round trip
  • Why go: Stunning views of Kolob Canyon culminating in the grand Kolob Arch.  A span of 287 feet and 75 feet thick, Kolob Arch is the second largest natural arch in the world.
Kolob Arch - 2nd largest natural arch in the world
Kolob Arch – 2nd largest natural arch in the world. Photo by: Jamesm113, CC BY-SA 3.0, edited for color correction.

What are the top things to do in Kolob Canyon?

  1. Enjoy the 5-mile Scenic Drive through Kolob Canyon
  2. Visit the Kolob Visitor Center
  3. Shop at the Zion Forever Park Store
  4. Hike the Timber Creek Overlook Trail
  5. Explore the Middle & South Forks of Taylor Creek including the famed Double Arch Alcove
  6. Tackle the 14-mile RT hike to visit Kolob Arch, the second largest natural arch in the world
  7. Go canyoneering through the Beartrap Canyon Waterfall (equipment required)

The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional advice, including but not limited to, health, safety, financial, legal, or psychological advice.

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